Impressing School Girls
By Erick Fabian
IN President Benigno Aquino III’s recent forum with Miriam College high school students who visited the Palace last January 7 (Tuesday), he told them that his New Year’s resolution is “to ignore critics”. He added, “”We have a cottage industry already of people who make a living criticizing me. And it [distracts me] from solving the problems of this country if I have to attend to them…Walang makitang maganda sa sasabihin mo” (they see nothing good in what I will say). He called his critics ‘hopeless’ and told the students that devoting time to them will only distract him from his work.
While giant news outlets barely glossed over this seemingly inconsequential piece of news, a simple reading between the lines says so much about the arrogant attitude of the person who holds the most powerful position in a country of almost 100 million people.
A quick look at the news shows that 2014 is becoming the harbinger of things to come as far as the failure of the Aquino administration to address the country’s actual concerns. His term ends in 2016, and he is playing a desperate game of patching his pockmarked public image. One would think that a more sophisticated politician would do a more elaborate stunt, but his PRs resort to publicizing a President regaling wide-eyed, star-struck high school students about how he is doing the country a lot of good by ignoring his critics. This is where the problem lies.
Democracy, in whatever permutation, at its most basic requires a two-way dialogue where each party plays both speaker and listener, giver and receiver. Calling your critics ‘hopeless’ and labelling them in a simplistic manner, by calling them ‘a cottage industry of critics who make a living criticizing the President’, is a conversation killer.
Just like the foolish emperor in the story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, it appears that the man who touted himself the people’s hero and a crusader against corruption is not even attempting to hide his disdain for people like you and me, Filipinos who are doing their best to be good citizens by being truthful and honest, rather than pretend that there is nothing wrong.
It’s no surprise really, seeing as honesty is the farthest thing from his mind. A person who desires to engage in mature discourse will show respect for the other person, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with what the other person is saying. It is already a given that when you hold the highest position in the land, the conversation is between you and the collective of citizens that you extract taxes from. You agree to follow the social contract, to serve the interests of the people you are governing. All other interests fall on the bottom priority. At least, that’s the ideal that public servants are supposed to aim for.
Ignoring criticism is a symptom of a social cancer that has been befouling our political landscape since day one of the republic. An administration that spends most of its time and the taxpayers’ money on hand-waving PR maneuvers rather than making the most of its last two years in power by coming clean to the public and actually doing reparations and responding to the grievances of the people is an indicator of collective neurosis and mental incapacity to handle the job, not to mention immaturity.
Please, let’s stop fooling ourselves: we are not his boss, like he keeps saying over and over you’d wish he’d just recorded it and pushed the button on demand. His boss is Henry Sy. His boss is Manny Pangilinan. His boss is Lucio Tan. His bosses are the taipans. His bosses are the powerful people who keep him from seeing that he is a public embarrassment, again, like the emperor who thought that he looks grand in his invisible clothes. His bosses are only those who are willing to kiss his bottom end in exchange for favors and power.
It is too easy to allow awestruck high schoolers and field-tripping students who will be dazzled with the initial grandiosity of power, and all the perks of holding the most influential position in the country. On the other hand, student activists and civil groups with real-life concerns are rarely welcomed beyond the gates of the Palace compound, if at all.
Mr. Aquino also said that he will not pressure his Cabinet, as part of his New Year’s resolution. Saying that is tantamount to saying that he will not do his work properly. He should be pressuring them to bring about changes that will benefit Filipino society and improving the lives of the general populace. He should be shouting orders short of beating their backs with a stick because there are life-and-death decisions to be made, and he is making light of things can save people’s lives and ensure a better future even after his administration is over.
Sadly, the President is not interested in those things. He cares more about impressing high school girls, his Yellow cult, and the public by putting up a nice guy image. Sure, he is nice. He is not your typical movie villain. He is no Darth Vader and he is not planning to blow up a planet. Neither is he planning to address the suffering of millions of Filipinos who are hungry, homeless, jobless and desperate. He may not do the evil laugh, but what makes him any better than evil people?
In his last two years as President, if he keeps doing this, then there will be no resolution for the rest of us.
It’s all a brave front, a dismissive response, and nothing but the bravado of a political failure who is desperate to keep his already tattered public image. We should be concerned because we do not want two years of hell for the rest of us.
By Miguel Raymundo
NOT just ironic, but unpatriotic as well.
While the government has been hard put wooing foreigners to invest in the capital-starved Philippine economy, the country’s elites are doing the opposite—taking their money abroad. Mind boggling, the capital flight has gone unabated for decades, largely running to billions of pesos in foreign exchange which could have been used to create jobs in an impoverished nation.
Yet, the moneyed few had gone on a splurge as it were coming from a country where average daily wage is a paltry US$7-10 and poverty remains widespread. Based on the latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data, the few rich and famous took out nearly US$7 billion as of December 2012, a figure which has been rising over the past years. Meant for investments in the offshore capital market, the money found its way to the United States, China and other countries where returns are relatively higher than in the home front.
Equity-linked securities and other debt issues accounted for the bulk of the money placements by Filipinos abroad, many of them among the country’s richest such as ethnic Chinese taipans Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and John Gokongwei. The three tycoons, who all trace their roots to China, have sizeable investments in China, ranging from property to retail, banking and finance and manufacturing.
Capital flight is the movement of capital from a resource-scarce developing country to other countries due to political and economic reasons. Statistics showed that capital flight from the Philippines began in the 1970s at the height of martial law which amounted to US$16 billion, rising to US$36 billion in the 1980s, and US$43 billion in the 1990s. Undoubtedly, these figures are significant amounts of lost resources that could have been utilized in the country to generate additional economic output and jobs.
