By: Al Labita
The looming scenario looks dreadful.
Should President Aquino’s push to create a Moro state fizzle out, history would be unkind to him.
At the rate criticisms are heaped on his substate-for-peace deal with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Aquino may likely end up on self-imposed exile in Malaysia, his chief backer in peace talks with the rebel group.
Since the deal was inked last month, it has drawn a barrage of flaks, likening it to a sellout of part of Philippine territory, apparently Aquino’s way to put an end to decades of a bloody secessionist movement in the resource-rich region, the country’s second largest island next to Luzon.
Questions on constitutionality are hounding the envisioned Bangsamoro (Islamic state). These center on the time-honored Constitutional ban on the creation of a state within a state, a provision Aquino appears to have glossed over in pushing the proposed law
What legal experts find revolting, however, are certain provisions virtually diminishing the government’s sovereign powers, relegating some of them to Bangsamoro.
Specifically, they refer to the creation of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).Composed of government and MILF representatives, the BTC would work on amending the 1985 Philippine Constitution, the basic law of the land.
“This is beyond ridiculous,” said Senator Miriam Santiago in a press statement. .“Say again?! Wh a – a – a – t?!”
Santiago, widely regarded as a Constitutional expert, is the first senator to call the so-called peace pact unconstitutional.Overall, she described the Malaysia-backed PH-MILF deal as an attempt to redefine the country’s sovereignty.
Like other legal experts, she questioned the provision in the agreement providing that the powers reserved to the central government will depend upon further negotiation with the MILF.
“Thus, the agreement diminishes the sovereignty of the Philippine government by listing what are the powers that the central government can retain,” the former regional trial court judge said.
In gist, the agreement not only reduces the sovereignty of the central government, but also provides that in the future, such sovereign powers as have been reserved may be further increased,provided the Bangsamoro agrees.
“It will therefore be the Bangsamoro which will determine what should be the remaining sovereign powers of the central government,” Santiago, a member of the International Court of Justice, said.
Bangsamoro, planned to be a new region with wider political and economic powers, will replace the graft-ridden Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Santiago, chairperson of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, hinted that she will not support the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law which, if passed in Congress, will be subject to a plebiscite for approval or disapproval by the public.
“While I am chair, it will be extremely difficult to convince me, as a student of constitutional law, that the Bangsamoro Agreement respects the Philippine Constitution,” Santiago said.
Some groups are poised to question soon the deal before the Supreme Court, despiteassurance by the government and MILF that the proposed Bangsamoro law would comply with the Constitution without the need to amend it.
But on closer look, the PH-MILF pact contained provisions similar to those of the earlier scuttled Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).
That deal was supposed to be inked between the government of then President Arroyo and the MILF, but in October 2008, the Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional because it sought to establish a state within a sovereign state.
Under the MOA-AD, the existing five-province ARMM would have been expanded by more than 700 additional villages, subject to a plebiscite.
The proposed new entity then, to be called the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, would have had its own police and military force and its own judicial system, among others.
“Both the MOA-AD and the Bangsamoro Agreement appear to facilitate thesecession of the Bangsamoro from our country, in a manner similar to the secession of Kosovo and Crimea,” Santiago warned.
Although the Constitution provides that natural resources belong to the state, in the Bangsamoro territory, only Bangsamoro will have exclusive jurisdiction over them.
Similarly, the pact’s annex on power sharing gives Bangsamoro “exclusive powers,” defined as powers or matters over which authority and jurisdiction pertain to the Bangsamoro government.
The accord also provides that only the Bangsamoro shall be under a ministerial form of government, while the rest of the country will operate under a presidential form of government.
Pundits say that in allowing itself as signatory to the deal with the MILF, Malacanang may have infringed upon the powers of the legislative branch.
As it appears, the agreement should not have identified the executive as the “Philippine government.”
The reality is that only one of the three branches of government – the executive branch, consisting of the Office of the President acting through a peace panel of negotiators – represented the government in talks with the MILF.
It may also be argued that the executive branch alone does not represent the Philippine Government, a fact that the MILF may have just shrugged off to speed up the signing of the accord for its own sake alone.
Simply put, the executive branch, in negotiating the agreement with the rebel group, had no power to bind the two other branches – legislative and judicial — to the controversial deal.
By all accounts, the executive “misrepresented” itself as the government, an error in judgment on Aquino’s part for which he will pay a costly political price – the likelihood of ending up in exile in neighboring Malaysia.
Come May 1, the nation will mark Labor Day, but is it worth celebrating?
For as long as labor remains mired in a state of deprivation, no significance – either real or imagined – can be attached to what is supposed to be a day of tributes to the workers.
That the workers are exploited with impunity can hardly be disputed, given the rampant practice by big businesses such as SM of tycoon Henry Sy to resort to contractualization.
Bluntly, contractualization – other than the businesses’ subtle way to rake in more profits — appears to be the hidden cost underlying a struggling economy.
