POSTSCRIPT / May 10, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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NHA eyes last-minute deal with mall moguls?

IN CIVILIZED countries, they knock down old and unsightly buildings to open up green and park spaces. In Quezon City, erstwhile national capital, the National Housing Authority converts park areas for building up mammoth malls and towering condominium buildings.

If you can penetrate the traffic gridlock, visit the vicinity of North Triangle in Quezon City and see examples of this mad conversion and filling up of open space with concrete and steel complexes smothering the lungs of the city.

Nearby on Road 3, some 500 families residing at the state-managed Bagong Lipunan Pagasa Condominium (BLPC) are getting jittery with reports that the NHA plans to bid out to mall moguls a 7,000-square-meter strip of their residential compound.

In the last two minutes of the Aquino administration, somebody apparently wants to make a fast break. Cannot they, as somebody has put it nicely, moderate their greed?

As ambitious PPP projects go, this small piece of NHA land is small-time. There is no need or urgency to sell this BLPC strip now occupied by the ruins of the community clubhouse, a swimming pool, tennis courts and parking areas.

Those amenities were among the inducements for middle-class families to buy into the mixed-use low-rise project of then First Lady Imelda R Marcos. She used to show off the BLPC to United Nations and other foreign visitors looking for model human settlements.

Now the NHA – after mismanaging the estate — will just bid out and take away those amenities and necessary facilities? We are tempted to ask who pockets the usual commission for the last-minute transaction.

• Noy to Manny: Spend time with family

SHOULD it be retirement or a rematch with Floyd Mayweather for Manny Pacquiao – while he fends off class suits over the non-disclosure of his shoulder injury?

That question can be answered only by Pacquiao since only he can feel it in his bones his fighting condition. For his own sake and that of his loved ones, he should not force it if there is doubt in his mind.

But after the bout last Sunday, we heard from President Noynoy Aquino what we thought was the best advice on what the boxer, preacher and congressman, among other things, should do.

After commending Pacquiao and thanking him for inspiring his countrymen, Mr. Aquino counselled the 36-year-old “People’s Champ” from General Santos to spend more time with his family and wished him good health for his future endeavors.

Even before Pacquiao lost it in Las Vegas, the President gave him what we thought was sound advice for the welterweight boxer – for him to retire after the fight, citing that “continued fighting in the ring does not promote good health.”

• Andy better not approach CA members

WHILE we are in counselling mode, here is unsolicited advice from election lawyer Romy Macalintal to newly appointed Commission on Elections chair Andy Bautista and two Comelec commissioners with him. We agree:

“Please do not approach any member of the Commission on Appointments, i.e., any senator or representative CA member, to maintain your independence and to avoid political color.

“Approaching them for your confirmation is a sign of weakness and will give the semblance of a ‘kapit-tuko sa position’. If the CA wants to confirm you on the basis of your qualifications, so be it. Show that rejecting your nomination is the country’s loss for which CA is to blame.

“Also, be very strict in approving petitions to participate in the Party List (PL) system. See to it that a PL is not composed of nominees belonging to whatever degree of consanguinity or affinity. A PL should prove their membership by a physical inventory of warm bodies. A mere claim that a PL has 100,000 members should not be sufficient.”

• MILF given status of belligerency

WE WERE doing housekeeping of our ManilaMail website the other night when we came upon an old Postscript on “peace” negotiations. As early as March 2001, or 14 years ago!, we were already warning against giving rebel groups a status of equals.

On March 20, 2001, we wrote: We should immediately stop tagging our panels negotiating with the National Democratic Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as the ‘GRP’ or the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

“In this high-profile political process wrapped in propaganda, labels are very important.

“By calling our team the GRP and naively engaging the NDF and the MILF as equals, we are in effect conceding that these rebel groups have government status, or something akin to that.

“Having gone into these prolonged talks as the GRP talking not to insurgent Filipinos but to another de facto government, we have unwittingly given the other side a status of belligerency.

“Read more carefully the official statements of the NDF and the MILF, and you will discover the insurgent groups already claiming a status of belligerency. Keeping quiet about that public claim, the Philippine government is presumably accepting it.

“By failing to officially make the point clear, we are firming up their claimed status. Soon it would be too late to change the labeling and the world perception of the negotiating parties. The subtle nuances of language and presentation are not lost on the attentive world.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 10, 2015)

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