Based on some technical studies, capital flight from the Philippines followed a revolving door process–that is, capital inflows were used to finance the capital outflows. This process became more pronounced with government’s adoption of financial liberalization in the 1990s. Thus, it may be argued that capital flight resulted obliquely in the hollowing out of the Philippine economy.
Alarmed by a capital plight that has sapped the economy of its financial strength, the BSP has warned it would enforce “contingency measures” to stem the rising outflow of money. In times of uncertainty, the BSP has standby powers to provide foreign exchange liquidity through the spot and swap markets as well as hedging facilities and granting temporary and limited regulatory forbearance to banks. Under its legal mandate, the BSP may also opt to relax the banks’ access to rediscounting facilities, or tweak reserve requirements, among others.
Overall, the BSP wants to minimize the impact of capital outflows and ensure that liquidity remains adequate to fuel the economy’s requirements. In its analysis, French bank Credit Agricole says the BSP is faced with “a tough task of managing the ripple effects” of the US Federal Reserve’s decision to withdraw its economic stimulus. “We anticipate significant outflows of portfolio capital from the Philippines, which will reduce the availability of funding needed for growth,” it said. Capital flight currently experienced by emerging markets such as the Philippines is due to the US Federal Reserve’s impending tapering of its massive bond buying as the US economy gains traction. The adverse effects of the recent developments abroad have already been felt in the Philippines: The peso depreciated, the stock market wiped out gains, and spreads on Philippine debt widened.
Analysts say these asset market effects are largely temporary and may be viewed as a healthy correction that may have helped defuse the risk of an actual build-up in financial imbalances. However, the bigger concern with capital flows is the “excessive volatility” that could easily impact business activities and even the financial system. The BSP’s strategy has been geared toward increasing the economy’s resilience against the risks posed by both capital inflows and outflows anchored on promoting non-inflationary growth and safeguarding financial stability. It is also keeping an eye on capital inflows in case they might form asset price bubbles. But more revealing are data in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investments’ World Investment Report 2013 showing the extent of capital fleeing from the Philippines.
In 2012, a whopping US$1,845 million was shipped out of the country, the biggest outflow since 2008. It was more than the US$1,816 million invested by foreigners in the country the previous year. This was despite that the economy chalked up an impressive 6.8 growth rate that prompted foreign credit rating agencies to give the Philippines an investment grade rank. The 2012 capital outflow raised the Filipinos’ stock of investments abroad to a whopping US$9 billion, equivalent to 29 percent of foreign investments in the country. Against that backdrop, one can’t avoid but speculate: Is the Philippines’ elite expecting a political or economic upheaval in the remaining two and a half years of President Aquino? Apparently, they feel that parking their funds abroad is safer than in their own country. Analysts recall two instances in recent history when Filipinos’ capital investments abroad breached the US$1 billion mark. In 1984, the Philippines suffered its worst political and economic crisis sparked by the global debt crisis and the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino in August of the previous year. There was also a US$579 million blip in 2004 due to the economic elite’s worry that the jailed Joseph Estrada’s proxy, Fernando Poe, Jr., would win the presidential elections that year.
The second was in 2007 when the Asian financial crisis set in, leading to an exodus of capital from the Philippines.
The UNCTAD data also show that while foreign direct investments (FDI) into the Philippines increased to US$2.8 billion in 2012 from US$1.8 billion the previous year, the country lags far behind its Asean neighbors. In that year, Indonesia got $20 billion; Malaysia, $10.1 billion; and Thailand, $8.6 billion. The Philippines’ key rival now as a preferred investment site is Myanmar which nearly had the same FDIs as the Philippines’ US$2.2 billion in 2012. Based on the UNCTAD’s survey of 159 global companies, the Philippines in 2012 was ranked 19th attractive site for investments, way below Indonesia, which is ranked 4th; Thailand, 8th; and Vietnam, 11th. After over three years of Aquino’s daang matuwid rhetoric, the Philippines finds itself sinking deeper in a financial quagmire exacerbated by political uncertainties in the years ahead.
What the Fuss
By Anna Liza Gaspar
“Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city”
~From the song God of this City
I HEARD this song the first time at a breakfast celebrating the 38th anniversary of the Philippine National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, Inc. with Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno as the guest of honor.
This song is pregnant with faithful hope in these difficult times as the people affected by Typhoon Yolanda are still in the process of rebuilding. It also reminded me of the unbelievable acts of kindness I witness in one of the times I volunteered in packing relief goods for the survivors of Yolanda.
Equivalent to a General
I didn’t plan on actually helping out at any of the relief packing centers. I told myself I’ve done my share last August when I together with two very hard working people, my friend’s driver and house help, helped pack more than 300 bags of relief goods for the people of Biñan, Laguna which we distributed in the same week.
If they award military ranks for relief goods packing skills, mine would be equivalent to a general. Imagine that. People calling me equivalent-to-a-general Gaspar. Fancy.
In the social media networks, calls to donate cash, used clothes, food items, vehicles and drivers to bring survivors arriving at Villamore Airbase to their relatives’ place in Metro Manila and even as far as Baguio, time to help take care of children at the temporary day care center at the base, and time to help relief goods for the millions of Filipinos affected by Yolanda were uploaded so frequently I couldn’t help but notice how much help is needed.
Because of this and the selflessness of a Korean, whom I wrote about below, inspired me that I finally decided to check what the fuss is all about. I went to the gymnasium of Villamor Airbase to help pack relief goods and to meet this person.
Balikbayan to Help
Before I went to the gym, I first checked out the volunteer center at the grandstand, where evacuees from Leyte and Samar arrive via C-130. This sounds really smart, but actually I got lost. I got off at the wrong volunteer stop. But being the nosy person that I am, I used the opportunity to check how everyone is doing.
