2020 Postscripts

December 2020

DO you hear “All the President’s Men” singing their now-familiar chorus that President Duterte is blameless, that no law was violated when his praetorian guards and a Cabinet official were inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration? [ Read More ]

THE surprise “No US vaccine, no (VFA) stay” deal of President Duterte is tough for everyone, including his diplomats caught in the transition to the Biden administration who are now working like purchase agents chasing Covid-19 vaccines for the boss back in Manila. [ Read More ]

“LET us allow Christ into our lives so that we could bring love and cheer not only to our families and friends but also to those who are most in need,” President Duterte said in his Christmas message. [ Read More ]

THE VATICAN released on Monday a note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved by Pope Francis, giving the green light during the pandemic to the use of COVID-19 vaccines produced with cell lines derived from two fetuses aborted in the 1960s. [ Read More ]

AMBASSADOR Babe Romualdez gave last Sunday what to me was the best print media report of Philippine efforts to tap the good offices of the United States in helping it secure a fair share in the COVID-19 vaccine supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and other developers. [ Read More ]

WHY do government officials who know the facts seem to be afraid to tell the people who chose Sinovac Biotech of China to be given a lead role in the COVID-19 mass vaccination starting next year despite its comparatively higher price? [ Read More ]

JUST when we thought the British-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca has stolen a march on its rivals, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday a bigger delivery of 25 million doses is due in March from Sinovac Biotech of China. [ Read More ]

WHICH of several COVID-19 vaccines in the market is the government thinking of using to inoculate at least 60 million Filipinos scattered throughout the archipelago and how will the complicated operation be conducted? [ Read More ]

IT IS obvious that the North Luzon Expressway is not yet fully prepared to carry out the desired cashless system of collecting toll payments using radio frequency identification (RFID) of all vehicles passing through it. [ Read More ]

FOCUSING on the Filipina nurse who administered Tuesday the first shot in the world’s first COVID-19 mass vaccination is the nearest we could force our involvement in that historic event in the United Kingdom. [ Read More ]

RUSSIA started Saturday distributing in Moscow its COVID-19 vaccine while the United Kingdom set to start today its own mass vaccination. The Philippines, meanwhile, is awaiting delivery in the spring of next year of 2.6 million doses bought by private business firms. [ Read More ]

“MISSING the train” isn’t just an expression. It is a life-defining experience, one that could leave the traveler either weakened or strengthened as he moves to other train stations of life.

In my college days decades ago, I always took the train from our town Mabalacat to Tutuban in Manila. Lugging my battered maleta, I would trudge to the train tracks almost a kilometer from our house, then turn left to the railroad bridge to reach the train station. [ Read More ]

WHILE waiting for an affordable vaccine, many Filipinos are trying alternative defenses, including virgin coconut oil and steam inhalation, against the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected more than 64,150,000 people and killed 1,490,000 worldwide. [ Read More ]

AS the administration reported Friday, the 2.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine ordered from pharma firm AstraZeneca may arrive in the second quarter of next year, with additional stock coming later. [ Read More ]

November 2020

WE HOPE that the noble intentions of the public and private parties that signed Friday an agreement for the procurement of 2.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine will carry the nation through its perilous voyage in uncharted seas whipped up by a raging pandemic. [ Read More ]

AFTER its dismal performance in restricting the entry and spread of the COVID-19 plague in the country, the Duterte administration will have a chance to redeem itself when it faces next year a remedial test in managing the vaccination of some 60 million Filipinos. [ Read More ]

ARE Filipino political operators advising President Donald Trump in his rear-guard maneuvers after losing the November 3 election in the United States? [ Read More ]

THE RESURGENCE of Covid-19 cases in many countries has dampened somewhat the week’s good news that several coronavirus vaccine developers have achieved higher than 90-percent efficacy in their final Phase-3 trials on humans. [ Read More ]

THE COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted our lives, infected at least 410,720 and killed 7,862 of us, is far more treacherous and devastating than the seasonal typhoons blowing through these parts. [ Read More ]

