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

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

BY A DEL ROSARIO: THE CAMPAIGN GETS NASTY


DECEMBER 16  -The 2016 presidential campaign just got nastier with ugly verbal violence taking over. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, PDP-Laban presidential bet, said he would slap rival Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas if their paths cross on the campaign trail. Roxas raised Duterte’s hackles for saying his record as a crime buster is a myth. Assailing the Davao mayor’s reputation as a tough law-and-order enforcer is almost an assault on his manhood, prompting Digong’s outburst. Mar went as far as citing Philippine National Police statistics showing Davao City as fourth nationwide in the number of crimes committed. When Duterte questioned Roxas’ Wharton School of Economics degree, Mar snapped back: “If I cannot prove I have a Wharton degree, Digong can slap me. But if I do, and I have asked Wharton to send my school records, is Duterte ready to be slapped?” The prestigious US school’s website lists Roxas as one of its notable graduates. Duterte cannot continue intimidating other people with his tough-guy talk. Sooner or later, someone will man up to him. As Mar Roxas did. Better double your phalanx of bodyguards, Mar. The Dutertes don’t make empty threats. It will be recalled Rody’s daughter, former Davao city mayor Sarah, punched a sheriff who was serving an eviction order against informal settlers. The sheriff was talking back to Sarah that he was merely serving a lawful court order. Duterte now finds himself the object of a Commission on Human Rights investigation for boasting he killed 1,700 criminals. While Duterte bragged about it, the CHR will have to produce, literally, the bodies of evidence. In law, there is no crime committed when a corpus delicti (Latin for corpse) cannot be produced. How can they be produced if, as the “myth” goes, the bodies of these summary killings have already been fed as shark meat when they were dumped into the sea? Duterte, himself a lawyer, knows this as he asked his accusers “did anyone see me do it?” Dead men tell no tales, or else CHR Commissioner Etta Rosales would have filed a case against Duterte a long time ago. The allegations on the existence of a Davao death squad have been reported even before Duterte burst into the national consciousness as a presidential contender. Saving Grace Poe How does anyone save Grace Poe from herself? READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Dashing through the streets posted


DECEMBER 16 -WE were haunted today by the image of a child—probably no older than seven —seated on the running board of a public utility jeepney, banging on a makeshift bongo drum and singing his heart out, his sooty face and tattered T-shirt soaked by the rain brought about by Typhoon “Nona.” At the stoplight, street urchins even younger than he yammered out perfunctory Christmas carols hoping that motorists would favor them with a few coins while waiting for the light to turn. Along with the horrendous traffic jams, the hordes of children begging on the streets are a sure sign that the city is deep into the holiday season. Perhaps it says something about us as a people that we rarely give these underaged panhandlers a second thought. Some motorists give them a few coins out of pity; others do so because they don’t want their cars vandalized. Still others simply dismiss them with a wave. What none of us do, however, is to call out our national and local leaders and pressure them to take these children off the streets, away from a patently dangerous and unhealthy environment. In particular, this is the time to press Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to do her job. Just last month, Soliman was eagerly “rescuing” street people from Manila, where they might be sighted by world leaders and international delegates who were here to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings. Some of these homeless people were given cash to find temporary lodgings elsewhere, and were told they could return to the streets only after the Apec summit. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL: Mum on what matters
[Our presidential candidates have given us a lot to chew on—and shake our heads about—in the past few days. That slapmatch-fistfight-gunfire challenge exchanged by former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has exasperated us because it showed how low the level of discourse could go in this country.]


