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FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

BY TONYO CRUZ: POLITICS AS A NUMBER GAMES
(Duterte can only summon 16 million. Enough to win as president, but still a minority compared to our national population. Democracy cannot work if it is always done by division or subtraction, whether you’re for or against Duterte. Or for whatever cause.)


FEBRUARY 18 -By Tonyo Cruz The hyperpartisans can’t help themselves. From the moment the May 9, 2016 election results were out, they can’t stop misinterpreting them. The diehard Duterte supporters use the “we’re 16 million” to silence criticism, and some critics use it back to shame them. They are both wrong. The election results for president were only relevant until the proclamation of the winner. In this case, it was Duterte. His margin of victory was unassailable. All candidates were quick to acknowledge that and they all graciously conceded to him as the victor. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Florangel Rosario Braid - Crafting a sustainable mining policy in the Philippines


FEBRUARY 17 -Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid
This article written by Reda M. Hicks, Nereus O. Acosta, PhD., and Sedfrey Candelaria which was published in the journal Natural Resources & Environment, Vol. 27, 2013, examines the economy and energy needs in the search for a sustainable mining policy that would strike a balance between economic requirements versus environmental protection. It is a timely reference for stakeholders engaged in the debate on the controversy involving the closure of 23 mines as well as for everyone who realizes the significance of this move in our everyday life. In the paper, the authors recall how “the Mining Act of 1995 imposed a moratorium on all new mining contracts in 2011 but that in 2012, 18 months after the moratorium, EO 79 which was signed by President Benigno Aquino made several fundamental and highly innovative alterations to the Mining Act of 1995. To ensure the Philippine legislature’s continuing incentive to implement the reforms, the EO provides that the moratorium on new mining contracts will remain in place until Congress enacts new laws implementing the increased sharing of revenue between the Philippines and its mining partners. The EO clarifies the legal parameters of mining, improves mining READ MORE...

ALSO: By Jun Ynares - Stormy first quarter?


FEBRUARY 19 -Dr. Jun A. Ynares
The first quarter of the year appears to be a time of political upheaval. This is not my idea. This was the observation expressed recently by a fellow local government official who joined me over coffee recently. We were talking about the so-called EDSA revolutions. The conversation drifted towards the subject matter as my colleague noted that preparations for the usual February 25 celebration of People Power is not as frenzied this year as it used to be in the past. My colleague wondered why Filipinos have the penchant of overthrowing sitting presidents during the First Quarter. He pointed out that EDSA One which marked the exit from power of the late President Ferdinand Marcos took place in a February. EDSA Dos, which paved the way for the replacement of President Erap Estrada by then Vice President Gloria Arroyo took place in a January. “Is it easy to make the Filipino angry during the first quarter of the year,” my colleague asked aloud. He added that one of the most violent episodes in contemporary Philippine history had been aptly called the “First Quarter Storm.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Something sublime in the parking lot (Death Penalty Bill)


FEBRUARY 19 -Lines are being drawn in the Senate and in the House of Representatives on the death penalty bill being pushed by the administration. Fourteen senators have signed a resolution declaring that it is the sense of the Senate that any treaty ratified by the Senate “becomes a part of the law of the land and may not be undone without the shared power that put it into effect.” In other words, the Senate must concur in any decision to set aside a treaty. At issue in this case is the death penalty bill which, if approved, would go against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the subsequent Protocol, which called on all approving and ratifying states to adopt a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. The Philippines is among 109 countries that approved the Protocol in 2010. In the House, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has asked anti-death penalty congressmen to desist from using delaying tactics such as questioning the quorum and delivering long privileged speeches everytime the bill is scheduled for debate on the floor  READ MORE...


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Politics as a numbers game


By Tonyo Cruz

MANILA, FEBRUARY 20, 2017 (BULLETIN)  0 SHARES Share it! Published February 17, 2017, 10:00 PM Tonyo Cruz Tonyo Cruz - The hyperpartisans can’t help themselves. From the moment the May 9, 2016 election results were out, they can’t stop misinterpreting them.

The diehard Duterte supporters use the “we’re 16 million” to silence criticism, and some critics use it back to shame them.

They are both wrong.

The election results for president were only relevant until the proclamation of the winner. In this case, it was Duterte. His margin of victory was unassailable. All candidates were quick to acknowledge that and they all graciously conceded to him as the victor.

READ MORE...

Some may extrapolate that if Grace Poe had decided to back down, all or most of her votes would have gone to Mar Roxas. We leave them to their illusions of attempting to mix oil and water. For the rest of us, it was a matter of quickly moving on, and respecting the people’s will as expressed in the election results.

Upon his swearing in, Duterte instantly became president of all Filipinos, not just of his supporters. As president, he is head of state and of government. That is how our system works, and that is the mandate that he won.

