2013 Postscripts

December 2013

THROW THE TRASH: Before a new year slips in at midnight, we still have time to dispose of last year’s garbage, especially the psychological trash weighing down heavily on our minds. [ Read More ]

PRESSURE TACTIC: A senior congressman’s press releases keep cropping up in the newspapers repeating his threats to Supreme Court justices that they could be impeached for misusing the Judiciary Development Fund collected from litigants. [ Read More ]

HALLELUJAH: In the good old Diliman days, we UPSCAns used to hold a choral concert in December. Our (ehem) repertoire was always capped by Handel’s “Hallelujah”, which we belted out with more loudness than musical finesse – with the audience jumping to its feet. [ Read More ]

WHAT MATTERS?: Suddenly it is the eve of Christmas, the reason for all the rushing about and the epic stress the past several weeks.

If you have not completed your shopping for Christmas gifts, forget it. Do not insist on venturing out today to the overcrowded streets and malls. Save your shopping money and your sanity. [ Read More ]

MAR OUT, PING IN: Former senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, the latest addition to the Aquino Cabinet as the Rehab Czar, is the man to watch. [ Read More ]

AMEND VFA: My suggestion in the last Postscript to amend the Visiting Forces Agreement in the light of the United States’ seeking “easier and greater access” to certain Philippine areas elicited varied reactions from readers. (Revisit at: https://manilamail.com/archive/2013dec/13dec17/[ Read More ]

ACCESS: The United States is seeking “easier and greater access” by its military personnel to areas in the Philippines where they may be mutually needed. [ Read More ]

NINOY’S FURLOUGH: When Ninoy the father of President Noynoy Aquino was in maximum security detention, the martial rule strongman Ferdinand Marcos granted him furlough in 1979 to spend the Christmas holidays with his family at their Times Street residence in Quezon City. [ Read More ]

PRECIPITOUS DROP: In the recurring debate on whether a president’s term should be four or six years, someone invariably says that four years is too short for a good president while six years is too long for a bad one. [ Read More ]

POWER-SHARING: We heard in horror the news that a Malacañang panel has signed with the MILF another annex of a comprehensive agreement for creating a Bangsamoro to replace the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao under the aegis of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. [ Read More ]

THUNDERBOLT: Why should captive consumers be punished for the lack of concern and the incompetence of those managing the power sector? [ Read More ]

HOW LOW?: Spewing fire just five meters from her target, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago yesterday challenged Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile to a televised debate on some old issues, including the pork barrel plunder complaint against him. [ Read More ]

CHALLENGE: Former senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson as post-Yolanda rehabilitation czar let loose on the fast track? Good luck to him!

Actually Lacson does not need a job. What he needs is a high-profile platform from which to project himself while serving the public — which is why we assume that he has accepted the post only under certain conditions. [ Read More ]

DUCUT NOT AN ALLY: “2 P-Noy allies on pork list” bannered a newspaper yesterday in an apparent attempt to show that President Noynoy Aquino has been non-partisan in filing criminal complaints against those involved in the pocketing of congressional pork barrel. [ Read More ]

November 2013

HARASSMENT: The freezing of the assets of boxing champ Manny Pacquiao on possible income tax liabilities is another manifestation of the Hold-Order mentality of the Aquino administration always looking for ways to harass political enemies. [ Read More ]

OFF-BUDGET FUNDS: It is high time the government stopped operating virtually on two budgets — one from funds appropriated by the Congress and another one from funds dispensed at the sole discretion of the President. [ Read More ]

SMOOTHER TIES: China may not have been there on the first day after typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Visayas last Nov. 8 and left more than 5,000 dead, but it is fast gearing up its own massive pouring of medical aid and relief to the victims. [ Read More ]

DAP IS NEXT?: With the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which is in the national budget, having been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, will the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of Malacañang that is not even in the budget suffer the same fate? [ Read More ]

SHAVING FIGURES: To what extent will bureaucrats go to support the announced wish of President Noynoy Aquino for a zero-casualty management score in the typhoon Yolanda devastation? [ Read More ]

MERE RECAP: There was actually nothing that visiting CNN journalist Anderson Cooper said about the devastation in Tacloban City and the government response to the calamity in the Visayas that had not been said before by local media. By and large, he just confirmed earlier reports. [ Read More ]

VARIOUS VIEWPOINTS: The phenomenon is created by the point of view taken. Or, as it is sometimes said, it is all a matter of opinion.