DECEMBER 17 -Our presidential candidates have given us a lot to chew on—and shake our heads about—in the past few days. That slapmatch-fistfight-gunfire challenge exchanged by former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has exasperated us because it showed how low the level of discourse could go in this country. The continuing legal saga of Senator Grace Poe who may or may not be disqualified from the race because of her citizenship and residency issues has also captured the country’s attention. Even Senator Miriam Santiago has briefly managed to show us she could overcome her health issues with witty one-liners. All these can be considered white noise when viewed in the context of issues that would make or break us in the next generation. This week, with typhoon “Nona” and “Onyok” coming in quick succession, we are once again reminded that climate change could cause serious disruptions.Who has heard of warm instead of chilly December days? Who expects a series of typhoons to batter the country towards the holidays? Last weekend, the world rejoiced over the signing of an agreement in Paris. The deal essentially said that nations of the world recognized the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. This is so that warming would not accelerate: the consequences are dire and the prospects are grim. READ MORE...

ALSO By Emil Jurado: Can corruption be eradicated?


DECEMBER 17 -WE ALL know that elections, which come every three years in the Philippines, are a great source of entertainment. We watch girls in bikinis gyrating onstage to attract crowds before the candidates speak. We applaud when we see candidates dancing and clowning around to catch the attention of the crowd. We also listen to candidates make promises which they do not intend to keep. It’s the moon and the stars, a paradise, waiting for Filipinos if they get elected. But what are we witnessing now with the likes of Manuel Roxas II and Rodrigo Duterte challenging each other to a slapping contest, boxing and even a gun duel? They have both gone down to the gutter! We may be amused, but this is no laughing matter. And they tell us they can give us paradise in 2016?  * * *  President Aquino makes a big thing out of his alleged reforms to fight corruption. He cites Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, both of whom are his appointees, who are supposedly at the forefront of this fight. Reforms, my foot! In more than five years of the Aquino administration, I have never seen so much graft and corruption in my life with no less than BS Aquino III bribing both chambers of Congress with pork barrel funds to get what he wants. It’s hypocritical for the President to claim that his anti-corruption reforms have minimized graft and corruption in government when we all know the contrary. Corruption is bad because it denies the people the benefits, which they rightfully deserve, from government. Corruption under the Aquino administration has become such that even the Department of Justice under Secretary Leila de Lima, who is running for the Senate, and Ombudsman Morales, have become the President’s attack dogs. They are always ready to prosecute BS Aquino III’s political enemies while turning a blind eye on the President’s supporters and friends. If the President can claim any legacy, it’s his brand of “selective justice.” He has one set of standards for his political enemies, and another one for his friends. I can cite a few of the President’s allies who should have been fired a long time ago. READ MORE...

ALSO EDITORIAL on the President's comment: 'Run Over'
[On that day, in front of a large audience at Dasmariñas National High School, Mr. Aquino promised that the Light Rail Transit (Line 1) extension from Baclaran to Bacoor will be completed by the end of 2015. The project was envisioned to serve 250,000 train passengers.“If this does not happen, and there is Secretary Abaya who is in charge of this project, perhaps the two of us will allow ourselves to be run over by a train,” Mr. Aquino said, a bit too confident.]


DECEMBER 20 -The remark was made in jest, the Palace is likely to say, now that the date is fast approaching. We refer to the statement of President Benigno Aquino III from April 2013, while he was campaigning for the Liberal Party’s senatorial bets in Dasmariñas, Cavite. On that day, in front of a large audience at Dasmariñas National High School, Mr. Aquino promised that the Light Rail Transit (Line 1) extension from Baclaran to Bacoor will be completed by the end of 2015. The project was envisioned to serve 250,000 train passengers. “If this does not happen, and there is Secretary Abaya who is in charge of this project, perhaps the two of us will allow ourselves to be run over by a train,” Mr. Aquino said, a bit too confident. At that time, Aquino was desperate to court the votes of the electorate so that the candidates from his party could continue to occupy Senate seats and influence the legislative­—sometimes political—agenda that he was pushing. It’s December 20, with a mere 11 days to go before the end of the year. There is no train extension. In fact, since then, the public rail system has deteriorated to a point that using it has become part of the daily ordeal of the ordinary student or worker. It is not only the LRT. A bigger problem is the Metro Rail Transit 3, which runs along Edsa, the premier highway in the capital. The MRT-3 has encountered all sorts of problems in recent months—broken rails, old coaches, delays and frequent breakdowns. During a typhoon just this past week, one of the stations became submerged in water, eliminating the MRT as an option among exhausted, famished, and exasperated commuters. In all these, the Aquino administration has managed to blame every mishap on the previous administration, denying the fact that five years has passed—plenty of time for it to correct whatever mistakes and excesses that may have been committed. And so we are back to a hollow challenge, as hollow as the promises habitually made by a President we cannot take seriously anymore. Funny how Mr. Aquino invoked the words of his late parents as they advised him to stay true to his word all the time. Then again, perhaps he was joking that time, too. What a pity that this country has been run over by a joker. THE FULL EDITORIAL