When anyone says that his election victory is a blanket approval for everything that he does or wishes to do — that’s wishful thinking. Duterte has to contend with Congress and the judiciary. Checks and balances, separation of powers and, ultimately, the citizens themselves also have their rights, duties and obligations.

When anyone says that Duterte must prioritize those who voted for him, it is also not unlike asking the town mayor to only serve those who voted for him. That is wrong. The president’s oath is clear: He must “do justice to every man” and “consecrate himself to the service of the nation”. Not “do justice only to my supporters”. Not “service to some”.

When anyone says that Duterte’s mistakes, errors, offenses and questionable acts should be blamed on the 16 million who voted for him, that is also wrong. That is not why and how we hold public officials accountable to the public.

If and when Duterte or any of his appointees disobey the law and the Constitution, everyone suffers. An extrajudicial killing that is not probed into, merely belittled or even justified? That is a betrayal of public trust, a reneging on obligations to the public. That makes everyone else unsafe.

If and when Duterte and his appointee as solicitor-general (mis)use the power of their office to assist the pork barrel scammer Janet Napoles to get away with one of the charges against her, that’s for Duterte and the solicitor-general to explain under the principle of public accountability.

The gross and unacceptable mistake of some hyperpartisans is to lay the blame for Duterte’s mistakes and offenses — they are many and getting more serious by the day — not just on Duterte and his appointees. They lay the blame on everyone who voted for him.

That’s not what public accountability means. In fact, it twists its meaning. It divides the public in whose name and behalf Duterte supposedly works as president. It also makes the job of holding Duterte accountable difficult, by creating 16 million enemies all at once.

This can only come from some who harbor illusions that citizens committed a serious mistake last May 9, 2016, and that they alone made the correct choice at the polling precinct. In their book, they are the only ones who made the correct choice and the others did it wrong. Everything comes out of from this undemocratic “black and white” conception of politics.

Let us ask some of the president’s critics: What course of action do you wish the public to take? What should the public do after you finger 16 million as accountable for what public officials do while in office?

Let us also ask the president’s diehard supporters: Did the 16 million explicitly state their support for the modus operandi of extrajudicial killings or for the antics of General Bato?

Why fixate on this figure, guys? When would this fixation end?

We can’t forge a strong national consensus whether in support or against any presidential act or policy if we start by slicing and dicing the nation.

For instance, we cannot create a movement against lowering the minimum wage of criminal liability, the revival of the death penalty, the cancellation of peace talks with the communists, the continued extrajudicial killings, the restoration of the vile Marcoses to power, and the implementation of more neoliberal economic policies — if we start by creating 16 million enemies.

For instance, we cannot create a movement to support reproductive health rights, regularization of workers, the political settlement of the armed conflict, free education at all levels, self-determination of the Bangsamoro, the halt to destructive mining operations, distribution of land to landless farmers, and other positive measures — if we say that only 16 million voices matter.

Those on both sides of this limited, exclusive political debate should stop excluding many of us in their conception of the Philippines and the world!

11 million boycotted the elections at the presidential level — a figure bigger than any of the defeated candidates’ total number of votes. If you notice, we have roughly the same number of OFWs and Filipino expats.

The Yellows can only muster less than 10 million votes even with control of the previous government. In fact, its own corrupt record was arguably one of the reasons why a Marcos nearly won as vice president, and why Leni Robredo had to forge a cross-party coalition of voters to secure her victory. 10 million is not a majority.

Duterte can only summon 16 million. Enough to win as president, but still a minority compared to our national population.

Democracy cannot work if it is always done by division or subtraction, whether you’re for or against Duterte. Or for whatever cause.

Lest we forget, we are a nation of 100 million people. Whoever may be the president, he or she and presidential appointees must serve the nation, and is likewise accountable to the nation.

Follow me on Twitter @tonyocruz and check out my blog tonyocruz.com


Crafting a sustainable mining policy in the Philippines 0 SHARES Share it! Published February 17, 2017, 10:00 PM By Florangel Rosario Braid


Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

This article written by Reda M. Hicks, Nereus O. Acosta, PhD., and Sedfrey Candelaria which was published in the journal Natural Resources & Environment, Vol. 27, 2013, examines the economy and energy needs in the search for a sustainable mining policy that would strike a balance between economic requirements versus environmental protection. It is a timely reference for stakeholders engaged in the debate on the controversy involving the closure of 23 mines as well as for everyone who realizes the significance of this move in our everyday life.

