EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full Commentary below)

FROM THE INQUIRER

EDITORIAL: CHINA'S SHARP BLOW


Diplomatic niceties and analytical nuances aside, there is really only one reason why China is brazenly conducting reclamation work in disputed parts of the Spratly Islands—and it took a diplomat to offer the clearest, most candid analysis. “We think China has a plan and they think they have the means to do it and they can actually do it. So that’s why they’re doing it,” Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs, told Agence France-Presse. Beijing is reclaiming land in at least seven of the eight partially submerged reefs it now controls in the contested area, because it can. There are of course official or strategic objectives for reclamation, which has created at least five new “islands,” but these all flow from the primary reason: China has the means to do it. Beijing’s official reason at first sounds positively benign. “We are building shelters, aids for navigation, search and rescue as well as marine meteorological forecasting services, fishery services and other administrative services,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a news briefing. But the reclamation and construction work would, in the words of a Reuters report, “also meet the demands for China’s military defense, Hua said without elaborating.” And then came China’s familiar argument by mere assertion. “The relevant construction is a matter that is entirely within the scope of China’s sovereignty. It is fair, reasonable, lawful, it does not affect and is not targeted against any country. It is beyond reproach,” Hua said. READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: Remember Mei
[For all the economic gains trumpeted by this administration, it has yet to fully address the thriving culture of impunity that makes crusading journalists fair game for unscrupulous overlords and politicians. As the Global Impunity Index indicates, the Philippines is among the top countries where the murder of a journalist is most likely to go unpunished.]


The brazen murder last Monday of former Inquirer correspondent Melinda “Mei” Magsino seals the Philippines’ dubious reputation as the third most dangerous country for working journalists, next to Iraq and Syria, where extremist groups are waging a protracted war. Mei, 40, was shot in the head at noon in Barangay Balagtas in Batangas, shortly after stepping out of her rented apartment. The killer, by all indications a hired gun, had apparently waited for her and had fled with a cohort on a motorcycle waiting nearby. Like others before it, the murder is a direct assault on democracy and one that, according to the International Federation of Journalists, “highlights the challenges facing journalists across the Philippines.” Indeed, the close-range shooting amounts to a message against conscientious journalists who, in doing their jobs, expose anomalies and speak out against the abuses of those in power. Described as gutsy, Mei had riled politicians whom she linked to illegal gambling, rigged bidding in public works projects and the fatal ambush of a Batangas ombudsman whom she was about to interview on more corrupt dealings. Her newspaper reports, radio commentaries and, later, social media postings, earned her a lawsuit and a number of death threats, with a tip from police sources forcing her to flee Batangas in the middle of the night. In fact, shortly before she was killed, she posted on her Facebook page that she had managed to trace to a Batangas councilor the series of obscene messages and threats she had been receiving. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Don't lose interest
[The aftershocks unleashed by the pork barrel scandal are still being felt, and all that can be traced to the court case that opened the can of worms—the illegal-detention charge brought by Luy against Napoles. The illegal-detention charge, while a serious case, is not as grave as the plunder cases that Napoles still faces along with Senators Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada et al.]


BIG SHOT IN JAIL Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles finds herself in a tight squeeze with other inmates at the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City, where she will serve a life term after she was found guilty of illegally detaining her cousin and former employee Benhur Luy. Napoles’ conviction, otherwise a momentous development in a notoriously slow justice system, has been greeted with a seemingly collective shrug that does not bode well for the plunder cases filed against her and several senators and congressmen. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO FROM CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN
After a trial of nearly two years, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles has been found guilty of illegally detaining her relative and erstwhile employee Benhur Luy for three months, in connivance with her brother and coaccused Reynald Lim, and sentenced to life imprisonment. The illegal-detention charge stemmed from a falling-out between Napoles and Luy over an allegedly unauthorized loan of P5 million that Luy took out, plus another P300,000 he squirreled away instead of depositing in Napoles’ account. The huge sums, in turn, came from the billions of pesos that were reportedly Napoles’ commission from the scheme which she had engineered with a number of lawmakers and other government officials, and which Luy had helped her manage: the wholesale diversion of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund to bogus nongovernment organizations created by Napoles, after which the funds were divvied up between the lawmaker (who naturally got the biggest piece of the pie), Napoles and her group, and the various functionaries up and down the government bureaucracy who had either looked away or signed in on the anomalous transactions. Napoles’ conviction would seem to be a momentous occasion in the pursuit of justice against those who had plundered taxpayer money. But what’s notable in its immediate wake is the collective shrug that the public has accorded this development. READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: Milk tea mystery
[Whatever the results, it’s not in the public interest for the health authorities to dilly-dally in explaining their findings. What exactly happened here? A clear, prompt, straightforward answer would be much appreciated.]