POPE Francis tweeted on Sunday: “I am near in prayer to the dear people of the Philippines who are suffering because of the destruction, and especially because of the flooding caused by a strong typhoon. I express my solidarity to the poorest families and those who are doing all they can to help them.” [ Read More ]
NEW YORK – Filipinos around the globe must be horrified by the video clips showing their kababayan back home huddled on rooftops during a typhoon, some of them eventually swept away by the floodwaters, and of survivors sick and hungry in makeshift shelters. [ Read More ]
NEW YORK – Despite his setback at the polls, President Trump is still the most powerful man in the USA. Yet he seems unable to influence the courts into treating more kindly the Republican submissions filed in critical states to ensure his reelection. [ Read More ]

JERSEY CITY – To shorten our column last Sunday to fit its allotted space, we chopped off the last paragraph which said:

“It seems to us that after four years of trying mighty hard using ingenuity and his signature business model as a template, Trump has failed to make America great again and succeeded instead in isolating it from most of the world.” [ Read More ]

NEW YORK – Why hold a presidential election and then block the counting of nearly half of the ballots cast by an estimated 160 million Americans who performed their civic duty to vote even in the middle of a pandemic? [ Read More ]

NEW YORK – Calling Filipino American friends and relatives in various US locations last week to get an informal sampling of how they were likely to vote, we found them split between President Trump (R) and former Vice President Joe Biden (D). [ Read More ]

NEW YORK – To answer the question, we dare say that President Trump, regardless of how he comes across in the media, is too much of an American not to heed a clear call for a change of administration, if ever it comes to that. [ Read More ]

NEW YORK — In two days, we should know if Donald Trump will be replaced by Joe Biden in the White House, if the Republicans will lose their tenuous majority in the Senate, if Obamacare will stay, if the President’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic will be revamped, et cetera. [ Read More ]

October 2020

FAIR warning to the menfolk who have difficulty finding their way home at the end of the day.

The Supreme Court has just affirmed a ruling of a lower court that a man who lives with a woman other than his wife could be guilty of psychological violence against her and must suffer the punishments imposed by the law. [ Read More ]

WE have a problem. It seems that the mastermind of the P389-million project recreating a strip of Boracay beach on Manila Bay was in a hurry to simply spread the fake white sand without factoring in the seasonal typhoons wreaking havoc on the metrics. [ Read More ]

GO EASY on the ladies, general. You could have a hard time winning a word war with popular and engaging beauties speaking for women’s interests and basic rights that are so self-evident that they do not need elaborate explanations for people to embrace them. [ Read More ]

THE LOGIC is compelling. If President Duterte is not corrupt and has no unexplained wealth to hide, he should not hesitate to make public his Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) as required by law, decency, and normal practice. [ Read More ]

WHILE we Filipinos are still debating the fate of the World War-II vintage jeepney and whether or not to accept cash payment of bus fare, progressive sectors elsewhere have been shifting to electric and self-driving cars. [ Read More ]

IS THE response of the Philippines to the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected 351,700-plus Filipinos and killed more than 6,500 of them guided by herd mentality, or herd immunity, or something else we have not heard before? [ Read More ]

THERE was no need to replace Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano with Lord Allan Velasco if the objective was to effect change. The House could have opted instead to install two Speakers and enjoy the stereophonic sounds in President Duterte’s legislative echo chamber. [ Read More ]

STATISTICS tell us that some 22 infants out of every 1,000 born in this country die before they are one year old.

River Nasino who died Friday evening at age three months was one of them. But the circumstances of her birth, and death, refuse to have her simply added to the statistics without contributing to the social significance of her brief existence. [ Read More ]

WHILE we were not looking, the Philippines (334,770 cases) overtook Turkey (330,753) the other day to move up from #20 to #19 position in the global tally of COVID-19 cases, and has stayed No. 1 in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. [ Read More ]

THE RATHER high 91-percent approval and trust ratings garnered by President Duterte in the latest Pulse Asia survey are beginning to look quite costly for the private pollster’s professional reputation. [ Read More ]

PASSENGERS may again pay in cash for their fares in the EDSA Busway, or use Beep cards if they still have or prefer them, with the suspension yesterday of the exclusive use of electronic payment cards. [ Read More ]

