2006 Postscripts

December 2006

PALACE HAND: Malacanang telegraphed its intentions early last week on the custody of US Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith when it vowed to abide by whatever ruling the Court of Appeals hands down on the soldier’s plea to be returned to the US embassy. [ Read More ]

COMPUTERIZE?: They are still quarreling over that eternal plan of “computerizing” elections. Some senators, election officials and a motley group are locked in endless debate over the wisdom and feasibility of “automating” the process. [ Read More ]

RELENTLESS: When will the bloody campaign to exterminate pesky journalists end?

The day after broadcaster Andres Acosta was murdered Dec. 21 in Batac, Ilocos Norte,dzMM radio station correspondent Rufino Gamboa was shot and wounded by a motorcycle-riding assailant in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija. [ Read More ]

GREETINGS!: Happy Christmas to our loyal readers, whose feedback keeps coming — even when we do not acknowledge it — to guide, inspire, chide, scold, correct, challenge and generally keep us on our toes. [ Read More ]

NON-RATIFICATION: A question posed here last Tuesday was if the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement is constitutional or enforceable in view of its not having been ratified or concurred in by the US Senate. [ Read More ]

KUDOS: Speaker Jose de Venecia and his cohorts in the House of Representatives should not be cast aside and forgotten just like that after their failed attempt to convene a unicameral Constituent Assembly for Charter change. [ Read More ]

OLD TRICK: The government warning that leftist provocateurs are set to disrupt today’s prayer rally at Rizal Park is something to worry about — not because it is true, but because it could mean that government operators are laying the basis for their own plan to sow violence. [ Read More ]

SHUTOUT: It says here that media coverage of the President of the Strong Republic has been disallowed for the moment. No plausible explanation was given by the Palace. [ Read More ]

UTANG NA LOOB: Filipinos are a grateful people. They even die protecting their friends. But being proud, they could be a bit sensitive when these friends make it a point to remind them about “utang na loob” (debt of gratitude). [ Read More ]

FLAWED FORMULA: Note that the House of Representatives invited senators individually — not the Senate as a body — to its threatened Constituent Assembly this coming week. [ Read More ]

IT’S SAD: The nation saw Tuesday night what kind of congressmen dominate the House. These are the same power-crazed politicians who want to install themselves in that Parliament they are bent on creating. [ Read More ]

NO SURCHARGE: Good news for shoppers intending to use their credit cards but who are deterred by the widespread practice of merchants adding a surcharge to the tag or cash price when paid with plastic money. [ Read More ]

TAMA NA!: Somebody should tell the pack of Speaker Jose de Venecia to stop their desperate maneuvering to convert Congress into a Parliament — to give the old dog a new collar — and install the same discredited characters in the new legislature. [ Read More ]

November 2006

WHY MIRIAM?: Somebody from Malacanang whispered to me that Sen. Miriam Santiago’s nomination for the post of Chief Justice was just meant to rattle the Supreme Court justices vying for the position. [ Read More ]

PUBLIC INTERVIEWS: Since the Judicial and Bar Council was constituted in 1988 after ratification of the Constitution, five Chief Justices — Pedro Yap, Marcelo Fernan, Andres Narvasa, Hilario Davide Jr. and Artemio Panganiban — have been appointed. [ Read More ]

MAX IS WITH US: The best way for us orphaned media workers to honor Max Soliven is to rededicate ourselves to what he had been writing about and fighting for throughout his professional life. [ Read More ]

EBDANE BILLED: Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., it is reported, is high on the short list of probable replacements of Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, who has resigned irrevocably effective end of the month. [ Read More ]

MAID SUES: Filipinos residing in the United States who employ or plan to bring a maid or nanny to the US may learn from the experience of a long-time US resident couple who did that and will now pay heavily in back wages and be deported after four years in jail. [ Read More ]

CALICOAN Island — I do not surf, not yet anyway, but watching the surfers enjoying themselves, I wish I were out there with them meeting with a big splash the warm waters of the Pacific. [ Read More ]

NO TIE-BREAKER: I probably made a mistake in an earlier Postscript when I said that Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban cast the vote to break a 7-7 tie in the high court decision throwing out a proposed People’s Initiative to revise the Constitution. [ Read More ]

