JAPANESE WW II AIRPORT REVIVED BY CANDIDATE
By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
BULAN, Sorsogon, Philippines (JGL) – In 1943, the Japanese Imperial Army started building an airport in a small sitio of Bulan, Sorsogon so their soldiers can easily escape if General MacArthur were to return with his Allied soldiers during World War II.
But because of the extraordinary grit and resiliency of the Filipino guerillas (militias), they were able advance the timetable of MacArthur’s return, which caught the Japanese by surprise.
As MacArthur was carpet-bombing Leyte from the nearby Leyte Gulf, the Japanese Forces abandoned the airport they were building in what is now believed to be sitio Oyango in Bulan that ends up in Ticao Pass, a part of the Luzon Strait that connects the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea (Philippine Western Sea) in the western Pacific Ocean.
(LOLO BOBBY M. Reyes (right) surveys the extend of the runway of the Bulan Airport, which he said he will complete if he were elected Sorsogon governor on Monday, May 9, during his visit to the area recently in Bulan, Sorsogon, Philippines. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)
Several Philippine presidents since Liberation had dreams of reviving the construction of the airport but an independent candidate for provincial governor LOLO Bobby M. Reyes would like to finally help the people of Bulan (Bulanenos) have their own airport if he is elected governor on Monday, May 9, 2016. Government officials who tried to build the airport just put the money for the airport in their pockets that’s why nothing had come out of the airport, Mr. Reyes said.
Mr. Reyes said he could make the Bulan Airport a reality if his patron, Sen. Grace Poe, is elected president on Monday.
Mr. Reyes, who celebrated his 70th birthday last May 1, said the completion of the Bulan International Airport (BIA) is going to be one of the flag-ship projects of his administration out of the ten priority projects to “reinvent” the Quality of Life in Sorsogon and its “Isles of the Future” and create 300,000 jobs.
TAKING A PAGE FROM FRIVALDO
Taking a page from Sorsogon’s longest-serving governor, the late Juan G. Frivaldo, who sported the name “Tata (elderly) Juan,” Mr. Reyes said his moniker “LOLO,” which means grandfather in Bikol, stands for “Law and Order, Less Government and Opportunities equally for all.”
As a long-time Balikbayan from Los Angeles, California, where he was a lifelong community activist, LOLO Bobby returned to his boyhood and high school-age home of Barangay Bibingcahan in what he now calls “Bacon-Sorsogon (Bac-Sor) City” with all the wisdom and perspectives he accumulated so that he could pay back his dues to his province of birth.
Based on his writings from his travels on his own mabuhayradio.com and Facebook posts, LOLO Bobby now wants to put those ideas into practice if he luckily wins the majority vote of the 425,025 Sorsogon voters, who had an 83.71% voting turnout record in 2013.
Bobby decided to run for governor of Sorsogon when he started to urge Senator Poe to run for president, when nobody did, thru his Facebook posts, which generated tens of thousands of likes and followers and when nobody from the crop of candidates for governor in Sorsogon supported Ms. Poe. Bobby was introduced to Ms. Poe by his daughter, who was a classmate of Ms. Poe from grade one in Antipolo City to high school.
Because Bobby is not allowed to host a radio program a few weeks in the run-up of the elections, he asked some of his friends, including this reporter and Bubot Laguna, to sub for him in spreading his message over Catholic radio station (DZGN-FM, 102.3mHz)(11a.m. to 12 noon) hosted by Psalm Geraldino and PADABA (103.9 FM) (4 p.m.-6 p.m.) hosted by Bhem Emmanuel Desabayla.
RUNWAY TURNED INTO PALAY PLATFORM
( In his visit to Purok 7-B in Bulan Airport with this reporter, LOLO Bobby told the people, who turned the 10-lane runaway of the airport into palay drying platform, that with the grace of God if he were elected Sorsogon governor, he foresees the airport to be his flag-ship project that could generate hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.)
“I will make sure that you will earn a minimum of P1,000 (US$22.22) a day in contrast to Manila where P450 (US$10.00) a day is the minimum daily wage,” Bobby told one of farmers who were drying his palay over the ten-lane runway.
(ASIDE FROM THIS Terminal building, only the 10-lane runaway is the only visible task that was constructed from an alleged release of P15-M (US$333,333) to construct the airport in 2007. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)
When asked why he is making Bulan Airport his main project, Bobby said, “I am the son of Cristina Mercado, who hails from Bulan. And I am the only candidate out of the eight candidates for governor, who hails from Bulan.”
It was reported by the Bulan Observer that sometime in 2007, there was funding for the airport in the amount of P15-M (US$333,333) for the parcellary survey, to complete the runway upgrading and right-of-way acquisition that was supposed to be completed by 2008. It did not mention if the terminal building that is the only visible building in the airport was part of the funding.
(HIS EXPANSIVE runway that was started by Japanese Imperial Forces was being rebuilt by every administration after World War II but has yet to be completed. LOLO Bobby M. Reyes, a son of a native of Bulan, Sorsogon in the Philippines, wants to finish this Bulan International Airport if he is elected Sorsogon governor on Monday, May 9. The runway ends in Ticao Pass, a part of the Luzon Strait that connects the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea (Philippine Western Sea) in the western Pacific Ocean. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)
Aside from the airport and the other priority projects he wants to pursue, Mr. Reyes said he wants to introduce economic development in Sorsogon because it is one of the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines. “It’s about time somebody has to do positive things for the province and of course I want zero corruption. I would handle peace and order under a law and order program that will stop corruption and stop crimes from rising, especially drug epidemic.”
He said his projects have been posted on his Facebook page and website, mabuhayradio.com.
Although nobody is bankrolling his campaign, LOLO Bobby likes his chances to be elected governor as he has been rated fourth among the eight gubernatorial candidates by a Sorsogon radio station.
(BECAUSE HE has no money to pay for his own billboard, Independent candidate LOLO Bobby M. Reyes is very pleased to see and thankful that the office of Sorsogon City Mayor Sally A. Lee and the Sorsogon City Tourism Office have included his name and photo in the billboard of six of eight Sorsogon gubernatorial candidates. LOLO Bobby said that the “catch” of the ad is actually a backhanded endorsement of one of the candidates, Eric Dioneda (PDP-Laban), whose educational attainment was portrayed as a college undergraduate first-year midwifery education. Mayor Lee’s son, Bobet Lee Rodrigueza (Liberal Party), is portrayed as a holder of a BSBA-Management degree while LOLO Bobby Reyes is a college graduate in AB Journalism. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)
Mr. Reyes said on or before July 1, 2016, the first day of office when he takes over the “Sorsogon Interactive New Government (SING),” he will launch simultaneously 10 or more crash-programmed projects designed to raise dramatically the “Quality of Life (QoL)” of the people of Sorsogon that will lead to eliminate unemployment and underemployment.
He said ten separate task forces, with at least 100 trained staffers each, will be organized and fielded to implement the projects that will translate into hundreds of thousands of new well-paying and permanent jobs.
All local-government units (LGU’s) will be asked to provide more manpower and support to the task forces.
The priority projects will be classified into short-, medium-, and long-term goals that shall be the vehicles needed to accomplish the so-called “PROJECT 2021.” “They will be treated like items in a conveyor belt of an assembly line, so that a long-term project can become a short-term goal if the circumstances and needed resources are present,” Bobby said.
Among the “PROJECT 2021” that will take Sorsogon from 20th to the 21st century (2016-2021) are introducing to the province a Health Maintenance Organization that will provide “Patients’ Rights and Responsibilities” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/216368558400241); education reforms, including retraining of teachers, increasing their salaries, lowering teacher-student ratio, school-provided meals to elementary students and acquisition of modern equipment (https://www.facebook.com/groups/390671054351428/); inspection and retrofitting of concrete buildings in the province, including churches, followed by school-based earthquake-and-other-disaster-preparation classes and training and fielding of trained volunteer fire-and-disaster brigades;
Organization or re-organization of tree-farming co-ops in all the province’s 541 barangays (barrios) and crash program of planting cacao, coffee and cash crops and their shade trees, including an extensive cultivation of bamboo, so as to double the income of participating families in five to ten years, thereby wiping out poverty; organization and reorganization of fishing co-ops in all the coastal barrios of the province, including the massive cleaning (every weekend) of Sorsogon Bay, the province’s 50 rivers and numerous springs, brooks and other bodies of water and reforestation of their watershed areas. (http://www.mabuhayradio.com/ecology-and-the-environment/the-save-our-sorsogon-sos-bay-initiative);
(LOLO BOBBY M. Reyes (extreme left) paid a courtesy call on Flor Solis (second from left), widow of the late Sorsogon Rep. Jose Solis (whose photo is hanging above) of the second district of Sorsogon, who lobbied for the construction of the Bulan Airport, in the house of Mrs. Solis and her daughter-in-law, Joanne Solis, who is running for provincial board member for the second district of Sorsogon, Bubot Laguna and journalist, Joseph G. Lariosa. (JGL Photo)
The fresh water of Sorsogon’s 50 rivers and other springs, brooks and streams can be harnessed and exported to different parched countries as today clean potable water is more expensive than crude oil or even gasoline. Launching of food-production centers with grain-storage silos, solar-powered refrigerated warehouse and other equipment; Concreting of the runways, aprons parking spaces of the Bulan and Bacon airports, the construction of control towers, with electronic-and-electrical facilities and fuel depots. (https://www.facebook.com/notes/bobby-m-reyes/how-to-complete-the-bulan-airport-as-revised/10202484307966425); the “New Uber-like Parcel Service and Postal House” (www.nupsph.com); solving the growing squatter problem; massive tourism development program; launching of a law-and-order campaign with a “reinvented” Sorsogon Provincial Sheriff’s Office and fielding of one law-enforcement officer (LEO) with training of five employees that will compose a security force of 5,000 to safeguard millions of domestic and foreign tourists.
And many other projects that include development of stock market, title insurance industry, workmen’s compensation industry, crop-insurance and/or health-insurance industry, broadband industry, call centers, water parks, solid waste, waste-water (for the Bac-Man geothermal plant) and sewage treatment plants and other environmental friendly energy projects. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Joseph G. Lariosa
5401 West Lawrence Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630
Facebook: Joseph G. Lariosa
OVERSEAS VOTERS VOTING IN PERSON MUST DEMAND A RECEIPT
By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
CHICAGO (JGL) – Overseas Filipino voters, who are interested to find out if their votes match their receipts, should vote in person, not by mail.
But if you don’t care or if you trust the Embassy or Philippine Consulate that your vote will be counted regardless if you want see the receipt or not, then you may just mail in your ballots for as long as you believe that your mail-in votes will be postmarked on or before the May 9, 2016 deadline.
This overseas voter found it the hard way when the staff in the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, who are deputized by the Philippine Commission on Election, to handle the conduct of voting were not able to properly explain to me the nuisances of the difference between voting by mail and voting by person.
It was only after I learned from a complaint of an overseas voter in Hongkong that there was a receipt that validated her vote after dropping the ballot. The complaint of the overseas voter, which was enclosed in a youtube link (http://kickerdaily.com/hk-ofw-claims-she-voted-for-duterte-but-roxas-came-out-in-the-ballot/), which went viral, led me to double check with the Philippine Consulate in Chicago how come I did not get a receipt after I filled up my ballot in the voting precinct in the Consulate.
The complainant said although she voted for “Duterte,” the receipt showed she voted for “Roxas.”
This took me aback and I wanted to find out what happened to the ballot that I filled up and informed the Consulate.
Deputy Consul General and SBEI (Special Board of Election Inspectors) Chairman Romulo Victor M. Israel, Jr. belatedly explained to me that according to COMELEC Resolution No. 10087, ballot receipts are shown only to those who voted personally, meaning those who cast their votes by receiving and accomplishing their ballots at the polling center, and feeding their ballots into the Vote Counting Machine (VCM).
Moreover, after verifying his/her votes as contained in the receipt, the voter will be asked to fold and drop it in a designated receptacle or box. Voters shall not be allowed to bring the receipts with them.
FOR THE RECORD: (Just for my record, I asked that a picture be taken of me while I was voting at the Philippine Consulate last Wednesday, May 3. I never imagined I would be publishing this picture . (JGL Photo)
When I voted last May 3, I took with me the ballot I received from the mail in the Consulate. I filled up my ballot in the Consulate voting table.
When I asked where I should drop my ballot, I was told the “batch feeding” has been closed for the day.
I was given an option to come back the following day so I will be one to drop my filled-up ballot in the batch feeding. When I asked if my ballot would be deposited with other filled-up ballots, they said in the affirmative.
But there was no mention of a receipt at all by the Philippine Consulate staff. What was mentioned was “batch feeding.”
If not from the complaint of the Hongkong voter that there was discrepancy between her filled up ballot and her receipt, I would just have kept quiet about it.
Technically, because I brought my ballot and filled up my ballot in the Consulate, I really voted in person, not by mail. The Consulate should have told me that because the “batch feeding” is closed, “we cannot hold on to your ballot and you have to come back.”
I would have gladly come back because I wanted to experience the thrill and excitement of seeing the election tools working properly.
Otherwise, I will follow the lead of the Hongkong voter, who had to complaint to media to expose the discrepancy.
Tomorrow, Sunday, I am going to accompany someone, Mr. Marlon Pecson, who has not yet voted.
I would like to find out if the voter will experience the thrill and excitement that the votes in the receipt he took matched with what he had written in his ballot.
Overseas voters have until 4 a.m. , in case of Central Time in Chicago, Monday, April 9, to come to the Consulate to personally vote.
Those mailed-in ballots postmarked before April 9 and received at noon of April 9 will still be received and counted. (email@example.com)
Joseph G. Lariosa
5401 West Lawrence Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630
Facebook: Joseph G. Lariosa
CAN DUTERTE END “REIGN OF ERROR” IN PH?
By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2016 Journal GlobaLinks)
NARITA, Japan (JGL) – I was on my way to Chicago, Illinois when I got a PM (private message) on my Facebook account that my cousin’s husband was gunned down because he refused to give up his dream to become a councilor in the municipality of Matnog, Sorsogon.
Seven bullets from a .45 pistol were pumped in various parts of the body of Cayetano “Onoy” G. Oro, Jr., 58, an UNA candidate, by two men, who fled after his killing in front of the house of Barangay Captain Nelson Gacis in Pawa, Matnog at about 6:20 p.m. on April 25.
I felt guilty because I was in Matnog a few days before the shooting for about five hours while I was writing a story for my outlets in one of the Internet cafes there. But I forgot to ask Onoy’s uncle, retired Matnog policeman Nonoy M. Garra, for me to talk to Onoy.
Onoy’s death followed the broad daylight shooting of Onoy’s uncle, also a retired policeman Virgilio “Bilyong” Garra, who was also gunned down after losing his election as Matnog councilor in the 2013 elections.
Like Onoy’s death, Bilyong death was also attributed to the “people’s justice” promoted by the New People’s Army (NPA’s).
In other words, Onoy’s death will be an unsolved crime again — a perfect crime, where killers will never be brought to justice – like Bilyong’s.
Will this murder of impunity stop if Mayor Duterte were elected president on Monday, May 9?
It remains to be seen.
I am not a big fan of Mayor Duterte, in fact I am leaning on voting for the Gobyernong may Puso, but if Duterte wins and make good his threat to pulverize the criminals, like the killers of Onoy and Bilyong, I might warm up to Duterte’s Death Squad (DDS).
Like Hitler’s SS (Schutzstaffel) or Marcos’ Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG) or Metrocom Strike Force (MSF), who could not shoot straight, President Duterte’s Death Squad (DDS) should still give killers of Onoy and Bilyong a day in court before DDS take matters into their own hands.
These killers should hope and pray that Mayor Duterte does not win on Monday.
NPA’S CLAIMED RESPONSIBILITY TO BILYONG’S KILLING
The NPA’s had already claimed responsibility for the killing of Bilyong because they alleged Bilyong was pushing drugs. But the NPA’s brand of justice is spotty. If the hierarchy of NPA’s only investigated Bilyong first before killing him, they would learn that their intelligence information was flawed.
Bilyong could not have sold drugs because he did not even have money to buy medicine to cure his big boil on his neck. (Please note the towel covering his boil in this photo).
The Sorsogon Philippine National Police cannot go after the NPA’s even after the NPA’s claimed responsibility for the killing of Bilyong because the PNP said the relatives of Bilyong refused to file a complaint. Can you believe the alibi of the PNP? Who of the relatives in their right mind would file a complaint against the NPA’s when the PNP could not even provide protection to my relatives?
When there is dead body, a good police agency can motu proprio (on his own impulse) conduct a criminal investigation even if there is no complainant. The dead body is considered “evidence,” a “smoking gun.” Why wait for the scared complainant to come forward when the government under the Constitutional doctrine of “parens patriae” can extend protection to the victims of crime by prosecuting the criminals?
I’ve been prodding the relatives of Bilyong to sue the NPA’s but my relatives were hesitant to do so, because they feared they would be the next victims of NPA’s.
True enough, their fear and apprehension unfolded before their very eyes when Onoy was killed and the killing was attributed yet again to the usual suspects – the NPA’s.
But Onoy was not even a suspected drug pusher either, nor a common criminal. Onoy just wanted to make his dream as an elected municipal councilor come true.
Where is the outrage of the community?
But I have a feeling the NPA’s are terrorizing the peace-loving people of Matnog, the birthplace of my mother, because the NPA’s are conspiring with or are being coddled by local municipal officials of Matnog and Sorsogon provincial officials.
When the death of Bilyong was brought up two years ago in my conversation with Matnog Mayor Emilio G. Ubaldo, Mayor Ubaldo was silent. (Please see my photo with Mayor Ubaldo.)
According to grape vines when Bilyong ran for councilor in Matnog, Mayor Ubaldo felt threatened by Bilyong’s candidacy.
BILYONG WAS AS POOR AS A RAT
How can Bilyong become a threat to Mayor Ubaldo? Bilyong is as poor as a rat. His pension as a retired policeman was not even enough to feed himself. Bilyong did not even have money to buy medicine to cure the big boil on his neck. My sister and nephew gave Bilyong money to buy medicine to cure his boil but Bilyong saved the money for himself so he could keep his small business going while he endured the pain.
Bilyong obviously did not profit from his business because when he was gunned down, his boil was still sticking on his neck and was even growing!
And I surmise, Mayor Ubaldo also felt threatened by Onoy.
Bilyong and Onoy were only running for lowly municipal councilors. Why will Mayor Ubaldo feel threatened?
Mayor Ubaldo has been the undisputed political warlord in Matnog. Bilyong and Onoy were not even challenging him. Why doesn’t he let other people run for office in Matnog so they can also serve the people, like Bilyong’s granduncle, the late Lamberto “Papa Titong” G. Garra, who was a long-time outstanding councilor of Matnog with unblemished record?
Bilyong’s father, Jose “Papa Tote” G. Garra, was also a long-time municipal secretary of Matnog and was never involved in corruption.
NPA’S SHOULD BE PROSECUTED BY HRC
As for the NPA’s, who are extorting money from politicians by demanding “permit to campaign (PTC),” I suggest the government human rights commission (HRC) should prosecute these NPA’s. Reward money should be given to anonymous tipsters, who can give information of the extortion activities of the NPA’s to the HRC so the NPA’s do not know the anonymous tipster and the NPA’s do not know whom to retaliate against.
In the first district of Sorsogon, NPA’s demanded and was granted P1.2-M (US$26,666) by candidate running for congress while NPA’s demanded but was rejected when they demanded P500,000 (US$11,111) from a gubernatorial candidate (Eric Dioneda) of Duterte’s PDP-Laban party because the candidate does not have money. Eric Dioneda is the son of Sorsogon City mayoral candidate Leovic Dioneda, who died of heat stroke last week. Leovic will be replaced (or substituted) by his eldest daughter, Jo Abegail “Bem” Dioneda.
Onoy is going to be replaced (or substituted) by his sibling.
Another Sorsogon gubernatorial candidate, Bobby M. Reyes, who is running as an independent supporting Grace Poe, said he does not have money to pay the PTC to the NPA’s but he will focus his campaign on airwaves (radio/TV/social media) and print media so his message can hopefully reach out to the areas under the influence of the NPA’s.
If NPA’s extortion activities weaken because of the reward money, then reward money should also be given to anonymous tipsters of terrorists groups, like Abu Sayyaf.
In the case of jueteng lords, these jueteng lords should pay taxes to the Philippine government because they are using the transportation and communication lines and other facilities set up by the Philippine government. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Catholics and women against Duterte
INQUIRER.net U.S. Bureau
01:18 AM May 6th, 2016
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro City, a Jesuit priest, just like Pope Francis, has called for all Catholic voters not to vote for a presidential candidate who is a serial human rights violator. He did not name Duterte but simply referred to him as the “Mayor of Davao City.”
In a pastoral letter titled “A Matter of Conscience,” he scored the mayor and other local officials of Davao City for the unsolved extrajudicial killings of 1,424 individuals:
“These killings are immoral, illegal and sinful.” He then added that they could never be justified whoever the victims are.
He cited Redemptorist priest Fr. Amado Picardal, who knew about these killings perpetrated by the so-called group known as the Davao Death Squad. Picardal said that 57 of the victims were females and 132 were young people ages 12 to 17.
“None of the perpetrators have been arrested…A city with such a high rate of unsolved
killings cannot be called a city of peace and order,” said Archbishop Ledesma.
He stressed: “As Christians, we believe in the dignity of every person made in God’s image from which flow human rights — and the most basic of which is the right to life.”
Indeed, no good Catholic or Christian or any decent individual – can in good conscience vote for or support a mass murderer presidential candidate who openly declares that a policy of extrajudicial killings is an inherent part of his platform, in the name of peace and order.
The international New York-based Human Rights Watch documents Duterte as a serial human rights violator who leads the Davao Death Squad.
It has also been revealed that he has millions in deposits in pesos and dollars in various bank accounts and vast real estate holdings in his name and his children’s names. His salary as a mayor is only P78,000 pesos.
This monster from hell is a Pol Pot who will not hesitate to kill masses of people. Killing fields like in Cambodia – will be a common phenomenon if Duterte becomes President. He openly confesses to his involvement in killing over a thousand people.
He also absolutely shows no respect for women. He fantasizes about being first in line in gang raping a murdered beautiful Australian missionary. Before an audience with women present, he talks about molesting their housemaid and masturbating twice while doing so.
