POSTSCRIPT / November 4, 2012 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Bayanihan still alive in storm-hit NY, NJ

BAYANIHAN: Even in far-off United States, particularly in the eastern seaboard devastated by hurricane Sandy, the spirit of bayanihan among Filipinos is still alive.

This is the same networking, the same spirit of sharing and helping, that has enabled Filipinos hit by disasters to survive and recover.

Here in Manila, we have been receiving stories of Filipinos whose communities have been flooded, houses damaged or whose utilities had been paralyzed being welcomed into the homes of friends or relatives until the storm blows over.

Classmates, friends, fraternity brothers and professional associates are helping check up on Filipinos reeling from the storm’s wrath.

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RESILIENCE: As of noon yesterday, property damage in the US has been estimated upwards of $50 billion — or in the range of the P2-trillion Philippine national budget proposed for 2013.

With its winds sometimes clocked at almost 250 kilometers per hour, if Sandy blew through the Philippines, she would prompt the raising of Storm Signal No. 4, which has never been experienced here!

Hardest hit are New York and New Jersey, two populous states that are home to an estimated 350,000 Filipinos. Thank God, of the 106 or so reported dead, not one was a Pinoy.

Wherever they are, Filipinos are a hardy lot. And bayanihan makes them even more resilient.

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MARATHON OFF: The New York City Marathon scheduled for tomorrow (Sunday EST) was canceled despite Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s earlier firm statement the race would go on — despite transportation, power and other issues.

But the mayor and the race organizer caved in Friday and said they did “not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants” while the city was still on its knees.

The 26.2-mile marathon was to start in Staten Island, the worst hit of the five boroughs where the 45,000 runners from all over the world were to have passed.

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CUISIA ACTS: Against this backdrop of the marathon’s cancellation, the pulling off of the Bayanihan show in NYC last Thursday night was remarkable, said a business executive in a note Friday from New York.

She said: “Last night was the gala performance of the Bayanihan at the Allen Theatre at the Time Warner building. It was quite a production getting the dance group and their props to NY. From Los Angeles, they had to be re-routed to Boston (since NY airports had shut down), then driven on rent vans and U-hauls — arriving late in the evening before the Nov. 1 show.

“Ambassador Joey Cuisia, who organized the whole event, did an incredible job to make sure the show went on. The Bayanihan is busing down Friday to Washington, D.C., for two performances, including one at Kennedy Center. The co-sponsor of this fantastic show is the US-Philippines Society.

“Note that Broadway shows (as of Thursday) were still closed since most people have to commute into Manhattan, which was very problematic. Gas was being rationed and one had to line up for hours. Cars driven into Manhattan were banned if carrying fewer than three passengers.”

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PARTISANSHIP: When will they stop the inanities over the partisan handling of issues involving former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca (Liberal Party) – including her slow prosecution followed by her speedy appointment as member of the Commission on Elections?

The latest scene on Padaca has her asking the Sandiganbayan to junk the P25-million graft and malversation cases filed against her by the Ombudsman in July last year. All that time, although she was very visible, arrest warrants were not served on her.

She showed up only when President Noynoy Aquino declared her innocent and came forward with P70,000 to bail her out. To add to the official pressure of her LP backers, the cash bond was paid in the company of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas II.

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CONTEMPTUOUS: Now Padaca is saying that since she had been appointed Comelec commissioner, she could no longer be tried for those crimes that impose such penalties as perpetual disqualification from public office.

Padaca said that as a member of Comelec, a constitutional body, she could be removed from office only by impeachment.

The stinking rigmarole is not only contemptible but also contemptuous. It is arrogance. It flaunts political power to the face of the judicial system and the rest of us.

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NONPARTISAN, NOT BIPARTISAN: The Comelec is not intended to be bipartisan, but non-partisan. Nor is it meant to be a refuge of politicians being prosecuted for criminal offenses.

Padaca is an LP partisan. She is not even prepared for the job at the Comelec. A non-lawyer without legal background, she will need a lot of time and tutoring to learn election and related laws as well as legal procedure.

The clear purpose of her appointment to the Comelec is just to add to the pro-administration votes when such issues as party-list accreditation and electoral protests come up.

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CONTEMPTUOUS: Padaca is not being prosecuted before the Sandiganbayan for anything related to her being election commissioner. Her term or tenure in the Comelec is not at issue.

Impeachment is a remote and irrelevant issue. All that the Sandiganbayan wants to rule on is whether or not she was guilty when she allegedly awarded a P25-million grant to a private entity without public bidding and ratification by the provincial board.

The act was committed before she was appointed to the Comelec. Even if found guilty, it would not necessarily mean her removal from the Comelec. That security issue may crop up later, in another case, but not now.

Padaca’s own statements, however, suggest that she was appointed to the Comelec not just to pad the administration votes in that non-partisan body but as a stratagem, in contemptuous bad faith, to evade prosecution.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 4, 2012)

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