LIKE the flu, the COVID-19 scourge will soon pass like a season slipping away, taking with it several thousand lives. But trust President Duterte. He and his motley inter-agency advisers know how to handle the sneaky veerus. [ Read More ]

MY column today about the Speaker of the House of Representatives was unduly delayed for two reasons: (1) the race for the speakership had taken a sudden detour to Malacañang, and (2) whenever I sat down to type out my thoughts I often got sleepy. [ Read More ]

September 2020

WAS President Duterte informing the United Nations merely for the record, or to lay the basis for an action plan, on the 2016 arbitral award in favor of the Philippines vs China affirming his country’s sovereign rights in its maritime areas under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea? [ Read More ]

PRESIDENT Duterte was still reaping hometown praises for telling the world Tuesday that the Philippines stood by the 2016 arbitration award affirming its sovereign rights within its maritime areas when his spokesman rose to say that there was no policy change at all. [ Read More ]

EVEN the Ten Commandments can be “weaponized” and abused, so do we close our eyes to all our trespasses until Yahweh descends again on Mount Sinai and hands over an amended Decalogue? [ Read More ]

WHILE we talked last Tuesday of the closure of the Pemberton case, it now seems that the story of the US serviceman who killed Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014 is not yet over on the other side of the Pacific. [ Read More ]

THOSE night shots of President Duterte trying to balance himself on a motorbike parked in the Malacañang grounds across the Pasig River with four security men assisting him speak volumes about various concerns. [ Read More ]

PRESIDENT Duterte urged the people in his televised Monday report not to believe his critics when they speak ill of the administration’s handling of the twin problems of the Covid-19 pandemic and the faltering economy. [ Read More ]

THE message “May he find peace of mind” floated above the cacophony that sent off US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton who was deported Sunday after serving time for killing transgender Jennifer Laude in 2014 in a hotel room in Olongapo City. [ Read More ]

ONE does not have to be a seasoned environmentalist to see the folly of spreading fake white sand like a band-aid strip on a short stretch of the Manila Bay shore to clean, beautify and rehabilitate it. [ Read More ]

PRESIDENT Duterte need not sound defensive in justifying his grant of absolute pardon to US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton who killed transgender hospitality worker Jennifer Laude in 2014 in a motel in the liberty city of Olongapo. [ Read More ]

AS the Philippines keeps its lead in the regional race to the top of the COVID heap, China and Russia are in another competition — to win the favor of Filipinos fending off the invisible coronavirus that has infected more than 238,000 of them and killed 3,800-plus. [ Read More ]

IT doesn’t look right, it is obscene, to allow President Duterte to “designate” who will succeed him if he dies in office or is permanently disabled at the same time that all the officials in the constitutional line of succession get killed or are totally incapacitated. [ Read More ]

THE country’s health insurance system is very sick. In fact, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) that is supposed to pump blood into it appears to be hemorrhaging so badly that the reserve fund supporting its subsidies could run out by 2022. [ Read More ]

INSTEAD of assigning a “designated survivor” to carry us through a hypothetical succession crisis, we see more urgency in forming an executive caretaker team to act quickly on real problems as President Duterte grapples with his health issues. [ Read More ]

August 2020

The Philippines is a minor player, actually mostly a mirón (spectator) that can afford only small side bets, but it has much to gain or lose in the big-power geopolitical game raging between its friends the United States and China. [ Read More ]

“HOW sweet it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward.”

We were reminded again of this proverb we picked up in Spanish 101 (“Qué dulce es no hacer nada y luego descansar.”) as we watched President Duterte fade from the TV screen after his weekly report on Tuesday from his “perpetual isolation” in Davao. [ Read More ]

WHILE President Duterte was in “perpetual isolation” in Davao, his foreign affairs and national defense secretaries in Manila took turns lambasting China’s preposterous claims related to its squatting on Philippine territory. [ Read More ]

POWERFUL rulers also get sick, and even so-called strongmen waste away when their expiry dates catch up on them. So why should assistants of President Duterte hide it when he, like everybody else, is visited by some virus or malady? [ Read More ]