He also has openly announced his alliance with the Communists, showing much deference in his conference with Joma Sison, also a mass murderer, calling him “Sir” and would welcome him if he became President. As obviously observed, many extreme left elements are actively campaigning for Duterte. The Communists see a great opportunity for them to take over the government with this partnership. Like Hitler and his Nazi party, these godless, amoral conspirators will not hesitate to murder political enemies in their quest for power.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Archbishop Ledesma, Archbishop Villegas and other Archbishops openly call on Catholics to apply their Catholic values based on the teachings of Christ and not to vote for Duterte and tell their relatives and friends to do the same. Priests and nuns are gathering together praying and telling their flocks not to vote for this demon.
In good faith, all well-meaning people must come together. They owe it to God, to their fellowmen and to themselves to prevent the darkness of a terribly evil ruler from falling upon our land. Please do your part and be on the side of what’s right and good. Bravely face Duterte and the forces of evil. Four days left till Election Day. He cannot be allowed to be President.
This election is unquestionably about the fight between good versus evil.
Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/139280/139280#ixzz47oIuVd7s
A vote for our future
01:20 AM May 3rd, 2016
By: Ramon R. del Rosario Jr., May 3rd, 2016 01:20 AM
MAYOR Rodrigo Duterte was our guest at a recent meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines and the Makati Business Club. He is now the frontrunner in the presidential race, and Election Day is only a few days away.
As we consider our final choices, my appeal is that we pause to fully appreciate the implications of our vote. Whatever others may say, the choice of our next president does matter, very much. The reason our economy has done well these past six years, and many more jobs have been created compared to the previous 12, is mainly the improvement in governance provided by President Aquino and his Cabinet, which brought about the confidence investors needed to bring in their investments and create many more jobs.
As the mayor is the frontrunner, he deserves close scrutiny. And the best way to know him is to go by what he has said throughout the campaign. Let us study some key statements that are particularly noteworthy.
The mayor said months ago that there would be a lot of fat fish in our waterways because he will dump there 100,000 suspected criminals whom he will order to be killed. He repeated before the business groups that his standing order to his law enforcers when suspected criminals resist arrest is to kill them—and he will arm the enforcers with presigned pardons so that human rights do-gooders cannot get in their way. He also repeated that if a son of his is found to be a drug offender, he will have him killed. For good measure, the mayor also warned the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commission on Human Rights, and Congress not to block him or interfere with his work. And he added that at the end of his term, he would issue himself a pardon for the crime of multiple murder.
The mayor has threatened on more than one occasion to abolish Congress if it does not cooperate with him, or threatens to impeach him. A few days ago he said he might just form a revolutionary government.
The mayor has also expressed strong admiration for Ferdinand Marcos, whom he believes to be the best president our country has had, a hero who deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. To my knowledge, he has made no statements about the world-class plunder of the Marcoses, the massive human rights abuses, and how Marcos brought our once thriving economy to bankruptcy. He also said on one occasion that he may not be healthy enough to last six years as president, but he looks forward to a state funeral, and would turn over the presidency to Bongbong Marcos.
Of course, there was his famous remark expressing disappointment that he did not have first crack at the rape of an Australian missionary. And lately, he declared some bank accounts with significant deposits to be nonexistent, only to later admit that they do exist after all.
There are probably many more statements that would give us a clearer idea of what kind of person the mayor really is. Many who support him clearly believe that statements like these simply demonstrate the strong, decisive leadership that they find lacking in the current administration. Don’t worry, they say, that’s just tough talk. Don’t worry that the mayor will actually do what he promises.
But surely the mayor and his supporters cannot take offense if we take his statements seriously, for these are certainly no laughing matter. For the sense that his statements convey a distinct lack of respect for the rule of law. And the rule of law is the foundation upon which confidence is built. Of course, peace and order are important, but these must be attained within the confines of the law. Without the rule of law, there will be chaos and anarchy, and no confidence in our country. Without confidence, there will be no investments, and without investments, there will be no jobs. These are not threats, only sheer facts. And it will not be just the business owners and bosses who will suffer, but also thousands of workers and their families who will be deprived of jobs. Remember that peace and order ultimately do not come from the end of the barrel of a gun but from food on the table, access to good education, housing and health.
It is in this context that I fervently appeal that we all review our choices one last time before we vote. Let us not vote out of despair or sheer disgust at an indecisive, slow-responding administration, or the infuriating traffic, or rampant crimes. Let us not go for a solution that may be far worse than the problems we are addressing. Think instead of what your vote will mean for your future and the future of millions of younger Filipinos, including your children or your younger siblings and coworkers. Consider the tremendous cost of the wrong choice.
Focus finally on the leaders we need to build on our gains, and to address the indecisiveness and ineptitude that have deterred our progress. Let us select no less than leaders who embody the decency, honesty, competence, toughness and patriotism that we want, and who have the capacity to bring us all together after the elections, so that we can be one united nation in pursuit of a better life for all Filipinos.
Please vote wisely!
Ramon R. del Rosario Jr. (rrdelrosario@gmail. com) chairs the Makati Business Club.)
The sins of corruption of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte:
What is the truth? What else do we not know about Mayor Duterte and his hidden wealth? What immeasurable damage can he inflict on the Philippine treasury should he win the Presidency?
DON’T BE SCAMMED BY DUTERTE
The sins of corruption of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte:
DUTERTE CORRUPTION 1994:
• In 1994, San Miguel Corporation wanted to put up a big brewery in Davao City. This would have generated thousands of employment for the people of Davao. However, SMC decided to relocate in the adjoining town of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur because of alleged extortion by members of the city council. Duterte was not named in the attempted extortion but as mayor, he simply looked the way and never reprimanded the members of the City Council, all of whom are his political allies. Extortion has become a normal practice among members of the City council particularly the so-called DLBM Gang who are all staunch allies of Duterte.
DUTERTE CORRUPTION 1996:
• In 1996 the Davao City government under Mayor Rodrigo Duterte built a two-storey Sangguniang Panlungsod building for P150-Million. During that same period, the management of the nearby Apo View Hotel was built a nine-storey building that only cost P140 Million. How can a two-storey government building be more expensive than a nine-storey hotel?
DUTERTE CORRUPTION 2000:
• In 2000, Duterte claims that he only had P2Million in assets in his Statement of Assets Liabilities and Networth. His registered income was his salary as mayor and part owner of the Honda showroom in General Santos City. That was the time when the marriage of Duterte and his wife Elizabeth Zimmerman. But in 2007, upon their entry to politics, his son Paolo declared in his SALN that had P20 Million and Sarah also had P18M. Both were jobless before they decided to enter politics. When asked where they got their money, Sarah said in public debate that they got the money by way of the so-called advance legitim (inheritance) as a result the annulment of their parents’ marriage. So how can Duterte, whose net worth 7 years before was only 2 Million, raise a minimum of P38 Million which was shared by Sarah and Paolo as part of their inheritance from their father?
DUTERTE CORRUPTION 2006:
• In 2006 his son Paolo Duterte managed to corner the city’s advertising contract for all of Davao City’s center islands. Paolo’s Genesis Advertising which is co-owned by his smuggling partner Glen Escandor was able to secure the advertising deal for FREE! Under the agreement, the Genesis Advertising was allowed to build and operate decorative lamps with advertisement spaces purposely for the Asian Tourism Forum in 2006 at no cost to the city government but they would be given the option to maintaining these ad spaces even after the event.
DUTERTE CORRUPTION 2007:
• In 2007, the Davao City Government under Mayor Rodrigo Duterte bought garbage cans for P200 Million. The small garbage bin which City Hall bought from Duterte’s favored supplier for P6,295 per piece would only cost P2,199 if bought from Department Stores and Hardwares. The bigger bins which Duterte bought for P11,000 a piece is only worth P5,150 if purchased from Department Stores and Hardwares.
• In 2007, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte decided to demolish Davao City’s only sports facility called the Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Sports Center and build a “tree park” instead. For simple concrete walkways and trees that were planted in a 7-hectare lot, the Davao City government had to spend P87 Million! With that amount, you can already reforest an entire mountain!
• Based on Commission on Audit’s annual report from December 31,2003 up to 2007, Mayor Duterte and the City Council headed by his daughter Sara have yet to account for P2.9 Billion worth of equipment and properties which were procured by the City Hall. The COA reported that a colossal 82% of Davao City Hall’s declared assets valued at P2,933,909,784.17 could not be ascertained because of the failure of the city government to conduct physical count and for failure to prepare and submit a reports of such physical count.
DUTERTE CORRUPTION 2008:
• Based on the 2008 audit report by CoA, the Davao City government collected some P180-million for Special Education Fund. The amount is a percentage of the real estate taxes being collected by City Hall from businessmen and real property owners. SEF is a required by law to help public schools. Instead of using the money solely for improving public school facilities, Duterte spent nearly P11 Million in just one month for lavish restaurant parties and groceries. CoA revealed that for just one month, City Hall used the SEF to pay Ayang Food Caterer (P975,000), Yellow Fin Seafoods & Restaurant (P487,000), Lola Maming Restaurant & Catering Services (P487,000), Metro Plaza (P1,603,660) and NCCC (P7.8-million). That 11 Million would have been enough to build 22 new classrooms!
• In 2008, the entire City Council then headed by daughter Sarah was rocked by a pay-off scandal involving a property developer Interbev Philippines Davao which allegedly paid P300,000 to secure a zoning approval. The issue generated a lot of public uproar that Sarah admitted publicly that there was indeed an attempt to bribe the city council. The tough-talking Duterte was silent all throughout and never took any action even just to investigate the issue.
If Duterte becomes President, the entire stretch of EDSA will be filled with Paolo Duterte’s advertising decorative lamps. Cool!
EVILS OF POLITICAL DYNASTY
By Joseph G. Lariosa
(© 2014 Journal GlocaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – If the Philippine corridors of power are populated by relatives by blood or affinity, it is not surprising.
The pre-colonial Philippines was ruled by royalties and nobilities, like lakans, datus and mighty warriors, when laws of the jungle were supreme.
The matter of succession was interrupted only by the arrivals of Spaniards and Americans.
Despite the ongoing wars in Libya, Syria and other countries caused by popular upheavals to change their overstaying leaders, like what EDSA I had done, the Philippine Congress still refuses to accept the grim reality that political dynasty is really the main reason majority of the Filipino people are wallowing in abject poverty.
Right after the Filipino people toppled Marcos for overstaying in Malacanang, the revolutionary government of Cory Aquino took the initiative to nip the political dynasty in the bud by approving a provision in the 1987 Constitution that bans a family from monopolizing power.
But the problem is that Section 26 of Art. II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution was merely directory, not mandatory. It says, “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”
This policy merely contradicted Section 13 of the same Art. II, that says, “The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.”
How can the youth be encouraged in “their involvement in public and civic affairs” if only the youth of the overstaying politicians are given the chance to get elected into office?
This reminded me of this past week’s Gospel of Matthew 16:23, when Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You (after Jesus told Peter and other apostles that as a Son of God, He was going to suffer death).” 23 But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
FRAMERS WERE THINKING AS SATANS
The framers of the Philippine Constitution apparently while they were crafting the state policy against political dynasty were thinking as Satans or politicians, instead of thinking of the welfare of the people as God or statesmen. They should not have given Congress the option to “define” anti-political dynasty since it will be in conflict of the interest of these politicians. They should have just made it self-executory. Were them framers trying to drown frogs by tossing them in a shallow river? How myopic could they be?
Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice (2nd-LP) told former Senator and former DILG Sec. Joey D. Lina over streaming DZMM 630 radio program, “Sagot Ko Yan!,” monitored live in Chicago, Illinois from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. last Saturday (Aug. 30) that his bill, HR 3587, an anti-political dynasty measure, is on life support.
Mr. Erice said although the anti-political dynasty measure has been introduced in every Congress during the last 27 years, it never saw the light of day.
When asked by Mr. Lina if anti-political dynasty “ay malapit sa sikmura ng mga tao” (close to stomach of the people) that would necessitate them to discuss the matter, Mr. Eric responded, very much so.
Mr. Erice said, “Siyam sa sampung pinakamahirap na probinsiya ay pinamumunuan ng mga politikong kinakasangkutan sa dynasty o mga ka-alyado ng dynasty. Bukod sa hindi mabilis ang pag-unlad ng bayan, lalong yumayaman ang political dynasty.” (Nine out of ten of the poorest provinces are headed by, if not involved with, dynasty or be allied with it. Instead of fast-tracking to improve the livelihood of the people, only the political dynasty is getting richer.)
Aside from provinces, cities and towns are also headed by political dynasty. It even starts from the lowly barangay, a training ground of the children of the mayors to run for higher office. And it goes all the way up to vice mayor, mayor and other elective positions occupied by the father, the mother, sister, brother, in-laws, etc. Not only does dynasty control the levers of power, it also monopolizes even the private enterprises.
“Nagkakahawaan na.” (It’s really infectious.)
180 OUT OF 291 CONGRESSMEN ENGAGED IN POLITICAL DYNASTY
Although, his bill had hurdled the committee on suffrage, Erice said each of the 180 out of the 291 congressmen is engaged in political dynasty. He is not very optimistic that these 180 congressmen will ever vote in favor of his bill when it goes for a plenary vote.
Even party-list representatives are now infected by this plague.
Mr. Erice told Mr. Lina that his bill will not allow an elected politician to let his children, siblings, parents or second degree of consanguinity and affinity, including in-laws, parents of in-laws and children of in-laws to run for office.
Right now, the Vice President (Binay) has a daughter, who is a senator, another daughter, who is a representative, a son, who is a mayor, and a wife, who was a former mayor. Or the Marcoses, who have a senator, a representative and a governor in the nuclear family.
There are at least two in the senate, who are siblings, one half-brothers, before a mother-and-son out of the 24 senators. There are governors, whose wives are either mayor or members of the city or municipal or provincial boards. In the case of Davao City (Mayor Duterte), when the father was termed out as mayor, he ran as vice mayor, then, let her daughter ran for mayor. When, he ran again for mayor, his son was his running mate as vice mayor.
In the case of Camarines Sur, in the last election, the grandfather ran against his grandson, who won as governor. Even Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., who is pushing for the passage of the anti-dynasty bill, is having credibility issues on this bill because his only daughter, Joy Belmonte, is the incumbent vice mayor of Quezon City while his nephew, Christopher “Kit” Belmonte is a representative of Quezon City’s 6th district.
Mr. Erice, however, is willing to compromise: to allow to run “two relatives in the governor’s office, successive or at the same time.Kailangan lang maumpisahan. (We just need to break the ice.) I hope there will be a sunset provision that will end such practice after a term of office.
“It’s better than nothing because peoples’ initiatives and referendum need higher threshold requirements: 3% vote of the electorate and 10% vote of the entire electorate, that is hard to meet.
Like Lina, who said he will not tolerate political dynasty, Mr. Erice said he will never let relatives of the second degree of consanguinity to run while he is in office.
He said if he succeeds with the political dynasty bill, he will turn to other electoral reforms, like electoral voting and how to deal with political butterflies. Stay tuned! (email@example.com)
Joseph G. Lariosa
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
May 2013 Elections / List of Local Candidates In Bulan
FOR MAYOR – BULAN
BALLESTEROS, MARNELLIE (LP)
DE CASTRO, DONDON (UNA)
GUYALA, NONONG (PMP)
FOR VICE-MAYOR – BULAN
GOCOYO, RONALDO (LP)
GOGOLA, MANUEL JR.
GURAN, TESSIE (UNA)
ONG, DANILO (PMP)
FOR COUNCILOR – BULAN
ALCANTARA, NOLI (LP)
BONCAN, ANTONIO (LP)
BURIAS, EDGAR (PMP)
BURIAS, ELMER (UNA)
COX, ROSE (PMP)
DELMONTE, CHITO (UNA)
GERONGA, GUTO (UNA)
GIGANTONE, RONNIE (UNA)
GOGOLA, BOY (LP)
GOGOLIN, RODOLFO (PMP)
GOÑA, AGNES (PMP)
GONZALES, ENTE (PMP)
GONZALES, ROMMEL (LP)
GORDOLA, ROMEO (LP)
GOTLADERA, CRIS (LP)
GUELAS, ALER (UNA)
GUETA, PANDING (LP)
GUTAY, IRISH (PMP)
HAO, CHITO (UNA)
LETADA, JASON (PMP)
MONFORTE, NEIL (PMP)
QUE, ROBERTO JR.
SOLIS, JOANNE (UNA)
VALERIANO, RECTO (LP)
ZUÑIGA, EKEL (UNA)
FIL AM GROUP ENDORSES 8 TEAM PNOY SENATORIAL BETS, JUNKS ENRI
By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)
CAROL STREAM, Illinois (FAXX/jGLi) – Filipino American business tycoon Loida Nicolas Lewis, co-leader of the U.S. Pinoys For Good Governance (USP4GG), disclosed here on the eve of the start of the absentee voting for overseas Filipinos on Friday (April 12) that USP4GG is endorsing at least eight of the 12 Team PNoy senatorial candidates to give President Noynoy Aquino a majority in the Philippine senate for the next three year. But she clarified the endorsement should “not let [President Aquino become] a dictator but only to get things done properly.”
The ageless and tireless civil rights activist said USP4GG would also be campaigning for the election of two Independent candidates (Edward Hagedorn and Bro. Eddie Villanueva) “who are straight (honest) at hindi ipagbibili ang bayan(who will not betray the people). But she will be campaigning against a senatorial candidate accused of murdering an actor during martial law (Rep. Jack Enrile).
The credibility of the USP4GG gained traction in 2010 elections when majority of its endorsed senatorial slate in the 2010 won in the presidential elections, including then Sen. Noynoy Aquino, who won the presidency. But its vice presidential bet, former Senator and now DILG Sec. Mar Roxas, lost to former Makati City Mayor Jojo Binay. There are about 900,000 registered Filipino overseas voters.
A Makati city resident and former law classmate of Vice President Binay, Attorney Lewis said she would still be backing Secretary Roxas if Mr. Roxas and Mr. Binay would have a return bout in the 2016 presidential elections.
She said Mr. Binay simply cannot toe the line of President Aquino’s call for a “tuwid na daan” (straight path) as Vice President Binay has surrounded himself with corrupt underlings with the likes of former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, who was accused of car smuggling and human trafficking while Philippine Ambassador to the United States under the President Joseph “Erap” Estrada Administration.
BINAY OWNS BAKERY
While then Mayor Binay was giving away birthday cakes to senior citizens of Makati, these cakes came from Binay’s bakery. A resident of luxury Rockwell condominium in Makati, Ms. Lewis said in every high-rise tower built in Makati, Mr. Binay has one condominium unit, like his daughter, who has a penthouse at Rockwell.
At the same time, the Bicolana businesswoman and lawyer from Sorsogon province is raising funds for the campaign of Atty. Leni Robredo, the widow of the late iconic DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, who is running for congress of the third district of Camarines Sur under President Aquino’s Liberal Party. Mrs. Robredo, a very poor candidate, is running against a well-ensconced political dynasty — the wife of incumbent termed-out Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte – Atty. Nelly Favis-Villafuerte, former Trade and Industry Undersecretary a columnist of Manila Bulletin.
The philanthropist urged Evelyn de la Rosa Tolledo, president of Chicago’s suburban Schiller Park, Illinois-based Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, to help her appeal to fellow Bikolanos to raise funds for Mrs. Robredo that Attorney Lewis will match and would turn over by April 30, 2013 to Mrs. Robredo. Ms. Tolledo, a native of Catanduanes, can be reached at 3809 Emerson Drive, Schiller Park, Illinois, 60167 U.S.A., Tel. 773.946.9668, or email address:firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks are payable to Loida N. Lewis and at the memo of the check, “In Trust for Leni Robredo.”
In brief remarks before members of the Filipino community, Ms. Lewis thanked the community for supporting the causes of USP4GG, among them the election of President Aquino last May 2010. She said President Aquino needs continued support of overseas Filipinos for keeping his word to eliminate corruption in the Philippine bureaucracy. She credited Mr. Aquino with the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and the passage of the contentious RH Bill, which spells out the need for spacing the children, which is vigorously opposed by the Catholic Church.
Lewis explained that when Mr. Aquino’s mother, the late President Cory Aquino, took power partly behind the support of the Catholic Church, there was no government policy on birth control. During that time, the Philippine population stood at 45-million. But after nearly 30 years, the Philippine population has doubled to 100-million.
MORE CHILDREN, MORE CHALLENGE TO FIND THEM JOBS
Lewis said, “If we don’t give women the right to decide the number of children in the family, the Philippines will lose its ability to find jobs for these children. This will force Filipinos to go to the ends of the world. Filipinos have now relocated to every part of the earth, including the God-forsaken and the coldest place on earth, Antarctica, where studies on earth are being carried out. There are three Filipina nurses working in Antarctica. There are even 2,000 families living in La Loma Cemetery in Manila and even under bridges.
“If you send your children to school, go to a puericulture center to get advice when pregnant and how to feed babies right and undergo vaccination and health check ups, the government gives away 1,500 Philippines pesos (US$36.00) a month under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT). This is the program that weakens the existence of the New Peoples Army because the government is now taking care of the poorest of the poor in the Philippines,” she said.
The other speaker at the community interaction was Judge Jessica O’Brien, the first Filipino American elected Cook County Circuit Court judge, who narrated her early struggles growing up in Mandaue City in the Philippines.
The Team PNoy senatorial candidates that Attorney Lewis is endorsing for overseas Filipinos to vote by mail starting April 13 up to May 13, 2013 elections are: No. 2. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino; No. 3. Benigno “Bam” Aquino, Liberal Party; No. 18. Risa Hontiveros, Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party; No. 19. Loren Legarda, Nationalist Peoples’ Action Party; No. 24. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., Liberal Party; No. 27. Koko Pimentel, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan; and No. 13. Chiz Escudero, Independent; and the Independents are No. 16. Edward Hagedorn and No. 31. Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Bangon Pilipinas Party.
Being endorsed as one of the three Party-List Representatives are No. 117. Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party; No. 127. Ang Nars, Inc.; and No. 129. Coalition of Association of Senior Citizens in the Philippines; and being junked from senatorial slate is Rep. Jack Enrile.
CAYETANO, ESCUDERO VOTES EXPLAINED
Mrs. Lewis added Pia Cayetano into the mix for supporting the “RH” (Reproductive Health) bill. But Cayetano is not a candidate in next month’s elections either as her term would still end in 2016. She might have in mind Cayetano’s younger brother Alan Peter Cayetano, who is also a part of Team PNoy and was one of the 13 senators who also voted for the passage of the RH bill.
Although, Senator Escudero is not in the endorsed list, Attorney Lewis is campaigning personally for Mr. Escudero, not only because he is her fellow Sorgogueno but Mr. Escudero has not been accused of big-time corruption baka maliliit lang (maybe petty ones). Although Mr. Escudero has not done anything to improve Sorsogon province except for the appropriation of 500,000 pesos (US$11,904.00) for a book on Sorsogon, he could not be entirely blamed because during the term of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Mr. Escudero was never allocated his pork barrel.