The case of the lethal milk tea that killed two people and nearly felled another in Manila last week is getting curiouser and curiouser. Six days after the incident, no definitive cause for the apparent poisoning has been found, at least according to the Department of Health, which announced on Monday that “preliminary results were negative for suspected toxic substances.”  Food poisoning was the initial and immediate conjecture right after Suzanne Dagohoy and Arnold Aydalla fell ill minutes after drinking the milk tea they had bought at ErgoCha Tea House on Bustillos Street in Sampaloc, Manila. The third victim was William Abrigo, the owner of the shop, who also partook of the tea after Dagohoy and Aydalla complained about the foul taste of the drinks. But as many doctors invited to comment on the incident on TV and radio would point out, ordinary food poisoning does not happen that quickly and that fatally. The usual symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, mild fever, headache and general weakness. What the CCTV footage showed of the incident at the tea house was altogether more disturbing: Three minutes after sipping her tea, Dagohoy had lost consciousness, was twitching on the ground and retching. Her boyfriend Aydalla began experiencing spasms, difficulty in breathing and weakness in his extremities seven minutes after he first sipped the drink. He survived, apparently only because he had immediately spat out the liquid, complaining about its bad taste. The complaint was what prompted Abrigo to try the tea he himself had prepared, leading to his own unconsciousness and convulsions three minutes later. READ MORE...

ALSO: Validation in Vegas


PACQUIAO EDITORIAL PHOTO APPENDED BY PHNO
Before the first punch is thrown, before Michael Buffer drawls his trademarked invitation for fans to get ready to rumble, the May 3 bout between Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao and undefeated American superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been tagged with superlatives. It’s the “Fight of the Century,” according to the hype. Others have been so bold as to call it the “Fight of the Millennium.”  Well, why not? For five years, fans, pundits and journalists have clamored for this fight to happen, begging through every available media platform for the two pound-for-pound greats to decide once and for all who should rightfully sit on boxing’s mythical throne. Now that it’s soon to happen, everyone is assuring everyone else that it would be the sport’s most important fight ever. And yet we have only one metric by which this fight can be judged: The fact that it is expected to gross close to $400 million will make it the richest fight ever, and it isn’t even close. There already is the guaranteed $200-million purse that the boxers will share on a 60-40, Mayweather-slanted split. And then there are the pay-per-view and ticket prices, already the most expensive that boxing has ever seen. But history will remain the final judge on where this fight will stand in the annals of sports and fight culture. Comparisons to Hagler-Hearns and to Ali-Frazier have been whipped up by the publicists of the two camps—quite unfairly, if we may say so. After all, we can now look back at the two boxing classics with a discerning eye, and we can only view Pacquiao-Mayweather on the basis of what the two fighters have accomplished so far. READ MORE...

ALSO: Easter mode


Many years ago I was driving my little nephews and nieces to Pangasinan, and we happened to follow a tricycle with two pigs in the side car. I knew that the pigs were bound for the slaughterhouse. Imagine my amazement when my niece, Manila girl Ginny, seeing such a scene for the first time, said: “Look, how kind the man to be taking his pigs around for a joy ride (pasyal) and sightseeing!” * * * In today’s gospel (Lk. 24, 35-48), Jesus appeared to two disciples after He rose from the dead. He opened their minds, and made them see a broader and brighter horizon. He led them out of their fearful and doubtful mindset, and gave them the faith, confidence and courage to become His witnesses. He set their hearts and minds on Easter mode. May we be open to God’s way of seeing and doing things, and not be imprisoned in our selfish, limited and often biased perspective. * * * Let us be open to changes and possibilities at any given point in our lives. Yes, let us be open to God’s surprises! People change, situations can be made better, and so must we. I saw the two pigs as dead meat, but my little niece saw them as tourists! May the Lord give us that Easter eye and that Easter look, and help us to rise from our “tombs” and “prisons.” * * * “Why are you troubled?” The Lord asked His two disciples this question in today’s gospel. He is also asking us this question today. What is it that is bothering you right now? Finances? Health? Relationships? Allow the Lord to assure us and calm our fears and anxieties with His greeting, “Peace be with you!” READ MORE...

ALSO by former Chief Justice Panganiban:  What’s in a name?


