© Copyright, 2015 (PHNO) http://newsflash.org

EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

EDITORIAL: SALARIED WORKERS CONTINUE TO HOPE FOR LOWER TAX RATES


SEPTEMBER 23 -The fallout from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the administration included the impression that the government has so much money to fund so many projects, including some that do not seem so important to the national interest. The DAP, it may be recalled, came to be known to the public when Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, accusing the administration of selective justice, asked why he was being investigated on his use of funds listed under his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), when several other senators had also received millions, including P50 million each after the Corona impeachment proceedings. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad then corrected him, saying the P50-million funds were not PDAF, but DAP. Both the PDAF and the DAP have since been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, freeing billions of funds for programs that must now be approved by Congress in the annual National Budget or General Apprpriations Act. From the P2.606-trillion National Budget for 2015, the administration is now proposing a much bigger National Budget of P3.002 trillion for 2016. With seemingly so much available funds in the national coffers, cannot the government afford some reduction in its annual tax income, so it can carry out much-needed reforms in the country’s tax rates which are now unduly loaded against fixed-income earners? READ MORE...

ALSO: The truth about Metro Manila traffic


SEPTEMBER 22 -The truth about traffic congestion in Metro Manila is that each of us, whether motorist, passenger, pedestrian, or traffic enforcer, are either contributing to the problem or taking part in the solution. There are factors beyond our control like the 2.5 million vehicles registered in Metro Manila and our daytime road population reaching 14 million. We must also expect the number of vehicles to increase in the next years together with the number of infrastructure projects in Metro Manila that are necessary to keep up with the country’s growth and development. But when it comes to certain choke points and problem areas along our main thoroughfares, we can agree that heavy traffic can be avoided with discipline, obedience, and road courtesy. It need not be as bad as it is – and we’re seeing evidence to support this. Since the intervention of the government’s task force on traffic, there are good indications that we can improve the traffic situation. In the hopes of mimicking the success of Manila’s port decongestion last year, we filed a Senate Resolution seeking to formulate strategies and solutions to address the worsening traffic conditions and called for public hearings, which serve as a venue for stakeholders to work together and implement solutions. READ MORE...by Sen. Bam Aquino...

ALSO by Florangel Rosario Braid: The kind of leadership for our times


SEPTEMBER 26 -by Florangel Rosario Braid -
The movie Heneral Luna showing in several theaters and which is now on its second week, has stirred considerable controversy. A “work of fiction based on fact,” the film’s principal message is that the primary enemy is us, not the Americans or other outsiders. Thus, the story revolves around the character of Luna and the impact of his decisions during the battle for independence against the United States which was trying to consolidate control over the country that it had acquired from Spain after the Treaty of Paris. Director Jerrold Tarog has won praises for effectively communicating the message of patriotism and nationalism through Heneral Luna. Despite resistance from the members of President Aguinaldo’s cabinet who felt that collaboration with the Americans was the most practical course of action, Luna persisted in pursuing the war which ended in his final defeat and death at the hands of fellow Filipinos. The film which was sent as the country’s entry for the Oscar’s Best Foreign Picture Award, has been hailed by noted theater director and actor Bart Guingona not only for the “amazing performances, excellent quality, and tasteful control, but for its attempt to stir, shake, and break notions.” He commends the producers for their bravery – showing the film to the Filipino audiences first before trying to shop it out to foreign film festivals as many other independent films do and that he is sorry that there are not enough cinemas and supporters for this endeavor. But in what he describes as an alternative viewpoint, TV journalist and documentary producer, Howie Severino chides the director for laying the blame for failure of the revolution on the people who “lack the will and willingness to unite under a common cause… and for Heneral Luna’s invocations of need for discipline but is helpless to regulate his own impulses and violent rages.” It appears, he continues, “that the movie drives home the point that by killing Luna, it became the manifest destiny of the country to be conquered and to be oppressed.” Other critics point out that the movie might give the impression that what we need today is an “authoritarian type of leadership that Luna represents.”  Which brings me to the concern over the kind of leadership which the country needs for our times. Next year is election year and it is perhaps time for us to ponder on the qualities we would require of the leaders who would steer the country’s growth in the next decade. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Comelec debates will complete our picture of the candidates