TAMA NA PO!: Policemen went last weekend to the Palace working area of journalists covering President Gloria Arroyo to arrest Business Mirror reporter Mia Gonzales, who is vice president for print of the Malacanang Press Corps. [ Read More ]

TAMA NA PO!: Policemen went last weekend to the Palace working area of journalists covering President Gloria Arroyo to arrest Business Mirror reporter Mia Gonzales, who is vice president for print of the Malacanang Press Corps. [ Read More ]

GRASS FIRE: As many of us feared, ningas cogon has set in after that initial burst of energy displayed in the removal of ugly and dangerous billboards along Epifanio delos Santos Ave. and other main roads after the devastation wrought by typhoon “Milenyo.” [ Read More ]

MANAGING UNREST: A few swallows, they say, do not a summer make.

But the resignation of Avelino Cruz Jr. as defense secretary and that of Eduardo Manalac as energy undersecretary and president/chief executive of the Philippine National Oil Corp. within days of each other may be a hint of political summer creeping up on the Arroyo administration. [ Read More ]

CLARK FIELD – Many cabalen of President Gloria Arroyo are bristling over one of her Executive Orders that restricts flights to this underutilized international airport ironically named after her late father. [ Read More ]

HONG KONG – Do not let the dateline fool you. Yes, I am in the former British colony all right, but only at the airport tarmac unable to set foot literally on this special administrative region of China. [ Read More ]

October 2006

NANNING, Guangxi Zhuang — Touring in pleasant weather in the last three days such places as Xiamen, Jinjiang, Nanchang and Guilin in southeastern China, and seeing the uncluttered expressways and city streets, one wonders where the 1.3 billion mainland Chinese are. [ Read More ]

XIAMEN, Fujian — This beautiful, bustling city, sometimes referred to as Amoy, looks out to the Formosa Strait to the east, making it a natural neighbor for Manila which is itself home to a large Chinese population. [ Read More ]

CHA-CHA SETBACK: Thank God there is the Supreme Court!

By a close vote of 8-7, the tribunal ruled yesterday that the nation cannot revise the Constitution through deceptively gathered signatures disguised as a People’s Initiative and in the absence of an implementing law to serve as legal basis. [ Read More ]

BAD FOR GMA: Why is the election lawyer of President Gloria Arroyo arguing, like it is a life and death issue, for using the idle 1,991 automated counting machines for the 2007 elections? The implications are bad for the President. [ Read More ]

U.S. BONANZA: Some 1,200 Filipino workers of Mirant Philippines already agitated by the impending sale of their company and their possible separation are all riled up by reports that 125 Americans workng out the sale will receive a $34-million bonus. [ Read More ]

CONDOLENCE: This personal footnote has nothing to do with the suspension of Makati Mayor Jojo Binay. It is more about his getting so rattled by Malacanang’s mailed fist that he gets confused over little things. [ Read More ]

B.F., GO! GO!: We commend chairman Bayani Fernando of the Metro Manila Development Authority for his political will in clearing EDSA of advertising billboards that had made that major artery ugly and dangerous. [ Read More ]

CORNERED: It is becoming clearer by the day that the honorable option left for Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez after her blanket absolution of the public and private parties to an illegal P1.3-billion contract is to admit the error, repair the damage, and then resign. [ Read More ]

WAITING GAME: The line of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez that her office simply waits for complainants, and is solely dependent on whatever evidence they submit, to be able to determine probable cause is startling, even frightening. [ Read More ]

UNEVEN FIELD: The country’s power industry, especially its pricing, cannot be left to the so-called free market forces.

Reason: there is no free market. There is no even playing field. There is the giant National Power Corp. lording it over the captive industry with its 70-plus-percent hold on the supply of electricity. [ Read More ]

OVERSTEPPING: The Office of the Ombudsman is not the graft court Sandiganbayan above it. The Ombudsman’s job is to investigate and determine if there is probable cause or prima facie evidence for filing charges with the Sandiganbayan. [ Read More ]

EDSA BULLY: Whoever was the swell-head riding that heavily tinted van weaving in and out of traffic on EDSA yesterday afternoon with the help of two motorcycle cops and a security backup may want to step forward and explain his obnoxious behavior. [ Read More ]

REAL TEST: When it comes to such “unstoppable” crimes as contracted assassinations and crimes of passion, the real test of the police is not in preventing them (they can’t) but in their solving these crimes with dispatch. [ Read More ]

POOR GOD!: I heard somebody who sounded like a lawyer argue on radio that the massive devastation wrought Thursday by typhoon “Milenyo” was an “act of God.” [ Read More ]

September 2006

GOLDEN LAND: While appalled by a ceiling dropping and dust gathering at the supposedly “modern” Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, we gawk at the splendor of the opening today of the newest international Suvarnabhumi Airport of Bangkok. [ Read More ]

NO CHOICE: It is wrong, but many businessmen have no choice but to support two rival governments.