PRESIDENT Duterte said he did not sneak out on an air ambulance for medical treatment in Singapore over the weekend, but was just in Davao in what his spokesman called “perpetual isolation” with his second family. [ Read More ]

THE resetting to Oct. 5 of the Aug. 24 start of the school year may look like a grace period, a welcome relief all around, but the seven-week extension still sees everybody cramming, as Filipinos are wont to do at the last minute. [ Read More ]

WE asked on Twitter the other day: “If you’ll need a COVID-19 vaccine before December and only the Chinese and the Russian vaccines are available by then, which vaccine will you choose?” [ Read More ]

CHINA will reap benefits from controlling Fuga island so close to Taiwan, but is it willing to catch the fallout of turning the resort into a forward base in its creeping domination of the South China Sea? [ Read More ]

WHEN schools open on Aug. 24, many of the expected 20 million+ students will not be in the usual classrooms but at home taking distance lessons being introduced to protect them from the resurging COVID-19 pandemic. [ Read More ]

THE COLD numbers look objective enough. Malacañang should just accept the fact, as shown by the official figures, that the Philippines has overtaken Indonesia in their number of COVID-19 cases and is now No. 1 in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations tally. [ Read More ]

WHAT if President Duterte’s friend in Beijing fails to deliver before Christmas the anti-COVID vaccine envisioned as the main weapon of the government in fighting the coronavirus pandemic that has been surging with alarming severity lately? [ Read More ]

WITH coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases surging past the 100,000 mark and public health front liners asking for better handling of the crisis, President Duterte has approved the return of Mega Manila to a strict Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine from Aug. 4 to 18. [ Read More ]

WE want to stay calm, and alive, while awaiting our deliverance from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic with the help of a vaccine that President Duterte said had been promised by his friend from China, but we still catch ourselves worrying. [ Read More ]

July 2020

PRESIDENT Duterte showed the true state of the nation when he spent time recycling old grudges in his fifth annual report before a joint session of the Congress without outlining the recovery plan that people reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic had been primed to hear. [ Read More ]

PRESIDENT Duterte delivering his fifth State of the Nation Address yesterday in a loosely occupied Batasang Pambansa chamber gives a snapshot of the grim situation he has to manage amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and a troubled economy. [ Read More ]

TODAY is the day before the much-awaited State of the Nation Address of President Duterte at the opening joint session of the 19th Congress meant mostly to assure his countrymen looking forward to the more comfortable life that he had promised them. [ Read More ]

THE CHURCH has the right, as well as the duty, to defend its flock against abuse from all quarters, including agents of the state – in the same way that the state has the obligation to protect the citizens from abuse in the name of religion. [ Read More ]

WE share with fellow Filipinos this timely Pastoral Letter and Call to Prayer issued Thursday by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines through its acting president, Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David of Kalookan: [ Read More ]

THE GOVERNMENT should sort out first the confusion over some basic issues to minimize state forces’ tripping over one another and alarming citizens as they hunt down terrorists, suspected coronavirus carriers, social media critics, and other targeted elements. [ Read More ]

BEFORE Malacañang clarified it, the militaristic move to stop the resurgence of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) by sending the police to go on a house-to-house search for unreported cases, drew wide objections. [ Read More ]

HAVE you noticed the new tune coming from the Department of Foreign Affairs on how the Philippines would like its Chinese neighbor to behave?

On Friday, Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. surprised us with a warning that the Philippines would unleash “the severest response” if China’s military exercises in the South China Sea stray into the country’s sovereign waters. [ Read More ]

PRESIDENT Duterte wanted the head of broadcast media giant ABS-CBN. The House of Representatives delivered it to him on Friday, 10 weeks after its 25-year legislative franchise expired on May 4. [ Read More ]

PRESIDENT Duterte kept the nation waiting till past midnight Tuesday for his weekly message, only to recycle old assurances of protection against possible abuses under the new Anti-Terrorism Act and the continued rampage of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). [ Read More ]

ADMINISTRATION officials are growing hoarse saying that if only critics of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 read the new law, they would appreciate how it could save them and the nation from organized enemies of the state trying to bring it down. [ Read More ]