I chatted up one of the ‘main’ volunteers, if a newbie has a question this person asks one of these ‘main’ volunteers. They’ve been volunteering at the site for several days.
Her name is Maria Yrene Calaguian. This lovely lady has an even lovelier heart. She arrived on November 17 from Dubai where she works and planned to stay until November 30. Though she doesn’t have relatives affected by the horrifying devastation wrought by Yolanda, she was so moved by the singular destruction that she came home just to help out.
After the day she arrived in the country, she’s been volunteering every day. Her generosity is exemplary. Imagine the cost of a round-trip ticket to Dubai and what she gave up for a two-week off from work in exchange for the challenges of volunteering.
When I asked her why she’s here rather than merely donating what is costing her to come and stay for two weeks, Maria told me, “Everything cannot be resolved by money.” I agree. Money is not everything. Most of the time, people are needed more. Right now volunteer mechanics, carpenters, and plumbers are needed in the rebuilding efforts. Please go to bit.ly/opinyonvolunteers to know more.
A Korean for the Philippines
The Korean Government and various Korean groups have contributed so much to the relief operations, but the action of a Korean inspired me more than anything to go to Villamor Airbase and help repack goods. When I heard what he has done, I told myself, “If he could why have I not?”
His name is Hyun-bae Park. It is his first time travelling to the Philippines and he came here just to help pack relief goods, in his words, “To carry rice.”
At the gym, the relief packing operations supervised by the Development Bank of the Philippines, run like a well-oiled machine. Just how highly competent bankers operate a bank – efficient and as precise as clock work. In each sack of relief goods, there are four bags. Each bag contain 6 kilos of rice, 3 cans of sardines, 3 cans of corned beef, 8 pieces of coffee, and 8 pieces of noodles. Everything is packed into 1 bag except the 6 kilos of rice which is packed separately. A volunteer carries the packed rice to the final assembly point, to the people putting together a sack of relief goods.
Hyun-bae helped carried rice every day since she stepped off the plane which flew him from Korean.
When I asked him what has he seen in the few days since he arrived, he told me, “Just Villamor Airbase and Malate where I stay.”
Who can’t be inspired by the selfless action of this man?
These are just two of the unbelievable acts of kindness I witnessed during my short-time at the Airbase.
I also met people from Adarna Publishing and HR Team Asia, Inc. who were given free time by their bosses to volunteer in any of the relief operations. What is amazing is that these companies are paying them for their time to volunteer. It is not taken out from their vacation or sick leave days. When I run a company, surely I will do the same.
With these so many people I met and talked to in the few hours I was at Villamor, you may be asking yourself, did Liza actually volunteered?
Don’t worry, I managed to helped pack several boxes of canned sardines. Don’t forget my equivalent-to-a-general skills in packing relief goods – I commandeered one volunteer and we formed an assembly line of packing canned sardines. I grabbed a bag of relief goods already filled with 3 cans of corned beef, the commandeered volunteer puts in 3 cans of sardines, and I set aside the bad for another volunteer to bring to the noodle-packing section. I am proud to say that we packed twice as past than if we worked individually.
Liza fancies herself a writer, but what she wants to do is to actually spend all her time reading what others have written. In the meantime she fashions herself as a personal finance enthusiast. Visit her Web site at thegirlninja.com, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her at http://www.facebook.com/annalizagaspar.
Who Is In Charge of Local Disaster Management?
By Ike Señeres
PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino set the right tone when he said that we need not wait for a disaster in order to help each other, because there are many poor people who need our help every day. How I wish that his message will be heard not only by the people in the government, but also by all Filipinos here and abroad. As I see it, he actually issued a call for action, in a way declaring a war against poverty on a daily basis.
I find it amusing that our entire nation was scandalized by the ten billion pesos more or less that was stolen by the pork barrel scam, when in fact the amount was less than 2% of the national budget. Perhaps our national outrage was triggered by the high level of noise that the issue caused in the mass media, but how come no one seems to pay attention to how the rest of the 98% is being spent? Will this not need the same level of noise that the mass media gave to the pork barrel issue?
Our National Government Agencies (NGAs) are the institutions that are supposed to work on a daily basis, and these are the same institutions that are funded on a yearly basis by the General Appropriations Act (GAA). This is what line item budgeting basically means, to appropriate annual budgets to line agencies, instead of appropriating the funds by way of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
By way of comparison, line item budgets are for objective purposes, intended to fund projects that are programmed for implementation by the NGAs. The PDAF on the other hand is, or was intended for subjective purposes, referring to local development projects that could not be “seen” by the Congress from where they sit. The legal fiction here is that only the local people could “see” the need for these projects, supposedly with the guiding “eyes” of their congressman.
As the head of the executive branch of the government, the President is in effect the head of all the NGAs, the same agencies that are supposed to work on a daily basis. In theory, the President does not have to order the actual heads of these agencies to do anything, because they are supposed to think and act on their own, without waiting for the President to tell them what to do. This is what institutions are supposed to do, and that is the reason why they are funded by the Congress to do what they are supposed to do.
What did CNN news anchor Mr. Anderson Cooper mean when he said that there was “no government” in Tacloban? What did he mean when he said that “there was no one in charge”? Was he referring to the local government, or the national government? As a matter of fact, the local Mayor was still around, even if he was practically paralyzed to do anything at all. Was he referring to the national government? Did he not notice that the NGAs were there on the ground from day one?
Considering the fact that the local government was practically paralyzed in Tacloban, there is no debate that the national government was there, and so it is not correct to say that there was “no government”. That said, the only remaining question is whether or not there was someone “in charge”, as asked by Mr. Cooper. As I see it, there was someone “in charge”, even if Cooper did not recognize him. I am sure that there were many local officials of the national government who were there when Cooper was there, but perhaps he was looking for someone higher.