We are saying this again to put a handle on the cacophony of reports and conflicting views on what is and what is not being done, particularly by government, in the aftermath of Yolanda’s rampage in the Visayas last week. [ Read More ]

REASSURING: Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras is an assurance to us who follow the painfully slow RRRs (rescue, relief, rehab, etc.) in the Visayan areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda that government knows what it is doing and will be able to do it. [ Read More ]

STILL SHORT: Before Yolanda hit the Visayas the other day and left a wide swath of death and destruction, many of us had noticed government moves to prepare the communities in the typhoon’s path and pre-position assistance where it was likely to be needed. [ Read More ]

IT’S HER SHOW: Pork barrel megastar Janet Lim Napoles, if she wants, could gain virtual control of the super production scheduled to reel off this morning at the Senate. [ Read More ]

FAILED TEST: Senate President Franklin Drilon and his cohorts will be back at the “scene of the crime” when the Blue Ribbon committee resumes on Thursday poking into the porky L’Affaire Napoles and when the chamber returns Nov. 18 from its recess. [ Read More ]

MUDDLING ISSUES: There is no question that stealing public funds is evil and criminal. Even the thieves ensconced in government know that. Whoever does it should have his hands chopped off. [ Read More ]

October 2013

PORK ISSUE: President Noynoy Aquino came out fighting last night as he defended the need and the legality of his presidential pork barrel, including the Disbursement Acceleration Program fund whose constitutionality is under question before the Supreme Court. [ Read More ]

SUPPLY GAP: This rice-eating country, try as it might, still has to import part of its grains requirements – ironically sometimes from neighbors whose farmers learned modern agriculture from the Philippines. [ Read More ]

IT’S NOW COLOMA: The trying-hard talking heads of the Malacañang press office – Edwin Lacierda, Ricky Carandang and Abigail Valte – better not resist their being given, huh, some rest. [ Read More ]

RUSH JOB: Some opposition congressmen, notably Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, complained the other day that they were given less than two hours to read the 3,225 pages of the 2014 national budget bill before the House approved it Tuesday night on third and final reading. [ Read More ]

SKELETONS: Behind the brave front of the Kiram family that the Philippine claim to Sabah is alive despite the death last Sunday of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is the sad reality that the generations-old claim is dead, its skeleton locked in the closet of Malacañang. [ Read More ]

NO EXCUSES: President Noynoy Aquino cannot stay in quake-ravaged Bohol the way he did in Zamboanga during the recent Moro insurrection. Doing so would dramatize his administration’s inability to respond adequately to the cries of the calamity victims. [ Read More ]

WHAT TO DO?: Almost always, when I get into discussions with individuals incensed with the pork barrel plunder, the conversation reaches the cul de sac question “So what do we do now?” [ Read More ]

ACID TEST: President Noynoy Aquino appears to have decided to rise or fall on the pork barrel issue — but the people, if surveys are to be believed, have just cautioned him with a sharp drop in his net trust rating. [ Read More ]

MODERN PORT: Here is good news for Manilans, and all Filipinos for that matter, who do not go to the bustling North Harbor in Tondo except to fetch an occasional friend or relative who has taken the ship to the city. [ Read More ]

‘MA’AM ARLENE’: One’s person may be violated and his rights abused by his fellows and the authorities, but he can always take consolation in the fact that once he goes to court, he will find redress of grievances, vindication and justice. [ Read More ]

SOMETHING’S AMISS: Walk the city streets. Drive on EDSA or in the looban. Buy foodstuff in a public market. See where your meager wage goes. Monitor the news, mostly about corruption and violence, while awaiting your kids’ coming home late.… Something’s terribly wrong. [ Read More ]

FOLLOW ME: For readers who have not joined the fast-clip 140-characters-only exchange on Twitter, here are a few of my own (@FDPascual) recent tweets on public issues: [ Read More ]

STIMULUS: Groping for words to explain its mishandling of public funds, Malacañang has added “stimulus” to its defense vocabulary.