In the paper, the authors recall how “the Mining Act of 1995 imposed a moratorium on all new mining contracts in 2011 but that in 2012, 18 months after the moratorium, EO 79 which was signed by President Benigno Aquino made several fundamental and highly innovative alterations to the Mining Act of 1995. To ensure the Philippine legislature’s continuing incentive to implement the reforms, the EO provides that the moratorium on new mining contracts will remain in place until Congress enacts new laws implementing the increased sharing of revenue between the Philippines and its mining partners.

READ MORE...

The EO clarifies the legal parameters of mining, improves mining process transparency and new business mechanisms related to mining. It was developed using grassroots-style stakeholders’ engagement and much of its language is drawn from the 1987 Constitution. It states that the moratorium shall not be lifted until Congress passes a law that encompasses more rational revenue sharing for the mining industry. The EO also reaffirmed and expanded the list of areas that are “off-limits” to mining operations in accordance with the 1987 Constitution’s provision on right to a “balanced and healthful ecology.” It also protects the indigenous people’s right to their ancestral domain.

The authors note that industry estimates have placed the value of the Philippines’ mineral interests in the trillion-plus dollar range. With such resources available, a fully developed Philippine mining industry would have few parallels, they note as they describe the country “as one of the most mineral-rich countries in the world. Roughly, nine of its 30 million hectares of land mass have been identified as having high mineral potential. The country has some of the largest copper and gold resources in the world.”

But NGOs and citizens’ groups complain that the law does not do enough to protect the environment and that the legal protections are not enforced consistently. Others claim that the liberalized investment policy allows foreign entities to extract and export minerals while paying little to the government to remove the resources.

Like other countries, where mining is a thriving industry, our country is faced with problems that threaten the well-being of some sectors. The primary one is the health of populations situated in areas where the industries are located, and the other is environmental – the destruction of areas which become vulnerable to floods and earthquakes.

Last week, in response to my piece on environmental justice where I cited the current controversy, I cited the questions posed in the policy brief prepared by the Ateneo School of Government. This elicited feedback from Ms. Nelia C. Halcon, executive vice president of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), who wrote, saying she can’t help but take notes and respond to questions raised in the article – the nature of the mining industry, whether it generates conflict, benefits indigenous and local communities, its real costs and risks, what it takes to undertake responsible mining, and the necessary conditions to ensure responsible mining. Here are excerpts from her statement:

“It is not always true that a lot of people will be displaced by mining operations because exploration and mining activities (which involves alteration of land or seabed because the minerals, oil, and gas are extracted from the bowels of the earth) are undertaken in the hinterlands where few people live or none at all. If people live in those areas, companies with government intervention see to it that they accept relocation and are compensated. Costs on people and their cultural and ecological values are included in the enhanced environmental implementation system.

The Mining and Geosciences Bureau/DENR is responsible for the management of the country’s natural resources that will best serve the country. Conflict cannot be avoided because the several stakeholders involved have diverse interest and advocacy. Indigenous and local communities benefit from the gross revenues or sales of minerals extracted as they are given directly 1% which amounts to millions of pesos.

They are trained and hired to be employees of mining companies. The costs include investments in environmental protection measures and social development management programs to which firms are committed to spend 1.5% of their total operating costs. There are risks — geological, political, operational, market, financial, and environmental or disaster risks.

“Responsible mining considers technical, operational, viability, economic efficiency, environmental compliance and other environmental protection measures, social acceptance by the communities, sharing of benefits, and meeting the conditions of sustainable development or the capacity to meet needs of the population through economic development and laying ground for the future generation.

There must be a clear legal framework, local or stakeholder participation, and the benefits to communities and the nation must be clearly articulated. Negative implications must be investigated early and made known to the community who together with NGOs and multi-partite teams must be called in to monitor the implementation.”

We trust that the debate would continue and enlighten us all.

My e-mail, Florangel.braid@gmail.com


Stormy first quarter? 0 SHARES Share it! Updated February 19, 2017, 10:10 AM By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.


Dr. Jun A. Ynares

The first quarter of the year appears to be a time of political upheaval.

This is not my idea. This was the observation expressed recently by a fellow local government official who joined me over coffee recently. We were talking about the so-called EDSA revolutions. The conversation drifted towards the subject matter as my colleague noted that preparations for the usual February 25 celebration of People Power is not as frenzied this year as it used to be in the past.

My colleague wondered why Filipinos have the penchant of overthrowing sitting presidents during the First Quarter. He pointed out that EDSA One which marked the exit from power of the late President Ferdinand Marcos took place in a February. EDSA Dos, which paved the way for the replacement of President Erap Estrada by then Vice President Gloria Arroyo took place in a January.

“Is it easy to make the Filipino angry during the first quarter of the year,” my colleague asked aloud. He added that one of the most violent episodes in contemporary Philippine history had been aptly called the “First Quarter Storm.”

READ MORE...