There is no question about the fact that the President is “in charge” of national affairs, whether there is a disaster or not. Same is true about the fact that the Mayor is always “in charge” of local affairs no matter what, period. The case of Tacloban is an obvious exception to the rule, because the Mayor there was a victim himself, aside from the fact that he was left with no means to function. Since Tacloban is a chartered city, is it the reason why the provincial Governor did not see a reason to be the one “in charge”?
President Aquino was correct when he said that in our system, it is the local government that is the first line of defense. The problem is, the general public, as they are fired up by the mass media, would always want the President to be on the scene right away, as if he has nothing else to do. As the news would usually come out, it is even implied that if the President is not on the scene right away, he is probably not doing anything.
I think that it is a dangerous trend to always expect the President to practically behave like a Mayor. It seems that President Aquino is not the type who is not inclined to always hug the headlines, but imagine what will happen if we will have a President in the future who will hug the headlines all the time, in order to satisfy the demand of the general public? What will happen to all the other urgent national concerns that the President is supposed to attend to?
In this time and age of high tech communications, it is more practical to assume that the President would have the means to give instructions to his subordinates wherever they are, and at any time. In reality, the Command Post is where the President is, and from that point, he could order everyone in the bureaucracy and the military to do what they have to do, as they are supposed to do. If the President is not seen on the scene, it does not necessarily mean that he is not doing anything.
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Forward-Loooking Business : Save The Environment
By Erick Fabian
The Alliance of Business and Environmental Practices
THE popularity of the 2006 award-winning documentary film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ has challenged the way modern business is conducted these days. The film presented proof that so many business and industry practices since the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s have contributed to environmental degradation, mostly through factories and processing plants that contribute to pollution.
In this light, business practices have been adjusted by many practitioners so that it is in keeping with the mandate to protect the environment. Enlightened business owners have realized that neglecting the environment can have disastrous effects on their business in the long run. It only makes sense to comply to ecological measures. The environment being the source of raw materials that manufacturing industries need, depletion of natural resources only means disastrous consequences.
The social pressure for businesses to engage in more ecologically-sound practices is especially aimed at big companies that derive their revenue from extraction and processing, such as petroleum companies. In the case of Chevron, a common target of environmental groups, it means evaluating oil processing practices so as to lessen their environmental impact, and exploring alternative energy sources to run their drilling equipment. The company, according to their 2012 Corporate Responsibility Report, is also expanding their pro-ecology portfolio by funding the preservation of endangered species, and contributing to community development efforts that help preserve the gifts of nature.
The emergence of corporate social responsibility ethics has further reinforced the idea that successful companies should be environmentally conscious. This is because practices that have an impact on the environment also affect the ecosystems and the communities that rely on it to survive.
To lessen the negative effects, companies are encouraged to invest in technologies and research that will be beneficial for both business and the planet. After all, it is logical to take care of the source of one’s profits, as there will be no source for raw materials if natural resources are depleted. Investing in the environment is beneficial in the bigger scheme of things, and it also builds on public goodwill. Corporations are now aware that bad publicity due to environmental negligence means losing customers and clients. Companies are now being made aware that there is a humanity perspective to doing good business.
Critics of corporate social responsibility, like Milton Friedman, argue that companies are only responsible for shareholders and in making the business as profitable as it could be. Such a view misses the point entirely. For businesses to succeed, an entrepreneur needs to improve social relations. Consumers and clients are people who belong in a society. Customers are human beings with families, friends, and loved ones. If a product or service proves to be hazardous to one’s health, and once people see how immediate its effects are, the company only serves to lose more if it doesn’t do anything to make their products or services more earth-friendly.
Being a green business is actually good for market competition; just ask the CEOs of companies such as Body Shop and Honda. People are now more informed about their consumption choices, and are more aware that their purchasing practices can impact the environment. Green businesses can actually outpace their non-green competitors on so many fronts. No decent consumer and client wants to be associated with companies that contribute to pollution and environmental degradation. As more companies are re-evaluating and renovating to become green, the pressure from both society and the business industry to become eco-friendly is mounting, and any business that seeks to become sustainable would take action so as not to be left behind.
Also, being a green business makes a company’s products and services distinct, and encourages innovations that will prove to be both profitable and beneficial to society as a whole. Public goodwill is a necessity for businesses to thrive in the information age, as any ecological atrocity can be quickly picked up and publicized, and before you know it, the company starts to losing customers to competitors who are more into sustainable development.
We can say that companies are now required to be more socially responsible than in decades past. Part of being responsible for one’s actions means investing in efforts to make green living part of business practice. It is a simple principle of give and take. Nature gives the raw materials, and companies need to give back to nature. Even if a company does not directly engage in extraction, manufacturing or processing, it still relies on those that do, and still uses natural resources such as water and land. Paper and plastic products are made from trees and petroleum, respectively, and electronic parts are made from minerals and chemicals that needed to be mined in order to obtain.
To be a green company is to eventually save money and unnecessary expenses, and it is forward-looking. Even academic institutions are now doing studies in ecological business practices, to ensure that the next generation of aspiring business people are environmentally-conscious. One need not look far to see that business and ecology are allies. After all, what will all that profit do if the world is not fit place to live in anymore?
The Visayas Tragedy
By Ramon Orosa
ENOUGH time has elapsed so that perhaps we can look at all that happened and the terrible consequences from a less emotional perspective. This does not mean that our heart is not broken by the loss of lives, young and old and the virtually total devastation of structures, big and small that took place. I suppose it will still take some time to determine just how bad it was. To some, the hurts may never heal. More importantly, we must also consider the emotionally traumatic effects of this disaster and offer some help. It will take more than just taking some pills!