As former classmate of the mother of actor Alfie Anido, Sarah Serrano, at St. Theresa’s College, Mrs. Lewis said the family of Anido did not pursue the investigation of the murder of Anido whose death was being pinned on Jackie Enrile because during martial law the truth could not be established. She urged Filipinos to junk the senatorial candidacy of Jack Enrile even if Senate President Enrile will be mad at her.
Mrs. Lewis also accepted an invitation from Ms. Evelyn Tolledo to be the guest of honor and speaker of the 31st national convention of Bikol National Associations of America from July 25 to 27, 2014 to be held in Chicago area. The BNAA will be holding its 30th national convention this year at Oriental Hotel in Legazpi City from July 16-18 in cooperation with the Department of Tourism.
Among the initial donors for the Leni Robredo campaign fund drive are Bikol U.S.A of the Midwest, $100; and its members, Bob Tolledo, $20.00; Tony Blando, Romy Sarcilla of World Financial Group and Danilo Auro, $10.00 each; and Jun Delfin of Chicago’s suburban Palatine-based Unlimited Agency, Inc., $50.00.
Tony Blando, a classmate of Jesse Robredo and Joel Anselmo Cadiz, President Aquino’s former lawyer and Solicitor General and two-time president of Integrated Bar of the Philippines and running under Aquino’s Liberal Party banner, said Attorney Cadiz is facing termed-out 77-year-old Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte Sr. of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and the latter’s 23-year-old grandson, Miguel Villafuerte, of the Nacionalista Party, for the gubernatorial race in Camarines Sur. Mr. Cadiz had earlier requested his classmate, former Philippine prosecutor Carlos A. Cortes, Jr., a Chicago immigrant, to return to Camarines Sur to help him run for governor. Mr. Blando asked Attorney Lewis to support Mr. Cadiz if only to help totally topple the Villafuerte dynasty in the province..
Ms. Lewis was in town to speak on April 12-14 before “Billionaire’s Expo” at the Holiday Inn & Suites at 150 S. Gary Avenue here sponsored by IPJM in cooperation with twice-monthly Fil-Am MegaScene published and edited by Bart & Yoly Tubalinal of nearby Buffalo Grove, Illinois. The other featured guests at the event were Bishop Abraham Gaor, founder, “School of Wealth & Success,” and Pastor Armand Cudia, author of Shepherds Into Kings, Ms. Irene Alano-Rhodes of “Miss Saigon,” West End Theater, London and Dany Juat of “Papuri” singing group and IPJM Band. (email@example.com)
BIKOLANA TYCOON ACCEPTS BNAA INVITE:
Bikolana Filipino American Attorney Loida Nicolas Lewis (seated) holds the book, “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?,” a bio epic of her husband, Attorney Reginald Lewis, shortly after accepting last Friday, April 12, an invitation from Ms. Evelyn de la Rosa Tolledo (third from right), president of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, to be the guest of honor and speaker at the national convention of the Bikol National Associations of America (BNAA) on July 25-27, 2014 in Chicagoland. Attorney Lewis was the featured speaker at the “Billionaire’s Expo” at the Holiday Inn & Suites at 150 S. Gary Avenue in Carol Stream, Illinois sponsored by IPJM in cooperation with twice-monthly Fil-Am MegaScene, published and edited by Bart & Yoly Tubalinal of nearby Buffalo Grove, Illinois. The other guests at the event were Bishop Abraham Gaor, founder, “School of Wealth & Success,” and Pastor Armand Cudia, author of Shepherds Into Kings, Ms. Irene Alano-Rhodes of “Miss Saigon,” West End Theater, London and Dany Juat of “Papuri” singing group and IPJM Band. Ms. Lewis also spoke about current events in the Philippines. Looking on from left are officers and members of the Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, Danilo Auro, Tony Blando, Romy Sarcilla, Bob Tolledo, Joseph G. Lariosa and Luz Nunez. (FAXX/jGLi Photo)
OPENING CAMPAIGN SALVO:
Filipino American Attorney Loida Nicolas Lewis (standing), co-leader of the U.S. Pinoys For Good Governance, gives brief remarks, where she endorsed to 900,000 registered Filipino overseas voters to vote for at least eight of the 12 Team PNoy senatorial candidates to give President Noynoy Aquino a majority in the Philippine senate for the next three year. But she clarified the endorsement should “not let [President Aquino become] a dictator but only to get things done properly.” Looking at left is Judge Jessica O’Brien (left), the first Filipino American elected Cook County Circuit judge, and Ms. Yoly T. Tubalinal, co-publisher/editor of Fil Am Megascene, a twice-monthly publication in Chicagoland. At left are participants to a community event that include Jun Delfin, Tony Blando, Bob Tolledo, Bart SG. Tubalinal, Thelma Fuentes, Evelyn Natividad and Luz Nunez. (FAXX/jGLi Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)
JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Fil Am Extra Exchange
The politics of an executive order
By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr., BicolToday.com
At this early takers of greening position in local politics here in the province of Sorsogon are throwing stones with their possible opponents by way of couched personal interest, using position held by a family member who were given a woeful feedback on how to upend the incumbency in a position of influence and power.
For lately, legislative fiat is being secured by a woman chief executive inviting attention to its supervisory power over barangay affairs specifically in the monitoring of national funded projects. The scheme was seen as an early fireworks to the floated interest of her husband who is aiming the seat of an incumbent representative.
Disguising its family intent by way of an executive order was too much for the taking of the provincial board where sitting committee members were heard that its all about politics and nothing more. The exercise was futile, though arguing certain provisions of the local government code which was interpreted to suit its political purposes.
It was a dismal performance by the lady chief executive and her staff who argued their cause but who willfully misinterpreted the exact provisions of the local government code. The committee does not want to be in the crossfire for 2013 is just about in the corner, thus doing the explaining is the provincial director of the interior and local government, supplying the missing, omitted provisions of the local government code with regard to the role, duties and responsibilities of a chief executive.
Pity for the executive order is full of antagonistic ideas to the sitting congressman and did put to test the position of the engineering district, thus the value of loyalty was opened.
Creating a technical monitoring team was too good to be true, it was the icing of the executive order, but the biggest chunk of the take is to negate the authority of an independent local government executive to accept a finish project in his barangay funded out from the national treasury specifically, congressional funds. That was the rub, and the play of the executive order is rubbish for it overstep its limitations and intends to transgress upon a legal authority to function as clearly defined in the local government code.
Taking the issue of corruption and using the line of the present administration of ‘matuwid na daan’ the executive order falls smack in the face of the executive, but do not blame her, it was her husband who purloined the interest by his ilks in the municipal government. He counts his people for he served nine long dubious years and the wife is currently on her last term in their moonless town.
Here’s another rub, at the hearing, she was overheard name-dropping a cabinet secretary who according to her is a relative, as if pushing out the contradiction of the provincial director of the interior and local government for their department is the same. But, to no avail.
Their object of ire is a man who do’esnt expect to win but took the seat from under for his district believed that he performed far better as local chief executive that his contenders.
President Aquino’s visit in Zürich
President Benigno Aquino III’s visit to this ice – covered Zürich last Saturday, January 26, was brief and concise as he gave a summary of his WEF participation in Davos and the progress achieved to date of his administration. It was a relaxed atmosphere in that morning in Renaissance Hotel Zürich where Filipinos – most of them also holders of Swiss passport – from all over Switzerland and the Liechtenstein flocked happily to meet personally their President.
There was a sense of pride all over the place for this time Filipinos were expecting to hear the good news coming from the President himself – good news this time about the growing economy, fight against corrupt government officials, etc. It is true that as we change our views and attitudes toward our system, we also change the same of the world upon us. The Philippine’s international image has been upgraded since President Benigno Aquino assumed office. And the Swiss are aware of the positive changes happening in our country and that’s really what affects the Filipinos in their daily life here in Switzerland. It’s amazing how the Swiss people react this way, this from the people whose country still has the best performing economy and institutions the world over. There are much to be learned from the Swiss system of governance, democracy and entrepreneurship. And the Filipino community here desires also only the best for our country – the Swiss way as much as possible.
President Aquino lauded the Filipino community here as being one of the most respected and appreciated foreign groups in Switzerland who contribute also to the stability of both the Swiss and Philippine economies. Not to forget that the old Swiss humanitarian tradition – Switzerland being the birthplace of the International Red Cross- also has long found its niche in every Filipino residing here. Swiss-Filipinos, through their respective local organizations, are on the frontline when it comes to helping disaster victims in the Philippines.
The visit was short for the President had to catch his plane homeward bound after lunch. And so there was no more forum to throw questions such as the Enrile Problem and the current mess at the Senate where senators quarrel over their financial “Christmas” gifts, the ongoing talks with the Bansangmoro, the communist insurgency, etc.
We hope that President Aquino would realize much of his development plan for our country during his term, the institutionalisation of the reforms achieved to prevent the rollbacking to the old ways of Wang-wang mentality, to the self- serving government and public officials of the past administrations.
At the end of his speech was picture-taking. The Filipinos and some Swiss nationals who were present did not hesitate to be photographed beside President Aquino, another proof of his international popularity and trust to his intentions. Yes, public service is public trust.
(photos by junasun)
Related news extracted from the President’s official communication websites:
Aquino accepts donation from Filipino community in Switzerland for victims of Typhoon PabloJanuary 27, 2013
ZURICH, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III thanked the Filipino community from Switzerland and Lichtenstein for extending aid to victims of Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao.
An initial check worth 8,650 Swiss francs was turned over to the President during his meeting with the Filipino community here.
“Marami pong nag-donate ng konting halaga para sa mga biktima ng bagyong Pablo na tumalasa sa ating bansa noong nakaraang buwan. Noong nalaman po nilang darating kayo dito sa Switzerland, ninais po naming magbigay pa ulit ng kaunti pang tulong,” Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja said in his remarks.
The initial donation, however, was increased to 9,050 Swiss francs.
During his speech, the President lauded the members of the Filipino community for their donation. “Lampas po sa halaga na ipinagkaloob niyo sa ating mga kapatid na nabiktima ng Bagyong Pablo, talaga naman pong napapadama niyo sa kanila na hindi sila nag-iisa,” President Aquino said.
The President said that the donation is the best present that they could give to the Filipinos in the country. “‘Yun po ang talagang napakagandang ipapasalubong natin sa buong Pilipinas,” he said.
President Aquino met with the Filipino communities in Switzerland and Lichtenstein before his return to Manila following his successful participation to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.
President Aquino calls on Filipino Overseas Workers in Switzerland to uniteJanuary 27, 2013
ZURICH, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III called on the members of the Filipino community here to unite and continue to tread the straight path as he moves to implement the various reforms needed to effect the country’s march towards progress and development.
The Chief Executive, who arrived here to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum from January 23 to 27, spearheaded the greet-and-meet activity with the Filipino community at the Renaissance Hotel here to personally oversee their condition.
In his speech, the President shared the positive changes and the economic developments back home during the last two and a half years of his administration, including the confidence of the international community in the Philippines, and the stock market’s remarkable performance that keeps the country’s resiliency despite the global crisis.
The President told members of the Filipino community present during the event that the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has continued to grow despite the global economic crisis. “Alam naman po ninyo na iyan ang pangunahing sukat ng sigla ng ekonomiya ng isang bansa,” he said.
The country’s GDP has expanded by 7.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012. The stock market index also posted record highs 70 times. “Tinalo po natin pati ang sariling mga projection. Sunod-sunod ang record-high sa ating Philippine Stock Exchange index,” he said.
“Sa katunayan, mula June 30, 2010, kung kailan po tayo nag-umpisang manungkulan, umabot na sa pitumpung beses ng nabasag ang record po ng ating stock exchange.”
The President expressed hope that the stock market index will reach the 6,500 level by next month, particularly on his birthday, and the 7,000 level by year-end. “Palagay ko, hindi pa naman ito nasisira sa atin, mukhang malaki ang pag-asang mangyari po ‘yan,” he said.
The President also cited the confidence of the international community in the Philippines as evidenced by the influx of investors who have already expressed their interest to invest in the country.
“Naaalala ko nga po dati, sa panahon ng aking ina: naisama po ako sa ilang biyahe po niya, nagpunta po ako sa Japan, at halos nagmamakaawa tayong magtayo sila ng negosyo sa Pilipinas. Pero ngayon po, tayo na ang pinipilahan,” he stressed.
“Gusto po nilang makisakay sa momentum ng pag-angat ng ating ekonomiya. At hindi po sa iisang sektor ito –mula sa edukasyon, sa imprastruktura, hanggang sa information technology, iisa ang bukambibig ng mga malalaking kumpanya –’Sali naman kami diyan,’” he added.
President Aquino likewise mentioned the reforms in the judiciary, and the signing of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“Ipinakita natin sa buong mundo ang bisa ng isang mapayapang diyalogo; higit pa rito, inilalapit natin ang Mindanao, ang naturingang Land of Promise, sa pangako ng kapayapaan at kasaganahan, na matagal na niyang inaasam,” he said.
During his speech, The President called on Filipino overseas workers for a continued support.
“Nasa kamay muli ng Pilipino ang manibela –itutuloy ko ba ang paglalakbay sa tuwid na daan? O pipiliin ko bang mag-U-turn pabalik sa kalsada ng katiwalian at kahirapan? Mahalaga pong ipaalala –ang pagsisikap ng bawat isa ay magsisilbing gasolina sa matiwasay na pagtakbo at tuluyang pag-arangkada ng ating bansa,” he said.
“Kaya nga po, karaniwang tao man o kasama natin sa paglilingkod-bayan, nasa Pilipinas man, o dito sa Zurich, saan man pong sulok ng mundo –bawat brasong nakikisagwan, bawat balikat na nakikipasan, bawat kakamping sumasagupa sa lumang sistema upang itawid ang ating reporma–kayo po, kayo ang gumagawa ng pagbabago, at hinihiling ko ang patuloy pa ninyong pakiki-ambag. Pasulong po ang ating martsa sa tuwid na landas; wala pong atrasan ito; huwag tayong pumayag na dumulas pang pabalik sa dating kalakaran,” he said.
President Aquino noted that with his move to keep the country toward a straight path, the Philippines has indeed changed. “Wala na nga po sigurong dudang nagbago na talaga ang Pilipinas,” he said.
“Kung dati po, ang tinatanong sa inyo kung bibisita kayo sa atin, ‘Paano ka nakaalis? Anong mga hakbang ang ginawa ninyo para makatakas?’ Ngayon po, ang malamang itanong sa inyo kung kayo’y makakauwi: ‘Kailan kayo uuwi ng permanente?” Tunay nga pong kay sarap maging Pilipino sa mga panahong ito,” he said.
In closing, the President thanked the Filipino community of Switzerland for their warm welcome despite the cold weather. “Kahit ano pang kapal ng ating isuot, wala pa rin pong hihigit sa init ng pagsalubong ng mga kababayan nating Pilipino,” he said.
“Kaya naman po, maraming salamat ulit sa pagyakap ninyo sa amin ngayong hapon; talaga pong napaka-warm ng welcome po ninyo, talagang napapawi ang ginaw at pagod ng buo nating delegasyon,” he concluded.
President Aquino says holding of 2014 East Asia Summit for the World Economic Forum in the Philippines to put country in the world mapJanuary 26, 2013
DAVOS, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino said the holding of the 2014 East Asia Summit for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Philippines will put the country in the “center stage of the world map.” The President echoed this statement as he announced that he has accepted the offer for the Philippines to host the WEF East Asia Summit next year.
President Aquino arrived in Davos, Switzerland last Thursday to attend this year’s WEF Annual Meeting from January 23 to 27. His attendance to the annual meeting provided him the opportunity to highlight the Philippines as an investment haven and tourist destination for the benefit of the country and the Filipino people as a whole.
“We agree to host the East Asia Summit for the WEF in 2014,” the President said following his successful attendance at the conclusion of the WEF annual meeting.
He noted that when the East Asia Summit for WEF is held in the Philippines next year, the participants would be experiencing a warmer weather compared to the freezing weather condition experienced by the participants attending this year’s WEF annual meeting.
The President pointed out that the holding of the 2014 East Adia Mummit for WEF in the Philippines would certainly benefit the country and the Filipino people as a whole.
“It puts us at the center stage of the world map for that period, which is something like July or so. The details will have to be worked out, it was offered to us and I accepted hosting the event,” he stressed.
The President, who was visibly animated by his successful participation at the WEF Annual meeting which was participated in by global leaders, chief executive officers, top business financial executives and other stakeholders from Europe and other parts of the world said the best meeting he had attended was the roundtable luncheon meeting arranged by the Ayala Corporation.
The roundtable meeting was attended by chief executive officers and top businessmen not only from Europe but also from other parts of the globe representing a wide array of businesses.
“We were able to touch base with so many other leaders of various countries like the Dutch Prime Minister,” the President said.
He said that one of the entities who was in the roundtable meeting is sending a team to the Philippines anytime this year to look and explore areas that they would be interested in.
Speech of President Aquino during his meeting with the Filipino community in Switzerland, January 26, 2013
Talumpati ng Kagalang-galang Benigno S. Aquino III Pangulo ng Pilipinas Sa pakikipagpulong niya sa mga Pilipino sa Suwisa
[Inihayag sa Zurich, Suwisa, noong ika-26 ng 2013]
Maraming salamat po. Maupo ho tayong lahat.
Secretary Albert del Rosario; Ambassador Leslie Baja; Secretary Cesar Purisima, baka hindi po n’yo po alam, Secretary of Finance natin; Secretary Greg Domingo of the Department of Trade and Industry; of course, marami raw hong fans ‘yung susunod na ipapakilala ko sa inyo, si Secretary Butch Abad, [laughter and applause] Marami raw hong taga-Batanes dito. Patay na. Hindi ka na uli mananalo ulit. Butch, nandito na lahat ang botante mo. [Laughter]
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras [applause]; atin pong Director General, Secretary Arsenio Belisacan ng NEDA; [applause] si Secretary Carandang, kilala na ho n’yo siguro, hindi ko na ipapakilala; [applause] Ambassador Evan Garcia; Ambassador Esteban Conejos; Mr. Bill Luz; members of the Filipino Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein—tama ho ba? [Applause]
Honored guests; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan:
Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.
Pagpunta ko dito, talagang tinuruan akong mabuti kung paano magbalot ng husto dahil malamig raw ho sa Davos, pero sabi ho ni Butch Abad, pareho lang sa Batanes. [Laughter] Basta may bagyo at madaling araw sa bandang Enero at naka-short pants ka lang, ganoon kalamig raw sa Batanes. [Laughter] Pero talaga naman hong napakainit ng pagsalubong n’yo. At alam naman ho n’yo— pangatlong araw ba natin dito? Pang-apat? Pang-apat na araw. Pasensiya na ho kayo. Pinaalis kami ng Pilipinas kasi, alas-onse ng gabi. Kaya counted na raw ‘yong one day. Tapos pagbalik ko, siyempre, bibigyan kami ng mga limang oras, balik sa mga problemang hinaharap natin, pero ang init ng pagsalubong n’yo, sulit na rin hong walang tulog, gininaw, pero marami hong nangyari. Kaya ulit, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. [Applause]
Ngayong naimbitahan po tayo dito sa Switzerland, naalala ko po, 1982 pa pala nang huli kong madanas ang winter. Sa bahay pa po namin iyon sa Boston noong naka-exile po ang buong pamilya namin. At kapag taglamig po ay talagang natatabunan ng yelo ang mga kalsada sa lugar po namin.
Sa mga pagkakataon pong iyon, bilang panganay at paboritong anak na lalaki ng aking mga magulang… [laughter] Kita n’yo, sang-ayon ho kayo, di ba? [Laughter] Ako po ang itinuturing na “tigas” sa aming pamilya: tiga-shovel, [laughter] tagapala ng snow, tigasilab ng apoy sa fireplace, tigalinis ng kotse, taga-alaga ng aso, at marami pang iba. [Laughter] Kaya ako ang pinakatigas ho doon. Minsan-minsan ho, tigasaing rin. [Laughter]
Kuwento ko na rin ho sa inyo: Dahil sa totoo naman ho, noong nag-aaral ako, ‘di naman itinuro ‘yong paano mag-saing eh. So sabi ng kapatid kong babae, kumuha ka ng ganito karaming bigas, tatapatan mo ng ganito karaming tubig, ilalagay mo sa rice cooker, i-on mo ‘to, ‘pag naluto, titigil ‘yan. [Laughter] Mayroon naman ho tayong titulo—kaya ko ‘yan. So, nagkataon ho, wala ‘yong nanay ko, wala ‘yong mga kapatid kong babae, kami lang ho ng tatay ko nasa bahay, siya paparating, ako tagaluto ngayon. Noong kinakain na po namin ‘yong aking isinaing na bigas, naging kanin, habang sinusubo ko, sabi ko, “Ba’t kaya ganito lasa nito, parang mapulbo?” [Laughter] Nakalimutan hong sabihin na kailangan palang linisin ‘yung bigas, [laughter] bago ilagay ‘yung tubig. Buti na lang ho, gutom ang tatay ko, ‘di na niya napansin. [Laughter] Pero nabawian naman po niya ako. Niluto niya kasi sa akin ‘yung bistek. Tapos eh, siyempre ho, ‘di ba wala namang kalamansi sa Boston. Pero ang sarap ho—tama ‘yung alat, tama ‘yung asim. Ang galing ng tatay ko talaga pati pagluto. Sabi ko, “Dad, galing mo palang magluto.” Sagot sa akin, “Wala kang bilib eh.” Kinabukasan, hinatid ko sa airport, mag-isa lang po ako. Tapos, mayroon ho akong binili kasing Lea & Perrins na sarsa the day before. Nagtataka ako, bagung-bago ‘yung bote, noong umalis ang tatay ko, wala na hong laman. Kaya pala tama ang timpla nitong bistek, ibinuhos lang niya ‘yung sarsa. [Laughter] Maabilidad ho talaga ‘yong tatay ko.