As the duly constituted government collects taxes but is not able to assure the security of taxpayers, many businessmen are forced to pay protection money to rebel and other armed groups lording it over the area. [ Read More ]

GHOST FROM THE PAST: Business circles, initially buoyed by reports on the House of Representatives’ approval of a 25-year franchise extension for the Philippine National Construction Corp., are amused by the sudden appearance of a ghost from the past. [ Read More ]

DIVESTING: Mirant Philippines Corp., the country’s biggest power generator, is being sold by its Atlanta-based parent company, and its 1,200 employees are jittery. The industry is all eyes. [ Read More ]

BIG JOB AHEAD: Instead of downgrading the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as planned by supposed experts at the agriculture department, the administration should upgrade it into a full-fledged department. [ Read More ]

MISINTERPRETED: It is sad that the address of Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg mentioning Islam and jihad has been misinterpreted by some Muslim sectors whose views are now being spread to fan hatred for the Holy Father. [ Read More ]

PRIZED CATCH: By regular standards, the Philippine National Construction Corp. should have been among the first government-controlled corporations offered up for privatization. [ Read More ]

IT’S OUT: It appears now from court documents that the US temporary visa of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joj-joc” Bolante was cancelled by the US embassy in Manila and not by the immigration authorities in Los Angeles upon his arrival. [ Read More ]

PAPAL CALL: Calling to all Catholic politicians, Pope Benedict XVI stressed last Friday that democracy will succeed “only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person.” [ Read More ]

NO R.P. HEARING: Is the P10 billion just approved by the Senate (P8 billion by the House) as compensation for victims of Marcosian torture separate from the $150-million payment earlier ordered by the US District Court in Hawaii paid to the same claimants? [ Read More ]

SCANDAL: Update on my Aug. 27 Postscript on Taiwanese firm Kintech withholding its bad track record when it bid for a300-mld (million liters per day) bulk water project and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System prequalifying it: [ Read More ]

PREJUDGMENT: Former Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo means well and takes his job seriously as chairman of the presidential commission assigned to investigate the serial kidnapping and murder of pesky members of militant groups and the media. [ Read More ]

August 2006

POWER CRISIS: The neglect into which the power situation has fallen is catching up on us. At the turtle pace we are crawling toward the light, insiders say, we could have a crisis in two to three years. [ Read More ]

SELF FLAGELLATION: Why are we unnecessarily punishing ourselves?

We have been battered by crises and calamities, high prices and low wages, a spate of extrajudicial executions, corruption in high places, et cetera… and here we are compounding the problem by insisting on Charter Change — just to deliver a point. [ Read More ]

NOW NA!: There is a simple and quick solution to the rash of extra-judicial executions of pesky members of militant groups and the media. [ Read More ]

RED BOGEY: The Arroyo administration seems to be getting paranoid, if the latest utterances of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales are any indication. [ Read More ]

CHALLENGE: So what are we waiting for? Let’s dig out pronto those “hundreds of millions of dollars” of an Arroyo – we’ll tentatively call him “A-1” (it rhymes with “aywan”) — so we can buy instant noodles for the millions of poor Filipinos. [ Read More ]

COMELEC SIDE: The information director of the Commission on Elections wrote to clarify some points in my Postscript of Aug. 15 titled “Using illegally bought poll computers is a trap.” He said: [ Read More ]

STATE POWERS: There is a need, but I see no urgency, for the Anti-Terrorism Act.

