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EDITORIAL: BREEDING IMPUNITY (On Metro traffic gridlock)


DECEMBER 13 -If the accusations prove correct, among the reasons for the infernal traffic gridlocks in Metro Manila is corruption. President Duterte disclosed yesterday that scores of people working in government regulatory agencies, including the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Land Transportation Office, have been relieved in connection with anomalous deals. LTFRB and LTO officials said over 40 of their employees had been relieved and four ranking officials in the National Capital Region office of the regulatory board were under probe on charges of using a bogus database for the illegal issuance of transport franchises. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Casualties of a brutal war


DECEMBER 15 -
The gunmen came knocking before daybreak on Sunday, rousing Domingo Manosca from sleep at his home on Mahogany street in Pasay City. As he stood up, a man peered into the window. Guns were aimed at him and fired. A spray of bullets went through Manosca and hit his five-year-old son Francisco. Manosca, who had surrendered under Oplan Tokhang, died together with the boy. The case illustrates the great potential for abuse when a nation gets the impression that it’s OK to take a life in the name of the war on drugs. Manosca’s son is not the first child to be killed in this brutal war. And there will likely be more, along with other innocents caught in the crossfire, as anti-narcotics police and vigilantes alike continue their killing spree. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Federico Pascual - Duterte has faith in the Filipino?


DECEMBER 15 -By Federico D. Pascual Jr.
IF PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has faith in the Filipino – we think he still does – he should be willing to give all citizens, including drug-users in poverty-stricken areas, a chance to live and mend their ways. After all, President Duterte’s rallying cry for this anguished nation of more than 100 million (3.7 million of whom, he said, are drug addicts) is “Change!” Since the President apparently believes in the Filipino’s desire and capacity for positive change, he should order the police to stop killing suspected drug-users on the lame excuse that they fought back. Duterte should also order the vigilante component of his anti-narcotics drive to stop the execution by “riding in tandem” assassins, the wrapping of cadavers in masking tape, and the placing of “Huwag Tularan” (“Don’t Imitate Me”) cardboards over the corpses. Even in death, every Filipino, from the lowliest squatter to the haughtiest dictator, deserves respect. READ MORE...

ALSO: Building the bridge of my dreams!


DECEMBER 15 -By Bobit Avila -I’m totally in euphoria that at long last, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board has approved the bridge project that we envisioned more than 20 years ago that aims to connect the island provinces of Bohol and Cebu. Between Cebu and Bohol are small islands lined up along the route in very shallow water, except between Mactan Island and Olango. If you remembered the blockbuster movie “True Lies” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, which was shot in Key West, Florida, this was my dream of linking Cebu to Bohol and we pushed it in the Regional Development Council (RDC-7) when I was chairman for Infrastructure, Utilities Committee (IUC), which later my good friend, Emmanuel Rabacal took over. READ MORE...


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EDITORIAL - Breeding impunity

MANILA, DECEMBER 19, 2016 (PHILSTAR)  December 13, 2016 - If the accusations prove correct, among the reasons for the infernal traffic gridlocks in Metro Manila is corruption.

President Duterte disclosed yesterday that scores of people working in government regulatory agencies, including the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the Land Transportation Office, have been relieved in connection with anomalous deals.

LTFRB and LTO officials said over 40 of their employees had been relieved and four ranking officials in the National Capital Region office of the regulatory board were under probe on charges of using a bogus database for the illegal issuance of transport franchises.

READ MORE...

A moratorium on new franchises in Metro Manila was imposed in 2003. But probers said the moratorium was circumvented through the transfer or double sale of existing franchises, the extension of franchises under a different classification and the modification of routes. Expired franchises were also allegedly revived without the consent of the LTFRB board, according to initial findings. A complainant claimed paying P250,000 to a fixer at the NCR office of the LTFRB.