Alam n’yo ho, matagal na nga ho ako uling hindi nakaranas ng winter. Tapos, kailangan kong malaman ulit ‘yung, ano nga ang kailangang gawin para ‘di masyadong ginawin? So, tulad nga ho ngayon, iniisip ko kung kakaharapin ko kayo, iniisip ko po, kung anong magiging attire ko sa pagharap sa inyo, lalo na ngayong medyo hindi na ho kasing kapal ‘yong buhok natin. [Laughter] Sabi ko, “Magsusuot ako ng sweater. Papatungan natin ng coat; lagyan pa natin ng overcoat; [Laughter] maglalagay na rin ako ng ski mask, gloves, at mayroon pang matching scarf galing kay Kris.” Pero hindi ko na po itinuloy na isuot lahat ito. Baka naman ‘pag nakita n’yo ako, sabihin n’yo, “Sino kaya nagpanggap na Pangulo ng Pilipinas na ‘yan? [Laughter] Hindi namin makita ‘yung mukha.” [Laughter] So tiisin ko na lang ho ‘yong lamig, para sigurado kayong ako ‘yong katapat n’yo at hindi snowman. [Laughter]
Pero alam ho n’yo, kahit ano pang kapal ng ating isuot, wala pa rin pong hihigit sa init ng pagsalubong ng mga kababayan nating Pilipino. [Applause] Kaya naman po, maraming salamat ulit sa pagyakap ninyo sa amin ngayong hapon; talaga pong napaka-warm ng welcome po n’yo, talagang napapawi ang ginaw at pagod ng buo nating delegasyon.
Higit po sa lahat, nagagalak po kaming lahat makabisita rito at malaman na hindi lamang nasa mabuting kalagayan ang ating mga kababayan, kung hindi nagpapakitang-gilas din sa kanya-kanyang larangan. Nurse man o doktor, hotel worker o driver, accountant o manager, anuman pong propesyon, bilib at pinagkakatiwalaan po ang mga Pilipino dito sa Switzerland at sa Liechtenstein. [Applause] Sabi nga ho ni Ambassador Baja, kulang na lang po magsabit tayo ng banner sa convoy na nagsasabing, “Proud to be Pinoy.” [Applause] Sa tuwing may foreign trip po tayo at makakahalubilo ang ating mga kababayan, talagang taas-noo po ang mga Pilipino.
Hindi na nga po palaisipan: pagkalooban mo lang ang Pinoy ng kaalaman, kasanayan, at karanasan; ipuwesto mo lang ang Pinoy sa tamang lugar o kalagayan; bigyan mo lang ang Pinoy ng sapat na panahon, magpapakitang-gilas po tayo talaga. [Applause] Siyempre po, pinapatunayan ninyo ito; at pinapatunayan din ito ng mga Pilipino sa bawat panig ng mundo.
Sa kabilang banda naman, napapaisip din po ako: Bakit sa hinaba-haba ng panahon, hindi madala-dala sa ganitong ideyal na kalagayan ang kabuoan ng Pilipinas? Bakit may mga Pilipino pa ring isang kahig, isang tuka? Tila hindi dumarating ang nilaga, kahit buong-buhay nang nagtitiyaga?
Iyan nga po ang binabago natin sa Pilipinas ngayon. Inaayos natin ang mga kundisyon; ang gusto po natin, kung magbanat ka ng buto, tiyak kang aasenso. Inaalis na natin ang sistema kung saan ang umaangat lang sa buhay ay ang mga may kuneksyon, ang mga kayang manuhol, o ang mga nakakasikmura ng pandaraya. [Applause]
Napatingin ho si Jake ng relo niya, baka maiwan na ho kami ng eroplano. [Laughter] Huwag kang mag-alala, Jake. Papaspasan natin ‘to. Baka malagay pa tayong absent sa Lunes.
Nagtataguyod tayo ng lipunan kung saan kapag pumila ka, uusad ka; kapag nagsumikap ka, mabubuhay ka ng marangal at hindi inaabot ng gutom.
Hindi naman po natin kinailangan ng agimat o orasyon para simulang ilatag ang pagbabagong ito. Ginawa lang po natin ang dapat. Ang pera ng taumbayan, itinutok natin sa mga programang may katuturan; sinunod natin ang mga batas, at pinananagot ang mga lumalabag dito. Ang sabi nga po natin noong kampanya: Tanggalin ang tiwali, at itama ang mali.
Hayaan po ninyo, hayaan po ninyo akong magbigay ng ilang halimbawa. Mayroon pong isang kontratang pinasok ang pinalitan nating administrasyon: sabi po nila, ide-dredge daw po ang Laguna Lake. Maganda nga naman po sana. Tatanggalin ang naipong sediments upang lumaki ang water holding capacity ng lawa. Ang ganda hong pakinggan, ‘di ho ba? Dahil ‘yon ang pinagkukunan natin ng tubig para sa National Capital Region. Ang problema lang po, natuklasan natin ang huhukayin sa isang bahagi ng Laguna Lake, itatambak lang pala sa kabilang bahagi ng Laguna Lake. [Laughter] Baka akala ho n’yo, nagbibiro ako, nandoon ho ‘yun sa kontrata ‘yon. eh. Eh siyempre tanong naman ng ordinaryong Juan dela Cruz, “Paano naman lalaki ang water holding capacity kung ganoon?” Tapos, gagastos pa tayo, uulitin ko ho—tayo, gagastos pa tayo ng ‘di bababa sa 18.7 billion pesos. Baka hindi nakuha ‘yun, billion po ah, 18.7 billion pesos para maglaro ng putik. Putik natin ‘yon, ‘di ba? Sa Pilipinas ‘yun. Lalaruin natin ‘yung putik natin para sa prebilihiyo, at magbabayad ng 18.7 billion. Bakit po kaya may pumayag sa kahibangang ito? Sino kaya ang makikinabang? At palagay ko ho, hindi maglalaon, may maidedemanda na naman tayong panibago. ‘Di po tayo pumayag; pinigil po natin ang kontratang ito. Simple lang naman po ang gusto natin: kung may kontrata, idaan sa tamang bidding.
Patas na ang laban, hindi lang sa mga proyekto ng gobyerno, kundi sa ating mga merkado. Iyan po ang nakita ng buong mundo. Kaya nga po sa kabila ng global economic crisis, naging tuloy-tuloy ang pag-angat ng ating Gross Domestic Product nitong 2012.
Alam naman po ninyo na iyan ang pangunahing sukat ng sigla ng ekonomiya ng isang bansa; 7.1 percent po ang inangat ng ating Gross Domestic Product nitong third quarter ng 2012. Tinalo po natin pati ang sariling mga projection. Sunod-sunod ang record-high sa ating Philippine Stock Exchange index. Sa katunayan, mula June 30, 2010, kung kailan po tayo nag-umpisang manungkulan, umabot na sa pitumpung beses ng nabasag ang record po ng ating stock exchange. [Applause] Nito lang pong January 18, nagsara sa 6,171.70 ang ating stock exchange—isa na naman pong record-high. Alam po n’yo, bago tayo naupo, ‘pag umabot ng 4,000, pipitik lang ho sa 4,000, bababa na ulit. Parang paniwala ho, hindi kayang manatili doon o lampasan doon. Ngayon po, 6,000 na. ‘Yong mga gumawa po nito, sabi sa akin eh—hinamon ko na rin—kako nasa 6,000 na eh. Saan naman tayo tutungo susunod? Baka naman puwede 7,000? Ang sagot sa akin, aniya, siguro mga 6,500. Puwede na ‘yong 6,500. Baka puwede mangyari ‘yan sa birthday ko next month na ‘yun. [Laughter] Sabi ho niya, 7,000 na bago matapos ang taon. So palagay ko, hindi pa naman siya nasisira sa atin, mukhang malaki ang pag-asang mangyari po ‘yan.
‘Pag lalo pa po tayong nagtulungan, hindi na po ako magugulat kung sa susunod, sa talaan na tayo ng Guinness Book of World Records mapapabilang sa husay ng performance ng ating stock exchange.
Naaalala ko nga po dati, sa panahon ng aking ina: naisama po ako sa ilang biyahe po niya, nagpunta po ako doon sa Japan, at halos nagmamakaawa tayong magtayo sila ng negosyo sa Pilipinas. Pero ngayon po, tayo na ang pinipilahan. [Applause] Gusto po nilang makisakay sa momentum ng pag-angat ng ating ekonomiya. At hindi po sa iisang sektor ito: mula sa edukasyon, sa imprastruktura, hanggang sa information technology; iisa ang bukambibig ng mga malalaking kumpanya: Sali naman kami diyan.
Pinupuksa na rin po natin ang katiwalian sa mga institusyong panlipunan. Masusunod ang batas at kung lalabag ka rito, tiyak mananagot ka, gaano ka man kayaman o makapangyarihan. [Applause] ‘Di po ba, napatunayan na ‘yan nang natanggal sa puwesto ang mismong Punong Mahistrado ng ating Korte Suprema? Ang sabi po kasi ng Saligang Batas: Kailangan mong ideklara sa isang sinumpaang Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth ang buong kayamanan mo. So, ang pera pong idineklara niya, wala pang dalawang porsyento ng kabuoan niyang ari-arian. Parang sa English po, less than two percent of his cash assets was declared. Eh kailangan lahat. Ikinubli niya sa publiko ang mahigit nobenta’y otso porsiyento ng kanyang pera. Matapos ang impeachment trial, sinubaybayan po ng halos buong Pilipinas, lumitaw po ang katotohanan at walang palusot na umubra sa taumbayan. Ngayon po, gumugulong na rin ang reporma sa atin pong hudikatura.
Isa pa pong halimbawa: ‘Di po ba kaytagal-tagal na di matanaw ang kapayapaan sa Mindanao? Ngayon po, siguro nabalitaan na ninyo ang Framework Agreement na nilagdaan sa pagitan ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front at ng ating pamahalaan. Sa halip na ulitin lang ang dating “all out war” na estratehiya, “all out justice” ang ating naging tugon. Ang mensahe natin: Ang bandido ay bandido; pero kung talagang may lehitimo kang hinanakit dala ng kasaysayan ng pang-aapi, handang makipagbayanihan ang gobyerno. Imbis na walang humpay na barilan, ipinarating natin sa ating mga kapatid na Muslim: Iisa ang adhikain natin: Kapayapaan. Heto ang sagwan, tara’t itutok natin sa iisang direksyon ang bangka ng bayan, upang sabay-sabay natin maabot ang ating mga pangarap. [Applause] Ipinakita natin sa buong mundo ang bisa ng isang mapayapang diyalogo. Higit pa rito, inilalapit natin ang Mindanao, ang naturingang Land of Promise, sa pangako ng kapayapaan at kasaganahan, na matagal na niyang inaasam.
Sa huli, naniniwala po ako na anuman ang sitwasyon natin ngayon, dinala po tayo dito ng kolektibong panawagan ng Pilipino sa pagbabago. Naharap po tayo sa isang sangandaan kung saan kinailangan nating pumili ng tatahaking landas: Dito ba ako sa nakasanayang ruta ng baluktot na sistema? O ikakabig ko ba sa tuwid na daan, kung saan ang sambayanan ang mabibigyang-kapangyarihan upang sama-samang isulong ang bansa? Kung iisipin, napakadali po sana ng naunang ruta. Pipiliin ko na lang ang normal na buhay kung saan sarili lang ang kailangan kong intindihin.
Opo, madaling sabihin, pero hindi ko po yata ito maaatim na gawin. Kung ito ang landas na pinili kong tahakin, para ko na ring sinabing normal ang masadlak ang Pilipinas sa katiwalian at kahirapan; normal ang talikuran ang ipinaglaban ng aking mga magulang; normal ang pagtaksilan ang mga Pilipinong matagal nang naghihikahos para sa mas maliwanag na kinabukasan. Buong-loob po nating pinili ang tuwid na landas, kaakibat ng lahat ng kailangang pagdadaanang lubak at sakripisyo. Hindi na po bago sa atin ito. Ako po, labindalawang taong gulang pa lang nang makaranas ng Martial Law, at mahigit apatnapung taon na po ng aking buhay ang umikot sa mundo ng serbisyo publiko. Dati po’y dakilang alalay, ngayon inaalalayan ng lahat. [Laughter and applause] Mulat din po tayo, bawat Pilipino ay may kanya-kanyang binuno at binubunong pagsasakripisyo. Ang kailangan lang po nating tandaan: lahat ng pasakit ngayon, ginhawa ang kapalit sa susunod na henerasyon. Ngayong abot-kamay na po natin ang pagbabago, saka pa ba tayo hihinto?
Nasa kamay muli ng Pilipino ang manibela: itutuloy ko ba ang paglalakbay sa tuwid na daan? O pipiliin ko bang mag-U-turn pabalik sa kalsada ng katiwalian at kahirapan? Mahalaga pong ipaalala: ang pagsisikap ng bawat isa ay magsisilbing gasolina sa matiwasay na pagtakbo at tuluyang pag-arangkada ng ating bansa. Kaya nga po: karaniwang tao man o kasama natin sa paglilingkod-bayan, nasa Pilipinas man, o dito sa Zurich, saan man pong sulok ng mundobawat brasong nakikisagwan, bawat balikat na nakikipasan, bawat kakamping sumasagupa sa lumang sistema upang itawid ang ating reporma—kayo po, kayo ang gumagawa ng pagbabago, at hinihiling ko ang patuloy pa ninyong pakikiambag. Pasulong po ang ating martsa sa tuwid na landas; wala pong atrasan ito; huwag tayong pumayag na dumulas pang pabalik sa dating kalakaran.
Hayaan po ninyo akong magtapos sa isang kuwento. Noon pong congressman pa lamang ako, pinalad tayong makaharap ang isang grupo ng walumpung estudyante ng nursing. Ang tanong ko sa kanila, “Ilan sa inyo ang mananatili sa Pilipinas pagkatapos ninyong maka-graduate at pumasa ng board exams?” Ang nagtaas po ng kamay ay napakarami: dalawa. [Laughter]
Wala na nga po sigurong dudang nagbago na talaga ang Pilipinas. Kung dati po, ang tinatanong sa inyo kung mabisita kayo sa atin, “Paano ka nakaalis? Anong mga hakbang ang ginawa ninyo para makatakas?” Ngayon po, ang malamang itanong sa inyo kung kayo’y mauwi, “Kailan kayo uuwi ng permanente?” [Applause] Tunay nga pong kay sarap maging Pilipino sa mga panahong ito.
Bago po ako magtapos, gusto kong iparating sa inyong lahat, lampas po doon sa halaga ng ipinagkaloob n’yo sa ating mga kapatid na nabiktima ng Pablo, eh, talaga naman po’y pagpapadama n’yo sa kanila na hindi sila nag-iisa. ‘Yon po ang talaga ang napakagandang ipapasalubong natin sa buong Pilipinas.
Kaya magandang hapon po sa lahat. Maraming salamat muli.
State of the Nation Address of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III President of the Philippines
SONA 2012 English Translation
[English translation of the speech delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City, on July 23, 2012]
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; eminent Justices of the Supreme Court; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps; honorable members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate; our leaders in local government; members of our Cabinet; uniformed officers of the military and of the police; my fellow public servants;
And to my Bosses, the Filipino people: a pleasant afternoon to all.
This is my third SONA. It wasn’t too long ago when we began to dream again; when, united, we chose the straight and righteous path; when we began to cast aside the culture of wang-wang, not only in our streets, but in every sector of society.
It has been two years since you said: We are tired of corruption and of poverty; it is time to restore a government that is truly on the side the people.
Like many of you, I have been a victim of the abuse of power. I was only 12 years old when Martial Law was declared. For seven years and seven months, my father was incarcerated; we lived in forced exile for three years. I saw for myself how many others also suffered.
These experiences forged the principles I now live by: Where a citizen is oppressed, he will find me as an ally; where there is an oppressor, I will be there to fight; where I find something wrong in the system, I will consider it my duty to right it.
Martial Law ended long ago and when it did, we were asked: “If not us, then who?” and “If not now, then when?” Our united response: let it be us, and let it be now. The democracy that was taken from us by force was reclaimed peacefully. And in so doing, we brought light to a dark chapter in our history.
Let it not be forgotten: Martial Law was borne because a dictator manipulated the Constitution to remain in power. And to this day, the battle rages: between those who seek a more equitable system, and those who seek to preserve their priveleges at the expense of others.
The specters of a lost decade haunted us from our first day in office.
There was the North Rail contract—an expensive project that became even more expensive after renegotiation. Ironically, the higher cost came with fewer public benefits; a fleet of 19 trainsets was reduced to three, and the number of stations, from five to two. To make matters worse, the debts incurred from the project are now being called in.
We had GOCCs handing out unwarranted bonuses, despite the losses already suffered by their agencies. We had the billions wasted by PAGCOR on—of all things—coffee. We had the suspect management practices of the PNP, which involved ignoring the need to arm the remaining 45 percent of our police force, just to collect kickbacks on rundown helicopters purchased at brand-new prices.
We were left with little fiscal space even as debts had bunched up and were maturing. We were also left a long list of obligations to fulfill: A backlog of 66,800 classrooms, which would cost us about 53.44 billion pesos; a backlog of 2,573,212 classroom chairs, amounting to 2.31 billion pesos. In 2010, an estimated 36 million Filipinos were still not members of PhilHealth. Forty-two billion pesos was needed to enroll them. Add to all this the 103 billion pesos needed for the modernization of our armed forces.
To fulfill all these obligations and address all our needs, we were bequeathed, at the start of our term, 6.5 percent of the entire budget for the remaining six months of 2010. We were like boxers, sent into the ring blindfolded, with our hands and feet bound, and the referee and the judges paid off.
In our first three months in office, I would look forward to Sundays when I could ask God for His help. We expected that it would take no less than two years before our reforms took hold. Would our countrymen be willing to wait that long?
But what we know about our people, and what we had proven time and again to the world was this: Nothing is impossible to a united Filipino nation. It was change we dreamed of, and change we achieved; the benefits of change are now par for the course.
Roads are straight and level, and properly paved; this is now par for the course.
Relief goods are ready even before a storm arrives. Rescue services are always on standby, and the people are no longer left to fend for themselves. This is now par for the course.
Sirens only blare from the police cars, from ambulances, and from fire trucks—not from government officials. This is now par for the course. The government that once abused its power is finally using that power for their benefit.
Reforms were established as we cut wasteful spending, held offenders accountable for their actions, and showed the world that the Philippines is now open for business under new management.
What was once the sick man of Asia now brims with vitality. When we secured our first positive credit rating action, some said it was pure luck. Now that we have had eight, can it still just be luck? When the Philippine Stock Exchange Index first broke 4,000, many wondered if that was sustainable. But now, with so many record highs, we are having trouble keeping score: For the record, we have had 44, and the index hovers near or above 5,000. In the first quarter of 2012, our GDP grew by 6.4 percent, much higher than projected, the highest growth in the Southeast Asian region, and the second only to China in the whole of Asia. Once, we were the debtors; now, we are the creditors, clearly no laughing matter. Until recently, we had to beg for investments; now, investors flock to us. Some Japanese companies have said to us, “Maybe you’d like to take a look at us. We’re not the cheapest but we’re number one in technology.” A British banker recently came loooking for opportunities.
Commentators the world over voice their admiration. According to Bloomberg Business Week, “Keep an eye on the Philippines.” Foreign Policy magazine, and even one of the leaders of ASEAN 100, said that we may even become “Asia’s Next Tiger.” Ruchir Sharma, head of Morgan Stanley’s Emerging Market Equities said, “The Philippines is no longer a joke.” And it doesn’t look like he’s pulling our leg, because their company has invested approximately a billion dollars in our markets. I only wish that the optimism of foreign media would be shared by their local counterparts more often.
And we are building an environment where progress can be felt by the majority. When we began office, there were 760,357 household-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Our target: 3.1 million within two years. By February of this year, the three millionth household-beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya had been registered. Next year, we will enroll 3.8 million—five times what we had at the beginning of our term.
This is a long-term project, with far-reaching impact. The research is in its initial stages, but already the figures show promise. Based on data from the DSWD: 1,672,977 mothers now get regular checkups; 1,672,814 children have been vaccinated against diarrhea, polio, measles, and various other diseases; 4.57 million students no longer need to miss school because of poverty.
When we first took office, only 62 percent of Filipinos were enrolled in PhilHealth. Enrollment was not necessarily based on need but on being in the good graces of politicians. Now, 85 percent of our citizens are members. This means that since we received our mandate, 23.31 million more Filipinos have access to PhilHealth’s array of benefits and services.
And here’s even better news: the 5.2 million poorest households identified by our National Household Targeting System will now fully benefit from PhilHealth’s programs, free of charge. Because of the Department of Health’s No Balance Billing Policy, treatment for dengue, pneumonia, asthma, cataracts—as well as treatments for catastrophic diseases like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and acute leukemia—can be availed of for free by our poorest countrymen.
The process for our poorest PhilHealth members: Enter any government hospital. Show you PhilHealth card. Get treatment. And they return to their homes without having to shell out a single centavo.
One of the briefings I attended noted that four out of ten Filipinos have never seen a health professional in their entire lifetime. Other figures are more dire: Six out of ten Filipinos die without being attended to by health professionals.
But whatever the basis, the number of Filipinos with no access to government health services remains a concern. And we are acting on this: In 2010, ten thousand nurses and midwives were deployed under the RNHeals Program; to date, we have deployed 30,801. Add to this over 11,000 Community Health Teams tasked to strengthen the links between doctors and nurses, and the communities they serve.
And today, because of efficient targeting, they are deployed to where they are most needed: to areas that have been for so long left in the margins of society. We have sent our health professionals to 1,021 localities covered by the Pantawid Pamilya, and to the 609 poorest cities and municipalities, as identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
This new system addresses two issues: thousands of nurses and midwives now have jobs and an opportunity to gain valuable work experience; at the same time, millions of our countrymen now have increased access to quality health care.
But we are not satisfied with this. What we want: True, universal, and holistic health care. This begins not in our hospitals, but within each and every household: Increased consciousness, routine inoculation, and regular checkups are necessary to keep sickness at bay. Add to this our efforts to ensure that we prevent the illnesses that are in our power to prevent.
For example: Last year, I told you about our anti-dengue mosquito traps. It is too early to claim total victory, but the initial results have been very encouraging.
We tested the efficacy of those mosquito traps in areas with the highest reported incidence of dengue. In 2011, traps were distributed in Bukidnon—which had recorded 1,216 cases of dengue in 2010. After distribution, the number of cases decreased to 37—that is a 97 percent reduction rate. In the towns of Ballesteros and Claveria in Cagayan, there were 228 cases of dengue in 2010; in 2011, a mere eight cases were recorded. In Catarman, Northern Samar: 434 cases of dengue were reported in 2010. There were a mere four cases in 2011.
This project is in its initial stages. But even this early on, we must thank Secretaries Ike Ona of DOH and Mario Montejo of DOST; may our gratitude spur them into even more intensive research and collaboration.
Challenges remain. The high maternal mortality ratio in our country continues to alarm us. Which is why we have undertaken measures to address the health-care needs of women. We, too, want Universal Health Care; we want our medical institutions to have enough equipment, facilities, and manpower.