Administratively, there is so much to learn. I hope it will not be just finger pointing and the wringing of hands. We do have a disaster coordinating Committee but it is probably time to scale up the degree of preparedness, both in terms of food and water reserves, the logistics of moving them from one place to the other and enough transport resources that can be mobilized at a moment’s notice to move relief goods by land, air or sea and the reserve personnel with which to do the task. These must all be geographically distributed based on an assessment of geological conditions prevailing and weather disturbance patterns.
Whoever is appointed to be head honcho, and one should be, to head the overall relief operation committee, must be a professional possessed of the managerial skills, intelligence, quick thinking and experience to undertake the operation and can mobilize both people and equipment, including pre-identified rolling, flying and water going equipment, from rafts to larger naval vessels., including well trained manning crews. This disaster relief organization must have the authority to trump a chain of command of supporting agencies and forces because time will always be the essence of such operations and, of course, the contingent funds that may be needed. This really is where the discretionary pork of the President should go!
Moreover, there has to be very close coordination between PAGASA and the Disaster Relief Agency so that more appropriate preparedness measures can be taken when needed. The report that the weather agency was afraid to let the appropriate estimate of potential of the incoming typhoon was a rather sad commentary, just as dismissing the police official who came out with an estimate of 10,000 possible deaths was an over-reaction from someone who should be staying cool. I wonder if he will ever learn?
Let us see if there any real steps taken to create the nation’s ability to respond to what may well be more super typhoons, if not earthquakes. It has been reported that if an earthquake of 8.5-9.0 intensity strikes Metro Manila, as many as 15,000 people may die. I think it is on the lower end of the estimate. Are the warehouses of relief goods insulated from such intense earthquakes? How about the equipment and search equipment needed? Do we have canine search teams that can go through rubble? How about enough drills and other digging equipment? I would rather put the money there than in the President’s DAP funds because a life is more important than his political games.
We must have also well equipped portable field hospitals that can be readily transported where needed, manned by members of our emergency medical corps including nurses of varying skills. I am not longing for a floating hospital ship like the one China sent. It will probably take us a century to be able to afford something like that. We still have to overcome our bad reputation for maintenance because corruption has so tainted that part of the military, well not just them but many other agencies, cities and provinces.
We must also establish how the Relief agency can call on the private sector when needed if the disaster is beyond the capability of the Relief Agencies. Doctors, surgeons, dentists, nurses, engineers, electricians, welders, mechanics, administrators, etc. etc. This should include elements of the Chaplaincy Corps of the military and their links to private spiritual workers to be able to comfort and minister to those affected and who can also help in goods distribution.
I was deeply disturbed by a report that when people were looking for shelter in Tacloban, one supposedly Christian sect, closed their church doors and would not admit anyone who was not a member, claiming that only they would be saved. The government has the right to commander private, even religious structures in the face of disasters for the common good. It is the height of religious bigotry for any one group to claim exclusivity when the public is suffering so much and need shelter badly. I hope this was an isolated incident.
However one might look at Yolanda, the expectation is that violent weather, storms, earthquakes will likely multiply in the days ahead. The issue is how to privately prepare in order not to be killed or so seriously damaged. What also is government prepared to do for those who live in vulnerable areas. The cost of retrofitting or relocation will be quite enormous. And now that we are building so many high rises, our local authorities should be very strict and require better structural engineering standards from the builders and developers.
What I notice is that no builder reveals what standards have been followed in what they have constructed. Only nice pictures, a floor plan and interior designs. Even if they comply with building standards, the question is whether it is time to raise them so that the damage and loss of lives can be minimized. I have raised this issue with some construction people and they all just look somewhat sheepish and simply say we complied with the standards prevailing. If you are contemplating buying a condominium, try asking some of these relevant questions and experience for yourself how you will be answered. You are probably talking to someone who does not know what psi means!
I guess one can go on and on while the government and the LGUs stick their heads in the sand! Well, it is a long standing habit!
‘Earth Warriors’ Save Mother Earth
By Bobby Starr
NINETY candidates for the 2013 Miss Earth beauty contest have pledged support to protect and preserve Mother Earth during press presentation held at the F1 Hotel Manila in Taguig City recently. With the theme “International Year for Water Cooperation,” this year’s beauty contest focuses on the beauty of the Philippines.
“The Philippines is naturally beautiful — the bodies of water, the land forms, and the Filipinos’ warm and hardworking dispositions are the perfect components for a successful eco-tourism campaign,” says Miss Earth President Ramon Monzon.
Executive Vice President Lorraine Shuck also says that breath-taking eco-tourism spots in the Philippines will be featured during the worldwide televise of the 13th edition of the environment-driven beauty pageant which will be held in Muntinlupa City on December 7.
Shuck says that the candidates will engage in various environmental awareness and conservation activities during their stay in the Philippines. She adds that the Miss Earth contest has produced beauty queens who serve as eco-ambassadors that inspire worldwide cooperation to promote and save the environment. This year’s Philippine representative to the 2013 Miss Earth beauty contest is Angelee delos Reyes, 26, of Olongapo City. The reigning Miss Earth is Teresa Fajksova of the Czech Republic.
Shuck also encourages fans to help choose this year’s Miss Photogenic and Miss Eco-Beauty by visiting the Miss Earth website. She says that Carousel Productions, organizer of the pageant, the Miss Earth Foundation and ABS-CBN Foundation will work together to achieve eco-tourism goals. Organizers say that they will continually call for the cooperation of private organizations and governments to make the environmental efforts sustainable. “The world we live in will reflect on the kind of life we have,” she says.
Shuck adds that the national and worldwide campaigns will not be effective without the help of the government. “We need to work hand-in-hand with our leaders.”
