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

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

EDITORIAL: EARTHQUAKE ALERT AFTER JAPAN, ECUADOR


APRIL 20 -A 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit the southwestern island of Kyushu, Japan, Thursday night, April 14. On Saturday, a stronger earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 struck the same region. At least 41 people were killed in the double disaster, with several others believed buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings. Then last Sunday, April 17, the most powerful earthquake in years, with a magnitude of 7.8, devastated Ecuador across the Pacific Ocean. The center of the earthquake was near a sparsely populated area of fishing ports, but dozens of buildings were flattened in the town of Pedernales and the cities of Manta, Poroviejo, and Guayaquil. After two days, the death toll had reached 413.
We still know very little about earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, except that they are related to continental plates that are constantly moving under the earth’s surface. They gather tension as the plates move against each other, until the tension is released in a sudden earthquake. image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/b16-240x300.jpg Many such grinding plates are located around the Pacific Ocean, from Australia and Indonesia in the south, north to the Philippines and Japan, northeast along the Kuriles to Alaska, south along western North America, Mexico, Central America, and South America. This is the so-called “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific, and Japan and Ecuador are in it. There is now a study linking planetary configurations with earthquakes. According to this theory, the alignment of planets creates a force that affects the earth. Early this month, a video on YouTube by Solar Watcher warned of possible earthquakes as Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, and Neptune moved into an alignment that foreshadowed magnitude-7 earthquakes during the nine-day period of April 14-22. The Japan earthquakes struck last April 14 and 16, the Ecuador earthquake last April 17. Those following Solar Watcher’s study and its warning of a danger period of April 17-22, are now on watch for a possible big earthquakes in several “possible locations,” including the Sea of Okhotsk in the western Pacific, Argentina, Italy, Kyrgyztan, and Tajikistan. As the Philippines is in the “Ring of Fire,” which is also a common location of earthquakes as well as volcanic eruptions, we should also be on alert. We held an earthquake drill in Metro Manila last July, 2015, with the goal of preparing the people and averting panic in case a 7.2-magnitude earthquake – the “Big One” – strikes the region and nearby provinces. We must keep that drill and its lessons in mind especially in these coming days. THE FULL EDITORIAL.

ALSO: EDITORIAL -Let this 3rd and final debate be a true democratic discourse


APRIL 24 -The third and final television debate tonight will bring the five presidential candidates together for the last time before the election on May 9. It has been a rigorous campaign, a roller-coaster ride for the candidates. The next two weeks will see the party organizations at work on the ground, which could determine who ultimately wins the election. At the start of the campaign, there were discussions over legal qualifications, over involvement in irregularities in programs and projects, over performance in previous government positions, even over health issues. More recently, there have been charges and countercharges over allegedly foul language. image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/editorial9-618x1024.jpg In the course of the campaign, plans and platforms emerged. The candidates have basically similar platforms for good government, with differences only in priorities—whether the most urgent need is for the continuation of good government, for a more inclusive economic growth with more jobs for people, for a government with heart and concern for the poor, for action to stop the spread of drugs and crime, for restoration of meritocracy in government. The candidates have criss-crossed the country in the course of their 90-day campaigns, delivering speeches, shaking hands, trying to meet as many people as they can. But of course the country is simply too big for anyone to adequately cover and all have had to depend, in varying degrees, on mass media to reach the masses. READ MORE...

ALSO: By former Senator Edgardo J. Angara - A vigorous social media


APRIL 23 -by Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara
Historians may look back at the current presidential campaign as the country’s first to be shaped significantly by social media. While more than 50 percent of the population today has Internet access, up to 40 percent of eligible voters are between 18 to 35 years old – perhaps the first generation of netizens whose main source for news and insights on current affairs are their smartphones. Tech-savvy candidates have used websites and their Facebook or Twitter accounts as digital platforms for their campaigns, albeit secondary to so-called traditional modes. But only recently have we witnessed online chatter actually having a direct agenda-setting role in the overall campaign. A dramatic example is a video uploaded to YouTube of a leading presidential candidate’s controversial remarks regarding the rape and murder of an Australian missionary. That instantly elicited widespread condemnation from around the world. There is also that online video where a host at a campaign sortie appears to be handling out envelopes to the audience while threatening those who did not clap loud enough would not receive theirs. Still another video was circulated of a candidate himself handing out the envelopes. The identities of the videographers remain largely unknown, though journalists picked up the video feeds with alacrity and sought the candidates for replies and explanations. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Reauters - Chinese ex-official says ‘New Silk Road’ faces difficulties