While providing relief to the ranks of the jobless, such measure is but only temporary, exposing indeed the government’s lack of long-term solutions to the nation’s job woes.
Broadly, the malpractice is not only revolting, but also immoral because it deprives workers of their human right to a life of respect and dignity.
Without any moment’s notice, those who entered into such lopsided arrangement can be terminated even in the absence of any justifiable cause.
How and why contractualization continued to thrive under the noses of labor officials defies logic.
The economy, as the government says, has been on a growth track over the past years, creating opportunities for employment.
And yet, based on official statistics, there’s still a growing number of Filipinos who are jobless.
It only buttressed the fact that while growth is welcome news, it can’t be equated by any stretch of imagination with the uplift of the workers’ quality of life. Understandably, we can’t find fault with those who opt to look for greener pastures abroad.
Desperation is just overwhelming, leaving them with no choice but to take their chances in faraway lands.
Remember the classic global war on terror wherein countries were forced to believe that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was actually keeping weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that nations had to form a coalition of the willing in order to put an end to this ‘madness’ by a madman. In the end, there was no WMD and the sovereign nation of Iraq was destroyed and killed thousands of innocent civilians and put the country in chaos for the price of regime change in order to establish a democratic government and save Iraqi people from human rights violation, no thanks to ‘Washington interest groups’.
Once again, this time in Ukraine the US WIG used the pretext of protecting democracy and human rights to interfere in the internal affairs of state and overthrowing the disagreeable political regime (another American WIG regime change). WIGhas supported right-wing extremists groups in Ukraine standing for the spread of ultranationalist ideas under the principle: ”Ukraine for Ukranians”.
The West was not reportedly troubled by the fact that as a result of the rebellion, democratically elected president who had won the elections that were recognized by the OSCE as open and transparent, was ousted. Rather than wait for the elections in 2015 and try to change the Ukranian leadership democratically, emissaries of the West have provoked illegal military option ignoring all rules of democracy. The so-called Ukranian revolution was accompanied by extreme violence by protesters while Western pro-US media replicated TV reports covering allegedly peaceful protest movement.
The position of the US WIG closest allies in the EU and the Pacific region are stipulated by conservative vision of the world formed by Washington, forced them to sacrifice their own economic interests for the sake of achieving the US WIG controlled foreign policy goals. Japan following the order from Washington has pledged economic aid in the amount of $1.5 billion to Ukraine and has frozen profitable investment cooperation with Moscow, the UK has stopped the delivery of military items to Russia and Germany has suspended the military contract costing 120 million euros. Following the risky course of Washington interest group has caused economic and political damage to ministers and other EU leaders who openly marched among the radical nationalists who profess racist and xenophobic ideas.
In condition of unprecedented pressure by the US and EU associated with the referendum in Crimea on international community, the BRICS countries have taken an independent stand and on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Hague have issued a statement condemning the use of sanctions during Ukranian crisis resolution. They have pointed out that the policy of force and economic sanctions are futile and not conducive to a balanced and peaceful resolution of the crisis.
As Dr. Paul Craig Roberts writes “the American, UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, EU propaganda machine has blamed Putin for all the trouble. But so far the Russian government has not had to do anything except comply with the self-determination of the people in the Russian areas of Ukraine. Much of Ukraine, as it exists or existed today, consists of Russian territories added to Ukraine by Soviet rulers.
When Ukraine became independent with Russia’s agreement when the Soviet Union collapsed, had the Russian territories first been put back into Russia from whence they came, Washington’s coup would not have resulted in the same level of crisis.
Instead, under Washington’s pressure, the Russian territory was retained by Ukraine, and in compensation Russia was given a 50-year lease on Sevastopol, Russia’s Black Sea naval base.
The purpose of the Washington financed and orchestrated coup in Kiev was to put Ukraine, with its artificial boundaries, into the EU and NATO and to evict Russia from its warm water port and ring Russia with US missile bases. Washington and its European puppets described this as “bringing democracy to Ukraine.”
Ukraine already had democracy, a young one trying to put down roots, and Washington destroyed it. As Russian President Putin observed, overthrowing a brand new democracy destroys democracy. Washington’s coup established for Ukraine the precedent that force and propaganda rule, not democracy.
But Washington cares not for democracy, only for its agenda. And Russia, China, and Iran are in the way.
The neoconservatives, who have controlled US foreign policy since the Clinton regime, concluded that the Soviet collapse meant that history has chosen America as the socio-economic system for the world. They declared the US to be “exceptional” and “indispensable” and above international law. Washington had a free pass to invade, murder, destroy, and dominate. The neoconservative claims of “American exceptionalism” sound like Hitler’s claims for the German nation. When the White House sock puppet expressed in a speech the claim of American exceptionalism, Putin replied: “God made us all equal.”
Washington’s opinion is that the exceptional and indispensable nation–the US–is above not only all other nations but also above law. What Washington does is legal. What anyone else does in opposition is illegal.” Dr. Roberts concluded.