Rodolfo Jaucian has been relieved as LTFRB director for Metro Manila and has no assignment while facing an investigation. Also included in the probe are Melchor Fronda, Jean Gunda and Mary Jane Manajero, all of the NCR office. Probers are still trying to determine how many franchises have been compromised.

In a speech yesterday, President Duterte said corruption is the main reason why the economy could not take off. Recently he had also urged top officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission to quit after an ERC officer committed suicide reportedly due to frustration over corruption in the agency.

Beyond seeing those suspected of corruption publicly identified by the President or eased out of their posts, however, Filipinos must see punishment being imposed. The nation has tough laws against corruption, but it seems that these are strictly applied only when little-known public servants are accused of small-scale graft. Those accused of plunder, who can afford the best legal counsel that dirty money can buy, manage to get themselves cleared.

As in other crimes, failure to punish corrupt officials breeds impunity and guarantees that the crime will persist, creating rot in much of the bureaucracy. And the problem will affect everything, from job generation and poverty alleviation to the traffic problem.


EDITORIAL - Casualties of a brutal war (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 15, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

The gunmen came knocking before daybreak on Sunday, rousing Domingo Manosca from sleep at his home on Mahogany street in Pasay City. As he stood up, a man peered into the window. Guns were aimed at him and fired. A spray of bullets went through Manosca and hit his five-year-old son Francisco. Manosca, who had surrendered under Oplan Tokhang, died together with the boy.

The case illustrates the great potential for abuse when a nation gets the impression that it’s OK to take a life in the name of the war on drugs. Manosca’s son is not the first child to be killed in this brutal war. And there will likely be more, along with other innocents caught in the crossfire, as anti-narcotics police and vigilantes alike continue their killing spree.

READ MORE...

Records of the Philippine National Police show that on average, 30 people have been killed daily all over the country since President Duterte assumed power. Human rights groups count about 5,600 deaths related to the drug war, but the PNP reports 2,102 drug suspects killed by police after allegedly putting up a fight. Another 2,886 killings are classified as DUI or death under investigation.

From July 1 to Dec. 14, the PNP arrested 40,932 suspected drug pushers and users under Oplan Double Barrel, which targets both street pushers and major drug traffickers, while 908,244 surrendered after being visited at home by police under Oplan Tokhang. Like Manosca, a number of those killed had surrendered under Tokhang.

In previous years, such a grievous death toll would have merited the declaration of a special day for national mourning. There are worse offenders in this country. Why should penny-ante street pushers deserve the new version of the death penalty while plunderers in government, who bring harm to the citizenry and national development, continue to live, with some even winning elective office? Why is there an ongoing mass extermination of one particular group of suspects?

With killers roaming freely, impunity is mounting and the blood lust can quickly spread beyond the war on illegal drugs. Already there are reports of personal scores being settled in the guise of being part of the drug war. As appalling as the mass deaths is the seeming failure or lack of interest to investigate each drug-linked killing, whether perpetrated by police or by vigilantes. The most tragic casualties are the innocents, like the son of Domingo Manosca.


Duterte has faith in the Filipino? POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 15, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Federico D. Pascual Jr.

IF PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has faith in the Filipino – we think he still does – he should be willing to give all citizens, including drug-users in poverty-stricken areas, a chance to live and mend their ways.

After all, President Duterte’s rallying cry for this anguished nation of more than 100 million (3.7 million of whom, he said, are drug addicts) is “Change!”

Since the President apparently believes in the Filipino’s desire and capacity for positive change, he should order the police to stop killing suspected drug-users on the lame excuse that they fought back.

Duterte should also order the vigilante component of his anti-narcotics drive to stop the execution by “riding in tandem” assassins, the wrapping of cadavers in masking tape, and the placing of “Huwag Tularan” (“Don’t Imitate Me”) cardboards over the corpses.

Even in death, every Filipino, from the lowliest squatter to the haughtiest dictator, deserves respect.

READ MORE...

“I’m not a killer!” the President pleads, although we doubt if his words would stem the growing impression that the extrajudicial killings are upon his implied instructions. Reports of his boasting of having executed some criminals himself have magnified the legend.