SEPTEMBER 25 -We are now in a part of the election period where prospective candidates consider their chances, study the ground they must cover, establish their positions, and form their alliances. The scene is constantly shifting. A candidate with a seemingly unbeatable lead is suddenly overtaken by events such as the filing of serious charges against him. Another candidate’s qualifications to even run for office are questioned. Still another candidate finds some partymates are now shifting their loyalties.
All possible means to get ahead are used. Survey samples, questions, and results are used to benefit certain candidates and downgrade others. Multiple cases are filed in multiple venues. Funds begin to get spent for a variety of programs and projects. All this are part of Philippine elections. But they should not be the main part, the Commission on Elections stressed as it announced plans to hold debates among the presidential and vice-presidential candidates as soon as the campaign period starts in February. Presidential debates are a respected tradition in the United States, from which we inherited many of our electoral practices. After the debates, which are widely followed on American television, the candidates submit themselves to state primaries where the weaker ones fall by the wayside. The series of primaries in various states ultimately leave two candidates of the Democratic and Republican Parties to contest the national election in November. In the Philippines, where the party system has become largely ineffective and personal loyalties are the norm, candidates are very much on their own. Presidential and vice-presidential candidates have to cover the entire country. They seek to shake as many hands as they can – along with other means to win votes. Party ideologies do not come into play. Issues are hardly discussed. This is what the Comelec seeks to correct when it carries out Section 7.3 of Republic Act 9006, the Fair Election Act, which provides that the Comelec may require national television and radio networks to sponsor at least three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate. READ MORE...

ALSO Editorial: Pope brings his appeal for refugees, migrants to his US visit


SEPTEMBER 27 -Early this month, Pope Francis appealed to the conscience of Europe for the hundreds of thousands of migrants from Syria and other refugees fleeing the violence and brutality of war in their own countries. The humanitarian crisis, he said, should reawaken the continent’s conscience. Specifically he appealed to every Catholic parish, religious community, and sanctuary in Europe to take in a family of refugees. He set the example by taking in two families in parishes inside the Vatican.
The Pope’s appeal for the refugees is part of his long-expressed concern for the poor and the oppressed all over the world. “These poor people are fleeing war, hunger, but that is the tip of the iceberg because underneath that is the cause and the cause is a bad and unjust socio-economic system,” he added. In his historic visit to the United States this week, the Pope found himself face to face with the migration issue in another form. The US is in the middle of a presidential election campaign and hardline anti-immigration rhetoric has been heard from some of the Republican candidates, notably Donald Trump, who specifically called on the government to stop Mexicans from coming over the border. The Pope’s appeal for immigrants everywhere goes with his call for all nations to take better care of all those who find themselves cast outside established societies such members of the gay community, the poor and the downtrodden, victims of drug-trafficking and terrorism. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

EDITORIAL: Salaried workers continue to hope for lower tax rates

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 28, 2015 (MANILA BULLETIN) September 23, 2015 -The fallout from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the administration included the impression that the government has so much money to fund so many projects, including some that do not seem so important to the national interest.

The DAP, it may be recalled, came to be known to the public when Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, accusing the administration of selective justice, asked why he was being investigated on his use of funds listed under his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), when several other senators had also received millions, including P50 million each after the Corona impeachment proceedings. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad then corrected him, saying the P50-million funds were not PDAF, but DAP.

Both the PDAF and the DAP have since been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, freeing billions of funds for programs that must now be approved by Congress in the annual National Budget or General Apprpriations Act. From the P2.606-trillion National Budget for 2015, the administration is now proposing a much bigger National Budget of P3.002 trillion for 2016.

With seemingly so much available funds in the national coffers, cannot the government afford some reduction in its annual tax income, so it can carry out much-needed reforms in the country’s tax rates which are now unduly loaded against fixed-income earners?

READ MORE...

The nation’s salaried workers, including teachers and office workers, pay as much as 32 percent of their income in taxes. This is the second highest rate in Southeast Asia, after Vietnam’s 35 percent. Sen. Edgardo Angara has been pushing for a bill to reduce the rates, to enable workers to have more spending money, which would anyway flow back into the economy.