We can easier fulfill all these goals, if the Sin Tax Bill—which rationalizes taxes on alcohol and tobacco products—can be passed. This bill makes vice more expensive while at the same time raising more money for health.
And what of our students—what welcomes them in the schools? Will they still first learn the alphabet beneath the shade of a tree? Will they still be squatting on the floor, tussling with classmates over a single textbook?
I have great faith in Secretary Luistro: Before the next year ends, we will have built the 66,800 classrooms needed to fill up the shortage we inherited. The 2,573,212 backlog in chairs that we were bequeathed will be addressed before 2012 ends. This year, too, will see the eradication of the backlog of 61.7 million textbooks—and we will finally achieve the one-to-one ratio of books to students.
We are ending the backlogs in the education sector, but the potential for shortages remains as our student population continues to increase. Perhaps Responsible Parenthood can help address this.
For our State Universities and Colleges: we have proposed a 43.61 percent increase in their budget next year. A reminder, though, that everything we do is in accordance to a plan: There are corresponding conditions to this budget increase. The SUC Reform Roadmap of CHED, which has been deliberated and agreed upon, must be enacted to ensure that the students sponsored by the state are of top caliber. Expect that if you work to get high marks in this assignment, we will be striving just as hard to address the rest of your needs.
Year after year, our budget for education has increased. The budget we inherited for DepEd last 2010 was 177 billion pesos. Our proposal for 2013: 292.7 billion pesos. In 2010, our SUCs were allocated a budget of 21.03 billion pesos. Since then, we have annually raised this allocation; for next year, we have proposed to set aside 34.99 billion pesos of our budget for SUCs. Despite this, some militant groups are still cutting classes to protest what they claim is a cut in SUC budgets. It’s this simple: 292.7 is higher than 177, and 34.99 is higher than 21.03. Should anyone again claim that we cut the education budget, we’ll urge your schools to hold remedial math classes. Please attend.
When we assumed office and began establishing much-needed reform, there were those who belittled our government’s performance. They claimed our achievements were mere luck, and what impact they may have as short-lived. There are still those who refuse to cease spreading negativity; they who keep their mouths pursed to good news, and have created an industry out of criticism.
If you have a problem with the fact that before the year ends every child will have their own chairs and own set of books, then look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I do not want you to go to school.”
If you take issue with the fact that 5.2 million of the country’s poorest households can now avail of quality health-care services without worrying about the cost, then look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I do not want you to get better.”
If it angers you that three million Filipino families have been empowered to fulfill their dreams because of Pantawid Pamilya, then look them straight in the eye and tell them, “I will take away the hope you now have for your future.”
The era where policy was based on the whims of the powerful has truly come to an end. For example, the previous leadership of TESDA generously distributed scholarship vouchers—but neglected to fund them. Naturally, the vouchers bounced. The result: over a thousand schools are charging the government 2.4 billion pesos for the vouchers. One person and one administration wanted to show off; the Filipino people are paying for that now.
When Secretary Joel Villanueva assumed the post, he was not daunted by the seemingly impossible reforms that his agency needed to enact. Despite the staggering debt inherited by TESDA, it still trained 434,676 individuals under the Training for Work Scholarship Program. The TESDA Specialists Technopreneurship Program likewise delivered concrete victories—imagine: each of the 5,240 certified Specialistas are earning 562 pesos a day, or 11,240 pesos a month. This is higher than the minimum wage.
From infancy, to adolescence, to adulthood, the system is working for our citizens. And we are ensuring that our economy’s newfound vitality generates jobs.
Let us keep in mind: there are about a million new entrants to the job market every year. The jobs we have produced within the past two years total almost 3.1 million.
As a result, our unemployment rate is declining steadily. In 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8 percent. In April 2011, it dropped to 7.2, and dropped further to 6.9 this year. Is it not an apt time for us to dream of a day where any Filipino who wishes to work can find a job?
Look at the BPO sector. Back in the year 2000, only five thousand people were employed in this industry. Fast forward to 2011: 638,000 people are employed by BPOs, and the industry has contributed 11 billion dollars to our economy. It has been projected that come 2016, it will be bringing in 25 billion dollars and will be employing 1.3 million Filipinos. And this does not include the estimated 3.2 million taxi drivers, baristas, corner stores, canteens, and many others that will benefit from the indirect jobs that the BPO industry will create.
A large portion of our job generation strategy is building sufficient infrastructure. For those who have gone to Boracay on vacation, you have probably seen our newly christened terminal in Caticlan. The plan to expand its runway has also been laid out.
And we will not stop there. Before the end of my term, the New Bohol Airport in Panglao, New Legaspi Airport in Daraga, and Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental will have been built. We will also upgrade our international airports in Mactan, Cebu; Tacloban; and Puerto Princesa Airport, so they can receive more passengers; in addition to remodeling the airports in Butuan, Cotabato, Dipolog, Pagadian, Tawi-Tawi, Southern Leyte, and San Vicente in Palawan.
I am the fourth president to deal with the problems of NAIA Terminal 3. Airplanes are not all that take off and land here; so did problems and anomalies. Secretary Mar Roxas has already said: Before we convene at the next SONA, the structural defects we inherited in NAIA 3 will have been fully repaired.
This June, the LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension project began to move forward. When completed, it will alleviate traffic in Las Piñas, Parañaque, and Cavite. In addition to this, in order to further improve traffic in Metro Manila, there will be two elevated roads directly connecting the North Luzon and South Luzon Expressways. These will be completed in 2015 and will reduce travel time between Clark and Calamba to 1 hour and 40 minutes. Before I leave office, there will be high-quality terminals in Taguig, Quezon City, and Parañaque, so that provincial buses will no longer have to add to the traffic on EDSA.
Perceptions have also changed about a department formerly notorious for its inadequacies. I still remember the days when, during the rainy season, the Tarlac River would overflow and submerge the MacArthur Highway. The asphalt would melt away; the road would be riddled with potholes, until it ended up impassable.
As the representative of my district, I registered my complaints about this. The Department of Public Works and Highways’ reply: we know about the problem, we know how to solve it, but we have no money. I had to appeal to my barangays: “If we don’t prioritize and spend for this ourselves, no one will fix it, and we will be the ones who suffer.” Back in those days, everyone called upon the government to wake up and start working. The complaints today are different: traffic is terrible, but that’s because there’s so much roadwork being done. May I remind everyone: we have done all this without raising taxes.
We will not build our road network based on kickbacks or favoritism. We will build them according to a clear system. Now that resources for these projects are no longer allocated haphazardly, our plans will no longer end up unfulfilled—they will become tangible roads that benefit the Filipino people. When we assumed office, 7,239 kilometers of our national roads were not yet fixed. Right now, 1,569 kilometers of this has been fixed under the leadership of Secretary Babes Singson. In 2012, an additional 2,275 kilometers will be finished. We are even identifying and fixing dangerous roads with the use of modern technology. These are challenges we will continue to address every year, so that, before end of my term, every inch of our national road network will be fixed.
We have fixed more than roads; our DPWH has fixed its system. Just by following the right process of bidding and procurement, their agency saved a total of 10.6 billion pesos from 2011 to June of this year. Even our contractors are feeling the positive effects of our reforms in DPWH. According to the DPWH, “the top 40 contractors are now fully booked.” I am hopeful that the development of our infrastructure continues unimpeded to facilitate the growth of our other industries.
The improvement of our infrastructure is intertwined with the growth of our tourism industry. Consider this: In 2001, the Philippines recorded 1.8 million tourist arrivals. When we assumed office in 2010, this figure had grown to only around 3.1 million. Take note: despite the length of their time in office, the previous administration only managed to add a mere 1.3 million tourist arrivals—and we contributed half a year to that number. Under our administration, we welcomed 2.1 million tourist arrivals by June 2012. More will arrive during peak season, before the end of the year, so I have no doubt that we will meet our quota of 4.6 million tourist arrivals for 2012. This means that we will have a year-on-year increase of 1.5 million tourists. The bottom line: In two years, we would have had a bigger growth in tourist arrivals, compared to the increase charted by the previous administration in their nine years. We are not singing our own praises; we are merely stating the truth.
But Secretary Mon Jimenez is still not satisfied. He says: if 24.7 million tourists came to Malaysia in 2011, and around 17 million visited Thailand, would it be too far-fetched to have ten million tourists visiting the Philippines annually by 2016? And if the Filipino people continue to embody the same solidarity that allowed the Puerto Princesa Underground River to become one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, there is no doubt that we will be able to achieve this. As we have already announced to the entire world: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Secretary Mon Jimenez has been at his post for less than a year, but we are already reaping the fruits of the reforms we have laid down. So, when it comes to tourism, we are confident in saying, “It’s really more fun—to have Secretary Mon Jimenez with us.”
When it comes to growth and development, agriculture is at the top of our priorities. Secretary Alcala has been working nonstop to deliver us good news. Before, it seemed as though the officials of DA cultivated nothing but NFA’s debts. The NFA that our predecessors took over had a 12-billion peso debt; when they left office, they then bequeathed to us a debt of 177 billion pesos.
For so long in the past, we were led to believe that we were short 1.3 million metric tons of rice, and that we needed to import 2 million metric tons to address this shortage. They ordered rice as like it was unlimited—but because we had exceeded far more than what we needed, imported rice went to rot in the warehouses.
In just our first year, we redcued the annual shortage of 1.3 million metric tons to just 860,000 metric tons. This year, it is down to 500,000—including a buffer stock to dip into in times of calamity. And, if the weather cooperates, we’ll be able to export rice next year.
Secretary Alcala has said that key to our success is a feasible irrigation program and the assiduous implementation of the certified seeds program. What is galling is that this knowledge is not new—it simply wasn’t applied. If they had only done their jobs right, where could we have been by now?
Look at our coconut industry: Coconut water, once treated as a waste product, is now being utilized by our farmers. From 483,862 liters exported in 2009, to 1,807,583 liters in 2010, to a staggering 16,756,498 liters of cocowater exported in 2011. And where no one previously paid heed to coconut coir, we are now experiencing a shortage due to the high demand of exporters. We are not wasting this opportunity: we are buying the machines that will process the coco fibers. We have allocated 1.75 billion pesos to invest in, and develop, this sector.
My mother initiated the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. It is only just that this program sees its conclusion during my term.
We are improving the system, so that we can more swiftly and more efficiently realize agrarian reform. The government is doing everything in its power to ensure that our farmers can claim as their own the land they have tilled and nurtured with their sweat.
There are those, however, who wish to obstruct us. I say to them: We will obey the law. The law says, the nation says, and I say: Before I step down, all the land covered by CARP will have been distributed.
Let me shed some light on our advances in the energy sector. In the past, an electrical wire needed only to reach the barangay hall for an entire barangay to be deemed energized. This was the pretext for the claim that 99.98 percent of the country’s barangays had electricity. Even the delivery of so basic a service was a deception?
We challenged DOE and NEA, allocating 1.3 billion pesos to light up an initial target of 1,300 sitios, at the cost of one million pesos per sitio. And the agencies met the challenge—they lit up 1,520 sitios, at a total cost of 814 million pesos. They accomplished this in three months, instead of the two years it took the people that preceded them. Secretary Rene Almendras, I give you credit; you never seem to run out of energy. With public service, you are not only ever-ready, but like an energizer bunny too—you keep on going, and going, and going.
We have suffused the nation with light—and it is this light, too, that has exposed the crimes that occur in the shadowed corners of society. What the Filipino works so hard for can no longer be pilfered. Crime volume continues to decline across the country. In 2009, over 500,000 crimes were recorded—this year, we have cut that number by more than half, to 246,958. Moreover, 2010’s recorded 2,200 cases of carnapping has likewise been reduced by half—to 966 cases this 2011.
It is these facts that, we hope, will be bannered in headlines. We do not claim that we have ended criminality, but I’m sure no one would complain that it has been reduced. In the span of just a little more than a year, haven’t we finally put Raymond Dominguez in jail, after years of being in and out of prison? Charges have been filed against two of his brothers as well, and they are now serving time, too. Of the two suspects in the Makati bus bombing of the past year—one is dead, and the other is living in a jail cell. He shares the same fate as the more than ten thousand individuals arrested by PDEA in 2011 for charges relating to illegal drugs.
Pacquiao does not fight every day, and so we can’t rely on him to bring down the crime rate. Which is why we’re strengthening our police force. When this administration began, 45 percent of our police carried no guns and probably relied on magic charms as they chased criminals. But now we have completed the bidding—and we are now testing the quality—for an order of 74,600 guns, which we will provide our police, so that they may better serve and protect the nation, our communities, and themselves.
Let us now talk about national defense. Some have described our Air Force as all air and no force. Lacking the proper equipment, our troops remain vulnerable even as they are expected to be put in harm’s way. We cannot allow things to remain this way.
After only one year and seven months, we have been able to allocate over 28 billion pesos for the AFP Modernization Program. This will soon match the 33 billion pesos set aside for the program in the past 15 years. And we’re only getting started: if our proposed AFP modernization bill is passed in Congress, we will be able to allocate 75 billion pesos for defense within the next five years.
The 30-million dollar fund entrusted to us by the United States for the Defense Capability Upgrade and Sustainment of Equipment Program of the AFP is now ready as well. This is in addition to their assistance in improving the way we patrol our shores under the Coast Watch Center of the Philippines, which will soon be established.
At this moment, the Armed Forces is likewise canvassing equipment such as cannons, personnel carriers, and frigates. Before long, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, our second Hamilton class cutter, will drop anchor, to partner with the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. We are not sending paper boats out to sea. Now, our 36,000 kilometers of coastline will be patrolled by more modern ships.
And perhaps it is an apt time for our Armed Forces to clean up their hangars, because we will be having equipment arriving soon to further fortify our defenses. Finally, our one and only C-130 that has been roaming our skies for the past 36 years will have partners: two more C-130s will once again be operational. Before this year ends, we are hopeful that the twenty-one refurbished UH-1H Helicopters, the four combat utility helicopters, the radios and other communication equipment, the rifles, the mortars, the mobile diagnostic laboratories, and even the station bullet assemblies we have purchased will be delivered. Come 2013, ten attack helicopters, two naval helicopters, two light aircraft, one frigate, and air force protection equipment will also be arriving.
And it is not only through better equipment that we demonstrate our commitment to help our police and our soldiers. We have eased their financial burdens through the 22,000 houses that have been built under the AFP–PNP housing program.
We are not doing this because we want to be an aggressor, we are not doing this because we want escalation. This is about keeping the peace. This is about protecting ourselves—something that we have long thought impossible. This is about the life of a soldier who risks his life every day; this is about his family, who awaits his safe return, despite the challenges that confront him.
Let’s listen to some of the beneficiaries of these programs tell us in their own words how their lives have been changed.
Now that the people care for them, the more impassioned our soldiers are in winning the peace. We consider the 1,772 outlaws whose violence has come to an end a great triumph. One example is the infamous terrorist, Doctor Abu, who will never again strike fear in the hearts of our countrymen. We also celebrate the peace and quiet that has returned to places where our countrymen were once deafened by gunfire. As a result of our solidarity: 365 barangays have been liberated from the enemy, 270 buildings and schools have been repaired, and 74 health centers have been built.
While we are on the subject of peace, let us talk about a place that has long stood as a symbol of frustrated hopes. Before our reforms in the ARMM began, what we had were ghost students walking to ghost schools on ghost roads, to learn from ghost teachers. Some of the apparitions that haunted OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman: Four schools found with ghost students; we are also investigating the teachers whose names do not appear in the list of the Professional Regulation Commission, as well as the government workers not listed in the plantilla. Fifty-five ghost entries have been taken off the payroll. The previous scheme of regraveling roads again and again just to earn money has been outlawed. To avoid abuse, we have ended cash advances for agencies. Now, the souls of the ghosts in voters lists can rest in peace. This is why, to OIC Governor Mujiv Hataman, we can say to you: you are indeed a certified ghost buster.
What we have replaced these phantoms with: real housing, bridges, and learning centers for Badjaos in Basilan. Community-based hatcheries, nets, materials to grow seaweeds, and seedlings that have benefited 2,588 fishermen. Certified seeds, gabi seedlings, cassava, rubber, and trees that are bearing fruit for 145,121 farmers. And this is only the beginning. 183 million pesos has been set aside for the fire stations; 515 million pesos for clean drinking water; 551.9 million pesos for health-care equipment; 691.9 million pesos for daycare centers; and 2.85 billion pesos for the roads and bridges across the region. These are just some of the things that will be afforded by the aggregate 8.59 billion pesos the national government has granted the ARMM. Also, allow me to clarify: this does not include the yearly support that they receive, which in 2012 reached 11.7 billion pesos.
Even those who previously wanted to break away are seeing the effects of reform. Over the past seven months, not even a single encounter has been recorded between the military and the MILF. We recognize this as a sign of their trust. With regard to the peace process: talks have been very open; both sides have shown trust and faith in one another. There may be times when the process can get a little complicated, but these are merely signs that we are steadily moving closer to our shared goal: Peace.
We likewise engaged stakeholders in a level-headed discussion in crafting our Executive Order on mining. The idea behind our consensus we reached: that we be able to utilize our natural resources to uplift the living conditions of the Filipinos not just of today, also of the following generations. We will not reap the rewards of this industry if the cost is the destruction of nature.
But this Executive Order is only the first step. Think about it: In 2010, 145 billion pesos was the total value derived from mining, but only 13.4 billion or 9 percent went to the national treasury. These natural resources are yours; it shouldn’t happen that all that’s left to you is a tip after they’re extracted. We are hoping that Congress will work with us and pass a law that will ensure that the environment is cared for, and that the public and private sectors will receive just benefits from this industry.
Let us talk about the situation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. Once, the government, which is supposed to give aid, was the one asking for aid. Today, even when the storm is still brewing, we already know how to craft clear plans to avoid catastrophe.
Talking about disasters reminds me of the time when a typhoon struck Tarlac. The dike collapsed due to the rains; when one of the barangay captains awoke, the floods had already taken his family, as well as his farming equipment. Fortunately, the entire family survived. But the carabao they had left tied to a tree wasn’t as lucky; it was strangled to death from the force of the flood.
Many of those affected by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, and Sendong were just as defenseless. We lost so many lives to these natural disasters. And now, through Project NOAH, all our anti-disaster initiatives have been brought inside one boat, and we no longer leave the evacuation of families up to mere luck. We now have the technology to give fair warning to Filipinos in order to prepare for and avoid the worst.
Our 86 automated rain gauges and 28 water level monitoring sensors in various regions now benefit us directly and in real time. Our target before the end of 2013: 600 automated rain gauges and 422 water level sensors. We will have them installed in 80 primary river basins around the country.
Yet another change: Before, agencies with shared responsibilities would work separately, with little coordination or cooperation. Now, the culture of government is bayanihan—a coming together for the sake of the people. This is what we call Convergence.
There have always been tree planting programs in government—but after the trees have been planted, they were left alone. Communities that needed livelihood would cut these down and turn them into charcoal.
We have the solution for this. 128,558 hectares of forest have been planted across the country; this is only a fraction of the 1.5 million-hectare farmlands to be laid out before we step down. This covers the communities under the National Convergence Initiative. The process: When a tree is planted, the DWSD will coordinate with communities. In exchange for a conditional cash transfer, communities would take care of the trees; some would help nurture seeds in a nursery. 335,078 individuals now earn their livelihood from these activities.
The private sector has likewise taken part in a program that hands out special coffee and cacao beans to communities, and trains the townsfolk, too, to nurture those seeds into a bountiful harvest. The coffee is planted in the shade of the trees that in turn help prevent flooding and protect the people. The company that hands out the seeds are sure buyers of the yield. It’s a win-win situation—for the private sector, the communities with their extra income, and the succeeding generations that will benefit from the trees.
Illegal logging has long been a problem. From the time we signed Executive Order No. 23, Mayor Jun Amante has confiscated lumber amounting to more than six million pesos. He has our gratitude. This is just in Butuan; what more if all our LGUs demonstrated the same kind of political will?
The timber confiscated by DENR are handed over to TESDA, which then gives the timber to communities they train in carpentry. From this, DepEd gets chairs for our public schools. Consider this: What was once the product of destruction has been crafted into an instrument for the realization of a better future. This was impossible then—impossible so long as the government turned a blind eye to illegal activities.
To those of you without a conscience; those of you who repeatedly gamble the lives of your fellow Filipinos—your days are numbered. We’ve already sanctioned thirty-four DENR officials, one PNP provincial director, and seven chiefs of police. We are asking a regional director of the PNP to explain why he seemed deaf to our directives and blind to the colossal logs that were being transported before his very eyes. If you do not shape up, you will be next. Even if you tremble beneath the skirts of your patrons, we will find you. I suggest that you start doing your jobs, before it’s too late.
From the womb, to school, to work, change has touched the Filipino. And should a life of government service be chosen, our people can expect the same level of care from the state, until retirement. Our administration will recognize their contributions to our society as public servants, and will not withhold from them the pensions they themselves contributed to.
Consider: some retirees receive less than 500 pesos a month. How does one pay for water, power, and food, daily? Our response: With the New Year comes our resolution that all old-age and disability pensioners will receive no less than five thousand pesos monthly. We are heartened that we can meet their needs now, without jeopardizing their future benefits.
The face of government has truly changed. Our compensation levels are at par with the private sector’s at the entry level. But as you rise through the ranks, private-sector pay overtakes the government.
We will close that gap in time; for now, we have good news for government employees: Performance-Based Incentives. In the past, even poorly performing agencies would not have any employees with ratings lower than “very satisfactory.” To maintain smooth interpersonal relations, supervisors would have a hard time giving appropriate ratings. Exceptional employees are not recognized: their excellence is de-incentivized, and receive the same rewards as laziness and indolence.
Here is one of our steps to respond to this. Starting this year, we will implement a system in which bonuses are based on their agency’s abilities to meet their annual targets. Employees now hold the keys to their own advancement. Incentives may reach up to 35,000 pesos, depending on how well you do your jobs. This is in addition to your across-the-board Christmas bonus.
We are doing this not only to boost morale and to show due appreciation of our public servants. This is, above all, for the Filipino people, who expect sincere and efficient service—who expect that they will continue to be the sole Bosses of our workers in government.
There have always been people who have questioned our guiding principle, “If there is no corruption, there is no poverty.” They ask if good governance can put food on the table. Quite simply: Yes.
Think about it: Doing business in the Philippines was once considered too risky—the rules were too opaque and they were constantly changing. A person shaking your hand one day may pick your pocket the next.