So what else is new? The continuing effort of ‘Washington Interest group’ through their government witting tool agents together with its willing allies will put the entire planet into the brink of another war.
This is what Putin thinks (taken from the article by Dr. Roberts), Americans have no intention of working anything out. They intend to subjugate Russia. Washington wants Russia powerless, surrounded with ABM bases that degrade our strategic deterrent to uselessness. These Americans will not work with me. They will not listen to me or to Russia’s Foreign Minister. They only hear their own call for American hegemony over the world. My only alternative is to prepare for war.
What was not told was that the puppet master in China is believed to be secretly dealing with the US WIG to save themselves from the peoples anger, fanning intrigues and also pushing the government of China to analyze Washington’s war plans for war against China and be fully aware of Washington’s “pivot to Asia,” in which the “indispensable nation” announced its “safe-guarding of peace” by surrounding China with naval and air bases, understands that it has the same Washington enemy as does Russia.
What the entire world faces, every country, every individual regardless of their political orientation, is a global reptilian elite engineered confrontation with US against Russia and China. This confrontation is enabled by WIG’s
bought-and-paid-for European and UK puppet states. Without the cover provided by Europe, Washington’s acts of aggression would result in war crimes charges against the government in Washington. The world would not be able to enforce these charges without war, but Washington would be isolated.
The cat is out! According to Brian Wingfield of Bloomberg news (April13,2014 Businessmirror), Washington Interest Groups owe Russian President Vladimir Putin a big thank you. Putin’s annexation of Crimea is being cited in Washington as a reason to do everything, from building an oil pipeline to accelerating private space flight and even boosting export of natural gas. US is also dependent on Russian made rocket engines.
What emboldened China to bully us? Despite the published support of the US to the Asian against the bullying of China, action speaks more than words. It’s not a secret anymore that US owe China trillions of dollars. US first lady Michelle Obama, Defense secretary Chuck Hagel even visited Beijing lately. There’s even a talk concerning the US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty(BIT). It is now clear that these super elites self-interest among superpowers dictate the global scenarios coming. Not even governments and leaders can stop their evil agenda. Be wary!!!
By: Ronald Roy
“I have a whole hour to spend with you, sir , before my Political Science class starts at 3,” said 18-year-old William Chang, staring at his watch. A sophomore of a private university located in Makati, Billy, born in Malolos, Bulacan of pure Chinese parentage, had earlier asked me what I thought of the debilitating tensions between China and the Philippines. I laid down the newspaper I’d been reading and asked him to join me as I asked a waiter to clear my table.
Billy, who spoke with a Chinese accent, was familiar to me as a regular customer of the burger restaurant, and must have felt he might gather the courage to speak with me, possibly after having heard my socio-political views in chats with friends on previous occasions. I welcomed an opportunity for a talk with him myself. He would surely furnish me an idea of how people his age and nationality were affected by deteriorating ties between the two countries.
As he prepared to carry his back pack to my table, I sat up eager to answer the still unanswered question: “Sir, will there be a war between China and us?” It was clear that his words ‘China’ and ‘us’ identified his sentiments as Filipino, not Chinese, hence, the assurance my task would not be a problem, although I did stress that all he would be getting from me was a mere opinion, and not an authoritative one at that. So, dear Readers, hereunder are some highlights of my conversation with Billy Chang.
No, I do not believe a full-scale war will erupt between China and us, although isolated shooting incidents shouldn’t be discounted, even in the face of an American-access-to-PH-military-bases agreement. Well, it’s really nice to feel reassured that nobody wants a war where everyone ends up losing, but given China’s history of hotheaded warmongers, one can never really tell.
It’s often said that it will take a moron to press the proverbial red button to trigger a nuclear holocaust. The trouble is: instigators in present-day warfare are madmen, not morons. The distant past had its share of supercilious schizos, like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte; and it is feared that today’s Chinese leadership could be what Deng Xiaoping once predicted in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly: murderously mad.
Deng was a 4′ 11″ runt, a midget with the mind of a colossus whose reformist capitalist theories opened avenues for the rapid development of China’s market economy into what it is today: the second strongest in the world, and perhaps the largest creditor-nation ever in the the history of mankind. One’s mind is boggled, indeed, by how America can manage such an enormous debt in the trillions of dollars.
And the same mind comfortably concludes that it would be idiotic and asinine for the two mightiest nations on the planet to annihilate each other in a nuclear confrontation. Yes, indeed, why should they destroy each other when the earth can be theirs by mutually arranged manipulations?! Don’t look now, but already Chinese nationals have been marrying into American homes, and investing in numerous top US companies and business conglomerates at a pace never before thought possible.
The trouble is: this analysis is too rational, too orthodox even for Deng Xiaoping’s comfort if he were alive. The perspicacious Deng had seen too much of the dark side of his country’s leaders which even today’s nations have not yet seen. And Deng strongly warned the world against them. For, Deng knew that it was only a question of time — and that time is now, Billy — that his country would be a daunting economic and military threat to America and the rest of the free world.