FORMER CJ PANGANIBAN
The use by the chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of an alias or nom de guerre has disrupted the peace process—unnecessarily, in my humble view. Despite being pressed to reveal his “real” name, Mohagher Iqbal has remained tightlipped, claiming that the use of pseudonyms is normal for revolutionaries. Laws on use of alias. “Kahit na si Marcelo del Pilar siyam po ang pangalan, at maging ang tatay ni Presidente na si Ninoy Aquino, in his passport his name was Marcial Bonifacio. So, normal po yan,” Iqbal said in an interview over GMA News TV’s “Balitanghali.”  To be sure, under Republic Act No. 6085 (which regulates the use of aliases), “no person shall use any name different from the one (1) with which he was registered at birth in the office of the local civil registry, or (2) with which he was baptized for the first time, or, (3) in case of an alien, with which he was registered in the bureau of immigration upon entry; or (4) such substitute name as may have been authorized by a competent court…”  As exceptions to these four items, the same law allows aliases “solely for literary, cinema, television, radio or other entertainment purposes and in athletic events where the use of pseudonym is normally accepted.” Thus, TV-radio and movie stars (like Heart Evangelista) may use pseudonyms. And athletes, too (like Pacman or Pancho Villa). READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

China’s sharp elbow

MANILA, APRIL 20, 2015 (INQUIRER) Diplomatic niceties and analytical nuances aside, there is really only one reason why China is brazenly conducting reclamation work in disputed parts of the Spratly Islands—and it took a diplomat to offer the clearest, most candid analysis. “We think China has a plan and they think they have the means to do it and they can actually do it. So that’s why they’re doing it,” Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs, told Agence France-Presse.

Beijing is reclaiming land in at least seven of the eight partially submerged reefs it now controls in the contested area, because it can. There are of course official or strategic objectives for reclamation, which has created at least five new “islands,” but these all flow from the primary reason: China has the means to do it.

Beijing’s official reason at first sounds positively benign. “We are building shelters, aids for navigation, search and rescue as well as marine meteorological forecasting services, fishery services and other administrative services,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a news briefing.

But the reclamation and construction work would, in the words of a Reuters report, “also meet the demands for China’s military defense, Hua said without elaborating.” And then came China’s familiar argument by mere assertion. “The relevant construction is a matter that is entirely within the scope of China’s sovereignty. It is fair, reasonable, lawful, it does not affect and is not targeted against any country. It is beyond reproach,” Hua said.

READ MORE...
Nonsense. It is unfair, unreasonable, unlawful—and targeted against smaller countries with competing claims like Vietnam and the Philippines.

First, the reclamation and construction work goes directly against the letter and spirit of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea negotiated in 2002 between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The declaration, especially provisions such as No. 5, where the parties pledged to “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features,” was designed to create the conditions that would lead to a binding Code of Conduct.

Second, the reclamation and construction work is Beijing’s answer to the Philippines’ case pending before a United Nations arbitral tribunal. Last February, a leading Philippine expert on conflicting claims in the South China Sea directly linked the reclamation projects to the lawsuit. Jay Batongbacal, director of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, wrote: “While the legal status of the contested features as described and presented in the arbitration case are not affected, their physical alteration effectively ‘tampers with the evidence.’”

Third, the reclamation and construction work is a direct and final repudiation of Beijing’s former policy of a “peaceful rise.” That policy was meant to reassure China’s neighbors that its continuing transformation, first begun by Deng Xiaoping, posed no security threat. Under Xi Jinping, however, its most authoritarian leader since Mao Zedong, China has completely embraced a policy of expansionist nationalism—a new and powerful source of ruling ideology for a communist party running a massive capitalist economy.

Someone who was no stranger to powerful militaries and unilateral action objected to Beijing’s reclamation projects. In widely reported remarks, US President Barack Obama criticized China for using “sheer size and muscle” to get its way. “Where we get concerned with China is where it is not necessarily abiding by international norms and rules, and is using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions,” Obama said. “We think this can be solved diplomatically, but just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside.”

Beijing’s response was a nonanswer. “The US leader talked about China’s ‘sheer size and muscle,’ but one can also see clearly who has the biggest size and muscle in the world,” Hua said. The subtext was unmistakable: If the United States can elbow other countries aside, so can we. Because we can.


Editorial: Remember Mei Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:30 AM | Friday, April 17th, 2015

The brazen murder last Monday of former Inquirer correspondent Melinda “Mei” Magsino seals the Philippines’ dubious reputation as the third most dangerous country for working journalists, next to Iraq and Syria, where extremist groups are waging a protracted war.

Mei, 40, was shot in the head at noon in Barangay Balagtas in Batangas, shortly after stepping out of her rented apartment. The killer, by all indications a hired gun, had apparently waited for her and had fled with a cohort on a motorcycle waiting nearby.