The other day, President Aquino rejected the Senate tax measure, saying it would reduce the government revenues and negatively affect the nation’s credit ratings. He also rejected a proposal of the Department of Finance (DOF) to increase the Value-Added Tax (VAT) from 12 to 14 percent, as this would raise prices all around. The DOF had proposed the VAT increase to make up for any revenue loss in case the Angara tax measure passed.

With the President’s decision, the result is status quo in government income. The Philippines will keep its international credit rating, while the country’s salaried workers will continue to suffer from the high tax rates. But they continue to hope and they continue to ask: Could not the government give up some of its billions – the huge amounts that were removed from the national budget as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court – to allow it to ease the heavy tax burden on ordinary workers?

Would that not be a worthy legacy for the outgoing Aquino administration?


The truth about Metro Manila traffic September 22, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share31

The truth about traffic congestion in Metro Manila is that each of us, whether motorist, passenger, pedestrian, or traffic enforcer, are either contributing to the problem or taking part in the solution.

There are factors beyond our control like the 2.5 million vehicles registered in Metro Manila and our daytime road population reaching 14 million.

We must also expect the number of vehicles to increase in the next years together with the number of infrastructure projects in Metro Manila that are necessary to keep up with the country’s growth and development.

But when it comes to certain choke points and problem areas along our main thoroughfares, we can agree that heavy traffic can be avoided with discipline, obedience, and road courtesy.

It need not be as bad as it is – and we’re seeing evidence to support this.

Since the intervention of the government’s task force on traffic, there are good indications that we can improve the traffic situation.

In the hopes of mimicking the success of Manila’s port decongestion last year, we filed a Senate Resolution seeking to formulate strategies and solutions to address the worsening traffic conditions and called for public hearings, which serve as a venue for stakeholders to work together and implement solutions.

READ MORE...

We are hoping that the hearings at the Senate can help smoothen the alliance among the various agencies and apply the necessary political pressure while involving the public in finding solutions to this issue.

The unified objective is to fortify effective traffic decongestion strategies by the time we host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and experience the rush of the Christmas season.

Though it may be premature to proclaim success, the results from the first weeks are encouraging.

The task force on traffic has already implemented initiatives and interventions to ease our traffic situation.

We witnessed the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) take the reins to strictly enforce existing traffic rules equally among motorists and public transport vehicles, even penalizing fellow policemen caught breaking the law.

The HPG will now supervise personnel from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) as they pass on operational control.

When it comes to the buses along EDSA, government agencies are keeping a watchful eye on their traffic flow to make changes on locations of loading bays, if necessary.

Illegal vendors and illegally parked vehicles have also been removed with the help of the local government units so they do not impede the flow of traffic.

Seeing various agencies of government working together fluidly to pursue a common objective is heartening and we are interested to see the implementation of other planned interventions, such as the truck ban, staggered work hours, special Christmas lanes, and APEC VIP lanes.

The next issue to solve is the very real problem of conveniently moving people en masse and not just improving the movement of private cars.

To improve our road efficiency, we must attract more Filipinos to take mass transport like buses and trains. Carpooling is another intervention that can contribute to the decongestion of our roads and this can be incentivized with the creation of special lanes for high-occupancy vehicles.

As we work through the “-ber” months, we can expect the task force to implement these interventions across the metro and maintain strict enforcement of traffic rules.

But it will take the collective effort of the government, private sector, and general public to generate lasting, sustainable solutions.

The truth about Metro Manila’s traffic problem is that we need the participation of motorists, commuters, and public transport groups, along with our enforcement agencies to form a considerate, law-abiding culture that will benefit everyone in the long run.

Can we rebuild the trust between traffic enforcers, motorists, and the commuting public? Can each of us do our part by becoming responsible, courteous Filipinos, particularly during our daily commute?

Instead of being part of the problem, can we, instead, be part of the solution to Metro Manila’s traffic woes?