As we have been witnessing lately, President Gloria Arroyo — or more precisely “the state” — has sufficient powers, not to mention its bag of extra-judicial tricks, to crack down on terrorists and whoever dares to disturb the peace. [ Read More ]

LOBBY & PR: Some boys of President Gloria Arroyo seem to have been inveigled into the campaign to have the Commission on Elections use the automatic counting machines bought by the poll body for the 2004 elections under a void, fraudulent contract. [ Read More ]

TAMA NA YAN!: What are opposition solons yapping about President Gloria Arroyo’s health? If you look closely at our congressmen, you will see half of them sicklier than the President. Many of them go to the hospital more often than she does. [ Read More ]

IN DUST BIN: Would you believe, that complaint filed with the Ombudsman by former Solicitor General Francisco I. Chavez on alleged misuse of trust funds for overseas workers’ welfare was submitted not last July 20 but way back on July 20, 2004. [ Read More ]

TO THE RESCUE: It is heartening to know that despite our logistical limitations we are sending two Coast Guard ferries to Lebanon to pluck our stranded compatriots from the Beirut port and take them to safer sites in Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt while the next steps are being finalized. [ Read More ]

SLOW TO ACT: There are at least P5 billion in workers’ welfare funds and millions more in pork barrel and the President’s contingency and intelligence funds, but the money being received by the Philippine embassy in Beirut for the evacuation of Filipinos was coming in trickles. [ Read More ]

NOLI CARD: If he plays it right and the pseudo-elite allow him, Vice President Noli de Castro may yet provide a resolution to the imbroglio over the funding of the evacuation of some 30,000 Filipino workers trapped in Lebanon areas under Israeli attack. [ Read More ]

PRECARIOUS PERCH: The real challenge to the new Senate president, Manuel Bamba Villar, is neither the passage of Malacanang-certified bills stuck in the Senate or the bicameral conference committees — such as the 2006 national budget — nor the way he should balance the interests of the parties and personalities that gave him the Senate presidency. [ Read More ]

July 2006

NAKAHIHIYA!: This washing of dirty linen, this noisy quarrel over money for evacuating Filipinos from war-torn Lebanon, should stop.

Because of the family feud over funds, the neighbors now think that our embassy in Beirut has only $50,000 for housing and transporting some 30,000 Filipinos displaced by Israel’s indiscriminate barrage of US-supplied bombs and rockets? [ Read More ]

SIT DOWN: Having been in office for five years, President Gloria Arroyo should have devoted the traditional State of the Nation Address (SONA) to telling us the true state of affairs in the present, and not to telling us what she plans to do in the future. [ Read More ]

LOOMING CRISIS: The integrity of public biddings for major government projects and assets is going through another acid test in the long-delayed building of a 300-MLD (million-liters-a-day) bulk water project in Laguna de Bay. [ Read More ]

SELF-SERVING: The problem with President Gloria Arroyo giving an economic scorecard in her State of the Nation Address tomorrow is that such a report is actually a self-assessment of her own performance the past 12 months. [ Read More ]

MEDIUM: Rep. Jesli A. Lapus, incoming education secretary (barring unforeseen circumstances, he takes his oath July 31 at the latest), said he would fully restore English as the medium of instruction to upgrade the quality of education and make it “market driven,” whatever he meant by that. [ Read More ]

WEE ROAM: Now I know why the net growth of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. has been sluggish, and why it has been left behind by better managed telecommunication companies. [ Read More ]

EXCITABLE MEDIA: The news about former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante being held in Los Angeles broke early this week when a radio anchor excitedly told his station on air that Bolante had been arrested at that port and was asking Malacanang to help produce $100,000 for his bail. [ Read More ]

GLORIOUS UPTURN: It is not difficult to believe news reports that the most recent Social Weather Stations survey showed an improvement in the public net satisfaction rating of President Gloria Arroyo. [ Read More ]

MERALCO THE KEY: The key to the Masinloc mystery appears to be the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the Lopez-managed giant power distribution firm where government has four nominees in the 11-member board. [ Read More ]

BEHIND THE SCENE: Somebody very close to President Gloria Arroyo is directing high-level government moves to deliver the 600-megawatt power plant in Masinloc, Zambales, to the Malaysian firm Ranhill Berhad without the required public bidding. [ Read More ]

WE NEVER LEARN: One of the reasons why we Filipinos do not seem to rise from where we had fallen is that we have no follow-through. We do not seem to learn from our mistakes. [ Read More ]