Like others before it, the murder is a direct assault on democracy and one that, according to the International Federation of Journalists, “highlights the challenges facing journalists across the Philippines.” Indeed, the close-range shooting amounts to a message against conscientious journalists who, in doing their jobs, expose anomalies and speak out against the abuses of those in power.

Described as gutsy, Mei had riled politicians whom she linked to illegal gambling, rigged bidding in public works projects and the fatal ambush of a Batangas ombudsman whom she was about to interview on more corrupt dealings. Her newspaper reports, radio commentaries and, later, social media postings, earned her a lawsuit and a number of death threats, with a tip from police sources forcing her to flee Batangas in the middle of the night.

In fact, shortly before she was killed, she posted on her Facebook page that she had managed to trace to a Batangas councilor the series of obscene messages and threats she had been receiving.

Mei’s family members firmly believe that it was her work that led to her murder, as indeed a chilling pattern seems to surround the spate of recent killings of outspoken journalists under the Aquino administration.

For all the economic gains trumpeted by this administration, it has yet to fully address the thriving culture of impunity that makes crusading journalists fair game for unscrupulous overlords and politicians. As the Global Impunity Index indicates, the Philippines is among the top countries where the murder of a journalist is most likely to go unpunished.

READ MORE...
Indeed, six years after the Maguindanao massacre, otherwise known as “the deadliest single-day attack on journalists anywhere in the world,” when 58 people, including 32 media workers, were unceremoniously gunned down, not a single court judgment has been delivered even as one by one, prosecution witnesses ominously fall by the wayside.

Mei herself perceived this pattern and, in 2005, expressed the hope of surviving it instead of becoming “another statistic” in the long list of journalist killings.

The statistics are truly disheartening: The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines described the former Inquirer correspondent as the 27th journalist killed under the present administration (other sources counted her as the 26th or the 32nd). In its statement, the NUJP said Mei’s murder has brought to 173 the total number of media workers killed since 1986, when democracy and freedom of expression were supposedly restored.

According to investigators, a CCTV monitor caught Mei’s killing on tape, stirring the faint hope that her killers would be identified, their motives known, and justice served.

We must continue to hope even as justice continues to elude other journalists whose murders briefly made headlines before being archived for lack of new information, witnesses, or evidence.

Even as we express outrage and demand justice for Mei Magsino, and because we must never forget, never allow death to silence the defiant voices of those who paid the ultimate price for witnessing the truth, let us also shine a light on those who have been shunted to the dark: tabloid reporter Nerlita Ledesma, 47, shot four times in the chest while waiting for a ride in Bataan last January; radioman Maurito Lim, shot dead last Feb. 14 by a lone assailant in front of the dyRD radio station in Tagbilaran City, Bohol; radio host Sammy Oliverio of Digos, Davao del Sur, shot on May 23, 2014, by two men riding tandem on a motorcycle; broadcaster Richard Nadjid of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, who was killed on May 4, 2014; Rubylita Garcia, a correspondent of the tabloid Remate, who died five hours after being shot in front of her 10-year-old granddaughter in Bacoor City on April 6, 2014; and scores of others.


Don’t lose interest Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:06 AM | Saturday, April 18th, 2015


BIG SHOT IN JAIL Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles finds herself in a tight squeeze with other inmates at the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City, where she will serve a life term after she was found guilty of illegally detaining her cousin and former employee Benhur Luy. Napoles’ conviction, otherwise a momentous development in a notoriously slow justice system, has been greeted with a seemingly collective shrug that does not bode well for the plunder cases filed against her and several senators and congressmen. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO FROM CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTE FOR WOMEN

After a trial of nearly two years, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles has been found guilty of illegally detaining her relative and erstwhile employee Benhur Luy for three months, in connivance with her brother and coaccused Reynald Lim, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The illegal-detention charge stemmed from a falling-out between Napoles and Luy over an allegedly unauthorized loan of P5 million that Luy took out, plus another P300,000 he squirreled away instead of depositing in Napoles’ account.

The huge sums, in turn, came from the billions of pesos that were reportedly Napoles’ commission from the scheme which she had engineered with a number of lawmakers and other government officials, and which Luy had helped her manage: the wholesale diversion of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund to bogus nongovernment organizations created by Napoles, after which the funds were divvied up between the lawmaker (who naturally got the biggest piece of the pie), Napoles and her group, and the various functionaries up and down the government bureaucracy who had either looked away or signed in on the anomalous transactions.