THE COMING showdown at the Supreme Court over the Anti-Terrorism Act signed Friday by President Duterte will test not only the constitutionality of the draconian decree but also the capacity of the tribunal to help heal the nation riven by partisanship on top of a pandemic. [ Read More ]

THE Philippines was in the limelight this week after being described in a press report as having the fastest-growing number of Covid-19 infections among the countries and territories in the Western Pacific Region of the World Health Organization. [ Read More ]

June 2020

HOW many lives are we willing to lose to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to achieve “herd immunity” which sets in when a large number (50-67 percent) of the population left standing have developed resistance from their exposure to the virus? [ Read More ]

THE ARREST of members of the LGBT community who were demonstrating near Malacañang on Friday may have given us a preview of disputes that could arise if/when the Anti-Terrorism Bill, which they were protesting, becomes law. [ Read More ]

WHY is President Duterte covering with his left hand the orders that his right hand gave state investigators to clean up the dirt dulling the shine of the campaign against the coronavirus contagion that has infected almost 32,000 Filipinos so far? [ Read More ]

THE LORDS of Metro Manila are unleashing “modern” jeepneys in the national capital while also taking a giant backward step encouraging the use of bicycles on EDSA, the main artery of a dense metropolis gasping for breath. [ Read More ]

THE SUPREME Court looms as the final battleground where legal titans will clash over the Anti-Terrorism Act that President Duterte is expected to approve despite warnings that the law would place the country in a martial law-like setting and kick up more unrest. [ Read More ]

YOU must have heard some unusual expressions from the old folks and may have wondered about their meanings and origins. The list below lifted from our Pinoy ’55 chat group on Viber as prepared by brod Ernie Salas sheds some light on them. [ Read More ]

TO BE honest, the cyber libel conviction yesterday of Rappler chief executive Maria Ressa and researcher-writer Reynaldo Reyes Jr. has set me worrying — not really scared but worried about special operations grave-diggers harassing journalists. [ Read More ]

IT IS unfortunate that the Duterte regime appears to be using the coronavirus crisis to tighten its hold on an already repressed people instead of taking the contagion as an opportunity to elevate the nation to a better post-pandemic world. [ Read More ]

THE Anti-Terrorism Bill awaiting the signature of President Duterte is riddled with draconian provisions, including its shifting to the accused the burden of proving his innocence instead of the long-held rule that it is the accuser who must prove guilt. [ Read More ]

MANY people have the mistaken notion that dual citizenship for Filipinos is legally questionable, that it is not allowed by the Constitution.

What the Constitution prohibits is dual allegiance, not dual citizenship. Section 5 of Article IV (on Citizenship) says: “Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.” [ Read More ]

SWOOPING down on wide-awake campuses and rounding up protesters in full view of crowds toting smartphones and video cameras may not be the best way to promote the anti-terror bill that has aroused widespread opposition. [ Read More ]

PRESIDENT Duterte’s changing his mind about terminating the PHL-US Visiting Forces Agreement 180 days after Feb. 11 was not entirely unexpected, but it still raised many questions. Even plain folk are asking “What’s going on?” [ Read More ]

WHILE protesters were rioting in several cities to dramatize grievances that were raked up with the May 25 killing of a black American by a police officer in Minneapolis, a commercial US capsule was docking Sunday at the international space station orbiting around our troubled Earth. [ Read More ]

May 2020

EXPERIENCE a “New Abnormal” test on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue starting tomorrow, the first day of another traffic experiment in the unending search for an efficient system for motor vehicles plying Metro Manila’s main transportation artery. [ Read More ]

MALACANANG clarified yesterday that enrolment for public schools will proceed June 1 to 30, and that classes will start Aug. 24. Details are on the news pages. Our advance column, which had to be updated, was based on Monday’s statement of President Duterte, who did not favor an Aug. 24 opening of classes if by that time there was no vaccine yet for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). [ Read More ]

HAVING allowed the use of Filipinos in testing China-made vaccines for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), President Duterte and Health Secretary Francisco Duque themselves should lead the local volunteers for the clinical trials set to start late this year. [ Read More ]

