POSTSCRIPT / May 29, 2011 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Where to meet, at Facebook or Twitter?

CONNECTING: My thanks to readers who have started to follow me on Twitter as @FDPascual.

My apologies to the countless others who take the pain of writing, in the traditional fashion of pen and ink, missives to which I have not been able to respond. These correspondents include sick indigents, teachers, retirees, dispossessed lot-owners, children looking for their parents, et cetera. Add to them the tireless letter-writing brigades.

Please let me explain, although I know you need action/reaction, not excuses.

I am a one-man operation. I have no staff, no office (my work place is where I and my weary laptop happen to be at the moment), no secretary, no researcher, no ghost-writers, no driver, no runners to deliver things or follow up concerns….

I find it extremely difficult writing letters, stuffing them into envelopes, looking for a stamp and then a mailbox. (What ever happened to the Post Office and the ubiquitous mailbox of old?) Throw in traffic compounding our mobility problem.

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TWEET ON: It appears that the best way to write to me and improve the chances of a response is via email, which, btw, I spell without the hyphen.

And now there’s Twitter, for a fast-clip clipped reaction of not more than 140 characters (like with our celfons’ SMS whose service, however imperfect, we text-addicted Filipinos will defend to the death). I like the discipline dictated by 140 characters although this has wrought havoc on our English.

Friends ask me why not Facebook. I have a Facebook account, but I stopped tending to it after I discovered to my horror that it is a sure way of divesting ourselves of whatever is left of our tattered privacy.

I know Facebook has settings for limiting access to messages, other postings and personal account items, but some malicious operators still find a way to sneak in.

So, see you at Twitter. Connect to @FDPascual.

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SHAMEFUL SURPLUS: Malacañang is crowing about its having accumulated a P22-billion budget surplus.

This is not something to wave around as an achievement. It is a shameful indication that the Aquino administration either has not been doing anything worthwhile the past one year or is still figuring out how to run a country of 100 million or so Filipinos clutching at straws.

The government is not in the business of showing a bulging net profit, or of accumulating savings for the rainy days. Instead of watching the money grow in the bank, it must spend every centavo of it for essential services, infrastructure and capital expenditures.

In fact, the more productive practice is to resort to well-managed deficit spending.

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MENDICANCY: It is curious that the P22-billion surplus being bandied about is more or less the same amount that the Aquino administration wants to dole out (minus 30 percent that will go to administrative costs) to pre-listed “poor” households.

Is there a mind-conditioning going on to convince the more critical among us that there is money to give away — in the shameless tradition of encouraging mendicancy instead of industry?

On a related item, have you noticed also that some local executives had boasted at the end of their term that they left behind savings or surpluses running into hundreds of millions in the bank for their successor?

What a disgrace! Why did they not use the money? Kasi po, they were raking in fat commissions for keeping the idled millions in the collusive bank of their choice!

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RIVER CLEANUP: Is there still hope to restore the heavily polluted rivers of Metro Manila?

Of course! Think of River Mercy in the United Kingdom or Chao Phraya River in Thailand, which were brought back to life when everybody decided to do his share in stopping further pollution of their waters.

Starting points in our own river cleanup in the nation’s capital include proper garbage disposal, relocation and education of squatters (stop calling them “informal settlers”), industries installingwaste treatment and disposal systems (maybe with tax incentives), and treatment of household waste water.

The last item, btw, is the focus of Manila Water’s “Three River System Project” which aims to restore the water in the San Juan, Marikina and Pasig rivers. This P50 billion 10-year project involves building more than 25 wastewater treatment plants in nearby catchments.

Given the track record of Manila Water, the East Zone concessionaire, of doing what was thought to be the impossible feat of providing potable and reliable water service, this river cleanup project has a good chance of succeeding.

Note the recent inauguration of its modern wastewater treatment facility in Sitio Olandes in Marikina and the soon-to-be-operational Poblacion Sewage Treatment Plant in Makati. Manila Water is already operating about 35 of these treatment plants.

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SQUAT ON KALAYAAN: Talking of squatters, reader Remberto Maclang reacting to a recent Postscript (http://manilamail.com/archive/2011may/11may26/) on Chinese belligerent action in the disputed Reed Bank off Palawan said in an email:

“On our timidity in the face of the Chinese onslaught at the Reed Bank, wittingly or unwittingly, you have provided a veritable solution when you declared ‘we are supposed to have the most cunning land-grabbers and squatters-becoming-owners on the face of the earth’.

“So, why indeed don’t we just send all our ‘informal settlers’ (to be politically correct) to theKalayaan islands’ portion that we claim as ours and let them wallow in whatever square of land they can stump their feet on to their hearts’ content without government meddling? Then, we would have made another group of heroes next to the OFWs.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 29, 2011)

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