Napoles’ conviction would seem to be a momentous occasion in the pursuit of justice against those who had plundered taxpayer money. But what’s notable in its immediate wake is the collective shrug that the public has accorded this development.

READ MORE...
Two years ago when the pork barrel scam exploded in the news, the controversy it generated turned into a tidal wave of outrage that would literally reorder the political landscape. Three senators of the realm, longstanding vanguards of the economic and political elite, would end up in detention on charges of colluding with Napoles.

The PDAF was declared unconstitutional by a Supreme Court that had affirmed its validity at least twice before then. The system of feudal patronage engendered by the pork barrel system, in which lawmakers freely used the automatic largesse to fortify their hold on their constituencies through doles of public money, lost its institutional foundation. And public anger at the wanton use of government funds also led to the dismantling of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, a Malacañang brainchild that would have allowed it greater flexibility to move around allocated funds to speed up projects, but which the high court said contravened the constitutional mandate that budget appropriation is the province of Congress.

The aftershocks unleashed by the pork barrel scandal are still being felt, and all that can be traced to the court case that opened the can of worms—the illegal-detention charge brought by Luy against Napoles.

From that curious incident came tumbling out ever more sordid revelations about wads of cash streaming into the Napoles household, so voluminous that they had to be stacked in the bathtub; lawmakers and their aides receiving money right in their congressional offices; names of various unsuspecting individuals plucked from the newspapers to serve as alleged beneficiaries of the bogus NGO funds; actual farmers and fisherfolk in remote barrios who never received the seeds, fertilizers, boats and other implements that the Napoles-engineered and lawmaker-signed records said they did.

That the public reaction to Napoles’ conviction appears to be of indifference is worrying. Have we moved on that fast?

The illegal-detention charge, while a serious case, is not as grave as the plunder cases that Napoles still faces along with Senators Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada et al.

Government prosecutors deserve commendation for the good work that led to Napoles’ swift conviction in the first of her many cases. But the more consequential fight is in a different court, and over a different case, and those charges of fraud and plunder have a greater chance of holding up and exacting accountability from Napoles and her powerful coconspirators only if the public remains vigilant and engaged in the process.

It’s too soon, and too costly, to lose interest in the goings-on of the one case in recent Philippine politics that can right the scales of justice by convicting and putting big fish in jail.

Justice can be a slog in these parts, but sometimes it does deliver, as in Napoles’ guilty verdict last Tuesday. To ensure that it wasn’t a fluke, public attention cannot—must not—flag now.


Editorial: Milk tea mystery Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:12 AM | Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

The case of the lethal milk tea that killed two people and nearly felled another in Manila last week is getting curiouser and curiouser. Six days after the incident, no definitive cause for the apparent poisoning has been found, at least according to the Department of Health, which announced on Monday that “preliminary results were negative for suspected toxic substances.”

Food poisoning was the initial and immediate conjecture right after Suzanne Dagohoy and Arnold Aydalla fell ill minutes after drinking the milk tea they had bought at ErgoCha Tea House on Bustillos Street in Sampaloc, Manila. The third victim was William Abrigo, the owner of the shop, who also partook of the tea after Dagohoy and Aydalla complained about the foul taste of the drinks. But as many doctors invited to comment on the incident on TV and radio would point out, ordinary food poisoning does not happen that quickly and that fatally.

The usual symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, mild fever, headache and general weakness. What the CCTV footage showed of the incident at the tea house was altogether more disturbing: Three minutes after sipping her tea, Dagohoy had lost consciousness, was twitching on the ground and retching. Her boyfriend Aydalla began experiencing spasms, difficulty in breathing and weakness in his extremities seven minutes after he first sipped the drink. He survived, apparently only because he had immediately spat out the liquid, complaining about its bad taste. The complaint was what prompted Abrigo to try the tea he himself had prepared, leading to his own unconsciousness and convulsions three minutes later.

READ MORE...
Obviously, not just some wayward germ from, say, the unhygienic preparation of the drinks or the unsanitary condition of the store, but a much more noxious substance capable of such a rapid and deadly effect on the human body had found itself into the milk tea preparation. The Manila Police District initially said it was looking at the possibility of cyanide in the drinks, which, if proven true, would take the incident from the realm of accidental poisoning to one where deliberate intent was present. But while the MPD’s autopsy on Dagohoy says that she died due to “shock secondary to ingestion of toxic substance,” a source told this paper that initial examination of Abrigo showed a different result—that the “throat did not show indications that a strong substance, such as silver nitrate or cyanide, passed through it.”

