POSTSCRIPT / October 21, 2018 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Haley cites charity of Catholic church

TODAY being Sunday, we highlight the Catholic church’s quiet charity works that, we pray, may help lighten the burden of Pope Francis and other prelates who have to suffer collegially for the indiscretions of some members of the clergy.

In the Philippines, priests are among the favorite punching bags of President Duterte. He sneers at their alleged sexual abuse, citing himself as a victim when he was a student at a Jesuit-run school. He also insinuates knowing of priests who have sired children.

Pope Francis carries the cross of the scandals that have seen the removal recently of a member of the College of Cardinals, the investigation of more reports of sexual abuse, and the setting up of reconciliation and compensation programs for victims.

Ambassador Nikki R. Haley, the US permanent representative to the United Nations, helped dispel the dark clouds in her speech Thursday at the 73rd Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner in Manhattan. Presided over by New York archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the event raised more than $3.9 million for organizations helping needy children.

After jocular remarks about President Trump and other denizens of the Washington swamp, including herself, Haley turned serious toward the end of her 17-minute speech, saying:

“The issue of sexual assault is not limited to the Catholic family. It deeply touches the American family. The horrendous crimes that have been committed are harmful. There is the devastation of sexual abuse itself and there is the fact that the perpetrators of these crimes were people in a position of faith and trust.

“The Church’s place must be with the victims. They carry the blame with them. I know the church leaders recognize its deep responsibility to address this moral pain and it is taking action.

“But there is another point I want to emphasize. It would be tragic to allow the abuse scandal to blind anyone to the amazing good works that the Catholic church does every single day. The Al Smith dinner itself has raised millions of dollars for donation. But it goes beyond that.

“In the last two years, I have been in very dark places where human suffering is on a level that is hard for most Americans to imagine. I have been to the border between Colombia and Venezuela where people walk three hours each way in the blazing sun to get the only meal that they will have that day. Who has been giving them that meal? The Catholic church.

“I have been in refugee camps in Central Africa where boys are kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers and young girls are raped as a matter of routine. Who is in the forefront of changing this culture of corruption and violence? The Catholic church.

“Just about everywhere I have been on humanitarian mission, I come across the Church doing incredible work that lift up millions of desperate people. It is serving God’s will. There are real problems yet, but we must not lose sight of the miracles that are performed every day. Those miracles are the way of the church.”

• Security issue raised on picking 3rd telco

REACTING to reports that another foreign company is interested in the government’s plan to open the telecommunications business to a third player, I posted on Twitter days ago:

“National security should be a big factor in choosing a third telco. It’s about a third party, especially if a foreign entity, gaining deep access into what should be private communication.”

But securing the network from spies and hackers is easier said than done, considering the technical and legal limitations of government regulators addressing the problems of inefficient and costly telecommunications services.

On the security aspects of a third telco possibly controlled by foreigners, Makati Rep. Luis Campos Jr. who is pushing House Bill 5337 to improve telecommunications services, said: “Potential security risks are always there, but these risks can and should be managed by strong regulators.”

On foreign equity coming in, Campos said: “Substantial foreign equity in a third, fourth or fifth telco is a non-issue because the 1987 Constitution limits foreign interest in public utilities (such as a telco) to up to 40 percent only anyway.”

He noted that the two dominant players already have substantial foreign equity owners or partners: “Both First Pacific Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong and NTT DOCOMO Inc., the dominant mobile phone operator in Japan, have substantial equities in PLDT. Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., the largest mobile network operator in Singapore, also has a substantial stake in Globe.”

President Duterte has given the Department of Information and Communications Technology until yearend to award the third slot. DICT Secretary Eliseo Rio said state-owned China Telecom has bought bid documents and that Norway’s Telenor has also expressed interest.

Parties that had bought bid documents (at P1 million per set) include Dennis Uy-led Udenna Corp., Davao-based TierOne Communications with the Luis Chavit Singson Group of Companies, Europe’s Telenor Group, Now Telecom, and Philippine Telegraph and Telephone.

Available data show that the average Philippine connection speed of 5.5 Mbps is the slowest in the region — compared to South Korea, 28.6; Hong Kong, 21.9; Singapore, 20.3; Japan, 20.3; Taiwan, 16.9; Thailand, 16; New Zealand, 14.7; Australia, 11.1; Vietnam, 9.5; Malaysia, 8.9; Sri Lanka, 8.5; China, 7.6; Indonesia, 7.2; and India, 6.5.

(Mbps is short for megabits per second – a measure of network transmission or data transfer speed. A megabit is equal to one million bits.)

Internet World Stats has reported that South Korea has the fastest average speed in the world with its 28.6 Mbps, while Paraguay (No. 148) has the slowest at 1.4 Mbps. The Philippines is No. 100.

Despite its slow and expensive telco services, the Philippines – with its 62 million Facebooku sers — has climbed to No. 12 worldwide in its number of Internet users. Last year, it was No. 15 with 54 million users for a penetration rate of 52 percent of its population.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 21, 2018)

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