***

Have you noticed changes on our roads since the implementation of traffic interventions? Share your rants, raves, and proposed solutions by e-mailing apoliticsofhope@gmail.comor fb.com/BenignoBamAquino, or tune in during Wednesdays, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm, at RMN Manila DZXL on “Status Update.” ( Senator Bam Aquino)


EDITORIAL: Comelec debates will complete our picture of the candidates September 26, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share0

We are now in a part of the election period where prospective candidates consider their chances, study the ground they must cover, establish their positions, and form their alliances. The scene is constantly shifting. A candidate with a seemingly unbeatable lead is suddenly overtaken by events such as the filing of serious charges against him. Another candidate’s qualifications to even run for office are questioned. Still another candidate finds some partymates are now shifting their loyalties.

All possible means to get ahead are used. Survey samples, questions, and results are used to benefit certain candidates and downgrade others. Multiple cases are filed in multiple venues. Funds begin to get spent for a variety of programs and projects.

All this are part of Philippine elections. But they should not be the main part, the Commission on Elections stressed as it announced plans to hold debates among the presidential and vice-presidential candidates as soon as the campaign period starts in February.

Presidential debates are a respected tradition in the United States, from which we inherited many of our electoral practices. After the debates, which are widely followed on American television, the candidates submit themselves to state primaries where the weaker ones fall by the wayside. The series of primaries in various states ultimately leave two candidates of the Democratic and Republican Parties to contest the national election in November.

In the Philippines, where the party system has become largely ineffective and personal loyalties are the norm, candidates are very much on their own. Presidential and vice-presidential candidates have to cover the entire country. They seek to shake as many hands as they can – along with other means to win votes. Party ideologies do not come into play. Issues are hardly discussed.

This is what the Comelec seeks to correct when it carries out Section 7.3 of Republic Act 9006, the Fair Election Act, which provides that the Comelec may require national television and radio networks to sponsor at least three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate.

READ MORE...

The three will be in Mindanao, Visayas, and Luzon. The lone VP debate will be in Metro Manila.

The debates should bring out what is largely being ignored in the ongoing news developments – the candidates’ stands on important issues facing the country today. Voters have a fairly good idea of their competence as officials, and they have seen how they have carried themselves when faced with problems in the past.

The voters will now have an opportunity to find out how the candidates stand on the issues that the country faces today – our relations with certain other nations notably the United States and China, the problem in Mindanao and the proposed Bangsamoro Region, the continuing poverty among so many of our people, for example.

The debates will complete our picture of the candidates. They may provide the most important part of that picture.


The kind of leadership for our times by Florangel Rosario Braid September 25, 2015 Share0 Tweet2 Share0 Email0 Share3


by Florangel Rosario Braid

The movie Heneral Luna showing in several theaters and which is now on its second week, has stirred considerable controversy. A “work of fiction based on fact,” the film’s principal message is that the primary enemy is us, not the Americans or other outsiders.

Thus, the story revolves around the character of Luna and the impact of his decisions during the battle for independence against the United States which was trying to consolidate control over the country that it had acquired from Spain after the Treaty of Paris.

Director Jerrold Tarog has won praises for effectively communicating the message of patriotism and nationalism through Heneral Luna. Despite resistance from the members of President Aguinaldo’s cabinet who felt that collaboration with the Americans was the most practical course of action, Luna persisted in pursuing the war which ended in his final defeat and death at the hands of fellow Filipinos.

The film which was sent as the country’s entry for the Oscar’s Best Foreign Picture Award, has been hailed by noted theater director and actor Bart Guingona not only for the “amazing performances, excellent quality, and tasteful control, but for its attempt to stir, shake, and break notions.”

He commends the producers for their bravery – showing the film to the Filipino audiences first before trying to shop it out to foreign film festivals as many other independent films do and that he is sorry that there are not enough cinemas and supporters for this endeavor.

But in what he describes as an alternative viewpoint, TV journalist and documentary producer, Howie Severino chides the director for laying the blame for failure of the revolution on the people who “lack the will and willingness to unite under a common cause… and for Heneral Luna’s invocations of need for discipline but is helpless to regulate his own impulses and violent rages.”

It appears, he continues, “that the movie drives home the point that by killing Luna, it became the manifest destiny of the country to be conquered and to be oppressed.” Other critics point out that the movie might give the impression that what we need today is an “authoritarian type of leadership that Luna represents.”

