POSTSCRIPT / January 16, 2005 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Taulava is as Pinoy as Gonzales of DoJ

SIGE KAYO!: Hey, you guys better start being nice to our President!

It suddenly occurred to me, if the heckling and the obstructionism keep up, she might just resign in exasperation — and that would be for us a fate worse than five more years of Gloria and Mike Arroyo.

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CABALEN: Two outstanding Capampangan legislators will exchange views Tuesday evening with their cabalen in media when the Campampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) holds its first fellowship-forum at the Manila Pavilion on UN Avenue.

The special guests are Senate Majority Leader Francis N. Pangilinan who is from Sto. Tomas, Pampanga, and Rep. Jesli A. Lapus, chairman of the House ways and means committee, who hails from Concepcion, Tarlac.

CAMI was incorporated last month by Capampanga journalists led by Cris Icban Jr., Manila Bulletin chief editor, chairman; Alfredo M. dela Rosa, Manila Times chief editor, vice chairman; and Federico D. Pascual Jr., Philippine Star columnist, president.

The others include Ernesto Tolentino, Tanod chief editor, vice president; Diosdado Beltran, former Philippine News Agency executive editor, secretary; Al Pedroche, Pilipino Star Ngayon chief editor, treasurer; and Alfredo Roxas, PNA Central Luzon bureau chief, auditor.

Completing the board are Noni Pelayo, Today news editor; Jose Cortez, Graphic contributor; Press Undersecretary Robert Mananquil and former House of Representatives public affairs director Miguel Genovea.

Other familiar Campampangan journalists I can name at the moment are Sheila Coronel, Ricardo “Dong” Puno Jr., Rigoberto Tiglao, Randolph David, Jose Galang, Jarius Bondoc, Ambeth Ocampo, Rey Langit, Tony Lozano, Willie Baun, Jess Diaz, Marlen Ronquillo, Vet Vitug, Rey Enano, DJ Sta. Ana, DY Caparas, Cas Navarro and Tony Macapagal. My apologies to the many others I missed.

The group was organized with these objectives in mind: To promote and defend the freedom of the press and advance the interests of journalists in general; to upgrade the competence and professionalism of Capampangan journalists and promote camaraderie among them; and to work for the revival and enhancement of the culture and positive traditions of Capampangans.

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ASI VINDICATED: Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner Noli Eala, a lawyer, knows he has to heed the Manila trial court ruling barring the cancellation of the Philippine citizenship and the deportation of basketball star Paul Asi Taulava whose citizenship has been questioned.

Taulava’s being Filipino having been affirmed, the PBA’s next logical move is to allow the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2003 to rejoin his Talk n’ Text team on the hardcourt. The fans would love that.

The Executive department cannot arbitrarily strip a Filipino of his citizenship by mere administrative order. There is a judicial process for a Filipino to be deprived of his citizenship and an action by the justice department based on a Senate inquiry is not one of them.

The government officially recognized Taulava as a Filipino in 2001, issued him a certificate of recognition and a passport, and allowed him to play for the Philippine flag in the 2004 Asian Games in Busan. It is now estopped from capriciously changing its mind after using him.

Judge Romulo A. Lopez of Branch 34 of the Manila regional trial court said the justice department and the immigration bureau cannot “denationalize him (Taulava) on the basis of inconclusive pieces of evidence which were gathered without affording him his day in court.”

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WHY HE’S PINOY: The basis of Taulava’s being a Filipino is the fact that at the time of his birth in March 1973, his mother was a Filipino. The nationality of his other parent (the father, a Tongan) and the place of his birth (Tonga) are immaterial.

Article IV of the Constitution says in Section 1: “The following are citizens of the Philippines: xxx [2] Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the Philippines….”

If at the time of his birth a person had at least one parent who was a Filipino, that person is a natural-born Filipino. He does not have to do anything to perfect his citizenship.

Even if by some process he acquired later another citizenship and presumably lost his Philippine citizenship, he could reacquire it under our dual citizenship law.

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IN AID OF RIVALS?: Whatever it is, let the court decide the case based on the law and the evidence. Official action on a persons’ citizenship cannot be based on a report of a Senate committee looking into the question of foreigners playing in local basketball leagues.

Such congressional inquiries do not decide judicial questions. They are conducted only in aid of legislation and not to boost the winning chances of competing basketball teams.

Btw, 31-year-old Taulava (will be 32 this March 2), who stands 6-feet-9, is married to Anna May Morales Corveau of Bulacan, 27, who is 5-feet-9. She was Miss UST in 1996. They have two children: Asianna Louise, turning four this Jan. 23, and Pauline Leilani, who is two years old. All of them are Filipino.

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TSUNAMI WARNING: Through the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, we are part of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) based in Hawaii. This is useful, but it must be backed up by a local warning system for tsunamis generated by movement in subduction trenches, sometimes called faults, around the country.

The Hawaii-based system organized in 1949 provides “warnings for teletsunamis to most countries in the Pacific Basin as well as to Hawaii and all other US interests in the Pacific outside of Alaska and the US West Coast.”

In 2004, months before the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami, Japan initiated a plan to establish a Northwest Pacific Tsunami Information Center (NWPTIC) to complement the PTWC in addressing the threats from tsunamis with smaller lead times in the region.

Most tsunamis (referred to as “far-field”) coming from far out in the Pacific and moving at about 400 kph can reach the Philippines sometimes after as many as 20 hours. This gives us enough time to prepare for the killer waves, assuming they do not dissipate before hitting us.

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LOCAL THREAT: The tsunamis that pose a more immediate threat to us are those generated by the movement in local trenches that are an average of only 50 kilometers from the shore. The local tsunamis (referred to as “very-near-field”) can hit the shore in just five minutes.

There is no warning system yet for these very-near-field tsunamis. If we have to allocate scarce resources, the local warning system should be given more attention than the Pacific-wide system that is already being handled by so many nations.

The informal warning system in place relies on folk tradition and local initiative. In many places, there is oral tradition telling long-time residents of communities near the sea to watch out for telltale signs such as the sea suddenly withdrawing.

In the Indian Ocean tragedy last Dec. 26, an entire community of sea gypsies was saved because they remembered what their elders had told them — that when the sea recedes, it would come back again with destructive force. The thing to do is run to higher ground.

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PACIFIC RELAY: In the Pacific-wide system, Phivolcs receives the alert and warning from participating organizations. Upon confirming the threat, it relays the warning to the National Disaster Coordinating Council. From the NDCC, the warning is passed down to the local communities to be affected.

Seismic waves generated by earthquakes travel much faster than tsunami waves and can reach distant seismic stations before tsunami waves. The idea of the tsunami warning process is to determine quickly the location and strength of the earthquake using data from a network of seismic stations feeding data to a central station.

If the criteria are met for a tsunamigenic earthquake, an alert is issued to all participating countries. The generated waves are then confirmed using tide gauges installed on shorelines of participating countries close to the earthquake source region and whose data are also relayed to the central station using satellite link.

A tide gauge station installed at Legaspi City Port is contributing data to the PTWC. This station confirms tsunami waves that hit the shore of Legaspi City. It helps warn countries on the other side of the Pacific regarding threats from tsunamis generated by local earthquakes.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 16, 2005)

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