And he feared that a resurgent China, the oldest civilization that had once ruled the world (long before our country was discovered), would strive to surge to the top in ruthless disregard of the UN Charter, international law and such other principles and norms of human decency that are intended for the fostering of peace among all nations of goodwill. He recalled the brutal 1964 sinking by a Chinese vessel of an unarmed Vietnamese fishing boat three times smaller, killing over 60 innocent fishers and leaving a similar number missing.
Ironically, however, he would be held accountable by government quarters for the 1989 massacre of student protesters at Tiananmen Square that happened under his watch.The reformist Deng was twice purged by the Politburo for his radical views, but it was his dynamism that brought him back on track in his quest for the pinnacle of power, the same dynamism that had him trepidatiously declaring before the UN General Assembly that, once given a chance at world domination, a reawakened China would most likely bamboozle its neighbors in the Asean region, and should be stopped by other countries acting in concert with its own citizens.
The Chinese people’s cultural trait of settling disputes among themselves without resorting to trial, arbitration, conciliation and the like, has no place in a community of Asean peoples who all disagree with that settlement mode. It’s time China’s leaders stopped behaving like obnoxious brats.
( http://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy )
The summer heat is driving more people to spend their breaks in Tagaytay City. To most Metro Manilans, Tagaytay is the next option to Baguio City. This is, however, misplaced. Tagaytay can never be cooler than Baguio and, most of all, it definitely cannot offer the kind of rich, mystical culture that the Cordillera has. Tagaytay, in fact, is losing its bucolic charm and giving way to an urban frenzy that, if it runs away, will make it looking like any other burgeoning Philippine city, with the same malls, same cafes, and same space-gnawing condominiums.
When we first transferred here more than a dozen years ago, we were seeking for a quiet environment. Our humble house was hemmed in by a coffee plantation on one side and a pineapple farm on the other. And whenever the coffee flowers bloomed, the air would be filled by an intoxicating aroma. Whenever I would take my early morning walks, birds of various colors would dart from one clump of trees to another. But these are all gone. Even the fireflies that used to light the huge camachile tree in front of our house have left for good.
Today, there are high buildings puncturing the blue skies of the chartered city. Except for those who have the wherewithal to buy units in them, I have yet to meet somebody who is ecstatic about the condominiums. The consensus is that they are ugly, perhaps expecting that Tagaytay retain its country air forever. To the credit of Ayalas, they have made their own versions of condominiums here follow the contours of the land, carefully working around old trees.
There used to be a Metro Tagaytay Master Plan which stipulated strict restrictions on how high structures could be built in the city. The idea was when you look at Tagaytay from Laurel or Talisay in Batangas, for instance, there wouldn’t be any edifice jutting out and violating the undulating horizontal lines. The Master Plan was also clear on the principle of easement of views – that no structure should be built that would obstruct the view of neighbors. Tall buildings should be in the inner districts, with much regard for the environment. The planners weren’t saying so but they probably meant: go slow on the carbon footprints. But, today, impelled by mounds of cash, developers cannot resist building tiers upon tiers of rooms with a commanding view of Taal Volcano – a magical mirage shimmering on an ever-blue lake.
Just a few years ago, there was hardly anything else to do in Tagaytay but to settle into a meditative groove. You get infected by the prayerful vibes that come from the scores of churches, chapels, and retreat houses that densify the city. For your dine-out dates, there were just Josephine’s, Diners, and Kaye Ryan. If you want to go dancing, there was One Bagger. For groceries and banking, you had to motor down to Alabang.
In one sweep of a wand, restaurants with differentiating market positions have sprung up everywhere in Tagaytay. I have nicknamed a cluster of restaurants as the bulalo belt, all of them jostling for customers who hanker for hot beef soup and heavenly bone marrow, a fare to die for. Starbucks has three outlets within a five kilometer stretch. The strongest, highest grossing Starbucks in the Philippines is in Tagaytay, that is why its management send their new baristas here for them to perfect their caffeine preps.
Tagaytay was probably among the first movers as a smoke-free, plastic-strict city. To the city hall’s credit, it has been able to prevent billboards from proliferating in the city. The leaders may also want to make the city din-free. The influx of visitors have made the streets unkind to people. In a stroke of irony where the rich collaborate with the poor, the macho men in hot leather jackets and big bikes unite with the tricycle drivers in stinking sando and safe-suspect contraption in assaulting the environment. The ridge road has formed a noise tunnel for transposed urban traffic.
At the same time. our barangay leaders in San Jose are apparently inutile in curbing noise in their neighborhood, with karaoke singers doing their ghastly thing 24 hours a day. Dyaskepatawarin! Don’t tell me it is a national malady like indolence is.