JUVENILE JAMBY: First of all, this girl Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal should not have been in the Senate. Senators worthy of the office are cast from sterling silver, not from cheap copper. [ Read More ]

COSTLY TORTURE: Days ago, a lawyer reported that the US district court in Hawaii has ordered the payment of an initial $2,000 to his clients — some 7,500 victims of Marcosian torture — and proceeded to assail the government for, he said, blocking the payment. [ Read More ]

June 2006

FRESH START: The controversial bidding for the 600-megawatt electric plant in Masinloc, Zambales, won by a company that has no track record in power generation and no capacity to pay would be cancelled. [ Read More ]

AGAINST LAW & LOGIC: The administration says it might not see again a big offer for the power plant in Masinloc, Zambales, if it orders a new bidding after voiding the $561.74-million winning bid and confiscating the $14.14-million bond of the winner for repeatedly failing to pay the down payment. [ Read More ]

FOOTNOTE: Last June 4, Postscript said, “It has happened too often in this Strong Republic that an investor bids for a big government project, wins it, then tarries paying and mobilizing. [ Read More ]

SPOT MARKET: The administration is set to launch tomorrow a market mechanism intended to stabilize the supply and price of electricity. Called Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), it was formulated by the government and private power companies. [ Read More ]

PERSONAL: Readers who had sent me email in the past five days are requested to send it again if they think it is still necessary.

For some reason, the contents of my inbox and outbox, my file of attachments, and my address book were wiped out two days ago as I was installing the latest version of Eudora. So here I am groping in white space. [ Read More ]

INSULT TO FLAG: If city officials cannot show respect for the national standard, they should just haul down all those flags they hung along streets and on public buildings for the last June 12 Independence Day festivities. [ Read More ]

STILL CAMPAIGNING?: There should be restraint in advertising and calling attention to supposed projects of President Gloria Arroyo benefiting the public, including the poor and the jobless. [ Read More ]

MJ RESCUE: A discussion of the plight of parents who bought pre-need educational plans to insure the worry-free college enrolment of their children is not complete without a mention of former congressman Mark Jimenez. [ Read More ]

PRE-NEED STATUS: The pre-need industry is in trouble. Sales of policies have plummeted in the first four months of the year by 43.2 percent to 79,638 plans sold from 140,285 recorded in the same period last year. [ Read More ]

UNGENTLEMANLY: Senate President Franklin Drilon has until today and tomorrow, the last two days of the current regular session of the 13 th Congress, to show that he is not only an honorable senator but also a gentleman. [ Read More ]

SIX SIXES: For a little distraction, note that today is June 6, 2006. At some point in the 24-hour day, there will be a lineup of six 6’s, or 06-06-06-06-06-06 (day-month-year-hour-minute-second, or whatever sequence you fancy). [ Read More ]

NO NUMBERS GAME: Somebody high up in the government should be reminded that they should not play with cold numbers, but must work on real human persons. [ Read More ]

MASINLOC BID: It has happened too often in this Strong Republic that an investor bids for a big government project, wins it, then tarries paying. [ Read More ]

May 2006

EXPERT TALKS: Who are you likely to believe between a bishop and a mining expert who have conflicting conclusions about commercial mining operations in Rapu Rapu, Albay? [ Read More ]

MAID WINS: Remember that wealthy Filipino couple in Wisconsin accused by their Filipina maid of forcing her to slave for them the past two decades for a paltry sum? (See Postscript of Oct. 21, 2004 — click our Archive or Search button above.) [ Read More ]

ARMS-RACE: When told that journalists were complaining of the series of assassinations decimating their ranks, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said “Give them guns!” presumably so the endangered members of media could shoot it out with their tormentors. [ Read More ]

42nd VICTIM: As I was typing this, a report from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines came in that Palawan broadcaster Fernando “Dong” Batul was murdered yesterday morning on his way to anchor his regular Bastonero program on DYPR in Puerto Princesa. [ Read More ]

WAKE-UP CALL: The Da Vinci Code (book and movie) has disturbed the equanimity of the Catholic world. But that may be for the good since most of us complacent believers need to be shaken up now and then so we do not fall asleep during our watch. [ Read More ]

FOR WHOM?: President Gloria Arroyo has issued Executive Order 527 reducing the tariff on crude oil and refined petroleum products from three percent to between two and zero percent. The intention, she said, is to cushion the impact of rising oil prices on the economy and consumers. [ Read More ]

BROWN LIES: I have spotted many assertions of Dan Brown in his book The Da Vinci Code that do not jibe with what I know to be true.