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

The campaign gets nasty

MANILA, DECEMBER 21, 2015 (MANILA STANDARD) posted December 16, 2015 at 12:01 am by Alejandro Del Rosario - The 2016 presidential campaign just got nastier with ugly verbal violence taking over. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, PDP-Laban presidential bet, said he would slap rival Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas if their paths cross on the campaign trail. Roxas raised Duterte’s hackles for saying his record as a crime buster is a myth. Assailing the Davao mayor’s reputation as a tough law-and-order enforcer is almost an assault on his manhood, prompting Digong’s outburst. Mar went as far as citing Philippine National Police statistics showing Davao City as fourth nationwide in the number of crimes committed.

When Duterte questioned Roxas’ Wharton School of Economics degree, Mar snapped back: “If I cannot prove I have a Wharton degree, Digong can slap me. But if I do, and I have asked Wharton to send my school records, is Duterte ready to be slapped?” The prestigious US school’s website lists Roxas as one of its notable graduates.

Duterte cannot continue intimidating other people with his tough-guy talk. Sooner or later, someone will man up to him. As Mar Roxas did.

Better double your phalanx of bodyguards, Mar. The Dutertes don’t make empty threats. It will be recalled Rody’s daughter, former Davao city mayor Sarah, punched a sheriff who was serving an eviction order against informal settlers. The sheriff was talking back to Sarah that he was merely serving a lawful court order.

Duterte now finds himself the object of a Commission on Human Rights investigation for boasting he killed 1,700 criminals. While Duterte bragged about it, the CHR will have to produce, literally, the bodies of evidence. In law, there is no crime committed when a corpus delicti (Latin for corpse) cannot be produced. How can they be produced if, as the “myth” goes, the bodies of these summary killings have already been fed as shark meat when they were dumped into the sea?

Duterte, himself a lawyer, knows this as he asked his accusers “did anyone see me do it?” Dead men tell no tales, or else CHR Commissioner Etta Rosales would have filed a case against Duterte a long time ago. The allegations on the existence of a Davao death squad have been reported even before Duterte burst into the national consciousness as a presidential contender.

Saving Grace Poe

How does anyone save Grace Poe from herself?

READ MORE...

Senator Poe admitted she made an “honest mistake” by misunderstanding the question in her certificate of candidacy on the number of years since she had returned from the US to reside in the Philippines, and when she also stated she was a natural born Filipino when her citizenship was still in question. The Commission on Elections’ two legal divisions ruled this was more than an “honest mistake” but a serious “material misrepresentation.” We are not suggesting it but Senator Poe could withdraw from the race to spare the nation from a divisive situation if her die-hard supporters refuse to accept the ruling of the Supreme Court, to where Poe plans to elevate the case. No one wants to see violent street protests which might be used as reason to postpone the 2016 elections. Sinister forces could seize the opportunity for extending someone’s rule.

The case at the Supreme Court is sub judice and we can no longer comment on it. Composed of 12 wise men and women who are steeped in the law and sworn to uphold the Constitution, the high court is the final arbiter and its ruling should be respected.