Thankfully today, the city hall is replacing the multicolored street lamps with tall no-nonsense posts and bright streetlights. The leaders have to respond to the economic upsurge and the changing demographics of the city. Already, we are experiencing unexplained waterless days. This can really be frustrating. It is easy to suspect that the flurry of construction and the growing number of people in the city are pressing on the capability of the local government to deliver basic needs.
The city cries for wider roads with safe sidewalks to boot. Tagaytay could probably do what Dasmarinas City did and that is, do not wait for the national government and spend local money to improve at least the main arteries. The Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Route, once a farm-to-market road, has become too narrow with rumbling bumper-to-bumper traffic wasting fuel and time. Perhaps Congressman Bambol Tolentino is working on a solution now.
I heard from the grapevine that Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino is contemplating on getting back the mayorship position in Tagaytay. Running the MMDA is a thankless job. Sala sa lamig, sala sa init ang ano mang gawin mo don. In spite of that, he is doing a splendid job. His bent to put hanging gardens in that dreary urban jungle probably stemmed from his stint as head of a then sleepy town. It was clean and really green. Perhaps, if ever he re-assumes the helm of the city, he would like to bring the bitter lessons of Metro Manila and this is, resist the allure of concrete and neon that only accelerate the decay of any city. – 30
“Thanks! But no thanks!” That is how I feel about the drainage improvement, reblocking and repaving of Balete Drive from Aurora Boulevard to E. Rodriguez Avenue in Baranggay Mariana, Quezon City. The way it was done is almost the perfect model of how such a project should be done on an important alternative route to EDSA to the East and to Gregorio Araneta Avenue to the West. Gregorio Araneta Ave. or C 3 is the base of a triangle formed with Aurora and E. Rodriquez (formerly Espana Extension.) as the legs that meet at Cubao just short of the intersection of Aurora and EDSA (formerly Highway 54).
We received a written notice from our Baranggay Chairman, Regina Celeste “Bong” C. San Miguel dated March 25, 2014, warning us residents that the following side streets would not be accessible from Balete Dr. for a period of one week during the month of April: 3rd Street, Dama de Noche, Bouganvilla and Sampaguita Streets.
The first sign of work was the raising of all the water pipe manholes (Manila Water) by about two inches. Next, came the drilling of the cement paving in the areas that were to be re blocked. My only negative observation in this age of weekend long re blockings, was that a week was allowed to pass between the drilling and the tearing up of the cement paving prior to the re cementing by blocks (I suppose that is what is meant by re blocking.).
Meanwhile, the drainage was dug up and redone in a few parts of Balete Dr., mainly in the short stretch from 3rd Street to Aurora. Unlike the EDSA re blocking that was supposed to be done “One Time, Big and Fast Time” during the Holy Week holidays (giving rise to the package deal “Bisita Iglesia cum Stations of the Cross”, the latter being the EDSA traffic one had to endure to go around the seven Churches.), Balete Dr. was finished with a new thick coat of asphalt overlay over the old cement paving by early Holy Week, Holy Monday, I believe.
I don’t know who was responsible for our Balete Dr. project – Quezon City or the National Government’s DPWH? I don’t know who was responsible for planning and implementing the project with such a high level of professionalism – the DPWH, the City or the Baranggay? The reason why I include our Baranggay Government as the possible author of such a good example is what I learned when I last attended our Baranggay Assembly several years ago.
At that time, theManila Water was digging up Dona Magdalena Hemady Avenue (a parallel North – South street between Balete and Gilmore Avenue.). Usually, when the utility companies dig up a street they just dig as wide as their drainage or water pipes require to be able to be put in place. Then, they just replaced the foundation and paving on top of the pipe, and not always in uniformity with the untouched portions of the street.
At that time, our Baranggay Council was requiring Manila Water to replace the disturbed foundation and paving block by block. Manila Water was crying “Ouch!” in the pocketbook and asked for the assistance and intervention of the then City Mayor, now Speaker Francisco “Sonny” Belmonte.
Look around the Metropolis and you will see many streets where the surface is uneven because of either the utility diggings or the repaving that has not taken account of the height of existing manhole covers. The latter results in a series of holes in perfect alignment in an otherwise new and perfect asphalt overlay (The thicker the new asphalt, the deeper the hole.).
That was the “Thanks!” to whoever – National, City or Baranggay, was responsible portion. Now, the “But No Thanks!”
My parents transferred from Santol Street at the boundary of Manila and Quezon City to our home on Balete Dr., between Campanilla and Sampaguita Streets, Rosario Heights, Cubao, Q. C. in 1941. I grew up here. I lived here since 1948 except 1974 – 1975 and 1978 – 1981. I still remember the time in the 50’s when the area bounded by Balete and Dona M. Hemady still had rice paddies. The entire block across from us on Balete was vacant except for Talahib grass and burned every summer. The main roads, Balete, Hemady, Gilmore, Broadway (now Dona Juana Rodriquez Avenue) and Victoria Avenues were asphalted. However, all the side streets were merely gravel roads.