He dissected his own postulate. He said that the first quarter of the year is a time ripe for collective discomfort and discontent. This is the time of the year that is right after the Christmas season of the previous year. During the first few months of the year, Filipinos realize that they have spent last year’s savings on gifts and holiday expenses. The family coffer is empty and major expenses – including the payment of taxes and tuition fees – are staring at them.

The other reason could be plain first quarter jitters. The year begins with uncertainties. Uncertainties breed nervousness. Nervousness could easily be converted into hostile behavior. This is because people need to have an outlet for the uneasiness brought about by the unpredictable nature of life as emphasized at the beginning of the year.

Is there a deliberate attempt to raise the level of political conflict in the country again at this time of the year?

Again, not my view but that of my colleague. He explained his point. He said it appears that recent developments seem to be conniving to spark anger and to polarize the public.

Among them, he said, are the emotional probe going on in Congress in connection with the incidents involving former immigration officials, an alleged gambling lord and other ranking members of the government.

He wondered if the recent ruling by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal junking the bid of Vice President Leni Robredo to have the protest of former Senator Bongbong Marcos stopped could pave the wave for heated public discussions.

Add to this, he said, the unending uneasiness over the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign and the supposed failure of the peace talks with leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines. And then, there’s the challenge revived by a senator for the President to bare his bank account amid allegations of hidden wealth.

Do all these point to a stormy first quarter?

My colleague believes so.

I say otherwise. Our view is that the current developments in the political arena are within the range of “normal” despite the apparent rising intensity of the conflict.

These developments invite us to be aware of and to accept the fact that life is filled both with conflict and uncertainties. We cannot do away with it. It is a mainstay feature of our life. The sooner we can accept that reality, the faster we can adapt to it and address our feelings of uncertainty.

These are the bases of this political reality.

First, conflicting interests.

Second, opposing values.

Third, diverse political missions.

Politics came to be because Man must have realized that there are as many interests as there are people.

Politics is the art of the compromise, some say. The compromise is necessary so that the intense clash of interests would not result in the annihilation of those who are weaker by those who are stronger.

Our view is that politics is the eternal search for the often-evasive win-win.

Our aspiration is that our politics would help us find steps and solutions that allow for as many people and communities as possible to benefit from the scarce economic and social opportunities available in the country.

Violence happens when those involved in the game of politics begin to entertain the idea that the clashing of interests could no longer be resolved by the established methods of debates, discussions, and consensus-building. The game becomes dangerous when the players start to believe that the better way is the annihilation of one by the other.

Stormy first quarters can give way to calmer second quarters, more productive third quarters, and fourth quarters of the year marked by the joy of achievements.

That can be made possible when we do our best to swim above the intensifying first quarter conflicts and keep our eyes focused on our meaningful goals for the year.

*For feedback, please email it to antipolocitygov@gmail.com or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Beverly Hills Subdivision, Bgy. Beverly Hills, Antipolo City, Rizal.


Something sublime in the parking lot 0 SHARES Share it! Updated February 19, 2017, 10:10 AM 3

Lines are being drawn in the Senate and in the House of Representatives on the death penalty bill being pushed by the administration.

Fourteen senators have signed a resolution declaring that it is the sense of the Senate that any treaty ratified by the Senate “becomes a part of the law of the land and may not be undone without the shared power that put it into effect.” In other words, the Senate must concur in any decision to set aside a treaty.

At issue in this case is the death penalty bill which, if approved, would go against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the subsequent Protocol, which called on all approving and ratifying states to adopt a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. The Philippines is among 109 countries that approved the Protocol in 2010.

In the House, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has asked anti-death penalty congressmen to desist from using delaying tactics such as questioning the quorum and delivering long privileged speeches everytime the bill is scheduled for debate on the floor

READ MORE...

It may be recalled that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which the Aquino administration pushed determinedly in Congress, failed to make it despite the overwhelming majority of Liberal Party solons, Everytime the BBL bill was scheduled, there was no quorum.

It does not help the proponents of the bill that so many crimes are proposed to be penalized with death. Among them: treason, piracy, mutiny, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence, destructive arson, plunder, importation, production, and distribution of drugs, planting of evidence, and carnaping.

Even if most of these crimes are removed from the bill, leaving only the most heinous ones, the penalty of death goes against the Christian tradition which lies at the core of this nation. “Thou shall not kill” says one of the Ten Commandments. “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone,” Christ said when some people wanted to stone to death a woman found in adultery.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued a pastoral statement on this issue and sermons in many churches today are likely to touch on this.

The battle over the bill will be in Congress and here the battle lines are being drawn. By March 18 when Congress takes a break, the House should have reached a decision, and then it will be the turn of the Senate.


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