Now, with a level playing field, and clear and consistent rules, confidence in our economy is growing. Investments are pouring in, jobs are being created, and a virtuous cycle has begun—where empowered consumers buy more products, and businesses hire more people so they can expand to keep up with the growing demand.
Prudent spending has allowed us to plug the leaks in the system, and improved tax collection has increased revenues. Every peso collected is properly spent on roads, on vaccines, on classrooms and chairs—spent on our future.
We have fixed the system by which we build roads, bridges, and buildings—they now go where they are truly needed. Our roads are properly paved; products, services, and people reach their destination quickly and with greater ease.
Because of good governance in agriculture, food production has increased, prices don’t fluctuate, wages are stable, and our economy is stronger.
It is true: A resilient and dynamic economy resting on the foundations of good governance is the best defense against global uncertainty. We have been dismantling the obstacles to progress for two years, and now, our success can only be limited by how hard we are willing to work for it.
We achieved all these things even as countries around the world were surmounting their own challenges.
We exist in this world with others. And so it is only appropriate that even as we attend to our own problems, we remain vigilant about some events that affect us.
The situation in Bajo de Masinloc has been the source of much discussion. Chinese fishermen entered out territory. Our patrol boats intercepted some of their ships, which contain endangered species. As your leader, it is my duty to uphold the laws of our country. And as I did, tension ensued: on one hand, the Chinese had their Nine-Dash Line Theory laying claim to almost the entire West Philippine Sea; on the other, there was the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea, which recognized the rights of many countries, including that of China itself.
We demonstrated utmost forbearance in dealing with this issue. As a sign of our goodwill, we replaced our navy cutter with a civilian boat as soon as we could. We chose not to respond to their media’s harangues. I do not think it excessive to ask that our rights be respected, just as we respect their rights as a fellow nation in a world we need to share.
There are those who say that we should let Bajo de Masinloc go; we should avoid the trouble. But if someone entered your yard and told you he owned it, would you agree? Would it be right to give away that which is rightfully ours?
And so I ask for solidarity from our people regarding this issue. Let us speak with one voice. Help me relay to the other side the logic of our stand.
This is not a simple situation, and there can be no simple solutions. Rest assured: we are consulting experts, every leader of our nation, our allies—even those on the other side—to find a resolution that is acceptable to all.
With every step on the straight and righteous path, we plant the seeds of change. But there are still some who are commited to uprooting our work. Even as I speak, there are those who have gathered in a room, whispering to each other, dissecting each word I utter, looking for any pretext to attack me with tomorrow. These are also the ones who say, “Let go of the past. Unite. Forgive and forget so we can move forward as a people.”
I find this unacceptable. Shall we simply forgive and forget the ten years that were taken from us? Do we simply forgive and forget the farmers who piled up massive debts because of a government that insisted on importing rice, while we could have reinvested in them and their farmlands instead? Shall we forgive and forget the family of the police officer who died while trying to defend himself against guns with nothing but a nightstick?
Shall we forgive and forget the orphans of the 57 victims of the massacre in Maguindanao? Will their loved ones be brought back to life by forgiving and forgetting? Do we forgive and forget everything that was ever done to us, to sink us into a rotten state? Do we forgive and forget to return to the former status quo? My response: Forgiveness is possible; forgetting is not. If offenders go unpunished, society’s future suffering is guaranteed.
True unity and reconciliation can only emanate from genuine justice. Justice is the plunder case leveled against our former president; justice that she receives her day in court and can defend herself against the accusations leveled against her. Justice is what we witnessed on the 29th of May. On that day, we proved that justice can prevail, even when confronted with an opponent in a position of power. On that day, a woman named Delsa Flores, in Panabo, Davao del Norte, said “It is actually possible: a single law governing both a simple court reporter like me, and the Chief Justice.” It is possible for the scales to be set right, and for even the rich and powerful to be held accountable.
This is why, to the next Chief Justice, much will be demanded of you by our people. We have proven the impossible possible; now, our task is reform towards true justice that continues even after our administration. There are still many flaws in the system, and repairing these will not be easy. I am aware of the weight of your mandate. But this is what our people tasked us to do; this is the duty we have sworn to do; and this what we must do.
Our objectives are simple: If you are innocent, you will appear in court with confidence, because you will be found not guilty. But if you are guilty, you will be made to pay for your sins, no matter who you are.
I would also like to thank Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, for accepting the challenges that came with the position. She could have turned down the responsibility, citing her retirement and volunteering others for the job—but her desire to serve the nation won out. This generosity was met with a grenade in her home. Ma’am, more challenges will come; in time, perhaps, they’ll give you the same monikers they’ve given me—a greedy capitalist who is also a communist headed towards dictatorship because of the reforms we have been working so hard to achieve.
I thank you for your work, and I thank you for being an instrument of true justice—especially at the height of the impeachment trial. I thank, too, the two institutions that form our Congress—the Senate and the House of Representatives—which were weighed and measured by the Filipino people, and were not found wanting.
To everyone that ensured that our justice system worked well: You weathered many challenges and criticism, and even misgivings; couple that with the anxiety over possible failure, of having to face the ire of those you went up against, after a mission lost. But you did not falter. The Filipino people were relying on you, and you proved that their faith was rightly placed. You did not fail the nation; you further brightened our futures.
Let me remind you that our fight does not end with the ousting of one corrupt official, with the suspension of an anomalous contract, or the systemic overhauling of a government office. I call upon Congress to pass our amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act, that we may strengthen our measures to hold the corrupt accountable.
Every town that has and will be lighted; the highways, bridges, airports, trains, and ports we have built; fair contracts; the peace in our cities and our rural areas; every classroom, desk, and book assigned to a child; every Filipino granted a future—all of these, we have achieved in just two years. We have advanced an agenda of reform in these last two years, a marked contrast to our suffering in the decade that came before.
If we share the same ideals and work for the same goals, then we are bound by a shared agenda. But if you are against us, it only follows that you are against what we are doing. Whoever stands against the agenda for genuine change—can the people really count them as being on their side?
Elections are fast approaching. You, our Bosses, will be our compass. I ask you, “Boss, what direction will we take? Do we continue treading the straight and righteous path, or do we double-back—towards the crooked road that leads to a dead end?”
I remember well those early days when we first started working. I was keenly aware of the heavy burdens we would face. And I was among those who wondered: Is it possible to fix a system this broken?
This is what I have learned in the 25 months I have served as your president: nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible because if the Filipino people see that they are the only Bosses of their government, they will carry you, they will guide you, they themselves will lead you towards meaningful change. It isn’t impossible for the Philippines to become the first country in Southeast Asia to provide free vaccines for the rotavirus. It isn’t impossible for the Philippines to stand strong and say, “The Philippines is for Filipinos—and we are ready to defend it.” It is not impossible for the Filipino who for so long had kept his head bowed upon meeting a foreigner—it is not impossible for the Filipino, today, to stand with his head held high and bask in the admiration of the world. In these times—is it not great to be a Filipino?
Last year, I asked the Filipino people: Thank those who have done their share in bringing about positive change in society. The obstacles we encountered were no laughing matter, and I believe it is only right that we thank those who shouldered the burdens with us, in righting the wrongs brought about by bad governance.
To all the members of my Cabinet: my sincerest thanks. The Filipino people are lucky that there are those of you ready to sacrifice your private and much quieter lives in order to serve the public, even if you know that you will receive smaller salaries, dangers, and constant criticism in return.
And I hope that they will not mind if I take this opportunity to thank them today: to Father Catalino Arevalo and Sister Agnes Guillen, who have nurtured and allowed my spiritual life to flourish, especially in times of greatest difficulty: my deepest gratitude.
This is my third SONA; only three remain. We are entering the midpoint of our administration. Last year, I challenged you to fully turn your back on the culture of negativism; to take every chance to uplift your fellow Filipinos.
From what we are experiencing today, it is clear: you succeeded. You are the wellspring of change. You said: it is possible.
I stand before you today as the face of a government that knows you as its Boss and draws its strength from you. I am only here to narrate the changes that you yourselves have made possible.
This is why, to all the nurses, midwives, or doctors who chose to serve in the barrios; to each new graduate who has chosen to work for the government; to each Filipino athlete who proudly carries the flag in any corner of the globe, to each government official who renders true and honest service: You made this change possible.
So whenever I come face to face with a mother who tells me, “Thank you, my child has been vaccinated,” I respond: You made this happen.
Whenever I come face to face with a child who tells me, “Thank you for the paper, for the pencils, for the chance to study,” I respond: You made this happen.
Whenever I come face to face with an OFW who tells me, “Thank you, because I can once again dream of growing old in the Philippines,” I respond: You made this happen.
Whenever I come face to face with a Filipino who says, “Thank you, I thought that we would never have electricity in our sitio. I never imagined living to see the light,” I respond: You made this happen.
Whenever I come face to face with any farmer, teacher, pilot, engineer, driver, call center agent, or any normal Filipino; to every Juan and Juana dela Cruz who says, ”Thank you for this change,” I respond: You made this happen.
I repeat: what was once impossible is now possible. I stand before you today and tell you: this is not my SONA. You made this happen. This is the SONA of the Filipino nation.
The Self-respect of Nations: The Philippines and China
by W. Scott Thompson and Oliver Geronilla
Somewhere in the first of Trollope’s 6-volume set Palliser Novels, “the Prime Minister,” the Duke of Omnium, also the premier, tells his usually silly wife that—and we paraphrase—nations are like people: they elicit (the) respect from outside powers to about the same extent that they do so on a personal basis—according to how much respect they give themselves.
We respect countries and people who respect themselves. Costa Rica is truly a tiny country, but it eliminated its military, developed peaceful relations with its neighbors, and is considerably the most prestigious country in its neighborhood. Botswana, by far the richest black state in Africa, even used its adversity during a drought to make itself still richer, but had a unified proud country pulling with it.
Recently, we have been reading with great interest the debate in the Philippine press of how to deal with China. One of us has been reading this sort of thing for 42 years. This is in fact the most substantive debate on foreign policy we have seen here.
But we are bothered by a few things. Let’s get some facts straight first. The Philippines is not a ‘small’ country and it is not a ‘powerless’ country. It’s going beyond even being a middle-sized country as it hits the 100million mark.
Now, in all respects China is bigger, richer, and far more militarily powerful. So? What else is new? Throughout history smaller countries have had to find ways of dealing with stronger ones. The only thing the smaller country must never do is make a big deal about how powerless it is. For by such it becomes far weaker, even pathetic, in the eyes of the stronger.
How should the smaller power act? There are some old shoes to use. Of course one constantly reiterates the sovereign equality of nations. It’s a bit meaningless if one is talking about navies, but it has a basis in history and law, at least back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. It means that there is a prima facie basis for each power, no matter what size, respecting the others.
Now, to be sure, China has been ascending up a steep ladder. Britain and then America, as they expanded, found ‘natural and historical’ rights to establish coaling stations (Shanghai, Bombay) that became colonies or extra-territorial enclaves. Empire Britain became. America found ‘friends’ to rent all over the world as cold war fever swept over it, and poor countries like Ethiopia sold rights to its Asmara high ground, where a vital communications link was built to bring the world together—under American hegemony.
China historically has not gone in that way. It never established a world empire. It thinks regionally–whence its invasion of Vietnam in late 1978, to ‘teach it a lesson,’ though it seems like it was China that got taught a lesson. Yet here’s the rub for the Philippines: It’s right in the way of China’s claim to maritime supremacy in its region.
Manila is right to build up its navy to minimize the danger. It is wrong to go around feeling sorry for itself. No one respects that. But there is precedent. One of us, in September, will be publishing a long and authorized biography of former President Fidel Ramos, in which a major player is General Jose Almonte, himself quite a card to play, as the region’s foremost and smartest strategist. FVR assigned Joal the job of dealing with China over the first real eruption of major problems with China over the Spratly islands. Joal told us—and we are paraphrasing from the forthcoming biography—that he didn’t even believe in FVR’s assignment—to find a solution. Joal understands power; he didn’t believe he had any cards to play. But he rallied the region, even consulting Koreans and other nearby non-Asean powers. He put China on the defensive and they began asserting that they were not a traditional great power; they weren’t trying to use might over right. Ha!
General Almonte, to his own astonishment, achieved his purpose. The Chinese backed down. Of course there’s a lot of water over the dam since then—and a far larger Chinese navy. What worked then must be tried harder today. Insist in all fora on the ‘equality of nations;’ work the region as a whole. Differences among Asean countries must be eliminated, as they play right into the Chinese hand.
Above all, achieve coherence at home. Nothing strengthens a country more than the integrity of its political system and a growing economy. Respect your president—give him the free hand he needs. So far he’s been a winner abroad. Does China want to look like a bully against a freely-elected (and overwhelmingly supported) young and popular leader?
Fight all you want domestically for advantage (but Ampatuan methods are ruled out), but as a nation be as one. Foreign policy begins at the water’s edge, we always said.
Yet there are times when might makes right—for a time. Still the picture of the beleaguered exiled emperor of Ethiopia at the League o Nations, after Italy defeated his forces in 1935, appealing on the grounds of sovereignty and dignity of his country, is one of the most popular of the 20th century.
If the Philippines doesn’t want to see its sovereignty violated, it must be wholly united, not by asking for pity on grounds of its powerlessness, but on grounds of its rights as a united political entity. This time it’s going to be a lot more difficult. The Foreign Secretary looks like he’s got it right—and he’s a man of dignity who had to work for years in Washington with a weak hand to play; but he did it well. Get Behind Secretary Del Rosario. Be two nations if you will: a squabbling one internally (though the less so the better) but a coherent people with respect to foreign policy.
The Philippines has never had much interest in statecraft—compare Thailand. Manila felt for too long it was protected by the US. Even now it is putting wordly faith in its mutual defense treaty with Washington. That has to get substantive. Call a conference. Put America more and more on the spot. Card by card build your hand. The Philippines can’t stand up to China in a military conflict, but the Philippines can make that the least likely of scenarios. In fact, we see the Philippines as having a quite strong hand in law of the sea, ASEAN unity, history, international law, and international prestige (the latter as applied to China as it wishes to present itself internationally). Go for it!
Oliver Geronilla is a language instructor based in the City of Dasmarinas . W. Scott Thompson, D.Phil. served four presidents in the United States and is professor emeritus of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston . He lives in Washington and Makati City and is the author of 14 books on international relations and Southeast Asian politics.
President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2011 (English translation)
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Chief Justice Renato Corona and the honorable Justices of the Supreme Court; honorable members of the diplomatic corps; members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; Local Government Officials; members of our Cabinet; members of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police; to my fellow servants of the Filipino people;
And to my beloved countrymen, my Bosses:
I stood before you during my inauguration and promised: we would do away with the use of the wang-wang. This one gesture has become the symbol of change, not just in our streets, but even in our collective attitude.
Over the years, the wang-wang had come to symbolize abuse of authority. It was routinely used by public officials to violate traffic laws, inconveniencing ordinary motorists—as if only the time of the powerful few, and no one else’s, mattered. Instead of behaving like public servants, they acted like kings. This privilege was extended to their cronies and patrons, who moved along the streets as if they were aristocracy, indifferent to those who were forced to give way and were left behind. Abusing privilege despite promising to serve—this is the wang-wang mindset; this is the mindset of entitlement.
They had no right to do this. The law authorizes only the President, the Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, and police vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances to use sirens in the fulfillment of their official duties—no one else. Yet the flagrant abuse we bore witness to prompts us to ask: if they felt it their privilege to flout the simplest traffic laws, how could we expect them not to help themselves to a share of projects funded by the Filipino people?
Do you want the corrupt held accountable? So do I. Do you want to see the end of wang-wang, both on the streets and in the sense of entitlement that has led to the abuse that we have lived with for so long? So do I. Do you want to give everyone a fair chance to improve their lot in life? So do I.
We have fought against the wang-wang, and our efforts have yielded results. Just this year, the number of Filipinos who experienced hunger has come down. Self-rated hunger has gone down from 20.5% in March to 15.1% this June—equivalent to a million Filipino families who used to go hungry, but who now say they eat properly every day.
As for business, who would have thought that the stock market would reach seven record highs in the past year? At one time, we thought that for the PSE Index to reach 4,000 points would be, at best, a fluke. We now routinely exceed this threshold.
Our once low credit ratings have now been upgraded by Moody’s, Standard and Poors, Fitch, and Japan Credit Ratings Agency—in recognition of our prudent use of funds and creative financial management. These improved credit ratings mean lower interest on our debts. Our innovative fiscal approach has saved taxpayers 23 billion pesos in the first four months of this year. This is enough to cover the 2.3 million conditional cash transfer beneficiaries for the entire year.
Let me remind you: in the nine and a half years before we were elected into office, our credit ratings were upgraded once, and downgraded six times by the different credit ratings agencies. Compare this to the four upgrades we have achieved in the single year we have been in office. This was no small feat, considering that the upgrades came after ratings agencies have grown considerably more conservative in their assessments, especially in the wake of criticism they received after the recent American financial crisis. But while they have downgraded the ratings of other countries, they have upgraded ours, so that we are now just one notch below investment grade. Our economic team is hard at work to sustain the momentum.
And allow me to share more good news from the Department of Energy: having rid the DOE of wang-wang, we have revived the confidence of investors in our energy sector. 140 companies, all ready to participate in the exploration and strengthening of our oil and natural gas resources, can attest to this. Compare this to the last energy contracting round in 2006, which saw the participation of only 35 companies. Just last Friday, a new contract was signed for a power plant to be constructed in the Luzon grid, so that by 2014, our country will have a cheaper, more reliable source of energy.
There is confidence and there is hope; the government is now fulfilling its promises. And I cannot help but remember a woman I spoke with during one of my first house-to-house campaigns. She lamented: “It won’t matter who wins these elections. Nothing will change. I was poor when our leaders campaigned, I am poor now that they are in office, and I will still be poor when they step down.” This is a grievance echoed by many: “Our leaders didn’t care about us then, our leaders don’t care about us now, and our leaders will not care about us tomorrow.”
Given the persistence of the wang-wang attitude, wasn’t their sentiment justified? This was the attitude that allowed helicopters to be bought as if they were brand new, but had in fact already been extensively used. This was the attitude that allowed GOCC officials, like those in the Philippine National Construction Corporation, to pay themselves millions of pesos in bonuses, even as they failed to render decent service and plunged their respective agencies deeper into debt. Before they stepped down from their positions, the former heads of the PNCC gifted themselves with two hundred and thirty-two million pesos. Their franchise had lapsed in 2007; their collections should have been remitted to the national government. They did not do this, and in fact even took advantage of their positions: the bonuses they allotted to themselves in the first 6 months of 2010 was double the amount of their bonuses from 2005-2009. Yet they had the audacity to award themselves midnight bonuses, when they had already drowned their agencies in debt.
To end the wang-wang culture in government, we employed zero-based budgeting to review programs. For this year and the last, zero-based budgeting has allowed us to end many wasteful programs.
For example, we uncovered and stopped an ill-advised plan to dredge Laguna Lake. We would have borrowed 18.7 billion pesos to remove 12 million cubic meters of silt—which would have re-accumulated within three years, even before the debt could be fully paid. We also uncovered a food-for-school program with no proper targeting of beneficiaries, and other initiatives that were funded without apparent results. All of these were discontinued, and the funds rechanneled to more effective programs.
The budget is the clearest manifestation of the straight path upon which we tread. I say to those who would lead us astray: if you will further disadvantage the poor, do not even think about it. If all you would do is to fill your own pockets, do not even think about it. If it is not for the benefit of the Filipino people, do not even think about it.
I wish we could say that we had completely eliminated the wang-wang attitude, but in some parts of our consciousness, it still persists.
It still exists in the private sector. According to the BIR, we have around 1.7 million self-employed and professional taxpayers: lawyers, doctors, businessmen who paid a total of 9.8 billion pesos in 2010. This means that each of them paid only an average of 5,783 pesos in income tax—and if this is true, then they each must have earned only 8,500 pesos a month, which is below the minimum wage. I find this hard to believe.
Today we can see that our taxes are going where they should, and therefore there is no reason not to pay the proper taxes. I say to you: it’s not just the government, but our fellow citizens, who are cheated out of the benefits that these taxes would have provided.
We are holding accountable—and we will continue to hold accountable—those who practice this culture of entitlement in all government offices, as there are still some who think they can get away with it. A district in Region 4B, for example, began a project worth 300 million pesos, well beyond the 50 million pesos that district engineers can sign off on their own. But they could not leave such a potentially large payday alone.
So they cut the project up into components that would not breach the 50 million peso limit that would have required them to seek clearance from the regional and central offices. They tried to keep this system going. And often, since lump-sum funding was being used for the projects, no questions were asked about the plans or project details. They could have been spinning webs and they would have still been given the funds, so long as they knew someone in power.
Secretary Babes Singson did not let them get away with this. He removed the district engineer from his post, and suspended the awarding of the project in an effort to uncover other anomalies that may have happened. A thorough investigation of all those involved in the case is underway; we will blacklist all contractors proven to have engaged in foul play.
Because the project had to be delayed, Filipinos who would have otherwise benefited from them are still made to face unnecessary inconveniences.
These anomalies are not limited to Region 4B. We are putting an end to them. We are eliminating the patronage politics that had been prevalent in DPWH, and replacing it with a culture in which merit prevails. All projects must have work programs; we will require those involved in projects to submit well thought out plans for consideration, so that each project complements the other. We have also instituted an honest and transparent bidding process to provide equal opportunity to interested contractors.
Because of this, we have already saved 2.5 billion pesos, and expect to save 6 to 7 billion by the end of this year. The most important thing, however, is that now, we can count on well-paved roads—as opposed to the fragile pothole-ridden paths that our people had grown used to. Once, we believed that the system in the DPWH was impossible to fix; but look—it’s possible, and we’re fixing it.
Even in agriculture, the culture of wang-wang once persisted. Before we came into office in 2010, the Philippines imported 2.3 million metric tons of rice, which was already a million metric tons more than the 1.3 million that we needed. We even had to pay extra for warehouses to store the rice acquired through excessive importation.
How many years have we been over-importing rice? Many Filipinos thought that there was nothing we could do about it.
We proved them wrong in the span of a year. What was once an estimated yearly shortage of 1.3 million metric tons is down to 660,000—that’s almost half of the original amount. Even with our buffer of 200,000 metric tons as contingency against natural calamities, it is still significantly less than what was once the norm.
Our success in this sector was not brought about by mere luck. This is simply the result of doing things right: using the most effective types of seedlings, and careful and efficient spending on irrigation. In the past year, we irrigated an additional 11,611 hectares of fields, not to mention the near 212,000 hectares of land we were able to rehabilitate. The result: a 15.6 percent increase in rice production.