The White Lady of Balete Drive (Garchitorena y Recto) lived at Balete, Bouganvilla and Hibiscus Streets. She haunted Balete Dr. and became the best known Ghost in the Philippines well ahead of the White Lady of Loakan in Baguio City.
There was a time when we had a Quorum of the Senate living in our community now better known as New Manila. Our Barrio was organized under the leadership of an American neighbour – Mrs. Mariana Wilkinson. The first election was held at our house when the QCPD still used Volkswagen Beetles as Mobile Units and Patrol Cars.
Gradually, progress caught up with our community, as well as with the White Lady. The main streets were cemented. The side streets were asphalted. The empty lots were filled with houses. Then, our Baranggay became a favourite for Townhouse Developers. Land values went up. Real Estate taxes went up too.
Local governments got their ERA share of National Taxes. Baranggays got their share too. They had so much money that they paved and repaved roads and streets that were good enough as residential roads. When I met Mayor Belmonte more than ten years ago at our Thursday Club at Annabel’s on Morato, I thanked him for repaving our street – Campanilla. However, I suggested that, we should have saved the money and used it for building bridges across the Diliman Creek and the San Juan/San Francisco River to decongest the few streets that do cross these water obstacles.
He agreed and informed me that that was his priority. Our road, transport and traffic planners complain that our roads are finite and limited but that the number of vehicles keeps on increasing. According to them expropriation of land and the relocation of occupants for the building of new roads is expensive and tedious. However, we have so many roads that are only partially usable because they are dead end streets due to creeks and rivers that traverse or block them.
Very little expropriation and relocation is required to turn a dead end road into a more useful alternate route to decongest the existing neighborhood thoroughfares. The cost of a small bridge is relatively small in this age of flyovers and underpasses. Some examples of these strategies are the following bridges across the Pasig River: Makati – Mandaluyong, Pandacan and Rockwell.
On the local level in Quezon City we have the example of the following bridges across the Diliman Creek: East of EDSA, we have the Kalayaan Ave/K – J/Miami and K – H/Cambridge bridges. West of EDSA, we only had the Morato Ave bridge in the 40’s. To this were added the bridges on Scout Jimenez Street (formerly Leyte Street) and T. Gener (formerly K – B Street) and the Roxas bridge behind the St. Luke’s Medical Center (QC).
By Ray L. Junia, publisher
Binay is aware of MVP’s anti-politics stance, but feels his much-vaunted technocracy is what the country needs in the face of a globalizing economy.
Speculations are rife that business mogul Manuel V. Pangilinan (aka MVP) may yet throw his hat in the political arena come 2016.
That depends though on the ongoing talk between the emissaries of Vice President Jojo Binay and MVP for their possible tandem in the next presidential elections.
From the rumor mill, word leaked that Binay personally handpicked his emissaries, some of them MVP’s Ateneo classmates and business leaders, to persuade the tycoon to join politics.
That was the same tact used by then presidential bet Richard Gordon in the last national elections when he wanted to rope in MVP as his running mate, but the tycoon begged off.
Binay is aware of MVP’s anti-politics stance, but feels his much-vaunted technocracy is what the country needs in the face of a globalizing economy.
MVP, an IVY League-trained investment banker, has built a multi-billion peso corporate empire, spanning from Indonesia to Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines, under the umbrella of Indonesian conglomerate Salim Group. Their businesses cater to every human need – from womb to tomb.
Some of the MVP-steered companies are among the biggest – in terms of assets and revenues — not only in the Philippines, but even throughout Asia as well.
They include the blue chips Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) and Meralco whose listed shares allow the public to own them via the Philippine bourse.
In more ways than one, PLDT and Meralco help woo foreign investments in the capital market, an integral part of the economy.
Being public utilities, their rising rates may drag down, however, MVP’s popularity come election time.
Most likely, other contenders will associate MVP with a regime of high prices as a campaign weapon against him.
But politics is a game of numbers which often fluctuate depending on prevailing risks and opportunities.
Taking all things equal, MVP may yet emerge as a surprise package, given the rough-and-tumble nature of politics in a country long driven by partisanship.
There’s another hitch to Binay’s likely choice of MVP for the nation’s second highest public office.
The plunder cases notwithstanding, Senator Jinggoy Estrada minced no words in making himself available as Binay’s second in command for the 2016 polls.
Jinggoy’s preference has caught Binay in a bind since they belong to the opposition party UNA along with Jinggoy’s father, Manila Mayor Erap Estrada, and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, wife of Senator Ralph Recto, and Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto are also being bruited about as Binay’s possible running mate, but both have declined so far.
Reckoned with the credentials of movie actress-cum-politician Santos-Recto and low-cost housing builder Meloto, why MVP?
So far, only Binay has openly declared he’s gunning for the presidency when Aquino’s six-year term ends by 2016.