The Palace said that the Disbursement Acceleration Program that it concocted in 2011 was a barrel into which savings were hidden to be used as “stimulus” for economic development. The idea was to release large sums into the money stream to stimulate the sluggish economy. [ Read More ]

OBAMA TALKS: Did Manila diplomats wink or wince when a Malacañang media factotum announced the other day that President Noynoy Aquino and US President Barack Obama will discuss security in light of the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China during the latter’s Oct. 11-12 visit? [ Read More ]

September 2013

WHO’LL BE LEFT STANDING?: The Senate Yellow Ribbon committee should hold a final hearing soonest – but only to listen to the public confession of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles — then disband in the name of sanity and decency. [ Read More ]

DAMAY-DAMAY NA!: Will Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, one of three senators targeted in “pork barrel” charges, bring down the entire chamber with him with his privilege speech exposing how Malacañang uses massive fund releases to buy lawmakers’ votes on crucial issues? [ Read More ]

WHERE’S THE PORK?: Batanes is the country’s smallest province in population (16,604 in 2010) and area (219 square kilometers), but the Ivatans in its six towns have a big voice in their lone Rep. Henedina Abad, wife of the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management. [ Read More ]

ON THE JOB: Without implying that we know better than President Noynoy Aquino, we offer the unsolicited advice for him to just give clear policy directions then leave the Zamboanga fighting to the field commanders and the rehabilitation to the civilian agencies on the ground. [ Read More ]

SOMBER AIR: President Noynoy Aquino’s chief peace negotiator has admitted that the bloody strife in Zamboanga has cast a “somber” mood on the piecemeal negotiations between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. [ Read More ]

DEEP-CLEANSING: The filing yesterday of complaints for plunder, malversation, bribery and corruption against eight lawmakers, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, and 29 others for allegedly stealing billions in pork barrel funds starts a deep-cleansing process. [ Read More ]

CONNIVANCE: We have said it before and we say it again: Plunder charges against lawmakers and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles will not be credible without also prosecuting their accomplices in the Department of Budget and Management and the Implementing Agencies. [ Read More ]

SPLINTER: Instead of waiting for MNLF chair Nur Misuari to do it, Palace negotiator Teresita Deles cleared yesterday the Moro National Liberation Front for the raging firefight in Zamboanga, blaming instead supposed marauders of an MNLF “splinter” group. [ Read More ]

FOCUS & FACE: For maximum impact, the mass protest tomorrow on historic EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Ave.) should have at least two things: a Focus and a Face. [ Read More ]

CAN HE DO IT?: The political backbone of President Noynoy Aquino will be put to a severe test the moment he decides to file plunder charges against businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles involving the massive diversion of billions in pork barrel funds. [ Read More ]

STUMBLING BLOCK: Are officials of the Philippines and the United States colluding to go around the spirit of the Constitution in their secret negotiation for a new agreement allowing the temporary basing of American forces in the country? [ Read More ]

TANDEM REPORT: Today we yield to research and action group Tanggulang Demokrasya which presented yesterday a comprehensive report from Election Fraud to the Pork Barrel. We give TanDem a chance to be heard over the pervasive voice of the administration’s propaganda apparatus. [ Read More ]

OVER-CONCERN: We are amazed by the lack of proportion and professionalism in the government’s handling of the Pork Barrel saga starring Janet Lim Napoles. [ Read More ]

August 2013

FOLLOW-UP: Postscript asked last time “After Luneta, what?” because we are notorious for our short span of attention and our propensity to wait for others to make the next move on public issues. [ Read More ]

QUESTION: After Luneta, what?