JUDGING from the confusing public debate on the projected “mass (or massive) testing” to determine the extent of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection, some points still need clarification. [ Read More ]

WE were watching President Trump on TV last Monday when he jolted us with a revelation that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, a controversial drug that a New York doctor uses successfully to treat patients with symptoms of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). [ Read More ]

HOW many random people must be checked for infection to achieve the “mass testing” being demanded by those growing impatient with the government’s laggard response to the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19)? [ Read More ]

TODAY being a day of rest, and since we’re somewhat stressed like most cooped-up creatures, we beg to be allowed to take it easy just picking prickly items from social media. [ Read More ]

THREE months and 13 days after the first local coronavirus death in February, it looks like the Philippines still does not have a fairly accurate measurement of the spread and severity of the public health emergency that has killed 751 and infected 11,350 Filipinos so far. [ Read More ]

I DROPPED my plan to file a newsy column by waiting for President Duterte’s latest announcement, set yesterday, of what coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine measures will be adopted after May 15 in Metro Manila and other areas under lockdown. [ Read More ]

THE ROOM is getting stuffy. Let’s change the topic from the controversial ABS-CBN closure and the COVID-19 scourge to the acquisition of more helicopters for the Philippine air force. [ Read More ]

THE SIGNAL of President Duterte, whether red or green, is being awaited on the franchise renewal of broadcast giant ABS-CBN which switched off its radio and television programs on the night of May 4 when its 25-year government permit expired. [ Read More ]

INTERVENTION by President Duterte ended yesterday the debate over the raising of health insurance premiums of Overseas Filipino Workers under the Universal Health Care program. He ordered their outright exemption from payment. [ Read More ]

POPE Francis has elevated Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former archbishop of Manila, to cardinal-bishop, making him one of the 11 highest-ranking princes of the Church. His promotion, announced by the Vatican on Friday, was made April 14. [ Read More ]

April 2020

WHEN Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 to go around the constitutional ban on reelection after his six-year term, he cited as reason an alleged conspiracy of the communists on the left and the oligarchs on the right to grab state power. [ Read More ]

HALFWAY in his six-year term, President Duterte wants to attempt reversing the migration to the national capital of rural folk in search of a better life.

His Balik-Probinsya (Back to the Province) campaign is not a novel idea. Previous administrations had also tried decongesting Metro Manila and other urban centers under decentralization, devolution, local autonomy, and other shibboleths. [ Read More ]

THE NETWORK of public and private hospitals with limited resources fighting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that had leaped from China to ravage the rest of the world count on frontline medical and healthcare personnel giving their all, including their lives in some cases. [ Read More ]

FORMER Sen. Heherson “Sonny” Alvarez succumbed Monday at age 80 to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). He was one of the freedom fighters tearing at the wall that the dictator Ferdinand Marcos erected around his martial law redoubt in the 1970-80s. [ Read More ]

SOCIAL media has been sizzling lately with wild talk that President Duterte is poised to declare martial law before the April 30 end of the Luzon lockdown to buttress measures to tame the rampaging coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. [ Read More ]

WITH just 11 days till the supposed end of the Luzon lockdown on April 30, there is no clear indication yet where President Duterte is taking this nation of 106 million to save it from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. [ Read More ]

WE the people had a rare peek into how life-changing government decisions are made when Malacañang presented on television its Monday Night Live show hosted by no less than President Duterte. [ Read More ]

WE have heard the good news of the Resurrection countless times, but with mankind threatened by a viral pandemic on top of other grave challenges, our spirit is still lifted when we hear the proclamation of Jesus Christ’s triumph over death. [ Read More ]

ONLY Pope Francis presiding over the celebration of the Passion of the Lord on the evening of Good Friday in a near-empty St. Peter’s Basilica was able to venerate the Holy Cross with a kiss, in compliance with measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). [ Read More ]

WHAT medicines, herbs or concoctions were given the 84 Filipinos who were infected with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to cure them in the absence of a government-approved drug for it? [ Read More ]

A DOZEN Chinese experts on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) arrived Sunday to help Filipino public health authorities check the local spread of the pandemic that has infected more than 1,270,000 worldwide, 3,246 of them in the Philippines. [ Read More ]