Ms. Poe is only 47 years old. She could seek the presidency again when she turns 53 in 2022. By then, she would have acquired the required residency to run for the highest post in the land. The Philippines too, by that time, should have signed the United Nations convention on foundlings mandating a child found in the place where he or she is left abandoned assumes the citizenship of that country in line with the UN’s concern that no one should be a stateless person.

Grace’s claim to the presidency could gain her more support and followers if the winner in 2016 turns out to be a failure. Grace will feel vindicated if the people later on say she would have made a better president had she been allowed to run.

Meanwhile, Katrina Legarda, a lawyer known for championing women’s and children’s rights, weighed in on the controversy. Legarda expressed the opinion that Poe is a natural-born Filipino because “it defies all logic that a foreign woman would come all the way to the Philippines just to abandon her new-born baby.” Grace is a foundling left at a church door in Jaro, Iloilo. She was later adopted by the film couple Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces. Her real parents are unknown even as she tried to trace her relatives through DNA testing. So far, she has been unable to find a match which would lay to rest all questions on her citizenship.


EDITORIAL: Dashing through the streets posted December 16, 2015 at 12:01 am

WE were haunted today by the image of a child—probably no older than seven —seated on the running board of a public utility jeepney, banging on a makeshift bongo drum and singing his heart out, his sooty face and tattered T-shirt soaked by the rain brought about by Typhoon “Nona.”

At the stoplight, street urchins even younger than he yammered out perfunctory Christmas carols hoping that motorists would favor them with a few coins while waiting for the light to turn.

Along with the horrendous traffic jams, the hordes of children begging on the streets are a sure sign that the city is deep into the holiday season.

Perhaps it says something about us as a people that we rarely give these underaged panhandlers a second thought. Some motorists give them a few coins out of pity; others do so because they don’t want their cars vandalized. Still others simply dismiss them with a wave.

What none of us do, however, is to call out our national and local leaders and pressure them to take these children off the streets, away from a patently dangerous and unhealthy environment.

In particular, this is the time to press Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to do her job.

Just last month, Soliman was eagerly “rescuing” street people from Manila, where they might be sighted by world leaders and international delegates who were here to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings. Some of these homeless people were given cash to find temporary lodgings elsewhere, and were told they could return to the streets only after the Apec summit.

READ MORE...

In January, Soliman waved her magic wand and made entire homeless families disappear from Manila streets, lest they are spotted by the visiting Pope. Some were taken out of town to a fancy resort for days, ostensibly for a workshop to teach them about the government’s conditional cash transfer program. An explanation of the program, a straight dole to poor families, would hardly take an hour, much less the several days that the homeless were kept away from the Pope.

In either of these cases, if Soliman were truly serious about protecting the welfare of the homeless, shouldn’t she have simply refused to allow them to return to the streets?

Even worse, Secretary Soliman and her department continues to turn a blind eye to women who carry infants as a prop in their panhandling, exposing the children to the elements, pollution and speeding vehicles.

It is not enough for Secretary Soliman to say that keeping the homeless off the streets is somebody else’s responsibility—and that it is the local governments or the police that must act.

After all, she took the initiative to hide the poor from the Pope and the Apec delegates. Certainly she can do the same when no foreign visitors are around to see them.

We do wonder what Secretary Soliman does when underaged carolers stop at her car in the holiday traffic. Perhaps she simply waves them off and looks the other way.


EDITORIAL: Mum on what matters posted December 17, 2015 at 12:01 am

Our presidential candidates have given us a lot to chew on—and shake our heads about—in the past few days.

That slapmatch-fistfight-gunfire challenge exchanged by former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has exasperated us because it showed how low the level of discourse could go in this country.

The continuing legal saga of Senator Grace Poe who may or may not be disqualified from the race because of her citizenship and residency issues has also captured the country’s attention.

Even Senator Miriam Santiago has briefly managed to show us she could overcome her health issues with witty one-liners.

All these can be considered white noise when viewed in the context of issues that would make or break us in the next generation.