AP[RIL 23 -The "New Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" will build roads, railways, ports, airports and railways across Central and South Asia. COURTESY OF SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST Beijing, China — China may be facing big financial losses from its high-profile program of overseas investment but the policy is necessary as an outlet for excess industrial capacity, a former top government tax official has said. The comments from Xu Shanda mark a rare public airing by a Chinese official, current or retired, of difficulties facing the “New Silk Road” program, a key policy of President Xi Jinping aimed at helping countries build energy and transport links with the Middle East and Europe. “In previous years, China made large investments in the energy sector. Looking at it now, these investments were useful in ensuring energy supplies, though financial losses were large,” Xu wrote about the New Silk Road initiative in an article published in an online journal by the website ifeng.com. “If we do not go this route, external demand will shrink, which will put tremendous pressure on domestic production and exacerbate the over capacity problem. So, despite the difficulties, we need to stick to this overseas economic strategy.” READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Earthquake alert after Japan, Ecuador

MANILA, APRIL 25, 2016 (BULLETIN) April 20, 2016 - A 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit the southwestern island of Kyushu, Japan, Thursday night, April 14. On Saturday, a stronger earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 struck the same region. At least 41 people were killed in the double disaster, with several others believed buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.

Then last Sunday, April 17, the most powerful earthquake in years, with a magnitude of 7.8, devastated Ecuador across the Pacific Ocean. The center of the earthquake was near a sparsely populated area of fishing ports, but dozens of buildings were flattened in the town of Pedernales and the cities of Manta, Poroviejo, and Guayaquil. After two days, the death toll had reached 413.

We still know very little about earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, except that they are related to continental plates that are constantly moving under the earth’s surface. They gather tension as the plates move against each other, until the tension is released in a sudden earthquake. image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/b16-240x300.jpg

Many such grinding plates are located around the Pacific Ocean, from Australia and Indonesia in the south, north to the Philippines and Japan, northeast along the Kuriles to Alaska, south along western North America, Mexico, Central America, and South America. This is the so-called “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific, and Japan and Ecuador are in it.

There is now a study linking planetary configurations with earthquakes. According to this theory, the alignment of planets creates a force that affects the earth. Early this month, a video on YouTube by Solar Watcher warned of possible earthquakes as Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, and Neptune moved into an alignment that foreshadowed magnitude-7 earthquakes during the nine-day period of April 14-22.

The Japan earthquakes struck last April 14 and 16, the Ecuador earthquake last April 17. Those following Solar Watcher’s study and its warning of a danger period of April 17-22, are now on watch for a possible big earthquakes in several “possible locations,” including the Sea of Okhotsk in the western Pacific, Argentina, Italy, Kyrgyztan, and Tajikistan.

As the Philippines is in the “Ring of Fire,” which is also a common location of earthquakes as well as volcanic eruptions, we should also be on alert. We held an earthquake drill in Metro Manila last July, 2015, with the goal of preparing the people and averting panic in case a 7.2-magnitude earthquake – the “Big One” – strikes the region and nearby provinces. We must keep that drill and its lessons in mind especially in these coming days.


Let this 3rd and final debate be a true democratic discourse April 24, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share8

The third and final television debate tonight will bring the five presidential candidates together for the last time before the election on May 9. It has been a rigorous campaign, a roller-coaster ride for the candidates. The next two weeks will see the party organizations at work on the ground, which could determine who ultimately wins the election.

At the start of the campaign, there were discussions over legal qualifications, over involvement in irregularities in programs and projects, over performance in previous government positions, even over health issues. More recently, there have been charges and countercharges over allegedly foul language. image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/editorial9-618x1024.jpg

In the course of the campaign, plans and platforms emerged. The candidates have basically similar platforms for good government, with differences only in priorities—whether the most urgent need is for the continuation of good government, for a more inclusive economic growth with more jobs for people, for a government with heart and concern for the poor, for action to stop the spread of drugs and crime, for restoration of meritocracy in government.

The candidates have criss-crossed the country in the course of their 90-day campaigns, delivering speeches, shaking hands, trying to meet as many people as they can. But of course the country is simply too big for anyone to adequately cover and all have had to depend, in varying degrees, on mass media to reach the masses.

READ MORE...

The presidential debate today is an opportunity for the voters to see the candidates in one final encounter. It is an opportunity for the candidates to spell out as clearly as they can their plans for the country should they win. As it is on television, it will not only be the words that will be heard; the way they speak, their every movement, their facial expressions will come under scrutiny in the nationwide broadcast.