Many are saying that the Miss Earth beauty pageant should be postponed next year in the wake of the devastation brought about by super typhoon Yolanda in some parts of the country recently. I think the beauty pageant should push through despite the recent tragedy in the country. I believe we should not stop in educating and informing our fellow men about our duties and responsibilities in saving Mother Earth. As I see it, only a handful of groups are very active in the campaign the environment. There’s still so much to be done in protecting our planet. And the Miss Earth beauty pageant is only one of the few groups which is in the forefront of the battle to save the environment.
Are We Being Punished?
By Erick San Juan
“THE Lord has kept in reserve for a mighty typhoon to rise up against six lands. God’s anger will come upon the islands of Samar and Leyte. A huge typhoon is planned to come over there. There will be disasters through flood.”After reading (again) this paper which was given to me by Marinduque Former Governor Aris Lecaros and kept for over seven months now, it still gives me the goose bumps after realizing what had happened in Central Visayas, Samar and Leyte mostly hit by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). This document, written and read by Prophet Vincent Selvakumar in April 11, 2013 at the Widen King’s healing prayer congregation at Cuneta Astrodome are reminders to us as a nation – ‘terrible judgments over the Philippines if the nation does not repent and turn to God.’The present leadership has gone through a lot for the past months, disaster after disaster, natural and man-made.
Scandals left and right, in and out the Presidential loop plus the problems involving our neighbor countries that we haven’t resolve yet.Are we being punished as a nation? I have been religiously helping this administration by my frequent advice and warnings through my radio program, my articles and through people I know who are close to President (Noynoy). As an observer of events and as one who is exposed to people’s views and sentiments. Like I always say that we should help this or any administration for whatever bad things that will happen, especially if all of us will be directly affected. But like any other normal people, sometimes we asked ourselves – is the President listening to us, his BOSS?
Haiti Earthquake and Haiyan
We, Filipinos have to be on the lookout for a possible outcome of history repeating itself or people repeating history. What had happened in Haiti might happen here.According to the report of BILL QUIGLEY and AMBER RAMANAUSKAS (How the International Community Failed Haiti): “Despite an outpouring of global compassion, some estimate as high as $3 billion in individual donations and another $6 billion in governmental assistance, too little has changed. Part of the problem is that the international community and non-government organizations (Haiti has sometimes been called the Republic of NGOs) has bypassed Haitian non-governmental agencies and the Haitian government itself.
The Center for Global Development analysis of where the money went concluded that overall. Less than 10% went to the government of Haiti and less than 1% went to Haitian organizations and businesses. A full one-third of the humanitarian funding for Haiti was actually returned to donor countries to reimburse them for their own civil and military work in the country and the majority of the rest went to international NGOs and private contractors.With hundreds of thousands of people still displaced, the international community has built less than 5000 new homes.
Despite the fact that crime and murder are low in Haiti (Haiti had a murder rate of 6.9 of every hundred thousand, while New Orleans has a rate of 58), huge amounts of money are spent on a UN force which many Haitians do not want. The annual budget of the United Nations “peacekeeping” mission, MINUSTAH for 2012-2013 or $644 million would pay for the construction of more than 58,000 homes at $11,000 per home.There are many stories of projects hatched by big names in the international community into which millions of donated dollars were poured only to be abandoned because the result was of no use to the Haitian people. For example, an international organization created a model housing community in Zoranje.
A two million dollar project built 60 houses which now sit abandoned according to Haiti Grassroots Watch.”Actually, there are still more events coming as prophesized by Prophet Selvakumar that will put this nation into more problems. This time it involve diseases. Our country (as prophesized) will be the center for a new kind of disease that will later on spread to the rest of the world. Is this prophecy coincides with the possible widespread ‘medical assistance’ that the United Nations has extended to our poor fellowmen through vaccines?
Again, in Haiti, the poor children were used as guinea pigs for cholera vaccines.The aim of the much-touted new vaccination campaign is to inoculate 100,000 Haitians — mostly children — with 200,000 doses of a vaccine called Shanchol, at $1.85 per dose. Development of Shanchol was financed by the Gates Foundation, and its manufacture is by an Indian company called Shantha Biotechnics. Less than a month ago, Shantha Biotechnics still lacked the WHO approval required for UN agencies to buy the vaccine, because the WHO has continued to argue that cholera vaccines are unnecessary. Miraculously, Shanchol was quickly “pre-qualified” by the WHO on the 29th of September 2013.Despite the claims that the vaccine will alleviate the cholera in Haiti, hardly anything is known about the effects of the vaccines on endemic cholera.
So this vaccination campaign is actually an experiment designed to test just this, and the Haitian children will be the guinea pigs.Parents who agree to submit their children to this campaign will be taking a big chance. Many problems, including deaths, from vaccination campaigns, because vaccines are notorious for shortcomings such as contamination of lots.
(By Dady Chery | Source: Haiti Chery. See also: Farmer relieves himself on Haiti’s dying cholera victims)
Are we going to sit and wait until such man-made disaster will cause havoc again to our poor nation? Forewarned is forearmed. Let us all be vigilant and pray harder that this country’s leaders will lead us all to safety.
The Unconstitutional PDAF
By Ramon Orosa
THE recent decision of the Supreme Court finding the PDAF unconstitutional is a source of relief to the nation. Sorry that PNoy cannot claim any credit when he had the opportunity to do away with that particular monstrosity. In fact, one might conclude that he resisted every effort to abolish PDAF, which only betrayed his less than sincere commitment to the “matuwid na Daan” and that slogan figures way down in his scale of priorities. Some say he is just so hardheaded, refusing to listen to anybody. Probably true considering that he is surrounded by persons whose values are deeply troubled to begin with and so give advise that they think PNoy wants to hear, playing up to his ego considering his well known obstinacy.