As if MVP is on top of the heap, so to speak, Binay somehow hinted his bias and preference for the tycoon as his running mate for VP.
“If possible, the person should have a track record that will be of help to us in improving the country. Who can give that but of course an economist,” he said, apparently referring to MVP, himself an economics graduate cum laude from the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila.
No Formal Talk
Citing his experience as a local government executive, Binay recalled the days when he was mayor of Makati city, the country’s financial hub.
“One of my guiding policies when I was a mayor was to run the city government of Makati as if it were a corporate entity, “he said.
In wooing MVP into his fold, Binay believed he could prop up the values of efficiency and effectiveness in governance to get votes once the campaign in the run-up to 2016 heats up.
He noted that MVP’s experience as an investment banker could be an advantage to the new government as funds would be needed to push projects that address poverty, unemployment and other socio-economic ills plaguing the country.
Binay clarified though that he has not had formal talk with MVP who began his career as an investment banker in Makati city in the early ‘60s.
Although they met on several occasions, Binay said, they did not discuss the 2016 polls.
Once rumored eyeing the presidency, MVP stands out as one of the most powerful men in the country, being at the helm of companies that are leaders in industries considered crucial to the Philippine economy.
These include the infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp., biggest gold producer Philex, as well as Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., and Maynilad Water Services Inc.
So far, MVP has kept mum on what may be described as a snowballing move to draw him to what could be his unchartered territory – politics.
Last year, some political commentators believed that MVP evoked strong potentials for either as president or vice president, citing his impeccable credentials as a business leader and a technocrat.
They noted how he turned around the once loss-making companies such as PLDT into highly profitable ones because of his management skills and expertise.
But MVP, who has long shunned politics, said in a statement that “there is no political blood that runs through my veins… I believe I can serve our people better some other way.” To him, his role as a businessman is enough to help the country’s economy grow.
Nonetheless, the tycoon agreed that elections ‘provide a rare opportunity to define the country’s long-term economic and social priorities, and form a broad consensus around them.”
That sense of optimism is a far cry from what he uttered some two years ago – “kung ako lang,” he was quoted as saying, “I’d pack up and go back to Hong Kong,” headquarters of the Salim-owned flagship First Pacific Co. Ltd. “Ang gulo-gulo n’yo!” (You are troublesome)
That infamous outburst, which has gone viral on the internet, was an angry reaction to how critics demonized him for kowtowing to Beijing in his bid to form a joint venture with a state-owned Chinese company to explore oil in the Spratlys, claimed by both the Philippines and China.
Likening MVP’s move as “sleeping with enemy,” critics lashed out at him over his plan to allow the Chinese to explore part of the nation’s territory.
MVP may cite one plausible explanation that business is business since his group holds a substantial stake in the exploration rights granted by the Aquino government to an oil field in the Spratlys, also referred to as west Philippine sea.
Whatever it is, the torrent of criticisms could be a litmus test of MVP’s expected transition from a hassle-free corporate milieu to the abominable dog-eat-dog world of politics.
MVP Is The Wrong Leader
To MVP, abominable is not how he would describe Philippine politics even with his pretensions to be fed up with the dirty ways of our politicians. From all indications he has mastered the art of Philippine politics as he has turned out to be the master of many of the country’s political leaders.
It is common suspicion that many of the country’s political leaders are in the payroll of big business. And MVP is one at the front of big business. This suspicion has earned credence from the favored concessions big business get from the government.
That MVP could be tempted to run for vice president or president is a perception created by MVP himself. That the thought sometimes flirts in his mind could be a product of his experience in making his principals’ money win candidates who don’t deserve to be in office.
Should MVP take the dive into politics, preferring not to be simply the manipulator, there is strong reason he will win. He has command of billions of pesos in money machines and control over national media.
Then we will have placed another wrong person to lead this country from poverty, for while he has been active in corporate social responsibilities and sports, the truth is, he is one of the major reasons the country is very poor and why millions are without jobs and penniless.
MANNY V. Pangilinan has repeatedly said he is not running for President in 2016. But he could be running for Vice President, instead. That is, if Vice President Jejomar Binay got his way.
Speaking to reporters, the former mayor of Makati City confirmed he is considering MVP as his running mate in the 2016 polls—and with good reason.
Considered as one of the most influential men in the country today, MVP is the perfect running mate for any presidential aspirant since he is at the helm of corporations and industries crucial to the Philippine economy: Philippine Long Distance Company, infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp., Manila Electric Company, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., Maynilad Water Services Inc., gold producer Philex Mining and the biggest local power player Manila Electric Company. And with vast holdings in media, health services and various other industries, MVP already wields enough power and financial resources to propel his chosen political allies into the halls of power come 2016.
But MVP is not the only person in Binay’s list of potential bets for VP. Last month he was mouthing off the name of another MP—that of Saragani Representative and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao—as running mate. Another potential mate for Binay is Ate Vi, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos Recto. But like MVP, Vilma has also repeatedly stated that she has no plans of seeking higher office in 2016.