And now the DOH has itself confirmed that no such toxic substances have been found in the sample of the milk tea that killed Dagohoy and Abrigo. Is it possible for the tea samples to have been tampered with? Reports have it that Lloyd Abrigo, the son of the shop owner, had returned to the teahouse after learning that his father had died from sipping the drink, and had cleaned up the pitcher that contained the foul-tasting milk tea preparation. The MPD has CCTV footage showing Lloyd Abrigo and the helper Raymundo Santos entering the now-closed shop at around noon; Lloyd Abrigo is shown washing the pitcher himself, then directing Santos to throw out the remaining milk tea in a pail.

Santos had earlier told police that it was Lloyd Abrigo who had brought a foul-smelling substance into the shop’s kitchen about a month ago. Despite this testimony, and the CCTV footage indicating that the son of the shop owner had possibly tampered with a crime scene, the MPD says he is not yet a suspect.

What are we to make of this case, which grows more peculiar by the day? How hard is it, given modern science and technology, to ascertain within days whatever it is that was powerful enough to have killed two people in a matter of minutes? The longer this baffling case remains unsolved, the greater the anxiety among the public. Milk tea shops, after all, are among the latest fads in the metro; that some of them may not be adhering to sanitation and food and beverage standards is entirely possible, especially given the lax enforcement in these parts.

But the mystery can only be more damaging to legitimate entrepreneurs whose modest beverage businesses are now enveloped in a cloud of doubt and fear.

Whatever the results, it’s not in the public interest for the health authorities to dilly-dally in explaining their findings. What exactly happened here? A clear, prompt, straightforward answer would be much appreciated.


Validation in Vegas Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:20 AM | Thursday, April 16th, 2015


PACQUIAO EDITORIAL PHOTO APPENDED BY PHNO

Before the first punch is thrown, before Michael Buffer drawls his trademarked invitation for fans to get ready to rumble, the May 3 bout between Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao and undefeated American superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been tagged with superlatives.

It’s the “Fight of the Century,” according to the hype. Others have been so bold as to call it the “Fight of the Millennium.”

Well, why not? For five years, fans, pundits and journalists have clamored for this fight to happen, begging through every available media platform for the two pound-for-pound greats to decide once and for all who should rightfully sit on boxing’s mythical throne.

Now that it’s soon to happen, everyone is assuring everyone else that it would be the sport’s most important fight ever.

And yet we have only one metric by which this fight can be judged: The fact that it is expected to gross close to $400 million will make it the richest fight ever, and it isn’t even close. There already is the guaranteed $200-million purse that the boxers will share on a 60-40, Mayweather-slanted split. And then there are the pay-per-view and ticket prices, already the most expensive that boxing has ever seen.

But history will remain the final judge on where this fight will stand in the annals of sports and fight culture. Comparisons to Hagler-Hearns and to Ali-Frazier have been whipped up by the publicists of the two camps—quite unfairly, if we may say so. After all, we can now look back at the two boxing classics with a discerning eye, and we can only view Pacquiao-Mayweather on the basis of what the two fighters have accomplished so far.

READ MORE...
Pacquiao, the former street urchin who rose to boxing superstardom by blurring weight class lines on the way to an unprecedented eight division titles, is a ring dynamo, a bottomless well of energy whose blazing mix of speed and power is a sight to behold.

Mayweather, though accused of cherry-picking his way to greatness, is undeniably the most cunning craftsman of his generation. And no matter how critics look at it, 47-0 is no easy feat, not when you’re painting bull’s-eyes on your back with an air of arrogant flamboyance, practically egging on the world to try pin that one loss on you.

In itself, the road they took to get where they are now guarantees that this fight deserves a spot in the sport’s pantheon. What spot exactly, it is for them to show.

Pacquiao’s role in pushing this fight to legendary status is hardly in doubt. We know that the Pacman will stride into the ring with every intent of putting on a show for the fans. His camp has promised a blitz right from the opening bell.

With Mayweather, we can only guess. The American has been known to rely on ring smarts, defense and accurate but limited punching to build his perfect record. His fights have been criticized for being too calculated, too… boring. But with his legacy on the line, it would be too much to expect him to change his ways.

And yet, we must ask him. The five-year striptease before this fight was finally signed deserves an explosive closure. The price people have to pay to watch this fight demands a fight for the ages. Mayweather can stick to his formula, but in a sport where style makes fights, he must come out with a willingness to put on a show for the fans.

It is not enough that these two warriors clamber into the ring. They must give the fans the show they deserve. Hagler-Hearns and Ali-Frazier are now classics, best remembered for the startling skill and bracing artistry that marked them. For Pacquiao-Mayweather to earn its place up there, it cannot rely on hype and labels. It must be a validation of the fighters’ worth.