Which brings me to the concern over the kind of leadership which the country needs for our times. Next year is election year and it is perhaps time for us to ponder on the qualities we would require of the leaders who would steer the country’s growth in the next decade.

READ MORE...

In presidential debates, the traditional format is usually to ask the candidate to present his/her platform of government and to elaborate on specific courses of action. However, instead of focusing on intended actions, the debates could initially encourage us to probe into each candidate’s personal attributes – his or her experiences and personal vision.

We all know that in the final analysis, it is one’s character and personality and not a plan or package of reforms that would determine the impact of leadership on the country’s development. Among the outcomes of this exercise would be some revelations on how each candidate confronted success or failure in his/her life.

A book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown talks about failure, which she notes, is critical in developing courage. She says that he or she who is the most capable of being uncomfortable rises the fastest.

Other analysts further explain failure as one of the greatest learning tools. All important learning comes from failure, they say, as failures can make us more resilient and risk-taking. If leaders are afraid to fail, then nothing will happen. Leadership is all about risks and rewards. With every risk, there is the potential for failure. But admitting that we have actually failed, inspires others.

Looking at famous personalities in government, science, the arts, and the private sector in various countries around the world would show that many of them have demonstrated risk-taking attributes. They took risks, failed, stumbled, rose up, and learned from failure.

Among them were Abraham Lincoln who rose from poverty and lost several nominations for Congress and the presidency before being elected US president.

The same is true for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and others, including TV personality Oprah Winfrey, inventor Thomas Edision, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Henry Ford, Col. Sanders, India’s President Abdul Kalam, a poet-scientist who developed missiles and nuclear weapons. All have said at one time or another that one must be willing to travel in unexplored territory, must have the courage to make decisions, should work with integrity and succeed with integrity, and must be able to manage both success and failure.

While it is important for anyone wishing to enter public office to have some of these attributes, they are essential for those aspiring for the presidency and other national leadership positions. This explains why the Constitution is specific on attributes of candidates and matters that would reflect a candidate’s character and integrity.

And because leading a country of over 100 million people of diverse cultures and social and economic backgrounds requires more than just professional or academic competence, it is important that candidates aspiring for the top positions must be evaluated for even their intangible attributes such as courage, resiliency, and the capacity to manage failure.


Editorial: Pope brings his appeal for refugees, migrants to his US visit September 27, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share0

Early this month, Pope Francis appealed to the conscience of Europe for the hundreds of thousands of migrants from Syria and other refugees fleeing the violence and brutality of war in their own countries. The humanitarian crisis, he said, should reawaken the continent’s conscience. Specifically he appealed to every Catholic parish, religious community, and sanctuary in Europe to take in a family of refugees. He set the example by taking in two families in parishes inside the Vatican.

The Pope’s appeal for the refugees is part of his long-expressed concern for the poor and the oppressed all over the world. “These poor people are fleeing war, hunger, but that is the tip of the iceberg because underneath that is the cause and the cause is a bad and unjust socio-economic system,” he added.

In his historic visit to the United States this week, the Pope found himself face to face with the migration issue in another form. The US is in the middle of a presidential election campaign and hardline anti-immigration rhetoric has been heard from some of the Republican candidates, notably Donald Trump, who specifically called on the government to stop Mexicans from coming over the border.

The Pope’s appeal for immigrants everywhere goes with his call for all nations to take better care of all those who find themselves cast outside established societies such members of the gay community, the poor and the downtrodden, victims of drug-trafficking and terrorism.

READ MORE...

At the official start of his US visit with a welcome by President Barack Obama at the White House, Pope Francis began his response with the words “I am the son of an immigrant family” and said he was happy to be a guest in a country which was largely built by such families. The Pope’s family, the Bergoglios, migrated from Italy to Argentina where he was born.

Later in the day, in his address to the Catholic bishops of America at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, he cited their courage in the face of the church’s sexual abuse scandal. He called on them to focus less on defending church teaching and more on compassion, which has become one of the defining messages of his papacy.

And he urged them to open their arms to immigrants. “I am certain that, as so often in the past, these people will enrich America and its Church,” he said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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