We hope that in this final presidential debate at the Phinma University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City, organized by the Commission on Elections with ABS-CBN, the Manila Bulletin, and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, the negative incidents that marred the previous debates will be avoided. Many responsible leaders of the country have called for civility in the campaign, for avoiding the use of foul language, for more statesmanlike words and actions that befit the office that they seek.

Let this final meeting of the candidates be a true democratic discourse that will set the tone for the rest of the campaign and for the government that we will elect to serve us in the next six years.


A vigorous social media by Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara April 23, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share2


by Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara

Historians may look back at the current presidential campaign as the country’s first to be shaped significantly by social media.

While more than 50 percent of the population today has Internet access, up to 40 percent of eligible voters are between 18 to 35 years old – perhaps the first generation of netizens whose main source for news and insights on current affairs are their smartphones.

Tech-savvy candidates have used websites and their Facebook or Twitter accounts as digital platforms for their campaigns, albeit secondary to so-called traditional modes. But only recently have we witnessed online chatter actually having a direct agenda-setting role in the overall campaign.

A dramatic example is a video uploaded to YouTube of a leading presidential candidate’s controversial remarks regarding the rape and murder of an Australian missionary. That instantly elicited widespread condemnation from around the world. There is also that online video where a host at a campaign sortie appears to be handling out envelopes to the audience while threatening those who did not clap loud enough would not receive theirs. Still another video was circulated of a candidate himself handing out the envelopes.

The identities of the videographers remain largely unknown, though journalists picked up the video feeds with alacrity and sought the candidates for replies and explanations.

READ MORE...

Anonymous videos are something novel in Philippine politics. The speed and frequency at which they appear are truly amazing. In addition to videos, there are online memes, infographics and news articles being constantly shared. Some of them, however, appear of questionable content and origin.

Consider how Pulse Asia — one of the country’s major pollsters — issued a statement earlier this month disowning online articles that said it conducted a survey on March 21-25 which showed one presidential candidate topping the survey.

UP Professor Prospero de Vera recently lamented that social media has not been helpful in educating voters on the choices available to them in the upcoming elections.

A 2014 media survey showed that the Philippines is among the world’s leaders in terms of social media engagement. The survey, revealed that Filipinos spend up to 53 hours a week socializing online – some 11 hours more than the global average of 42 hours.

To preserve the Internet as a space for fast communication and healthy exchange of ideas, netizens need to scrutinize and select what gets posted and shared online. A starting point is to teach children early to become literate, numerate, and tech-savvy. Then the Philippines can begin to build an enlightened netizens.


Chinese ex-official says ‘New Silk Road’ faces difficulties by Reuters April 23, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share3


The "New Silk Road Economic Belt" and the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" will build roads, railways, ports, airports and railways across Central and South Asia. COURTESY OF SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

Beijing, China — China may be facing big financial losses from its high-profile program of overseas investment but the policy is necessary as an outlet for excess industrial capacity, a former top government tax official has said.

The comments from Xu Shanda mark a rare public airing by a Chinese official, current or retired, of difficulties facing the “New Silk Road” program, a key policy of President Xi Jinping aimed at helping countries build energy and transport links with the Middle East and Europe.

“In previous years, China made large investments in the energy sector. Looking at it now, these investments were useful in ensuring energy supplies, though financial losses were large,” Xu wrote about the New Silk Road initiative in an article published in an online journal by the website ifeng.com.

“If we do not go this route, external demand will shrink, which will put tremendous pressure on domestic production and exacerbate the over capacity problem. So, despite the difficulties, we need to stick to this overseas economic strategy.”

READ MORE...

Xu, a former deputy director of the State Administration of Taxation, first proposed a plan for China to invest in neighboring countries in 2009 as a way to promote demand for its goods and services.

Under the initiative, announced by Xi in 2013, and also known as the “One Belt, One Road” program, China aims to invest in infrastructure projects including railways and power grids in central, west and southern Asia, as well as Africa and Europe.

China has dedicated $40 billion to a Silk Road Fund and the program was the driving force behind the establishment of the $50-billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Xu also said cutting excess capacity was the most difficult challenge for China’s supply-side reform agenda due to an insufficient social safety net in the face of a rise in unemployment and the problem of how to deal with shrinking state-owned assets due to moth-balled production facilities.

Xu said China’s strategy to increase the proportion of household income in national income had been “soft” as there were no details on how that proportion would be increased and at whose expense.

The adjustment was going on but progress has been slow, Xu said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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