This week, with typhoon “Nona” and “Onyok” coming in quick succession, we are once again reminded that climate change could cause serious disruptions.Who has heard of warm instead of chilly December days? Who expects a series of typhoons to batter the country towards the holidays?

Last weekend, the world rejoiced over the signing of an agreement in Paris. The deal essentially said that nations of the world recognized the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. This is so that warming would not accelerate: the consequences are dire and the prospects are grim.

READ MORE...

The Philippine delegation took active part in the talks and even President Aquino himself made a brief statement on the need to take drastic measures to reverse climate change. We are one of the nearly 200 signatories to the historic pact.

But is any of the presidential candidates even aware of our commitment and the issue altogether, beyond motherhood statements on the need to take care of the environment? Sadly, we have not heard anything about how these candidates intend to deal with the effects of climate change here in our own backyard. Certainly, there will be more disasters—and leadership is not all about overseeing the packaging of relief goods and getting themselves photographed distributing them to the victims.

Let us no longer fan these candidates’ penchant for drama. We need real solutions from stable characters and sober minds. These candidates’ low talk is no match to how big a menace climate change is and could be.


Can corruption be eradicated? posted December 17, 2015 at 12:01 am by Emil Jurado

WE ALL know that elections, which come every three years in the Philippines, are a great source of entertainment. We watch girls in bikinis gyrating onstage to attract crowds before the candidates speak. We applaud when we see candidates dancing and clowning around to catch the attention of the crowd.

We also listen to candidates make promises which they do not intend to keep. It’s the moon and the stars, a paradise, waiting for Filipinos if they get elected.

But what are we witnessing now with the likes of Manuel Roxas II and Rodrigo Duterte challenging each other to a slapping contest, boxing and even a gun duel? They have both gone down to the gutter!

We may be amused, but this is no laughing matter. And they tell us they can give us paradise in 2016?

* * *

President Aquino makes a big thing out of his alleged reforms to fight corruption. He cites Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, both of whom are his appointees, who are supposedly at the forefront of this fight.

Reforms, my foot! In more than five years of the Aquino administration, I have never seen so much graft and corruption in my life with no less than BS Aquino III bribing both chambers of Congress with pork barrel funds to get what he wants.

It’s hypocritical for the President to claim that his anti-corruption reforms have minimized graft and corruption in government when we all know the contrary.

Corruption is bad because it denies the people the benefits, which they rightfully deserve, from government.


De Lima

Corruption under the Aquino administration has become such that even the Department of Justice under Secretary Leila de Lima, who is running for the Senate, and Ombudsman Morales, have become the President’s attack dogs. They are always ready to prosecute BS Aquino III’s political enemies while turning a blind eye on the President’s supporters and friends. If the President can claim any legacy, it’s his brand of “selective justice.” He has one set of standards for his political enemies, and another one for his friends.


MORALES

I can cite a few of the President’s allies who should have been fired a long time ago.

READ MORE...

Topping my list is Transportation and Communications Secretary “Jun” Abaya with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Social and Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman not far behind. They have become albatrosses in BS Aquino III’s ship of state.

President Aquino’s relative and very good friend Naia general manager Jose Angel Honrado must also be fired if the President truly believes in his anti-corruption reforms. My gulay, Honrado is so incompetent that he doesn’t even know his job description.

I am certain that President Aquino is aware that the biggest smuggler of them all is the brother-in-law of a Palace official who has become a billionaire many times over. Go to Customs, at the piers, and they will tell you who he is.

Santa Banana, graft and corruption under President Aquino has worsened so much so that it can now be found in all levels of government.

* * *

Can corruption be really eradicated?

I have been a journalist for over 65 years, and I know that every president since the time of “Apo Pidiong” Quirino on to Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos P. Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, then to 20 years of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, and then to Cory Aquino and to Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, had at one time or another had their administration accused of graft and corruption.