The question invites us to review quickly yesterday’s anti-pork barrel protest picnic at the park and to anticipate the steps needed to consolidate the gains of the mass action. [ Read More ]

LUNETA HIJACK: President Noynoy Aquino is attempting to hijack tomorrow’s anti-Pork Barrel mass protest at the Luneta by promising to scrap porky congressional development funds and to prosecute those who had pocketed billions intended for public projects. [ Read More ]

Adopted from the Postscript of Aug. 21, 2012)

YELLOW RIBBONS: Where were you when opposition leader Ninoy Aquino was murdered 30 years ago yesterday while in the custody of uniformed agents of the Marcos military apparatus upon his arrival at the Manila International Airport? [ Read More ]

TAMA NA!: While Malacañang gropes for a safe response to the explosion of public indignation over the plunder of Pork Barrel billions, a logical immediate step is to stop the disbursement of all public funds that smell of pork. [ Read More ]

SHORT & SWIFT: For readers who have not caught up with the short and swift world of Twitter, we share below a few of my tweets  (Twitter.com/@FDPascual) this week: [ Read More ]

GOOD NEWS: It may be an accident of the calendar, but it is still welcome news that President Noynoy Aquino is going to China on Sept. 3 and talk with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on what press release writers call “matters of mutual interest.” [ Read More ]

CAN HE DO IT?: As the Philippines prepares to sit down with the United States this week to start crafting a new agreement allowing Americans a substantially bigger military presence in this former US colony, all eyes are on President Noynoy Aquino. [ Read More ]

TRAFFIC TALKS: Nothing is gained, except ugly publicity, when Manila executives conduct traffic talks with bus operators in the middle of a crowded street in the full glare of TV cameras. [ Read More ]

SUBIC BAY – I have not set foot on the deck of BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16), the latest Hamilton-class cutter of the Philippine Navy, but watching its televised arrival in this naval base I felt proud of the warship and its crew of 88, six of them smart female. [ Read More ]

MORONG — Why would hard-nosed foreign investors locate in the Philippines if they cannot be assured of sufficient, steady and inexpensive electricity for their operations? [ Read More ]

The long-awaited Supreme Court decision on the legitimacy of the board of Philcomsat Holdings Corp. (PHC), a Philcomsat subsidiary listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange, is in. [ Read More ]

FACELESS ACCUSERS: Presidential sister Ballsy Aquino Cruz is wishing her accusers would come out in the open and formally charge her so she could defend herself properly and prove her innocence. [ Read More ]

July 2013

ENERGY & FOOD: It looks like the Europe-based pressure group Greenpeace is on the warpath again. The government better be on the lookout. [ Read More ]

SCAMS ALL OVER: With scams erupting all over the place, maybe we can start calling this country Scamdinavia.

We have not seen the end of the stories that upwards of P10 billion in pork barrel funds had been diverted to ghost Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and then on to bulging secret private accounts. [ Read More ]

WHAT TO DO?: Mr. President, Sir, where are you taking us? What is the master plan?

After listening to the State of the Nation Address of President Noynoy Aquino last Monday and then asking fellow newspapermen what they gathered from his 100-minute report, I still cannot see a cohesive grand plan for this nation. [ Read More ]

RATING THE SONA: After an hour of discussing agrarian reform, Hacienda Luisita and a host of other subtopics last Friday, we sprang on President Noynoy Aquino’s uncle Jose “Peping” Cojuangco the question: [ Read More ]

LUISITA PARCELS: Agrarian reform beneficiaries of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac have not received the titles to their parcels to be taken from the sugar estate but some of them are already talking of selling their would-be farms. [ Read More ]

HOT OR COLD: If the words of MWSS Administrator Gerardo Esquivel were water flowing out of the tap, one would not know readily if they were hot or cold. [ Read More ]

WHAT PEACE?: One is aghast seeing parties representing conflicting self-interests signing documents in what has been misrepresented as “peace talks” but which is actually haggling over how to divide Mindanao and its wealth. [ Read More ]

PRESERVE EVIDENCE!: While concerned citizens expose and demand punitive action on alleged massive automated manipulation of the last May 13 election, who is doing anything to preserve the damning evidence? [ Read More ]

USELESS: Unless they earn good money for the chore, street marchers protesting the endless fuel price increases may want to stop doing it. It is obvious that all their ranting while exposed to sun/rain and air pollution is for naught. [ Read More ]