But like many other bothered Catholics, I feel inadequate to challenge all his lies. I therefore throw at him James A. Beverley, associate director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara and professor of Christian Thought and Ethics at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto. [ Read More ]

DA VINCI: With some trepidation, many Catholics are awaiting the showing of the film “The Da Vinci Code,” whose advance billing describes it as seriously challenging some of our cherished religious beliefs. [ Read More ]

NOMINATE THYSELF?: Some friends have received letters from civic groups asking them to submit their curriculum vitae, pictures and endorsement letters/forms so their nomination kuno for some great annual award can be processed. [ Read More ]

WHAT’S GOING ON?: Pardon me, but Malacanang statements on the ongoing state visit of President Gloria Arroyo to Saudi Arabia are confusing. [ Read More ]

CUIDAO: A minefield lies before former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and several others mentioned by a former US Marine who had pleaded guilty of passing classified information to Filipino opposition politicians plotting to overthrow the Arroyo administration. [ Read More ]

1-2-3 BLOWS: Thank goodness there is the Supreme Court.

We are reassured by the high court’s decision (1) upholding President Gloria Arroyo’s power to declare a state of emergency, as she did in Proclamation 1017, but at the same time (2) declaring illegal the police arrests and a raid made under the proclamation. [ Read More ]

HO-HUM: I am not trying to be funny, but I fell asleep yesterday afternoon while monitoring the TV and radio coverage of the Labor Day rallies, the supposed apex of labor’s struggle for better working conditions. [ Read More ]

April 2006

TABLE MANNERS: A story circulating in the Plaridel e-group is about a seven-year-old Filipino boy in Montreal, Canada, who was castigated and insulted by school authorities for his Filipino way of eating with fork and spoon. [ Read More ]

REPREHENSIBLE: One need not be a lawyer to know that this Malacanang invention called CPR — or “Calibrated Preemptive Response” to citizens’ peaceful assemblies — is a legal monster. [ Read More ]

HI-TOP TRAP: Many motorists are complaining about the unusual lane separation at the Fairview-bound EDSA-Quezon Ave. intersection. Traffic officers have been flagging down drivers of private vehicles taking the “wrong” lane of the split service road. [ Read More ]

SOARING PRICES: Quick! Where is Daniel D. Dingel and his water-powered (actually hydrogen gas-fired) red Corolla? Where do we buy diesel mixed with cheap alcohol? Now where is that trusty bicycle again? [ Read More ]

GOOD SIGN: That China’s leader Hu Jintao landed in Seattle on his first visit to the US since becoming president in 2003, and immediately toured the campus of Microsoft Corp. and dined at the $100-million home of its chairman, Bill Gates, must be a good omen for the software king. [ Read More ]

REVERSAL: Whatever the Constitution and the courts say, my bias is for having mining and land ownership exclusively in the hands of Filipinos. We are a small country with a burgeoning population mired in poverty. [ Read More ]

AFTER THE RITUALS?: Will the lesson and the promise of Easter Sunday be lost on the Filipino?

By all indications, the powerful message of Easter will hardly impact on this nation. It will be lost, because the Filipino of the present is not ready for it. [ Read More ]

RESPITE, RETREAT: The Lenten mood is one of introspection, silence and penitence.

Unofficially, we are on a spiritual retreat. Try to understand if some of us do not talk or converse much all the way to Black Saturday. [ Read More ]

KEY ROLE: If Judas did not betray Jesus in Gethsemane, selling him for 30 pieces of silver, would there have been the crucifixion of Good Friday and the glorious resurrection of Easter Sunday? [ Read More ]

REINING IN GMA: I thought I had the New York Times pinned down on a typo when I read excerpts from its April 5 editorial saying among other things that “unless the Philippine Congress and courts find ways to reign in her increasingly authoritarian tendencies, democracy itself may be in danger.” [ Read More ]

VIRTUAL SEX: Have you bought your precocious child one of those small cameras mounted on personal computers allowing users to video-talk with one another? Has your kid been doing more on-line chatting than using his PC for his homework? [ Read More ]