With 2016 just around the bend, the Liberal Party is said to have already begun to raise funds for the campaign kitty of its next presidential standard bearer be it Mar Roxas or Kris Aquino. The LP, too, would benefit immensely having a man of MVP’s stature in its corner.
Let’s put ourselves in MVP’s shoes for a minute. Would it be wise to associate with any single political party in 2016? We think it’s not. And MVP knows it very well that for the sake of his business empire it is best to remain neutral and to stay out of politics.
“There is no political blood that runs through my veins,” MVP said back in October. “I believe I can serve our people better some other way,” he said.
Business and politics do not make good bedfellows. By staying neutral, MVP can play all sides of the fence and emerge a winner regardless of the outcome of the 2016 polls. All he has to do is to spread his bet—put money on the ruling party, on the opposition and the long shots, too. This way, MVP’s business empire is guaranteed to survive and thrive beyond 2016.
With the onslaught of hot summer weather, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is urging the public to be particularly mindful of their water consumption not only to save money on water bills, but more importantly, to protect this precious resource.
DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said that although water service providers have already assured that there will be a steady and ample supply of water during the dry months, usually from March to May, “it would still be advisable for us to use our water supply prudently.”
“We would have to consider that water is not only for domestic or household use,” Paje pointed out. “We have to share our supply with the agricultural sector to irrigate our farmlands, which are vulnerable during the dry season; and with the power sector to generate electricity that is more in demand now for cooling purposes.”
The environment chief said that while it is true that with the sweltering summer heat comes added pressure on water consumption, it would help if everyone will take some time to watch on a daily basis and limit water usage as much as possible.
He advised people to apply to water usage the same principles used in solid waste management.
“Reduce water wastage by using only the amount you need. Reuse what you can for other purposes such as using laundry water to clean your cars or floors or in flushing toilets,” Paje said.
He added: “Make water conservation a habit, no matter what the season, and adopt a lifestyle that would have less negative impact on our precious water supply.”
Paje also called on the public to avoid throwing their trash everywhere as it could end up clogging waterways and contaminating the water supply.
He warned that since very little rainfalls are expected during summer, waterways could end up clogged or stagnant and become breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects, as well as cause flooding in the ensuing rainy season.
The DENR head likewise appealed to visitors of ecotourism sites to respect nature by keeping it all in a natural and pristine state as possible.
“With the Holy Week just around the corner, let us not only reflect on our purpose in life, but also on what we can proactively do for our Mother Earth especially in light of climate change,” Paje said.
The Department of Agrarian Reform today expressed confidence that it will be able to meet its targets of monumenting the lots and installing the beneficiaries of the Hacienda Luisita estate in the next few weeks. Monumenting involves the physical delineation on the ground of the beneficiaries’ CARP-awarded land by placing boundary markers or mujons.DAR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Anthony Paruñgao said as of the April 7 report from the DAR provincial office 5,947 farmlots, or 86.32 percent, have already been monumented. He added that out of these monumented lots, 4,478 or 65 percent have farmer beneficiaries already installed.
The DAR is confident that its self-imposed deadline for monumenting the lots and installing the farmer beneficiaries, which it has set for May, will be met unless outside forces obstruct its activities. Paruñgao also said that the DAR has been encouraging and assisting beneficiaries build organizations so that DAR would be more effective and efficient in channelling support service programs and resources of the department. “We are assisting the farmers beneficiaries in making their transition into owner-cultivators”, Paruñgao said, “We are helping them to organize themselves so that they are able to better organize farm production and marketing of their produce.”
He added that these organizations will also make it easier for the farmer beneficiary to access credit because the financial institutions are more inclined to provide loans and financial support to organizations than to individual farmers The provincial office of the DAR has been able to assist farmer beneficiaries create organizations in 8 of the 10 barangays in Hacienda Luisita. Paruñgao likewise said that in addition to helping the famer beneficiaries organize themselves, the DAR has encouraged the voluntary physical grouping of contiguous lots so that scheduling of use of farming machinery such as tractors would be more rational.
Meantime, Paruñgao said that the monumenting of the lots would have gone faster and therefore would have resulted in more farmer beneficiaries being installed had there been no instances of harassment of survey teams and ‘mujons’ being destroyed. He said that 5 persons were apprehended last April 3 while harassing a survey team that was plotting out a lot in the area. These perpetrators, allegedly members of AMBALA, were subsequently released pending the filing of appropriate charges. Paruñgao added that their act of harassment could constitute obstruction of agrarian reform. DAR has speeded up the monumenting of the lots in Hacienda Luisita. They have added survey teams to so that they will be able to install all the beneficiaries before the deadline and in time for the rainy season when farmers usually plant crops. He said that the act of obstructing the implementation of agrarian reform prescribes a penalty of 6 to 12 years imprisonment.