‘PEACE TALKS’ KUNO: A handful of individuals claiming to represent two opposing factions are meeting behind closed doors in a foreign land (Malaysia) to decide the political destiny of the Republic of the Philippines and that of President Noynoy Aquino. [ Read More ]

CLARK FREEPORT — With the tourism clock ticking, the Aquino administration has to recognize quickly the fact that the Ninoy Aquino International Airport has outlived its usefulness. [ Read More ]

WHAT’S A FRIEND FOR?: We mark today July 4, that day 67 years ago when the United States gave back independence to Filipinos picking up the pieces from the devastation of the last war with Japan. It was a happy event. [ Read More ]

UNITY & RECONCILIATION: For a change, President Noynoy Aquino should open wide his arms in his midterm State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22, embrace ALL sectors and plead earnestly for National Unity and Reconciliation. [ Read More ]

June 2013

WOBBLY TALE: On the face of it, I do not believe the black propaganda that presidential eldest sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz had tried extorting a bribe from a Czech company interested in a contract to supply coaches for a Metro Manila light rail line. [ Read More ]

FREE GIFT: In this highly commercialized world, most people seem to have forgotten that water, like air, is a free gift of Nature.

We inhabitants of this Earth should not be made to pay for the water we drink — as we must not pay for the air we breathe. Both items are free gifts of God (or of Mother Nature, to those who do not believe in Him). [ Read More ]

HELPLESS: Let us admit it: In the remaining three years of President Noynoy Aquino, there is not much he can do to prevent flash floods submerging low-lying sections of Metro Manila. In this regard, we seem to be helpless! [ Read More ]

KEEPING DISTANCE: We will be searching for the answers to questions playing in our mind as Filipino and American forces conduct a joint military exercise from June 27 to July 2 near Scarborough (Panatag) shoal that China has occupied. Some of the questions: [ Read More ]

BRACE FOR MORE: Listening to the excuses of officials after the Great Flood and Traffic Standstill of last Monday, the message we get is that there is no relief in sight, not during the Aquino dispensation anyway, and that we should brace for more of the same. [ Read More ]

IMPATIENCE: Unlike the Chinese playing their territorial game within a wider time frame, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front itching to carve out its own Bangsamoro sub-state in Mindanao is not used to waiting. [ Read More ]

COSTLY IMAGE:Being the firm that directly bills electricity users, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is in the unenviable position of taking the brunt of consumers’ complaints against the rising cost of power. [ Read More ]

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?: The 115th Independence Day speech yesterday of President Noynoy Aquino sounded like a retort to what critics say is his wimpy response to China’s aggressive takeover of some isles, reefs and fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea. [ Read More ]

PREMATURE: Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II better be careful not to give the impression that he is already rendering judgment on what or who was behind the explosion at Two Serendra condominium that killed three persons in Taguig City last May 31. [ Read More ]

HELPLESS: Many of us who are incensed by China’s grabbing our isles, reefs and fishing grounds one after another impatiently wait for a forceful response from the Aquino administration. [ Read More ]

CONSPIRACY: The National Bureau of Investigation recommends the filing of criminal charges, including inciting to war, against some leaders and members of the Sultanate of Sulu who, it said, had conspired to reclaim Sabah from Malaysia. [ Read More ]

INCOMPETENCE: Every year when public schools open, we are swamped with the same recurring reports of lack of classrooms, textbook and teachers. [ Read More ]

CLARK FIELD – Every month, an average of 2,415 residents of Region 3 have to go all the way to the Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay City to take delivery of parcels or small packages addressed to them. [ Read More ]

May 2013

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – This former US naval base just 120 miles from the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales that China has occupied will soon see a heightened American military presence. [ Read More ]

TANTUM ERGO: Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and his Smartmatic partners continue to outsmart critics and poll watchdogs. [ Read More ]

SM AURA OPENS: If you have time today, drive over to Fort Bonifacio and visit SM Prime Holdings’ latest (47th) and most luxurious mall in the country, the SM Aura Premier, which finally opened its doors to the public last Friday. [ Read More ]

BIT BY BIT: Another Philippine area has been taken over by the Chinese. After occupying our Panatag (Scarborough) shoal off Zambales, China has also added Ayungin reef near Palawan to its growing control list of Philippine isles and fishing grounds. [ Read More ]