History is mostly written through the eyes of its witnesses. And for Manny Pacquiao and, most especially, Floyd Mayweather Jr., there will be millions of witnesses to their tussle. There will be millions of witnesses deciding this fight’s place in sporting history. And many of these witnesses will have burned a hole in their pockets for their slice of the action.

It is up to the two fighters to make sure that when history comes around to judging their bout, they would be ranked up there among the legends.


Easter mode Fr. Jerry M. Orbos SVD @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:06 AM | Sunday, April 19th, 2015



Many years ago I was driving my little nephews and nieces to Pangasinan, and we happened

to follow a tricycle with two pigs in the side car. I knew that the pigs were bound for the slaughterhouse. Imagine my amazement when my niece, Manila girl Ginny, seeing such a scene for the first time, said: “Look, how kind the man to be taking his pigs around for a joy ride (pasyal) and sightseeing!”

* * *

In today’s gospel (Lk. 24, 35-48), Jesus appeared to two disciples after He rose from the dead. He opened their minds, and made them see a broader and brighter horizon. He led them out of their fearful and doubtful mindset, and gave them the faith, confidence and courage to become His witnesses. He set their hearts and minds on Easter mode. May we be open to God’s way of seeing and doing things, and not be imprisoned in our selfish, limited and often biased perspective.

* * *

Let us be open to changes and possibilities at any given point in our lives. Yes, let us be open to God’s surprises! People change, situations can be made better, and so must we. I saw the two pigs as dead meat, but my little niece saw them as tourists! May the Lord give us that Easter eye and that Easter look, and help us to rise from our “tombs” and “prisons.”

* * *

“Why are you troubled?” The Lord asked His two disciples this question in today’s gospel. He is also asking us this question today. What is it that is bothering you right now? Finances? Health? Relationships?

Allow the Lord to assure us and calm our fears and anxieties with His greeting, “Peace be with you!”

There are many things that are beyond our control. There is always the unknown. Likewise, there are realities in our past that can no longer be undone. Faith and trust in God can heal us of our troubled past and strengthen us for our difficult present realities, as well as our uncertain future.

* * *

God is a God of surprises! I would like to share with you this beautiful prayer: “God, surprise us again. When we miss the beauty and joy of Earth’s goodness. When we grow too accustomed to life’s busyness. When the goodness of others gets lost in the rush. When our frailty outruns our strength. When the hope in our hearts fades away. When the call to serve others loses its flavor. When we search for the way home to You. When loneliness pursues us. When it seems that the darkness will never give way to light. When the ache of the world wears our compassion thin. When the troubles of others seem more than we can carry.”

* * *

Growing older? Look at it as growing closer and becoming dearer to God. Let not the setting sun bring gloom and doom, but peace, serenity and gratitude for us who have toiled and endured the noonday sun. Let us always ask the Lord to give us new eyes to see at any point in our lives—that Easter perspective, that Easter heart, and that Easter smile. Yes, that Easter mode, the whole year round.

* * *

Functions can cease and work can stop at some point, but growing and becoming never end. May we, at any point in our lives, continue to become better persons. There is definitely life after retirement—that time in our lives when we go beyond our quantity mode and go for quality time, when we go beyond our acquirement mode, and go for payback time.

* * *

Think about this: “Society measures success by the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the house we live in, the job title we carry, and the bulk of our bank accounts. But God measures success by our ability to forgive, our willingness to give, our treatment of others, how we live our lives, and the values we uphold—love and kindness for others. ”

* * *

Bantay Matanda invites you to a lay forum on the Expanded Senior Citizens Act at Tuklong Hall of Christ the King Seminary, E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Quezon City, on April 25 at 9 a.m.-12 noon. For inquiries, please call 373-2262, 9982548 or 09174167849.

* * *

Inviting you to our biennial “Walk with God to Manaoag” on May 2. The 13-kilometer, three-and-a-half-hour walk starts at Urdaneta Cathedral in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, at 5 a.m. and will end with a 9 a.m. thanksgiving Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag. Yes, let us bring our thanksgiving and petitions to God through and with our Blessed Mother.

* * *

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, instill in us that Easter mode so that we may see and radiate joy, hope and love the whole year round. Amen.


What’s in a name? Artemio V. Panganiban @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:05 AM | Sunday, April 19th, 2015


FORMER CJ PANGANIBAN

The use by the chief peace negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of an alias or nom de guerre has disrupted the peace process—unnecessarily, in my humble view. Despite being pressed to reveal his “real” name, Mohagher Iqbal has remained tightlipped, claiming that the use of pseudonyms is normal for revolutionaries.