OFW BANK: The plan of the Arroyo administration to create a new bank or expand its existing banking facilities dedicated to servicing some 8 million Filipinos working abroad is commendable. [ Read More ]

ANTI-CHACHA: Some groups opposed to Charter Change have been gathering signatures to block a People’s Initiative sign-up campaign to amend or revise the Constitution and replace the presidential setup with a unitary parliamentary system. [ Read More ]

March 2006

ALMOST THERE?: In this country, gathering 5 million, or even 10 million, signatures is easy. Especially if the promoter has enough legal tender to entice people longing for change into signing a piece of paper advertised as their ticket to a better life. [ Read More ]

HOWLS OF PROTEST: One wild card coming up in the Cha-cha game is the 8-million-strong bloc of overseas Filipinos who stand to lose their newly-acquired right to vote for national officials. [ Read More ]

ASSEMBLIES SET: Who supervises barangays? It must be the Department of Interior and Local Government headed by Secretary Ronaldo Puno, who incidentally made his mark with his masterful assembling and counting of the votes in past elections. [ Read More ]

CLEAR PATTERN: Even to a veteran like me grown inured to violence, the continuing extra-judicial execution of radical workers and those suspected of leftist leanings is, to say the least, disturbing. [ Read More ]

VFA COVER: If the Philippines did not sign the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States, we would not be in this embarrassing situation of being denied custody of four American servicemen accused of raping a Filipina in Subic last November. [ Read More ]

FOURTH ESTATE: If the Philippine press ever considered itself as the Fourth Estate in the tradition of feudal Europe — or presumed itself to be the Fourth Branch of government in our present-day Republican setting — that moment could be as fleeting as Camelot was. [ Read More ]

REYES CHALLENGED: Over 35 business and commercial establishments in Metro Manila have been reported to be illegally extracting huge volumes of water from deep-wells. This allegedly contributes to the drying up of the water table and the sinking of the land in many areas. [ Read More ]

REYES WARNING: Since nobody seems to have been paying attention, it was right that Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes repeated the other day the warning that the next world war would be fought possibly over dwindling water supplies. [ Read More ]

FORBES VOTE: Though unintended, Forbes magazine’s listing taipan Lucio Tan with the world’s top billionaires is an affirmation of the Sandiganbayan’s recent order for the government to lift its 20-year unwarranted sequestration of his assets. [ Read More ]

PATINTERO: The impasse between arresting policemen and radical congressmen hiding from the officers is no longer funny. This nauseating political patintero boils down to three points: [ Read More ]

RATIO UP: After I reported Sunday that my survey of Postscript readers initially had six out of every 10 respondents saying that President Gloria Arroyo did the right thing declaring a state of national emergency, the ratio went up to eight out of 10 approving her handling of the crisis. [ Read More ]

PREMATURE: As expected, two Senate committees that looked into the alleged misuse of millions in fertilizer funds of the agriculture department implicated President Gloria Arroyo in the mess and judged her as “culpable.” [ Read More ]

CRUDE, CRUEL: Veteran journalist Noel Cabrera, our ambassador to Romania , was confined days ago at the Kidney Center for a major surgery. [ Read More ]

February 2006

MUDDY TO CLEAR: Because of its limited water resourcethe tiny nation of Singapore is turning treated wastewater to potable water though microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultra violet technologies. [ Read More ]

There was a Lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They came back from the ride,
With the Lady inside
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
— A limerick that I suddenly remembered from my high school literature class. [ Read More ]

MABEY BRIDGES: Readers stung by the explanation of British firm Mabey & Johnson about how they allegedly performed such great service to the country by building those rickety Lego-type bridges around the country refuse to drop the subject. [ Read More ]

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” — So said US President John F. Kennedy toward the conclusion of his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1961, in Washington, DC. [ Read More ]

SLOW REFLEX: Before extraneous matters muddle the issues and negative impressions sink in the public mind, Malacanang should explain right away why recovered Marcos billions were used in pre-election political spending. [ Read More ]

SUSPICIOUS: Pasig Mayor Vicente Eusebio’s bulldozing of the shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride ) market operating in barangay Palatiw close to his City Hall office is suspicious. [ Read More ]