RESCUE PLAN: The bright boys of President Noynoy Aquino running the Social Security System better come up fast with a rescue plan for the system saddled with a ballooning unfunded liability of P1.1 TRILLION (!) without adding to the burden of its 29 million members. [ Read More ]

NOW THIS?: When communist hordes overran China in 1949 in the concluding chapter of a civil war, the Philippines gave aid and sanctuary to Kuomintang Chinese fleeing the mainland on way to Taiwan. Many of them settled in Manila and flourished in business. [ Read More ]

‘TOP 3’ TROUNCED: Having urged readers not to vote for the senatorial candidates being assigned by the survey firms to the Top Three rankings, I am happy that Grace Poe shot from below them and grabbed the No. 1 post, besting the surveys’ lead pack. [ Read More ]

MABALACAT CITY – Yes, our dusty old town has been converted into a city by the outgoing 15th Congress, ending the lobbying by Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales bent on becoming our first city executive and lengthening his political shelf life. [ Read More ]

HOW I’LL VOTE: To some of my friends running for senator, sorry.

Tomorrow, I will not vote for Dynastic Candidates. By their names alone, you shall know who they are. [ Read More ]

CLEAN COUNT: The Commission on Elections has turned down suggestions for a parallel manual count as one way of testing or validating the integrity of the automated count on Monday, May 13. [ Read More ]

HEAVIER CROSS: What social security management theories is President Noynoy Aquino applying in the private sector?

The President plans to increase workers’ contributions to the Social Security System to finance the upgrading of the measly benefits of its more than 29 million members. [ Read More ]

SHORTFALLS: Nonfeasance in office bordering on the criminal can describe Customs Commissioner Raffy Biazon’s utter failure to curb big-time smuggling of high-value commodities and his not meeting the already downgraded revenue targets set for his agency. [ Read More ]

SECRET FUND: While Malaysia keeps offering 5,300 ringgits (P72,000) a year to continue renting Sabah from the Sulu sultanate, that disputed corner of North Borneo earns $200 billion annually. [ Read More ]

April 2013

BIG, BOLD OFFER: We were having coffee last Sunday with a finance man (FM) and we got to talking, among other things, about San Miguel Corporation’s whopping P11-billion bid for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway project. [ Read More ]

ONCE AGAIN: This is another attempt to explain what a Source Code is. And why it is crucial to ensuring the integrity of the May 13 automated polls using Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) computers. [ Read More ]

TENABLE: It is amazing that until yesterday a few friends in media and some lawyers were still questioning the appointment of Al Parreño of the LTRFB as member of the Commission on Elections on the basis of his not being a lawyer with at least 10 years’ practice. [ Read More ]

STAYING PUT: Notwithstanding his threat to vanish from the scene, Sixto Brillantes Jr. is not resigning as chairman of the Commission on Elections. Why should he? [ Read More ]

EGO MASSAGE: President Noynoy Aquino has been listed by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential leaders.

That is nice to hear, especially when one thrust by necro-events into a position of power is fumbling in the dark. But we wish the magazine at least said who President Aquino has influenced in a significant way during his on-the-job-training of a little over two years. [ Read More ]

NO PLAN ‘B’: What does Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. eat for breakfast? How come he is not the least bothered that something wrong might just happen on Election Day while many people, including lawyers, politicians and IT experts, are deathly worried? [ Read More ]

PEP TALK: The main function of the Commission on Elections is to manage Philippine polls so they will be fair, clean and orderly.