Quirino, for instance, was accused of having a “golden orinola.” But this was canard. Other presidents were also accused of many things. Estrada was charged and convicted of plunder. However, he was pardoned by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

My gulay, even the late Cory Aquino was accused of having her “Kamaganak Inc.,” something like the “Kaklase, Kapartido, and Kabarilan” of her son.

We all know that graft and corruption continues in all levels of government, especially at the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. It’s something like people in government wanting to get the most out of their jobs. Strictly speaking, when employees take home pens and pencils and a few sheets of bond paper from their offices, that’s already graft and corruption.

My gulay, even the lowest of government personnel are sent to jail for graft and corruption. But government officials who steal by the millions seem to get away with it.

Even other countries like the United States and China, there is corruption. It all boils down to greed.

I have been asking the same question over and over again. Can corruption ever be stopped? I guess not, not even if we have an angel for a president. It’s part of the system where candidates for president have to spend no less than P3 billion just for the hope of winning.

Santa Banana, where do you think all the money comes from? For candidates with hopes of winning, the funds are from the usual taipans and Chinese contributors. The donors want political favors and patronage. They don’t invest in candidates because they love them. For contributors, it’s always an issue of ROI—return on investment.

It’s actually this vicious cycle that breeds corruption. The people expect every candidate to throw around funds. The masses always expect something from the candidates.

To many of the “masa,” elections are at time for getting something back from candidates they voted for.

There’s also an element of human discretion. At Customs, for example, so long as there’s human discretion in collecting duties, corrupt exists. It’s the same at the BIR when human discretion exists in tax assessments. Even if the system is computerized, there’s still human intervention involved. As they say, “garbage in, garbage out.”

Thus, if you ask me if corruption will ever be eradicated, my answer is that it can be reduced and minimized. But so long as men have feet of clay and born with original sin, there will always be corruption not only in government, but in civil society as well.

I can only quote Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ president Archbishop Socrates Villegas when he said that killing, immorality, profanity and obscenity are forms of corruption.

Thus, for the next hundred years, we may as well have to live with corruption so long as we have the same system of government. But, frankly, I’d rather live in a democracy that we live in with all its warts rather than have another form of government which could be worse.


Run Over posted December 20, 2015 at 12:01 am

The remark was made in jest, the Palace is likely to say, now that the date is fast approaching.

We refer to the statement of President Benigno Aquino III from April 2013, while he was campaigning for the Liberal Party’s senatorial bets in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

On that day, in front of a large audience at Dasmariñas National High School, Mr. Aquino promised that the Light Rail Transit (Line 1) extension from Baclaran to Bacoor will be completed by the end of 2015.

The project was envisioned to serve 250,000 train passengers.

“If this does not happen, and there is Secretary Abaya who is in charge of this project, perhaps the two of us will allow ourselves to be run over by a train,” Mr. Aquino said, a bit too confident.

At that time, Aquino was desperate to court the votes of the electorate so that the candidates from his party could continue to occupy Senate seats and influence the legislative­—sometimes political—agenda that he was pushing.

It’s December 20, with a mere 11 days to go before the end of the year. There is no train extension.

In fact, since then, the public rail system has deteriorated to a point that using it has become part of the daily ordeal of the ordinary student or worker.

It is not only the LRT. A bigger problem is the Metro Rail Transit 3, which runs along Edsa, the premier highway in the capital. The MRT-3 has encountered all sorts of problems in recent months—broken rails, old coaches, delays and frequent breakdowns. During a typhoon just this past week, one of the stations became submerged in water, eliminating the MRT as an option among exhausted, famished, and exasperated commuters.

In all these, the Aquino administration has managed to blame every mishap on the previous administration, denying the fact that five years has passed—plenty of time for it to correct whatever mistakes and excesses that may have been committed.

And so we are back to a hollow challenge, as hollow as the promises habitually made by a President we cannot take seriously anymore.

Funny how Mr. Aquino invoked the words of his late parents as they advised him to stay true to his word all the time. Then again, perhaps he was joking that time, too. What a pity that this country has been run over by a joker.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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