HOW much time and relative peace can P8,000 per family buy for the Duterte administration scrambling to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that has afflicted more than 3,094 Philippine residents and killed 144? [ Read More ]

THE HEALTH department tells us that of the 2,311 known cases of Philippine residents afflicted with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of 4 p.m. yesterday, 96 (or 4 percent) have died and 50 (or 2.2 percent) have recovered. [ Read More ]

March 2020

WE’RE not sure if President Duterte, who marked his 75th birthday last Saturday, believes in saints, but still we invite him to pray to St. Corona, a relatively obscure second century martyr of the Church whose remains are in Northern Italy. [ Read More ]

IN THE empty St. Peter’s Square shortly after midnight yesterday, Pope Francis ambled to an austere altar for the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and gave his much-awaited Urbi et Orbi (to the City [of Rome] and to the World) address and blessing. [ Read More ]

AFTER he has done everything within his limited means to protect himself and others against the onslaught of the deadly coronavirus, what does the Filipino do? He prays. [ Read More ]

IT LOOKS like we Filipinos are running a starvation race with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that has killed 25 out of 380 known local victims as of Sunday, or a mortality rate of 6.6 percent compared to the 4-percent world average. [ Read More ]

IT WAS redundant for the Bureau of Internal Revenue to “extend” from April 15 to May 15 the deadline for the filing of income tax returns using the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as the reason. The deadline has long been extended by law. [ Read More ]

THE inter-agency task force coordinating the frontline agencies sent to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a big help to the government’s recovering from its initial communication setbacks. [ Read More ]

IT IS odd that while the coronavirus (COVID-19) scourge is a public health emergency more than a security threat, President Duterte’s military-police apparatus is playing the lead role of enforcing the rules and guidelines. [Read More ]

CATHOLIC churches in Rome have been closed until April 3 to stem the spread of a coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has killed at least 1,200 people across Italy. The Holy See itself has recorded one person infected. [Read More ]
HAVING missed President Duterte’s public appearances, we rushed to watch his televised presscon Tuesday evening expecting to see a reinvigorated leader explain how he would steer the country through the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis scaring the world. [Read More ]
ARE senators seeking a definitive ruling, or just a legal opinion, from the Supreme Court on whether or not the Senate’s two-thirds vote is always needed to validate and to terminate an international agreement entered into by the President? [Read More ]
SOME 972 of the 1,200 adult Filipinos (or 81 percent) that the Social Weather Stations claimed to have interviewed last year gave the Duterte administration an “excellent” satisfaction rating, translated by the SWS to a net grade of +73. [Read More ]

HAS Mayor Digong Duterte just added another qualification for Filipinos who want to become, like him, president of the Republic?

The Constitution lays down the basic qualifications of the president: A natural-born citizen, registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age on Election Day, and a Philippine resident for at least 10 years immediately preceding the election. [Read More ]

WE are not surprised by President Duterte’s disowning the moves disclosed by his ambassador to the United States for the possible replacement of the Phl-US Visiting Forces Agreement that Duterte has unilaterally terminated. [Read More ]
SEEING the filth poisoning our rivers and the trash being heaved back to us by the grumbling sea, one wonders if we could still learn to respect nature and coexist in a balanced ecosystem. [Read More ]

February 2020

MOST of us tough nuts may not be feeling it yet, but the penitential mood of Lent could be creeping up on us starting with Ash Wednesday yesterday. [ Read More ]

IT TURNS out that the 25-year-franchise of broadcast firm ABS-CBN is still good until May 4 this year, not earlier on March 30 as is widely believed. [Read More ]

THE DEADLY coronavirus (COVID-19) stalking the face of the earth is so pervasive that it is even changing, although not substantially, some Church practices as we know them in this dominantly Catholic country. [Read More ]

THE SOLICITOR General seems to have a dim view of the capacity of Supreme Court justices to have a fair appreciation of the administration move to cancel the franchise of media giant ABS-CBN if the issues are also debated in public. [Read More ]

WITH Duterte loyalists in the Senate now distancing themselves from a move to question at the Supreme Court the termination of the Phl-US Visiting Forces Agreement, the petition could arrive at the SC with Senate President Vicente Sotto and opposition solons as its pallbearers. [Read More ]