Laws on use of alias. “Kahit na si Marcelo del Pilar siyam po ang pangalan, at maging ang tatay ni Presidente na si Ninoy Aquino, in his passport his name was Marcial Bonifacio. So, normal po yan,” Iqbal said in an interview over GMA News TV’s “Balitanghali.”

To be sure, under Republic Act No. 6085 (which regulates the use of aliases), “no person shall use any name different from the one (1) with which he was registered at birth in the office of the local civil registry, or (2) with which he was baptized for the first time, or, (3) in case of an alien, with which he was registered in the bureau of immigration upon entry; or (4) such substitute name as may have been authorized by a competent court…”

As exceptions to these four items, the same law allows aliases “solely for literary, cinema, television, radio or other entertainment purposes and in athletic events where the use of pseudonym is normally accepted.” Thus, TV-radio and movie stars (like Heart Evangelista) may use pseudonyms. And athletes, too (like Pacman or Pancho Villa).

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In addition, a married woman, according to the Civil Code, may use “(1) her maiden first name and surname and add her husband’s surname, or (2) her maiden first name and her husband’s surname, or (3) her husband’s full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as ‘Mrs.’” Example: My wife may use (1) Elenita Carpio Panganiban, or (2) Elenita Panganiban, or (3) Mrs. Artemio V. Panganiban.

The Civil Code also permits the “employment of pen names or stage names, provided it is done in good faith and there is no injury to third persons.” Perfectly legal, therefore, were the use of “Doveglion” by Jose Garcia Villa and of “Quijano de Manila” by Nick Joaquin.

Filipinos’ use of nicknames, though not expressly allowed by RA 6085 and the Civil Code, have acquired legal acquiescence. Thus, we fondly refer to our presidents as P-Noy, GMA, Erap, FVR, Cory or FM without much ado and nitpicking.

Risks in illegal aliases. Certain special laws or regulations expressly bar the use of aliases. Thus, in opening bank accounts, “Jose Pidal” or “Jose Velarde” are not allowed by Bangko Sentral Circular 251. So, too, are fictitious names not authorized on passports, driver’s licenses and other government-issued ID cards because precisely they are used to identify their holders.

RA 6085 penalizes the illegal use of aliases or pseudonyms with imprisonment of from one year to five years and a fine of P5,000 to P10,000.

Despite these laws and penalties, revolutionaries still use aliases or noms de guerre to confuse their enemies, avoid being caught, and spare their families from inconvenience and possible ridicule.

Spies and deep-penetration agents, like the legendary James Bond, employ many names and passports to veil their identities and enable them to perform their delicate missions without being detected by their adversaries. Stealth and subterfuge are the very essence of their work. This does not necessarily mean the practice is legal. In fact, it is illegal.

Of course, if they are caught using fictitious names, they can be prosecuted and penalized. Nonetheless, this is probably the least of their worries. Rebels are in constant danger of being exposed, prosecuted and punished for worse crimes like rebellion, sedition or murder.

Meanwhile, while the peace process continues, Iqbal and his associates are in no danger of being arrested or prosecuted because they have been issued “safe conduct” passes by the government. Should the peace process collapse, their passes would expire and they would be in jeopardy of being chased and prosecuted like other criminal offenders. On the other hand, should the peace process succeed, they could be hailed as heroes.

Validity of acts. Despite the illegal use of a nom de guerre in negotiating with the government, Iqbal’s acts cannot be deemed invalid or illegal, provided they were done with the authority of the MILF, his principal. In point of fact, the MILF leadership has expressly affirmed his authority and the binding effect of his acts. So, what’s the big deal?

Moreover, the government’s peace panel headed by Miriam Coronel Ferrer, including Secretary Teresita Deles, admitted knowledge of Iqbal’s nom de guerre; in fact, they also know his real name. So, his use of a fictitious name is not an issue in assessing the binding effect of his actions.

Besides, once the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is approved, it would bind the Republic of the Philippines regardless of whether the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro he signed is valid or not. Indeed, the BBL—assuming it passes judicial scrutiny—would become part of the law of the land.

What’s in a name? To many of us, it is our most cherished treasure because it bears our honor and worth as distinct human beings. This is especially true for members of the judiciary. In their decisions, Supreme Court justices always sign above their complete names, including their middle initials, as in Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno or Hilario G. Davide Jr. One way of incurring their ire is to misspell their names or to muddle their middle initials.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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