Hordes of drug users turned themselves in after the President’s “Kill ‘em” threats scared them. It does not speak well of his administration that some “addicts” were still shot dead in their hovels after giving up.

The President should make it a point to punish any policeman who kills, injures or threatens anyone who had surrendered and, in effect, placed himself at the mercy of the government.

The families of post-surrender victims of police execution should be compensated quickly without their having to spend for claims or litigation.

• Spend for rehab of narco patients ON THE POSITIVE side, the President should quickly step up rehabilitation, spending even just a fraction of the billions used for harassing and killing imagined enemies.

Drug dependents should be treated as patients under a holistic rehab program. The administration should drop the crazy notion that “addicts” are criminals who do not deserve a second chance and must be killed to end their misery.

It was unseemly for the President himself to have called out the other day to drug-users: “Take tranquilizers or hang yourself!”

Aside from these weird options, he advised them to just stay home to avoid arrest. Maybe the President has not noticed that even those who had surrendered and stayed home were still hunted down and killed (silenced?).

In his speech Tuesday before flying to Cambodia, Duterte said he would use part of the P5 billion given him by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to buy medicines for drug dependents.

He said: “You can buy your medicines. For example, the tranquilizers, the medicines that would keep you calm, medicines that would restore your sanity if it can still be restored. You just stay in the house and I will order the medical workers to go around.”

No clear details were given, leaving the public wondering what well-studied programs are there for rehabilitation, and who are the administrators and experts who will attend to the dependents looking forward to turning a new leaf.

Duterte blurted out in his usual stream-of-consciousness style: “Ngayon, ‘pag talagang loko-loko na, tapos walang alibyo na ang katawan, hindi na masauli, nagpadala rin ako ng mga lubid. Magbigti lang kayong mga pu**** in*! ”

(“For those who have gone crazy and can no longer be cured, I’ll send you ropes. Just hang yourselves, sons of bi****s!”) One wonders if he is after their eventual rehabilitation or their final demise.

• It’s official: The President is sick! WE LIKE to think, however, that the President will come around to understanding better the situation of the poor millions trapped in drug dependence, because he himself knows how it is to be sick.

In a business forum in Malacañang last Tuesday, Duterte suddenly started talking about his health while commenting on rumored plans to oust him. The 72-year-old Chief Executive said: “Oust me, good. Assassinate me, better. I have this migraine every day.”

He then mentioned his painful back: “My doctor would want to operate, but you know my wife was a nurse and she used to work in the States, United States, and she said, since a lot of operations for the spinal that went awry, that went wrong…. (He was referring to his partner Honeylet Avanceña.)

“So that if you guys see me always with a sad mode, I am actually pushing a nerve here to relieve the pain.” (He turned to show where he pressed the nerve point on one side of his head.)

Duterte said that he was using Fentanyl, described as a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller used by cancer patients. (But he clarified he was not suffering from cancer.)

He said his doctor once advised against abusing it: “I was only given a fourth of that square thing. There was a time that if I took two… Of course, my doctor learned that I was using the whole patch, because I felt better.

“When he knew it, he made me stop, and he said, stop it. The first thing that you would lose is your cognitive ability.”

Duterte clarified that he had no cancer: “Don’t believe in cancer. What I have is really Buerger’s disease. It’s an acquired thing that you get from smoking because of nicotine. Nicotine constricts the vessel. Alcohol dilates the vessel.”

Instead of the President rambling on like that, Malacañang should issue a medical bulletin on the state of the President’s health.

A businessman in the meeting suggested acupuncture to soothe the pain caused by his spinal problem. We are waiting for the solicitous Chinese ambassador to talk to him about this, before the US ambassador beat him with an offer to seek treatment in the US.