CLARK FIELD — A dark cloud hangs over civil aviation circles amid concern that the Philippine panel in the air talks with Bahrain, set Feb. 16-17 in this former US air base, seems disposed to giving the tiny Arab sheikdom everything it wants. [ Read More ]

PINOY PLAINT: This email, written Oct. 26, 2004, by Bess of Sta. Clara, Calif., has been circulating mostly in the US. I boiled it down to fit our limited space. [ Read More ]

DEVALUED REPORT: The much-awaited interagency report on the Feb. 4 stampede at the PhilSports Arena (formerly Ultra) in Pasig that resulted in the death of more than 70 persons has been devalued by the insertion of uncalled-for judgmental opinion. [ Read More ]

SURE LURE: How come almost all of the more than 70 crushed to death in the stampede last Saturday in the TV variety show “Wowowee” were women, and mostly housewives from less fortunate households? [ Read More ]

TRAGIC REBUKE: The stampede that claimed yesterday more than 70 lives, mostly women, at the ULTRA multi-sports complex in Pasig is a tragic rebuke on society and those who dare to exploit the desperation of the poor. [ Read More ]

TOO LATE?: Malacanang says that President Gloria Arroyo is willing to sit down with Catholic bishops for “constructive dialogue” to thresh out controversies hounding her administration. [ Read More ]

January 2006

SABIT LAHAT: If President Gloria Arroyo and the opposition know how to read, they should not miss the message of the bishops that (1) she still has to face the basic question of legitimacy, but that (2) her detractors should not use that unresolved point to advance their political agenda. [ Read More ]

NEGATIVE SIDE: Amid the delirious welcome for boxing great Manny Pacquiao, not everybody would dare say this in public, but here goes. [ Read More ]

PCSO REJOINDER: Reacting to my report on bettors’ expressing fears that some extra winners could be inserted after the lotto draws of the Philippine Charity Sweepstake Office, PCSO officials sent a rejoinder to the STAR publisher, not to me. [ Read More ]

SAN FERNANDO — For the nth time, I saw again yesterday this rickety Bailey bridge thrown across MacArthur Highway at the Gapan-Olongapo Road intersection in this capital city of Pampanga. [ Read More ]

MYSTERY: The private sector is baffled by Executive Order 474, signed last Nov. 30 and withdrawn by President Gloria Arroyo several weeks ago, creating an energy super body to attract investors and “arrange and negotiate financing” with financial institutions. [ Read More ]

WHO’S IN CHARGE?: Hello, is anybody around? The country seems to be going to pieces, but we see nobody of consequence doing anything about it. [ Read More ]

LOTTO JACKPOT: I do not mean to promote gambling, but I cannot resist the urge to tell readers that for just P10, they can bet and win some P120 million in the SuperLotto 6/49 draw on Thursday of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. [ Read More ]

CLARK FIELD — Former President Fidel V. Ramos told the press here Friday that no clear agreement was reached in his last meeting with President Gloria Arroyo regarding his call for her to cut short in 2007 her six-year term and hold elections that year. [ Read More ]

M&J SIDE: Comes now a representative of British firm Mabey & Johnson to give their side on the controversial “Bridges to Nowhere” that they have been building all over the country under the President’s bridges program. [ Read More ]

CHILDISH: If they truly love their country, opposition leaders invited to the Council of State meeting set Jan. 24 must attend in good faith and give President Gloria Arroyo the benefit of the doubt. [ Read More ]

ROADS TO FOLLOW: There is this campaign story of a congressional candidate promising the townspeople at a miting de avance to build a bridge for them. When the mayor whispered to him that there was no river or creek in the area that might need a span, the candidate was unfazed. [ Read More ]

VFA NOT A TREATY: That the US Senate has not ratified the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement — in contrast to its having been concurred in by the Philippines’ treaty-ratifying Senate — is not a minor detail. [ Read More ]

MOMENT OF TRUTH: Today is a red-letter day to watch in Philippine-American relations.

If events unfold as scheduled in the processing of rape charges against four off-duty US servicemen in Olongapo City, the Philippines will emerge today either as a truly sovereign nation or a puppet of the United States. [ Read More ]

GARBAGE OUT: If you missed throwing out your garbage last night along with the noisy departure of the old year, you better do it before this first day of the New Year is over. [ Read More ]

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