Of course, part of the reason for his obstinacy is likely rooted in his own discretionary use of public funds from different sources, like the Maalampaya funds, the road users tax, dividends from government owned and controlled corporations, etc., etc. Not that he steals from them, but these discretionary funds enable him to buy political loyalty and cooperation for what he perceives to be his agenda, which, of course, nobody knows about, except from rather motherhood like statements.
Some critics suggest that the king has been shown naked, bereft of respect, honor and shorn of a sense of dignity except of the wrong kind, being born to a privileged family. I wonder why the story keeps going about that his mother Cory, was rather firm that she didn’t want PNoy to stand for the presidential office. But she passed away and all the other opportunists sensing they could ride the popularity of Cory, bamboozled PNoy into running for office, probably including most of the relatives. I guess they did not know PNoy as well as Cory or saw for themselves exalted “roles” as puppet masters should he win.
Stories abound that when Mar was still the leading presidential candidate, PNoy’s name was proposed as a vice presidential candidate and this was laughed off the table. Okay let us be more polite by saying the idea was given short shrift! Then Cory dies, and all of a sudden from being a rejected vice-presidential candidate, Mar is pushed down so they could ride the sympathy vote for Cory by making PNoy the presidential candidate.
I suppose the “experienced” politicians around PNoy felt they could gather the perception managers well and maneuver PNoy into whatever posture they felt was appropriate and that they could manage the rest of the bureaucracy (and, of course, gain all the unbidden advantages and fruits there from) . Unfortunately, failing to listen to the views of the mother, and substituting their own secret ambitions, they felt they had it in the bag.
The last three years are certainly proof that this rather brief narration is not without merit except that rather than a smooth flow they have found PNoy to be a rather difficult person to deal with but to whom they must pay obeisance or lose their favored positions. So the nation moves in a zigzag pattern, and the lack of capacity and experience of the king have been unmasked. In a continuing series of mishandled events, the evidence is rather telling that while perhaps personally honest, PNoy’s values are rather pedestrian and do not depart from the values of all the other politicians who believe that politics is king and winning the only consideration. Politics is a position of power to be sought and held on to by any means fair or foul and passed on as a family inheritance to succeeding generations regardless of their qualifications. Well, in some respects one could say that since sense of self is the only real enduring value, one does not need to be competent, moral or competent in the position. After all, those positions had already been retooled to become a lucrative sinecure by legal means or otherwise.
These politicians do not have any sense of love of country, a rather esoteric or abstract notion to begin with. Obviously our best schools have not been able to implant these values into them! Probably because the example of their parents were rather dysfunctional to begin with. Our culture is so conducive to contradictions and dysfunctions resulting in a great divide between reality or what is truly going on and the “public” image that is so carefully cultivated at great cost. I really don’t think the hypocrisy is lost on their children but the pressures to conform to such a lifestyle can be great and the conveniences of an abundant way of living hard to resist.
So, no matter how gained, money and power have become the gods. In truth, they suffer from an incredible love deficiency, not the pretended hypocritical kind. Internal images are distorted because if one were to truly analyze what is going on and we are willing to face truth, 80% of our national and local problems may be traced to poor parenting, especially of the “father” kind. So the self identity suffers from loss of worth and dignity, filled with insecurity and founded on fear which they try to overcome with money, guns, and goons. They seek honor and respect not because they deserve it but because of things outside of themselves. Things that never last and in the end don’t really matter.
They can’t add value to anyone and only seek to use everyone otherwise the others are no one! It is a sad realization of what truly ails our country and why there is no real change that takes place. It is only when we see our realities that we can begin the change process. PNoy was seen as the “savior” and most now see that he is not. Let us stop pointing fingers and getting angry. Let us begin with our own selves and realize that darkness is not fought with anger or bitterness. We each have to become a light in our nation to dispel the darkness that is getting darker each day. Our hope lies within us as we set our faces like flint to do good whenever we are given an opportunity to do so, no matter how modest it might be. Then life can begin to change and so will our nation. This revolution of goodness must start now.
The Deluge and Its Apocalyptic Aftermath (Conclusion)
By Atty. Salvador Panelo
ANDERSON Cooper’s commentary and observation on the Tacloban City situation went viral on the internet receiving a biting reaction from the famed and feisty ABC,-CBN Broadcaster Korina Sanchez, who happened to be the wife of Cabinet member and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, who, together with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, is in charge of the relief operations.
Korina Sanchez retorted to Anderson Cooper: “Anderson Cooper is not aware of what he is taking about.”
That reaction also went viral, too, in the internet.
In his CNN program, Anderson Cooper riposted to Korina Sanchez’s reaction:
“Mrs. Sanchez is welcome to go there in Tacloban – and I would urge her to go there. I don’t know if she has but her husband’s the interior minister. I’m sure he can arrange a flight.”
Of course the exchange between a local and an international broadcaster caught the attention of netizens and CNN & ABS-CBN viewers, and they expressed their sentiments on the exchange. Some siding with Anderson Cooper, while others took the side of Korina Sanchez.
My our son-lawyer Salvador A. Panelo, Jr., who could not contain his sentiment on the Anderson Cooper-Korina Sanchez tiff, as well as with those criticizing the government for its inadequate preparation to neutralize the effects of the hauler typhoon – and the national governments apparent slow response to the victims, posted in his Facebook, and in my Twitter account, the following statement:
“I agree with Korina Sanchez that Anderson Cooper does not know what he is talking about.”
Criticism of government response to major natural or environmental disasters is universal. The US government response to Hurricane Katrina in 2006 was a failure of leadership. “Even Japan with their much-vaunted reputation for organization was criticized for its slow response to the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and the consequent Fukishima leak. We should keep this in mind when assessing the performance of our own government. We should also keep in mind that while Mr. Cooper may very well be genuinely concerned about the pace of government, response, he is also very much in the business of selling news.