Building the bridge of my dreams! SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 15, 2016 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus2 0


By Bobit Avila

I’m totally in euphoria that at long last, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board has approved the bridge project that we envisioned more than 20 years ago that aims to connect the island provinces of Bohol and Cebu. Between Cebu and Bohol are small islands lined up along the route in very shallow water, except between Mactan Island and Olango.

If you remembered the blockbuster movie “True Lies” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, which was shot in Key West, Florida, this was my dream of linking Cebu to Bohol and we pushed it in the Regional Development Council (RDC-7) when I was chairman for Infrastructure, Utilities Committee (IUC), which later my good friend, Emmanuel Rabacal took over.

READ MORE...

Indeed this is a “3-in-1” project because it could be used to bring water from Inabanga River in Bohol to Mactan Island in Cebu, through a pipeline attached to the bridge, and at the same time, bring in cheaper power from Cebu to Bohol, plus the fact that the bridge means we can cross to Bohol even in inclement weather. Most important of all, it lands in the town of Getafe on the poorer side of Cebu and when completed will certainly result in a boost to the economy of that part of Bohol. Now my dreams are slowly coming true. Thanks NEDA for making this a reality!

* * *

I’m now in my first month and seven days since my kidney transplant operation at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), a very successful operation under the team of Dr. Alvin Roxas and Dr. Juliet Noel, due to the fact that I opted not to wait until I had to undergo dialysis and go into a pre-emptive transplant operation. So right now, I’m in isolation mode as I’m immuno suppressed. However due to a severe loss of fluids during my recovery, I was emaciated and now I have to recover those lost fluids, but it seems to be a very slow process. My old clothes can’t even fit me.

I chose to have my surgery in VSMMC because they have the best transplant operating theater (they also have a state of the art open heart operating theater) thanks to then Health Secretary Enrique Ona, who was then head of the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) and he also installed one facility for Davao City. Believe me, I wasn’t disappointed a bit to be in a government hospital. Best of all, aside from getting the Z-package from PhilHealth. I had the best nursing care by highly dedicated nurses. Thanks to the management and staff of Dr. Gerardo Aquino, who was my frequent visitor and reminded me that Rep. Gwen Garcia called him to take care of me. My friends really went out of their way to help me.

Also my good friend, Rep. Raul Del Mar came over for a visit and to inform me that he was going to bless the P79 million Cebu City North District Hospital building of the VSMC by early December. True enough, a few days ago, this new medical building was inaugurated by Rep. Raul del Mar, author of the law that enabled the expansion of the hospital’s facilities to accommodate more patients and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

The four-story building has a 130-bed capacity and constructed within VSMMC because of the availability of medical personnel and facilities and land area. The hospital aims to accommodate more patients from outside Cebu City, especially the marginalized sector that cannot afford proper health care. To show his “Caring and Sharing” (this is the FVR way) attitude, Rep. Del Mar clarified that even residents in the city’s South District can be accommodated in this medical facility.

During my conversations with Dr. Aquino, and due to the fact that the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) had to be demolished because it was heavily damaged in the earthquake three years ago, Dr. Aquino told me that the VSMMC is actually to there to serve the Province of Cebu. However when patients are in a dire situation…they often lie to hospital staff just to get immediate medical care and say they live in Minglanilla or Carcar. So what Dr. Aquino did was simply not ask questions as to where they live and accept all who need medical care. This is the kind of government service we need and this is happening at the VSMMC.

This new medical facility for the North District of Cebu City came from a proposed bill seeking to increase the bed capacity of the VSMMC under House Bill no.5272 authored by Rep. Del Mar. Thus from the 800 bed capacity, VSMMC has now increased its capacity to 1,200 beds. VSMMC is the biggest government-run medical center in Central Visayas, which does, not only served patients from Metro Cebu and the cities and the provinces of the region but also serves patients from neighboring regions in the Visayas and Mindanao. This is where our tax money should be spent as it benefits most, the poor Filipinos who cannot afford medical care and kudos to my good friend, Rep. Raul del Mar for his untiring work in the North District.


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