We envision two things: first, an end to over-importation that only serves to benefit the selfish few. Second: we want rice self-sufficiency—that the rice served on every Filipino’s dinner table is planted here, harvested here, and purchased here.
Let us look back on the situations of many of our policemen a year ago. The average salary of a common PO1 in Metro Manila is around 13,000 pesos. Around 4,000 pesos or about a third of their salaries goes directly to paying the rent. Another third goes to food, and the final third is all that is left for electricity and water bills, commuting, tuition fees, medicine, and everything else. Ideally, their salaries match their expenses—but this is not always the case. Those whose salaries are not enough would probably resort to taking out some loans. What happens when the interest piles up and they end up having to spend even more of their salaries? Will they still be able to do the right thing when tempted with an opportunity to make a quick buck?
This is why, this July, we have followed through on the housing promise we made in February. We were able to award 4,000 Certificates of Entitlement to Lot Allocation. This is only the first batch of the 21,800 houses we will have constructed by the end of the year. Awarding our men in uniform these houses will turn their 4,000 peso rent expense into an initial 200 peso per month payment for a house that is all theirs. The cash they once paid for rent can now be used for other needs.
I hear that there are still more than a thousand houses left, so for our policemen and our soldiers who have not yet submitted their papers, this is the last call for this batch of houses. But do not worry, because this housing program will continue next year, covering even more people and more regions. The NHA is already preparing the sites for housing projects in Visayas and Mindanao, with an expanded list of beneficiaries that will also include employees of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and of the Bureau of Fire Protection.
Speaking of security, does enhanced security not also enhance our national pride? There was a time when we couldn’t appropriately respond to threats in our own backyard. Now, our message to the world is clear: What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue.
At times I wonder if the stories about some of our past stand-offs are true—that when cannons were aimed at our marines, they could only reciprocate by cutting down a coconut tree, painting it black, and aiming it back. True or not, that time is over. Soon, we will be seeing capability upgrades and the modernization of the equipment of our armed forces. At this very moment, our very first Hamilton Class Cutter is on its way to our shores. We may acquire more vessels in the future—these, in addition to helicopters and patrol crafts, and the weapons that the AFP, PNP, and DOJ will buy in bulk to get a significant discount. This goes to show how far we can go with good governance; we can buy equipment at good prices, without having to place envelopes in anyone’s pockets.
We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours. We are also studying the possibility of elevating the case on the West Philippine Sea to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, to make certain that all involved nations approach the dispute with calm and forbearance.
Our efforts to enhance the capabilities of our men and women in uniform are already succeeding. In the first six months of 2010, we had 1,010 cases of car and motorcycle theft. Compare that to the 460 cases in the first six months of 2011. Unfortunately, it is the one or two high-profile cases that make the headlines, and not the bigger picture—the fact that there is a large drop in car and motorcycle thefts, and that we have returned a higher percentage of stolen cars to their rightful owners.
And here is another example of positive change in law enforcement. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was signed in 2003. Unfortunately, because the government did not properly implement it, only 29 individuals were convicted in a period of seven years. In just one year, we have breached that amount, convicting 31 human traffickers. Perhaps, this is the “sea change” that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was referring to; and because of this change, the Philippines has been taken off the Tier 2 Watchlist of their Trafficking in Persons Report. If we had not been removed from this watchlist, the assistance we have been receiving from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others, would have been jeopardized.
Allow me to talk about jobs now. Our foremost pledge to the Filipino people was to create more jobs, and we have delivered. In April 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8%; in April 2011, it was at 7.2%.
To put things into perspective: We must all remember that the ranks of the unemployed represent a moving target. Every year, thousands of fresh graduates join the ranks of job hunters. Last year, the number of unemployed Filipinos in our labor force grew after many of our countrymen who earned a temporary living from election-related jobs—the people assigned to hanging buntings, the people tasked with clearing a path for politicians in crowds of people, the drivers, and other campaign staff—were laid off. But, despite all this, our results make our success evident: one million and four hundred thousand jobs were created last year.
Before, our foremost ambition was to work in another country. Now, the Filipino can take his pick. As long as he pursues his dreams with determination and diligence, he can realize them.
The number of jobs generated in our country can only grow from here. According to the Philjobnet website, every month there are 50,000 jobs that are not filled because the knowledge and skills of job seekers do not match the needs of the companies. We will not allow this opportunity to go to waste; at this very moment, DOLE, CHED, TESDA, and DepEd are working together to address this issue. Curricula will be reviewed and analyzed to better direct them to industries that are in need of workers, and students will be guided so that they may choose courses that will arm them with the skills apt for vacant jobs.
Despite the demand for these jobs, there are still people who are being left behind. What do we do with them? First, we identified the poorest of the poor, and invested in them, because people are our greatest resource. Of the two million families registered with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, 1.6 million are already receiving their conditional cash transfers. Through the initiative and leadership of Secretary Dinky Soliman, we have been able to give much needed assistance to an average of more than 100,000 families per month. I am optimistic that we will reach our target of 1.3 million additional beneficiaries this year. With a compliance rate of 92%, millions of mothers are already getting regular check-ups at public health centers, millions of babies are being vaccinated against common diseases, and millions of school-aged children are now attending classes.
With these significant early results, I am counting on the support of the Filipino people and Congress to expand our Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Before the end of 2012, we want to invest in the future of 3 million poor families.
We are giving these poor families a chance to improve their lives, because their progress will be the country’s progress. How can they buy products and services from businesses if they do not have a proper income? When a poor father turns to crime in order to feed his family, who would he victimize, if not us? When people cannot properly take care of themselves and fall ill, do we not run the risk of getting sick as well?
We are laying down the foundations for a brighter future for the poor. For example, in the health sector: PhilHealth beneficiaries increased during elections, as the agency was used as a tool for dispensing political patronage. Today, we identify beneficiaries through the National Household Targeting System, to make sure that the 5.2 million Filipino families who benefit from PhilHealth are those who really need it.
Let us turn our attention to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The politics there have been dominated by horse-trading and transactional politics. During national elections, whoever is in power in ARMM is free to manipulate the electoral machinery in his region, ensuring that non-allies do not get votes. That Mayor or Governor then demands payment for his services come the ARMM election, and it is the administration’s turn to manipulate the electoral machinery to secure the win of their candidate.
According to the Commission on Audit, in the office of the regional governor of ARMM, eighty percent of the funds disbursed were for cash advances that cannot be justified. If those funds had not gone to waste, a child could have gone to school. Instead, we built ghost bridges to reach ghost schools where only ghost teachers went to work.
We want ARMM to experience the benefits of good governance. And so, the solution: Synchronization—candidates in ARMM will run at the same time as candidates in other parts of the country. There would be less opportunity for them to employ command votes for political patrons. The result would be fairer elections. Thank you to Congress for passing the law synchronizing ARMM with the national elections.
And why do we need to postpone the elections? Because, in their desire to return to or retain power, many are prepared to engage in corrupt practices just to win again. Imagine if we had listened to the critics, and allowed the election to proceed under these circumstances. We would have perpetuated the endless cycle of electoral fraud and official abuse that has led ARMM to become one of the poorest regions in the country.
I do not doubt that the reforms we are putting in place will yield concrete results. When we talk about the straight and righteous path, we talk about that new road that was built in Barangay Bagumbayan in Sta. Maria, Laguna. When we say clean government, we are talking about the clean water that residents in Barangay Poblacion in Ferrol, Romblon now enjoy. When we refer to the light of change, we also refer to the electricity that now powers light bulbs in Barangay San Marcos in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. This is happening in many other places, and we will make it happen everywhere in our country.
Government agencies are now focused on realizing this; they are working together to creatively solve the problems that have long plagued our country.
Have we not had flooding problems, which we know are caused by the incessant and illegal cutting down of trees? The old solution: A tree-planting photo opportunity, whose sole beneficiaries are politicians who want to look good. They plant trees, but they do not ensure that the trees would remain standing after they leave.
One of the possible solutions we are studying is to make the stewardship of these trees beneficial to communities. They will be given coffee and cacao seeds to plant. While they wait for harvest, they will receive stipends for safeguarding the trees planted to mitigate flooding. We are looking at informal settlers, who are currently crammed into our cities, as possible beneficiaries of this program. We will be investing in the people, even as we invest in the environment.
Who could have thought that little over a year ago, we could accomplish this? Today, we dream; one day soon, these dreams will be a reality.
This same creativity is in display with the innovations that are already being implemented. We have developed low-cost traps that kill mosquito larvae, probably contributing to the nearly fourteen percent decrease in dengue incidents; coconut coir fibers that are normally just disposed of have been used as a cost-effective way to strengthen our roads; we have landslide sensors that warn when soil erosion has reached dangerous levels; we have developed early flood warning systems for riverside communities. All of these are products of Filipino creativity.
DOST and UP have even teamed up to develop a prototype monorail system, which could potentially provide a home grown mass transport solution that would cost us as little as 100 million pesos per kilometer, much cheaper than the current cost of similar mass transit systems. The potential savings could result in more kilometers of cheap transport, decongesting our urban centers and allowing rural communities easier access to centers of commerce and industry.
Let me reiterate: These proposals were developed by Filipinos for Filipinos. Do you remember the time when we were unable to even dream of these kinds of projects? I am telling you now: We can dream about them, we are capable of achieving them, and we will achieve them. Isn’t it great to be a Filipino living in these times?
All of these things we are doing will be wasted if we do not do something to end the culture of corruption.
To my colleagues in public service, from those at the top and to every corner of the bureaucracy: Do we not feel the pride that working in government now brings? That, now, we are proud to be identified as workers in government? Will we waste this honor?
I call on our Local Government Units: Those of you who are in the best position to understand the needs of your constituents can expect greater freedom and empowerment. But we trust that in providing for your communities, you will remain committed to the straight path, and will not lose sight of the interest of the whole nation.
For instance, there are some municipalities that want to tax the electricity transmission lines that run through their jurisdictions. Although this will augment local coffers, the rest of the Filipino people will have to deal with higher electricity rates. Let us try to balance the interests of our constituencies with that of the nation as a whole.
It is imperative that our programs remain in sync, because the progress of the entire country will also redound to progress for your communities. Let us do away with forward planning that only looks as far as the next election, and think of the long-term national good.
Ultimately, we have to unite and work together towards this progress. I thank the Congress for passing laws regarding GOCC Governance, ARMM Synchronization, Lifeline Electricity Rates Extension, Joint Congressional Power Commission Extension, Children and Infants’ Mandatory Immunization, and Women Night Workers.
Last year, Congress demonstrated their support by approving the budget even before the year ended. The timely passage of the budget allowed projects to be implemented more quickly. Tomorrow we will deliver to Congress our budget proposal for 2012. I look forward once again to its early passage so that we can build on our current momentum.
We have already made progress, but we must remember: This is only the beginning, and there is much left for us to do. Allow me to present to Congress some of the measures that will bring us closer to the fulfillment of our pledge to the nation.
We aim to give due compensation to the victims of Martial Law; to grant our house help the salaries and benefits that they deserve; and to improve the system that awards pensions to our retired soldiers. We likewise support the expansion of the scope of scholarships granted by DOST to outstanding yet underprivileged students; the advancement of universal quality healthcare; the responsible management of the environment; and the formation of facilities that will ensure the safety of our citizens during times of great need and calamity.
Our agenda also includes the development of BuCor, NBI, NEA, and PTV 4, so that, instead of lagging behind the times, they will better fulfill their mandate of public service.
Not everything we want to do will be explained today, but I invite you to read the budget message, which contains a more comprehensive plan for the coming year.
Some of my critics say that I take this campaign against corruption personally. It’s true: doing what’s right is personal. Making people accountable—whoever they may be—is personal. It should be personal for all of us, because we have all been victimized by corruption.
What is wrong remains wrong, regardless of how long it has been allowed to persist. We cannot simply let it pass. If we ignore the crimes of the past, they will continue to haunt us. And if we do not hold people accountable, then they will do it again and again.
The truth is, we have uncovered so many anomalies. In PAGCOR, the previous management apparently spent one billion pesos on coffee alone. At one hundred pesos per cup, that would be ten million cups of coffee over the last several years. Where did all that coffee go? Who drank it? Perhaps we can find the people who consumed all that coffee and ask if they have been able to sleep in the last few years.
When the new Ombudsman, former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, takes office, we will have an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office, not one that condones the corruption and abuses in government. I expect that this year, we will have filed our first major case against the corrupt and their accomplices. And these will be real cases, with strong evidence and clear testimonies, which will lead to the punishment of the guilty.
We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals. I have utmost confidence that the DOJ is fulfilling its crucial role in jailing offenders, especially in cases regarding tax evasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, graft and corruption, and extrajudicial killings.
We are not leaving anything to chance; good governance yields positive results. Think about it: We have realized our promise of providing the public with the services that it needs and implementing programs to help the poor without having to raise our taxes.
This has always been the plan: to level the playing field; to stop the abuse of authority; and to ensure that the benefits of growth are available to the greatest number.
We have put an end to the culture of entitlement, to wang-wang: along our roads, in government, in our society as a whole. This will bring confidence that will attract business; this will also ensure that the people’s money is put in its rightful place: Funding for infrastructure that will secure the sustained growth of the economy, which will then give rise to jobs, and public service that guarantees that no one will be left behind. More opportunities for livelihood will be opened by tourism; the strengthening of our agriculture sector will ensure that every Filipino will have food on his table. We will invest on those who were once neglected. All this will create a cycle wherein all available jobs are filled, and where businesses flourish through the empowerment of their consumers.
I am aware that, until now, there are still a few who complain about our style of governance. But you have seen our style, and its ensuing results. You have seen their style, and, especially, where that took us. Anyone with their eyes open can clearly see which is right.
We are steering our government in a clear direction. A country where opportunity is available; where those in need are helped; where everyone’s sacrifices are rewarded; and where those who do wrong are held accountable.
I remember a woman warning me during the campaign: “Noy, be careful, you will be stepping on many toes.”
Sometimes, I do worry about what I am doing. But I am heartened because you are with me, and we stand on the side of what is right.
I thank the priests and bishops who have continued to dialogue with us, like Cardinals Rosales and Vidal. Cardinal Rosales and I may not be the closest of friends, but I believe that he did all that he could to reduce the tensions between the church and the government. The election of Archbishop Palma, defender of human rights and of the environment, as head of the CBCP only bolsters my confidence that the state and the clergy will be able to engage each other in a positive manner. I likewise thank my Cabinet, who have sacrificed their personal comfort to fulfill the national agenda. I give special mention to PAGASA, who now truly delivers reliable advice and warnings during times of calamity.
And to those who may resist the change we are trying to bring about, this I say to you: I know what I must do, and my personal interests are nothing when compared to the interests of the nation. There are many of us who want what is right for this country; and there are more of us than you. To those of you who would turn back the tide of reform: you will not succeed.
To those who have chosen to tread the straight and righteous path alongside us: it is you who created this change, and it is you who will bequeath our success to your children. To the jeepney driver plying his route; to the teachers and students coming home from class; to the artists whose work inspires our sense of nationhood; to our policemen, our soldiers, our street sweepers, and our firemen; to you who work with honor, in the Philippines, in the oceans, or in other countries; our colleagues in government who stand steadfast with us, whatever province you come from, whatever party you belong to; every Filipino listening to me now—you made this happen.
You created a government that truly works for you. We still have five years left to ensure that we will not return to what once was. We will not be derailed, especially now that what we have begun has yielded so many positive results.
If you see a loophole in the system, do not take advantage of it. Let us not acquire through patronage what we can acquire through hard work. No more cheating, no more taking advantage of others, no more one-upmanship—because in the end we will all realize our shared aspirations.
Let us end the culture of negativism; let us uplift our fellow Filipinos at every opportunity. Why are there people who enjoy finding fault in our country, who find it so hard—as though it were a sin—to say something nice? Can we even remember the last time we praised a fellow Filipino?
Let us stop pulling our fellow man down. Let us put an end to our crab mentality. Let us make the effort to recognize the good that is being done.
If you see something right, do not think twice—praise it. If you see a policeman directing traffic, coatless beneath the rain—go to him and say, “Thank you.”
If you fall sick, and you see your nurse caring for you, when she could easily be treating foreigners for a higher salary—say, “Thank you.”
Before you leave school for home, approach your teacher who chose to invest in your future—say, “Thank you.”
If you chance upon your local leader on a road that was once riddled with holes, but is now smooth and sturdy—go to him and say, “Thank you, for the change you have brought.”
And so, to the Filipino nation, my Bosses who have steered us toward this day: Thank you very much for the change that is now upon us.
The Philippines and the Filipino people are, finally, truly alive.
Presentation of the Executive Agenda 2010-2013
Note: The following is the Executive Agenda presented by Hon. Mayor Helen C. De Castro before the Sangguniang Bayan of Bulan during its Inaugural Session on July 5, 2010 at the Sangguniang Bayan Session Hall. (PIO Bulan)
Presentation of the Executive Agenda
SB Session Hall
July 5, 2010/ Monday
EXECUTIVE AGENDA 2010-2013
By Mayor Helen C. De Castro
Honorable Vice-Mayor and Presiding Officer Marnellie Robles
Honorable Members of this August Council
Honorable Barangay Officials
Heads of Offices of the Local Government Unit
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good morning to all of you!
It is with honor and pleasure that I congratulate the Honorable Vice-Mayor and the Members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Bulan.
Today, the just concluded political exercise had given us the fresh mandate to lead our people for the next three years. I am deeply elated by the warm trust and confidence. We venture into a new beginning for our Municipal Government. And it is us, the new officials of this beloved town who will be instruments in ushering in that new beginning.
Tradition has it that as we start our work as the new officials of Bulan, it is necessary that we first meet, and set down in fundamental terms the basic blueprints for the next three years. These fundamental principles of local governance shall guide and direct our actions. It is necessary that we should be able to work in solidarity.
It has been mandated by law that the Office of the Local Chief Executive, or the Mayor, and that of the Sangguniang Bayan, as a collegial body, are co-equal in power and authority. According to law, one cannot do without the other. It is my firm belief that collaboration and harmony, whether constructive or critical, between these two offices, must always work for the betterment and welfare of our community. Even ideologies or political differences must not be obstacles with what we want to achieve or accomplish. Even within a deliberative body like the Sangguniang Bayan, your discussions and debates, your opinions and views, your political differences and affiliations, can be worked out to produce a syntheses of ideas and plans that can be concretized into policies, programs and projects. Our people must not suffer or be sacrificed just because we differ in our views. We are supposed to be held together by our desire to serve Bulan. The Executive Department shall heavily rely and depend upon your ideas, crafted into legislations, which we pray shall be great in quality, pro-active, pro-poor and pro-peace.
If I were to be asked as a re-electionist mayor, all I want is that we shall be able to help realize the vision for our beloved community – a safe, peaceful, progressive place to live in. It is not an easy task however, in a growing town like ours. The challenges are multi-faceted; the tasks enormous, the efforts needed are great. But it shall all depend upon ourselves as leaders and stewards of Bulan. We are here for the next three years to keep, protect and take care of this community. It ought to be our political philosophy that while we have the privilege of power and authority, we are also servants and stewards of our people. And many of our people are expecting much from us.
Bulan, being a premier, first-class town in Sorsogon must continue in its eminence as a model community. We have been looked up to by many of our neighbor communities. But more importantly, Bulan has a bigger number of souls with more needs to take care of.
Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen, I am respectfully setting down before you our three –year Executive Agenda, which shall serve as the bases of our development plans. And this shall need the necessary legislative support. We are fortunate, that in this my third term, we shall be having the Community-based Monitoring System (CBMS) and the State of Local Governance Report (SLGR) and the data therein shall be guides for all of us in both the Executive and Legislative aspects.
Allow me therefore to enumerate on our three-year Agenda:
1. We shall continue all along to strengthen, improve, enhance and institutionalize the HELEN Program – Health, Education, Livelihood, Environment, Nutrition and Food. These are the major programs which include the auxiliary/component programs, we are pursuing. These wide-ranging and general scope of activities shall, in one way or another, necessitate legislation, especially in its funding and budgetary support; we are improving and streamlining our educational assistance and support to poor but deserving Bulaneno college students; we are going to build a bigger and better Bulan Health Center and Birthing Facility, and we wish to purchase a Mobile Clinic to serve our far-flung barangays;
2. We need to strengthen and improve on our Peace, Order and Public Safety programs, especially in the areas of anti-illegal drugs program, Traffic Management programs, Disaster Management and Risk-reduction Programs, and the protection of our women, children and the elderly. We shall strengthen our relationship with the Philippine National Police, and when opportunity arises in terms of funds, we shall make necessary provisions and facilities to our police, fire and force-multiplier groups;
3. We shall put more emphasis on our Economic Agenda. I believe that notwithstanding the gains we have, if our constituents do not have gainful employment, much is useless. It is an obligation that we have to look in to. In this regard, the concerns and tasks are daunting, considering our limited resources. But we shall make sure that we shall make strong steps in this area like helping our farmers and fishermen with a Revolving Fund or Capitalization Scheme to improve on their productivity; We shall institutionalize the Municipal Investment Incentive program to attract investors to our town; we shall improve on our technical-vocational training activities for the youth and women sector; strongly coordinate and network with job placement agencies;
It is our plan to institutionalize the Coastal Resource Management Programs as this is vital to the fishing industry of our municipality, through artificial reefs installations, strengthening of the Bantay-Dagat program; and plans for seaweeds production programs.
We want to provide a Bagsakan ng Bayan, or a convergence terminal for all our local products.
We intend to now construct a Poblacion Terminal for all our Tricycles, Pedicabs, and Jeepney and Aircon Vans Sector. This job sector is very important in our growing economy.
And we intend to pursue our Farm-to-Roads programs as we have been wont to do. Our Road Program has been one of the greatest assets of this incumbent Administration. These economic arteries provide the lifeline to and from our barangays. Life has been a lot easier with improved roads, better bridges and all the necessary infrastructures to help our constituents be fully engaged in economic activities, have better access to education, health and social services from the local government;
All we have to do is to be creative and be resourceful in sourcing out ways and means for these local projects.
4. It is our executive plan, that in my third and final term, we hope we shall finally be able to put and set in place a comprehensive Tourism, History and Culture Heritage Development Program. This is a legacy I wish to leave to our next set of leaders and to our people. It is an ardent dream that we can have a Bulan Heritage Museum. History and Culture is the soul of the Tourism Industry. While we have the Padaraw Festival now fully in place, we must let spring forth and let flower the beauty of our identity as a community. A political philosopher once said that our political maturity as a nation or as a community is greatly dependent on our historical maturity. Leaders are poor who have no sense of history and identity. And our people also need to be inspired and be transformed by the lessons of our local history. History is a bond that makes our present and future stronger.