I firmly believe that our government is doing its best to help the victims of Yolanda. This is not inconsistent with the fact that its best may not be good or fast enough for everyone affected given the magnitude of the destruction and the various limitations and issues that mere observers can not fully appreciate.
Let us not forget that significant government resources are possibly still tied up to Bohol and Zamboanga.
I do think that P-Noy could have better explained why the government response could not come sooner and why air cannot be distributed faster. Let us just hope that that was more of a failure of speech and rhetoric, rather than leadership. We can take him to task for that later. For now, our unfortunate Visayan brothers and sisters need us to heed the advice we wished P-Noy had followed: stop pointing fingers. Let us help how we can help our government and let us follow through!”
This writer’s take on the matter on the Anderson-Korina exchange is that both of them are correct. Anderson Cooper, as CNN correspondent reporting live on the ground, was speaking on the basis of what his eyes could see. In his limited view of a portion of Tacloban City he formed an opinion – factually accurate – but not necessarily true for the entire devastated eastern Visayas, particularly the Leyte and Samar provinces that bore the brunt of Typhoon Yolanda – hence Korina Sanchez was also correct in saying that Anderson Cooper was giving an inaccurate situationer in Tacloban – because as wife of the DILG Secretary, she has direct access to the information with regard to the extent of government’s response to the victim’s plight – as well as she had communication link with other reporters doing their investigative and reporting work in other areas of Tacloban City – and the rest of the typhoon–ravaged places in the Visayas – not to mention the fact that she was herself in Ormoc City, another city reeling from the effects of the typhoon doing her reportorial job as a journalist as well as doing relief work and necessarily she has an expanded view of the realities in the relief operations and the government’s response to the victims.
As correctly pointed out by this columnist’s son, this is not the time for finger-pointing of blame – rather this is the moment for everyone to do his share – and to the best of his capacity and ability extend his help in responding to the victims of this latest tragedy in the Philippines.
During the last few days, the government’s response has considerably scaled up – and there is now an organized and faster relief works.
Meanwhile, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of help from twenty eight (28) countries sending huge amount of cash, hundreds of thousands of relief goods, as well as doctors and nurses, to the typhoon affected areas. Organizations like the Red Cross and other private organizations have poured in and combined their resources to give succor to the victims. Private persons and family members went in droves to the DSWD and the ABS-CBN warehouses, lending their manpower to do repacking work of relief goods.
Filipinos, here and abroad, have all come together and raised funds for the victims – and rehabilitation of the damaged communities.
Even the United Nations has stepped in and lend its enormous resources to help the tragic victims.
UN Undersecretary General Valerie Amos, who is in the country for the UN’s relief operations has expressed satisfaction on the much improved distribution of relief goods as well as her amazement at the spirit and resilience of Filipinos who face a herculean reconstruction job. Said she:
“I continue to be struck by the resilience and spirit of the Filipino people. Everywhere I visited, I saw families determined to rebuild their lives under the most difficult conditions.
So people are, of course, to an intent traumatized by what happened. They have lost loved ones, but at the same time they’re trying to look to the future.
I saw images of daily life amid scenes of devastation. Women either cooking in make shift kitchen or doing laundry and men clearing debris and scavenging for materials to rebuild their destroyed homes.”
Evaluating the flow of aid, the UN Undersecretary-General gave the following observation:
“Everyday aid efforts gather pace with the systems getting through to more people. Significant food and medical assistance has been provided and water services, as well as limited communications services, restored.”
Per its estimation, the United Nations reports that 1.1 million have received food aid since the disaster struck – and only less than the 2.5 million affected residents have yet to receive food aid. Amos noted that “water services have been restored in Capiz, Northern Cebu and Roxas City, with 43 medical teams from various international groups – and 44 local – providing medical services to the survivors.”
The United Nations added in its report that about “5 million children in disaster areas are in need of emergency shelter, protection and psychological support.”
Amos noted further that “there is a need to establish safe places for children given that 90 percent of day care centers in ravaged towns and cities were destroyed.”
The “spirit and resilience” of the Filipinos did not escape the observation of the Vatican in Rome.
Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who is in Manila to attend the Catholic Social Media Summit at the Colegio San Juan de Letran, told the reporters:
“We want to express our admiration for the spirit of the Filipino people. We have been seeing terrible devastation but we have also been witnessing the extraordinary cure, consideration and generosity of your own people.”
Everything shall come to pass. Hopefully, the national and local governments have learned their lessons well following the aftermath of the deluge – and will be more prepared and cope with typhoons of similar intensity that are sure to come given the global warming and climate change.
The eastern Visayas will surely rise from its ruins – and there is no stopping it from resurrecting itself from its ashes.
There is however a grim reality that is inescapable – and that is that the thousands of inhabitants of the ravaged Eastern Visayas, are poverty stricken. Their houses or what appears to be houses, are made of cheap and weak construction materials that can be easily blown over by super-typhoons in the like of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) – and torn to pieces.
Rebuilding and reconstructing those inferior structures will not provide their security and safety from the angry forces of nature. And every super-typhoon that comes will repeat the same nightmare of destruction and death.
And such probability and eventuality of extensive destruction in lives and property is not limited to the Eastern Visayas section of our country – but to the entire archipelago as well – as indeed the majority of our countrymen are living in object poverty – and in hand to mouth existence.
No amount of relief goods and rehabilitation work coming from within and without the country, can alter the status in life of these Filipinos. There must be an overhauling of the social structures of our society to effect the even distribution of the nation’s wealth and the means of production.
Hopefully, the gods of destiny will anoint men and women of pure heart and possessed of unselfish love that will cause the radical change of our political and social structure – before the downtrodden masses rise in righteous indignation and revolt and destroy the existing order.
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