That alone is already a tough job without the Comelec having to distract itself by straying into the realm of partisan commentary and speculative predictions of election results.[ Read More ]

UNFAIR TELCOS: The National Telecommunications Commission should stop cellphone companies from holding hostage their contracted users by making them pay a flat pretermination penalty when they opt out before their two-year term is over. [ Read More ]

GOOD NEWS: The Bureau of Internal Revenue is finally waking up to the fact that the cedula (now called Community Tax Certificate) is an undue imposition that serves no purpose except to overtax people. [ Read More ]

DESECRATION: Welcome to the super rich, the over-represented and even political parties — and goodbye to the dreams of the truly marginalized sectors to become lawmakers themselves to enact laws to benefit them. [ Read More ]

IT’S THE LAW: Gasoline used by motor vehicles must be pre-mixed this month with ethyl alcohol to the extent of 10 percent – unless the government again postpones the April 2013 deadline for blending. [ Read More ]

GRAY PICTURE: Many motorists are unaware or do not care that the gasoline they use for their motor vehicles is mixed with ethyl alcohol – provided the fuel is safe and reasonably priced. [ Read More ]

March 2013

DEFINITION NEEDED: Section 26 of Article II (Declaration of State Policies) of the Constitution is clear: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” [ Read More ]

RH LAW FROZEN: The Supreme Court has issued a Temporary Restraining Order on the controversial birth control law, but rejected another bid for a TRO on a rule limiting radio-TV election campaign advertising. [ Read More ]

LOPSIDED: It looks like the Sultanate of Sulu will lose to Malaysia in their ownership fight over Sabah.

The cards are stacked up against the family of the ailing 74-year-old Sultan Jamalul Kiram III: [ Read More ]

SKEWED PRIORITIES: The bigger obstacle faced by a great number of college students in the Philippines is not academics but economics. [ Read More ]

BY ASSOCIATION: The debate on who owns Sabah and why Filipinos there are being violently uprooted has brought in side business issues that Malacañang may want to clarify if only for the sake of transparency. [ Read More ]

WHERE’S MILF?: There is nothing but deafening silence from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that Malacañang recognizes are the voice and representative of the Muslim population. [ Read More ]

WITCHHUNT: A political witchhunt like the one just launched by Malacañang will not solve, but might even worsen, the crisis developing around Sabah. [ Read More ]

CHANGING THE TOPIC: Malacañang released yesterday the National Bureau of Investigation report on the killing last Jan. 6 of 13 individuals at a checkpoint in Atimonan, Quezon. The NBI said the incident was a rubout, not a shootout. [ Read More ]

OWNER’S FATE: What the ailing Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his followers want is a president who has it in his heart to embrace them as their protector, not one who publicly castigates them and leaves them to the mercy of a neighbor pretending to be friend and peace broker. [ Read More ]

SABAH CRISIS: By force of habit, a clueless President Noynoy Aquino blamed persons he identified with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the crisis that developed after constituents of the Sulu sultan went home to Lahad Datu in Sabah three weeks ago. [ Read More ]

February 2013

WHAT?: Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu could not believe it — that going home has become a crime under the regime of President Noynoy Aquino. [ Read More ]

SABAH STANDOFF: Two things must be underscored in the case of some 200 Tausugs from Sulu, some of them women, given an ultimatum and surrounded by Malaysian police in a village in Lahad Datu town in Sabah: [ Read More ]

MONEY MATTER: Is the Philippine claim on Sabah destined for another “pera-pera lang” resolution — in the same tenor that Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. says that the quarrel of election hardware supplier Smartmatic and its software developer is just a matter of money or how much? [ Read More ]

REGULAR RENT: The Sabah issue is clear and simple: If Malaysia is indeed the absolute owner of that corner of North Borneo which the constituents of the Sulu sultan insist on occupying as their ancestral home, why is Kuala Lumpur regularly paying rent to the sultanate? [ Read More ]

EITHER-OR: Our elders admonish us against “namamangka sa dalawang ilog” (rowing a boat on two rivers). Sooner or later we reach a junction where a difficult either-or decision will have to be made. [ Read More ]

POLLS’ INTEGRITY: Threats to the integrity of the May 13 elections are not necessarily overcome if/when Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. uses public funds to bail out private firm Smartmatic from its contractual disputes with software supplier Dominion Voting System. [ Read More ]

THY WILL BE DONE: The formal selection by a conclave of cardinals of the successor of Pope Benedict XVI, who has resigned effective at the end of the month, is not a viva voce affair nor anything remotely approximating Philippine elections. [ Read More ]

DEEP SHIT: Based on figures from the Commission on Elections, congressional committees, information-technology groups and election watchdogs, it is obvious that we – the Comelec and the entire nation by extension — are in deep shit. [ Read More ]

POLL FEARS: Is Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. afraid that if he conceded the flaws of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) system, the dam might break and wash away the integrity of the 2010 election of President Noynoy Aquino who had appointed him to the poll body? [ Read More ]

CHILDISH RETORT: Reacting to criticisms of the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines that performed badly in the mock elections last Saturday, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes shot back with a taunt to go back to manual voting if automation is too much trouble. [ Read More ]

MOCK SUCCESS: The mock polls held last Saturday by the Commission on Elections were “successful” indeed.