THE SENATE could provide President Duterte a face-saving excuse – if he wants one — to step back from the 180-day countdown that he triggered on Feb. 11 for the termination of the Philippines-United States Visiting Forces Agreement. [Read More ]

CAN President Duterte fill in the last two years of his term the void in the country’s defense system that will be created by the termination of the 20-year-old Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the United States? [Read More ]

THE NEXT dozen days will tell us if the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, is a suitable quarantine area for the first batch of 30 Filipinos repatriated Sunday from mainland China — or become the local epicenter of imported Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) infection. [Read More ]

OUR Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will soon be leaving for Rome — to assume his new role as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples or Propaganda Fide. [Read More ]
WHEN Malacañang’s primary information agency twists indicator facts to achieve an ulterior propaganda effect, the masses who are engrossed with making a living are unable to know the true state of the nation and are thus easily manipulated. [Read More ]
A NERVOUS nation wonders if and when President Duterte will emerge from his weekend break to preside over a crisis meeting called belatedly to plot moves to nip the spread of the deadly Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) four days after the Philippines recorded its first case. [Read More ]
EVEN God the Creator had to rest on the seventh day, so maybe we should not begrudge President Duterte’s resting over the weekend before convening this week a top-level meeting on the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak in the country. [Read More ]

January 2020

ASSUMING the epicenter of President Duterte’s latest fulmination against the United States is indeed the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), it might be best for him to decide first what he wants to be done with the 20-year-old pact. [ Read More ]

GOING around town threatening undesirable elements may work in a local Davao-like setting, but will the scare tactic work in the bigger world of foreign relations especially when dealing with superpowers and long-time allies? [ Read More ]

THE DEBATE over President Duterte’s attending the US-ASEAN summit in Las Vegas in March and the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States appears to have been reduced to personal issues involving senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Leila de Lima. [Read More ]

EL SITIO nada importa,” Rizal said in his último adiós more than 120 years ago. The place, he suggested, does not really matter.

But while the patriot’s thoughts were on his impending execution in December 1896, those of the House of Representatives convening in Batangas City yesterday as a “committee of the whole” were focused on the imminent disastrous eruption of Taal Volcano. [Read More ]

AS this is being written, no word has come out of Malacañang if President Duterte is accepting President Trump’s invitation for him, with nine other Southeast Asian leaders, to attend a summit in Las Vegas on March 14. [Read More ]

ENVIRONMENTALISTS and people’s organizations opposing further reclamation of historic Manila Bay had better note that President Duterte has flashed only the yellow, and not the red, light to the bay projects still awaiting the green light. [Read More ]
PRESIDENT Duterte has apologized for his failure to react quickly when Taal volcano belched steam on Sunday, ruptured the ground, roiled the lake waters and rained noxious ash in what could be a sign of an imminent disastrous eruption. [Read More ]

MALACAÑANG should be careful not to give a military color to the evacuation of Filipino workers in Middle East areas where the United States and Iran may just blunder into a fast and furious war where no one wins. [Read More ]

THE LATE Jose Luna Castro, our editor at the pre-martial law Manila Times, once called me to his office to discuss my story about the then foreign secretary saying he was not aware that a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier docked at the Subic Bay naval base the day before. [Read More ]

THERE are creative ways by which local officials who want to stay longer than the three-term limit can “serve” legally beyond their allotted maximum of nine (3×3) consecutive years in office. [Read More ]

MALACANANG seems to regard the plight of some 8,000 Filipinos caught in the turmoil in Iraq and Iran as mainly a short-term military situation, so President Duterte decided Friday with military and police top brass that evacuation is the best response. [Read More ]

AS the world braces for Iran’s “severe retaliation” for the Friday assassination of its top military commander Qassem Soleimani, Filipinos in Iraq, where he was killed in a precision US airstrike, have been advised to prepare for possible evacuation. [Read More ]

PRESIDENT Duterte does not always play by the same rules for similar situations, rendering many of his statements and actions puzzling to those who try to guess his game plan. [Read More ]

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