They succeeded in confirming what has been suspected all along — that behind its confident front, the Comelec is not yet ready to conduct a credible computerized election nationwide. The exercise demonstrated that: [ Read More ]

ERAP ON THE GO: When one meets former President Erap Estrada, the conversation turns to politics, punctuated now and then with his trade-mark Eraptions. [ Read More ]

January 2013

PROPER VENUE: The 500 or so delegates from 78 countries who have congregated in Manila to exchange notes on official corruption and how to fight it have come to the right place for their fifth Global Conference of Parliamentarians Against Corruption. [ Read More ]

LEAVE IT TO COURTS: The ultimate objective of the investigation of the Jan. 6 massacre in Atimonan, Quezon, of 13 individuals on two vehicles is to determine the guilt or innocence of the persons accused, who at this stage are all presumed innocent. [ Read More ]

MATTER OF STYLE: Handlers of President Noynoy Aquino may want to look for other ways to make their boss look good without having to continually disparage other people, especially his predecessor. [ Read More ]

RESTRICTIVE: Supporters of the Freedom of Information bill better make up their minds if they want the measure passed quickly in the last two minutes of the 15th Congress although it is still loaded with restrictive insertions of Malacañang. [ Read More ]

OPENS SUNDAY: The Salvador H. Laurel Museum and Library built on a hill in San Pedro, Laguna, will be inaugurated on Sunday, the ninth death anniversary of the former vice president. [ Read More ]

PREMATURE: Even assuming the conclusion of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will be shown later to be accurate that the killing last Jan. 6 of 13 persons on two vans in Atimonan, Quezon, was “anything but a shootout,” her premature statement of findings is unfair and unfortunate. [ Read More ]

VEILED WARNING: The Philippine National Police has unofficially beaten the National Bureau of Investigation, supposedly the sole agency probing the Jan. 6 massacre of 13 persons on two vehicles in Atimonan, Quezon. The police have prematurely announced it was an ambush. [ Read More ]

INNOVATIONS: After 15 years of computerizing and integrating the nationwide services of the Land Transportation Office, the contractor Stradcom Corp. will disengage upon the expiration of its contract on Feb. 10. [ Read More ]

CITIZENS’ ARMY: A total firearms ban – or the restricting of gun possession to police and military personnel and forbidding it for civilians — is a dull reflex response to the spate of gun-related violence in our midst. [ Read More ]

NOONG ARAW: Stopping the misuse of government vehicles goes beyond banning their use of “wang-wang,” the sirens and such devices that are turned on to sort of part the Red Sea traffic so the VIP ensconced in air-conditioned comfort can pass ordinary mortals unimpeded. [ Read More ]

RECLAMATION STILL ON: All the while we thought the plan to reclaim a choice section of Manila Bay near the United States embassy on Roxas Blvd. has been shelved. It turns out it is still being push quietly by City Hall. [ Read More ]

DIVISIVE LAW: There is arguably no measure whose passage had been more nationally divisive than RA 10354, now more popularly known as the Reproductive Health law. [ Read More ]

CONDO TAXES: The Bureau of Internal Revenue circular clarifying the taxability of condominium and homeowners association dues, membership fees and other charges may need further clarification for plain folk who may not understand what will hit them in the new year. [ Read More ]

WHY ONLY NOW?: President Noynoy Aquino is suddenly challenging all sectors “to forge unity in the face of differences.” He made a pitch for national unity as the nation marked last Sunday the 116th anniversary of the martyrdom of Jose Rizal. [ Read More ]

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