In this regard, we also intend to put in place a concrete program for Poblacion Improvement as the Poblacion is the showcase of the whole town — cleaner and better-looking streets and walkways, a good marketplace and greener surroundings. We have to work hard to clean up and protect our Managa-naga River, which has been an icon of our town. There is a positive psychology in greener, cleaner surroundings, especially in the Poblacion.
5. We need a new Cemetery or Municipal Memorial Park. Our LCR data says that we have an average of 450 deaths a year. This goes along with our burgeoning population. Our cemeteries are now congested and it is time we look for and build a new one to give greater dignity to loved ones who have passed away. And this shall need your greatest support.
On top of all of these plans, we in the Executive Branch would like to inform this Honorable Body, that in line with the Executive implementations of vital ordinances and codes, I think it is necessary that we have to review the following:
A. The Bulan Revenue and Tax Code
B. The Bulan Public Market Code
C. The Bulan Integrated Traffic Management Code
D. The Agriculture and Fisheries Code of Bulan
E. The Municipal Investment Incentives Code
F. The Zoning Ordinance
The Sangguniang Bayan must also come up with the Integrated Safety Code of Bulan and an Investment and Business Code. We must review our Disaster Management Code. It is also a must that the Sangguniang Bayan must work with the Municipal Planning and Development Office in updating the Municipal Socio-Economic Profile. The MSEP is a comprehensive volume of local governance literature that is the very basis of all our development and investment efforts. We cannot do without it.
I wish to also respectfully inform you that I would like to certify as urgent legislative matter the reconstitution of the different LGU organizations like the Local Development Council, the Health Board, the School Board, the Personnel Selection Board, the Municipal Child Protection Council, the Local Peace and Order Council and all the mandated local councils necessary to immediately put in place our tasks and functions in governance.
Also, it has become imperative that with the modern methods of governance, administration and supervision and the complications of local governments, it is necessary that the executive department, together with the legislative branch, must be kept abreast of all department activities. Thus we are planning to go full computerization in our municipal government. We shall network and wire the office of the Local Chief Executive with all our departments. This will make our task of governance, easier, facile and more convenient.
I hope that with Vice-mayor Robles at the helm of this Honorable Body, there will be a new impetus for the Sangguniang Bayan. In other localities, the Sangguniang Bayan is a source of pride and honor for the community. We hope this Council shall be that.
We must have foresight in the next 20 years of governance. Bulan is fast-growing and fast-expanding. The Sangguniang Bayan must come up with a very comprehensive Urban Expansion Program from which we shall initiate our Urban Planning and Development activities.
I hope you will not begrudge me if each one of us shall keep this list as a checklist, and that we keep on checking it so that we shall be able to accomplish them.
“A Public Office is a Public Trust” so we are being constantly reminded, and as the motto of this Council goes that we have to render “Service with Integrity”. So be it.
We are looking to a very productive term of office. During the campaign period, we have promised a lot to our people, and now that we have been endowed with that privilege of service, and power, it behooves all of us to do so as a matter of gratitude to our people. It is a sacred oath, a duty, a call; we cannot turn our backs from.
Once more, congratulations to all of us. Good luck and may God bless us in our endeavors and may God bless our beloved town. //
Change or Keep The Change?
by jun asuncion
Part I: Notes of a silent traveller.
It seems that I was not alone who went home to capture the election “fever” in the Philippines. I was in Bulan for actually just two full days (May 4-5) to deliver medicines to the Sta. Remedios Charity Clinic and left for Manila in the early morning of May 6. Just two days of walking and driving around and enjoying the sights and sounds of Bulan community. I made an unscheduled visit to the Municipio to talk with Mayor Helen De Castro but she wasn’t there ( though I listened intently to her speech in Canipaan the evening I arrived; but better luck next time!). I noticed a long queue of young people on the first floor just before the mayor’s office. I supposed they were job-seekers, or there to claim what has been promised to them.
Before Bulan I was already in many places in the northern part of Luzon. That’s the reason why I said to some people there in Bulan that our town is relatively a clean town, cleaner than the other towns I saw. I used to go before 6: oo in the morning to the market and at this time you could already see some workers dusting up the main streets of Bulan. I particularly enjoy Maclane Street for its proportions: for a town, its such a long and wide street. Now that it has lamp posts on each side, one feels like being in a city. A City? Well, for a town we love there is no limit to the dreams we can dream for it. For we only desire the best for it, isn’t it? Personally, that’s the reason why I sometimes laugh about our politics because this diverts us from our most common dream for Bulan. I am for leaders who don’t miss this dream, who don’t abuse their power and do not enrich themselves at the expense of the people. It’s not about Guyala, Gotladera or De Castro but about leadership with social responsibility and conscience.
With the daily temperature of 39-39 degrees centigrade, the election day was sweltering hot, a real fever. But I have seen how the people braved the heat the whole day queuing just to give their votes. In a place where I receive the ballots per mail, read the issues in the quite of my room, make my choice in between sips of coffee and then just drop them in the next mailbox, I could only give my highest respect to those voters last May 10 who waited for hours. I especially think about those people who did not sell their votes but voted according to their convictions. I think the future of a better Philippines rests on these people- and on the political candidates who opposed this bad tradition of vote-buying. Still, it’s in opposition that change can happen.
But what is basically wrong with this tradition of vote-buying and why don’t we just tacitly consent it? In my view, money used in this context robs the people (including the politicians) of their senses. This explains all our problems.
A tradition is always hard to change, but it can be changed, and I guess that’s the point that every Bulaneño should know. We don’t need a bloody revolution for that. All that is needed is reflection and a little sacrifice. A political candidate who is proudly sure of the support of the people because of good leadership and achievements doesn’t need to buy the people, and the people who support the agenda of a politician, do not need to sell themselves. You may again blame poverty for this behavior, but there were many poor local voters who did not sell themselves. I guess that if people wouldn’t prefer to “keep the change”, decent change would occur.
I was in Biton for a swim. The sea was clean and the scenery fantastic. So I was in my element for such experiences always inspire me- no longer to swim but just to sit and walk around and absorb and be absorbed by the beauty of being. It should have been a perfect day had it not for this ear-rupturing comment that I heard from a German who lives there: “Ohne corruption, würde es keine Filipinos mehr geben”- that “Without corruption, Filipinos would cease to exist.” What a disparaging generalization coming from somebody who doesn’t even know Heine or Feuerbach. The poetry of the day was instantly gone! Now comes dirty politics again- in a place I never expected. But that German did not expect the same that this time he won’t go unpunished for his arrogant comments. The winds changed direction as I began to frame the debate within the greater context of world history and current events in Germany. Were it not for the gentle kicks under the table and oculesics coming from my “camp” telling me to slow down, the place would have burned- in the fire of my apologia, naturally.
Yes, incompetent leaders, corrupt presidents, justices and generals, Ampatuan monsters, astronomic foreign debts, corruption, vote-buying, political violence, poor education and ignorance have increased our vulnerability. You can’t help but defend- it’s instinctive – even if you know there is a kernel of truth and even when it comes from a primitive German whose trunk reminds one of a huge barrel of beer about to break. (He told me his family name is Krüger. Krug is the German for jug or pitcher, and Krüger means a jugmaker. There is a German idiomatic expression which says, “Der Krug geht so lange zum Brunnen, bis er bricht.” or, ” The jug goes to the well until it breaks”, which means, one day you’ll take it too far and you’ll come to grief. I think Mr. Krüger went too far that lovely afternoon…but we sailed home quick before the breaking.)
Now, as a nation, as a town, how do we manage vulnerability, how do we keep ourselves from breaking totally? This brings us back to the old discussions about electoral, political, educational and moral reforms. For now, I would say go for change, but avoid keeping the change for when money dictates, the bad tradition continues and so as this social order with all its problems.
Noynoy Aquino has vowed to combat corruption, hence, to introduce vulnerability management-“If there were no corrupt, there would be no poor.” He said that “Corruption is the single biggest threat to our democracy. It deprives the poor of the social services they badly need. It destroys the very moral fiber of our society. No reform agenda will succeed without a determined program to eradicate corruption.”
Well, this sounds good to start with. Good intention deserves support. Be reminded, however, that a campaign mantra is not a solution yet to the problem of corruption. I expect to see his concrete vulnerability management plan as soon as he assumes office.
But it’s in planning that one is faced with various factors that must be considered: He needs to have a solid presence in the Congress; the huge national debt of over P4.358 trillion and the pressures from the international lending institutions (IMF, WB) will surely have effects on his policies on taxations and budget spending. Fighting corruption means not only law enforcement and putting behind bars corrupt colleagues but-in my view- a fight against poverty and for better education. And here I see the problem that Aquino will face in his fight against corruption: it’s the problem of capital. How can he spend more for education and against poverty amidst the huge national debt and pressures from the lending institutions? Don’t you know that you owe these institutions P47, 247? Yes, each of us 92 million Filipinos carry this debt burden.
But still, the point that he is determined to fight corruption is already a good attitude (what Arroyo has lacked) as president-elect. For as Nietzsche says “‘He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how”. I suggest though that the people should support Aquino’s why but be cautious with his almost anyhow. Pay back the debts, but not at the expense of education and health programs.
Back to the poor people, it is right not to forget the poor and aim for the reduction and elimination of poverty in the Philippines – this is a social and moral responsibility of modern man. But in my observation, this slogan of helping the poor is a tool being used and abused by the rich, the oligarchs, and trapos to maintain their power and status quo. Truth be told, politics (Erap para sa mahirap, Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap, etc…) and religion in our country capitalize on the poor. It is easy to manipulate a hungry man or community, the reason why vote-buying works perfectly(and this first automated election has intensified it because there were no more ballot boxes for politicians to hijack) – the same with the promises of better (After-) life by materialistic religious preachers.
But did Philippine politics and church ever mention protecting, sustaining and strengthening the middle class? The middle class in the Philippines is disappearing and many of these people have been displaced outside the Philippines – those skilled migrant workers and intellectual capital. We know that the middle class stabilizes the society, it’s not easily manipulated, hence serves as the catalyst of social change and reforms. As Aristotle had observed during his time- and that was between 384-322 BC!- “The best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class”. I think Aristotle would find in Switzerland of today a fine example of his community.
What made the voters brave the sun and wait for hours just to vote a corrupt candidate? That bloated German would argue that they were paid, that’s why. But even if I were paid, I would back out just because of the heat and the thirst and would not fall in line again. Indeed, faith moves mountain. For in that election day, I travelled around Luzon to observe and I was moved by the scenes I have seen. I thought that there must be something more to this. It’s neither just because of the most despised Arroyo administration nor of the cash that the politicians distributed but I think the Filipinos of today still have this faith that they could improve their country – and repay the debts we owe.
But there is a backlash to this, and that is the psychology of Filipino voters: This month’s election has shown that Filipino voters- bought or not – vote in terms of what is familiar already regardless of the records. Old names like Marcos, Estrada, Revilla, Enrile, Aquino- and even Arroyo or Ampatuans are back or have remained in the political scene. This mental attitude prevents change and gives the impression to any observer that Filipinos have impaired memory or simply “crazy” to vote for an ex-convict for president or support murdering political clans in the south.
And still, there are the local municipalities with their entrenched ruling warlords who won’t be ready to give up their extra sources of income like jueting, illegal logging, mining or sneaky little daily forms of deceit like that of adding an extra 0 (zero) on the receipt/check than the amount actually spent or issued (900 pesos is swiftly earned out of 100 pesos!). Laws against such crimes already exist, what Noynoy needs is to “enforce” law enforcement. Noynoy was not a high performance congressman of Tarlac(1998 to 2007) and senator (2007-2010) and not a single bill that he passed became a law but he could use his “moral” and political capital in defining his position in the country and using the right momentum to get things running from Day One, a difficult task for he has to wrestle first against the midnight sabotage that Gloria Arroyo has orchestrated.
Well, again we have an economist as president-elect and we all hope that he is not for keeping the change as Arroyo was but for a reduction of our national vulnerabilities, no matter how “noynoy” (little) it is.
Sports and Politics
By Oliver Geronilla
I join BO in congratulating Mayor Helen De Castro for winning another term as Bulan’s chief executive. This “resounding mandate,” as Mr. Gilana astutely phrased it, will give her ample time to collaborate with Bulan’s crème de la crème in close consultation with her “mga padaba na kabungto” in bringing about meaningful change in our town, to continue all the laudable projects she has spearheaded, and of course, to address the issues that have been left unsolved if not overlooked.
The election fever is over. Yet, some are still “feverish.” I hope both losers and winners can go through this “stage” without angst or grudge for it’s time to buckle down to work. There will be election protests, doubts, accusations, etc, but I wish these won’t spoil the true essence of election as a democratic process.
In sports, there’s a great tradition where athletes play fair and square and handle both victory and defeat with grace, style, and dignity. That’s what we call sportsmanship. Ideally, it should be a code of behavior that should be followed not only by athletes but also by politicians and their supporters. As they say, “sportsmanship is a distinctive trait that defines one’s character and mettle.”
How about in politics?
Well, Jun Asuncion gallantly set the tone by positively responding to the post made by the PIO. That’s what we call local diplomacy at its finest. A few expressed the same view; and as expected, others dissented. It’s no surprise that a nebulously phrased comment from who-is-it of Timbuktu created a stir because of his bitter and unfounded disparagement. Boy, that’s what we call dirty politics.
Winners should always bear in mind to be cordial and munificent. Victories should be acknowledged without mortifying opponents; being quietly proud of success and letting victories speak for themselves are virtues worth keeping and observing. Good sportsmanship, when practiced in politics, dictates finding ways to compliment our “opponents”—even if we win by landslide.
Losing, of course, is difficult to come to terms with. It takes time. So, it doesn’t help when people incessantly “jeer” at the losers or their team after the “game” is over.
When we lose, we sometimes take it out on our opponents, blame election officials, or even our own party mates. The best thing to do is to take it in stride. When we lose, we ought to lose with class. So, here’s my unsolicited advice for the losers and their supporters: Thank those who supported you, congratulate the winners promptly and willingly. That shows maturity and courage. And for the winners and their supporters? Be true to your words through and through.
Yasmin Busran-LAO: Walking Her Talk By Running
By Elena Masilungan
Yasmin Buran-Lao, peace activist, women’s rights advocate, community organizer, is walking her talk by running — that is, running for senator in this year’s election as a candidate of the Liberal party.
The 48-year old Lao has made public service her life’s mission. She works with disadvantaged communities and the women of Muslim Mindanao, having grown up amid its violent conflicts and grinding poverty. For her efforts, she was awarded the Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Fellowship for Professional Development. The award was given by the American embassy and the Benigno S. Aquino Foundation in 2005.
“Fighting for the rights of Muslim women and other marginalized groups is something personal for me. I get enough satisfaction helping people gain a certain control over their lives,” she said.
Lao believes that ordinary people must be given opportunities to serve the country even if “they do not have the money and the clout that most politicians have.”
“There has to be new politics that can come in. This kind of new politics comes from ordinary people like us (who) have the capacity and the ability to serve this country…. It is time for the citizenry to be the spokesperson of its own agenda,” she said in a recent interview.
Running for any electoral post was not in Lao’s immediate future. She was all set to leave for Hawaii for an academic fellowship early this year. Her nomination to fill the 12th slot of the LP’s senatorial slate was a “shock” not only to her sisters in the women’s group PILIPINA and her fellow advocates in civil society but, more so, to her.
“For quite some time, the NoyMar campaign team had been headhunting for a Muslim candidate who would embody the reform-oriented politics of the team,” related Elizabeth Yang, national coordinator of PILIPINA, in her email to other PILIPINA members. Lao was one of those nominated, and eventually chosen, to represent Muslim Mindanao, grassroots leadership, and women in the LP’s senatorial slate.
“In our talks after she filed her (candidacy), Yasmin said she felt she had to accept the challenge to raise the bar for her (and our) advocacies on gender rights, peace and good governance,” Yang said. “We need to connect the dots of the struggle for democratic rights and good governance with meaningful engagement in electoral (partisan) politics.”
“I have been advocating for women seizing the center of power and reframing politics. And how can I go to the community of women and talk about women’s political participation when I was given the opportunity and I said “No?,” Lao added..
A woman, a Moro and a Muslim
Lao’s advocacies have been founded to a large extent on her being a woman, a Moro, and a Muslim. Moro is the collective term that ethnic groups living in southern Philippines who have separate local cultures and who belong to the Islamic faith use in referring to themselves. Lao, who hails from Lanao del Sur, is from the Maranao ethnic group.
“They impact my life in such sweeping, profound ways that my life’s work and purpose have become firmly grounded on them. On account of my being a woman, a Moro, and a Muslim, I came to know the meaning of violence, discrimination, injustice and inequality. I not only witnessed them as a regular occurrence within my family and community. I have been personally living through them ever since I was a child,” she explained.
As a woman and mother, the war in Muslim Mindanao, particularly, weighs heavily on Lao.
“Whenever war breaks out between the army and the Moro rebels, or between various clans, it is the civilians who are caught in the middle. They leave their homes and communities for the evacuation centers. But conditions in the evacuations centers are no better, especially for the women and children. They are not favorable to one’s peace of mind nor sense of dignity. When you live in an evacuation center, however temporary, your family does not have access to food, safe shelter, sanitation, education for the children, and income. This weighs heavily on the women who constantly worry about their families’ wellbeing and safety,” she said in describing the ordeal of women and children in evacuation centers.
As an NGO (nongovernment organization) worker, Lao has been focused on peacebuilding, the right of local communities to self-determination, and good governance in the Bangsamoro homeland.
“The war in Mindanao, which is a consequence of bad governance, has shortchanged not just the people of Mindanao but the rest of the country…. In 2008, government spent P50 billion of taxpayers’ money on it, equivalent to the cost of building 50,000 public school classrooms. It costs the country P20 million a day, money that could instead go to creating livelihood opportunities to help our people live better, more productive lives,” she rued, connecting how what is happening in Muslim Mindanao is also affecting the rest of the country.
“Running for the Senate gives me a chance to translate my advocacies to a legislative agenda that is borne out of the experiences of marginalized people who have been confronting poverty and armed conflicts for most of their lives. I have the chance to bring my message of hope that we can achieve lasting peace, justice and equality among all Filipinos, regardless of gender, ethnicity, and religion, even in war-torn Muslim Mindanao. Our hope is to build a country that is inclusive and respectful of each other’s differences despite all the diversities that divide us,” she said.
Lao admits she faces a daunting run for the Senate, what with her limited campaign funds and her being a relative unknown to voters, except perhaps in the NGO community. But she shrugs this off. “I cannot disregard the opportunity the campaign provides to impart my message of hope to different sectors of Filipinos. And of course, it’s time for me to walk my talk,” Lao said with a confident smile.
COVENANT FOR PEACE, ORDER, FAIR, CLEAN AND HONEST LOCAL ELECTIONS IN THE PROVINCE OF SORSOGON
The campaign period for local election has started last 26 March 2010, In today’s local politics, the only way by which candidates will assure victory is to engage in wholesale vote-buying or any act of bribing voters, ”umpisa ng mamulat ako sa isyung pulitika, ay wala akong natatandaan na halalan na walang nagaganap na bilihan ng mga boto. As always, the victors and the losers are guilty of vote-buying or bribing voters, an election offense, but nobody has been charged nor punished for such offense. Now, it’s time to change this culture and state of mind of the “Kandidatos” in bribing the “Botantes”, On the other hand, the Botantes would look up to the Kandidatos as an instant charitable institution/s, the giver of money to the deprived people in the community.
To change this culture, I would encourage all the Kandidatos in Sorsogon to be the catalyst of change for clean, peace, fair and honest elections, by signing in the proposed COVENANT herein below. The signing of the peace covenant will assure our constituents in Sorsogon to have an honest and peaceful election this May 10, 2010, san vote-buying, etc.
The covenant enjoins all the candidates to uphold the fundamental principle of democracy that sovereignty resides on the people and all government authority emanates from them.
It also enjoins the candidates not to resort to vote-buying or intimidation in any manner and destroy the voters’ power and freedom of choice.
Furthermore, the covenant enjoins all of the candidates from Governor down to municipal/city councilors to campaign in accordance by the law and rules in the spirit of good grace and friendly rivalry.
Finally, the candidates will be answerable to the public if and when they will violate the covenant they have signed by voluntary withdrawing their certificate of candidacy. /
Atty. Benjamin Gaspi
COVENANT FOR AN HONEST, PEACE, FAIR
AND CLEAN LOCAL ELECTIONS IN SORSOGON
This Covenant made and entered by and among:
ALL CANDIDATES IN THE FORTHCOMING MAY 10, 2010 LOCAL ELECTIONS IN THE PROVINCE OF SORSOGON
– WITNESSETH –
WHEREAS, Undersigned signatories are Candidates in the May 10, 2010 local elections vying for the position of Governors, Vice Governors, Board Members, House Representatives, Mayors, Vice Mayors and Councilors in the Province of Sorsogon
WHEREAS, the Constitution declares that the Philippine is a democratic and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people (the electorates/voters) and all government authority emanates from them. And, the same charter guarantees every citizen of the state (of competent age) to have equal access to public service (and prohibit political dynasties as maybe defined by law), regardless of the status in the society.
WHEREAS, in order to ensure a fair, honest, peace and clean elections in the Province of Sorsogon as well as to prevent electoral fraud, bribery, unnecessary spending, vote buying/selling and that every bonafide candidate/s be free from any form of harassment and discrimination in the upcoming local elections, the undersigned candidates have entered into this covenant in the spirit of peace and order electoral exercise regardless of political party affiliation, principle and belief.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the parties hereby agreed and covenanted, as follows:
COVENANTS AND STIPULATIONS
The following are prohibited acts during the start of campaign period or election.
As candidates, undersigned signatories are duty bound to abide by and comply with, in conscience and in principle, the provisions of the Omnibus Election Code (BP Blg. 881) specifically ARTICLE XI (Re, Electoral Contributions and Expenditures) under Section 96, (Soliciting and Receiving Contributions from Foreign Funds), Section 97 (Prohibited Raising of Funds), Section 99 (Report of Contributions), Section 100 (Limitations upon Expenses of Candidates), Section 101 (Limitations upon Expenses of Political Parties), Section 102 (Lawful Expenditures), Section 103 (Person Authorized to Incur Elections Expenditures), Section 104 (Prohibited Donations by Candidates) and to also observe religiously the mandates as stated in the following provisions ARTICLE XXII (Re, Election Offense), particularly Section 261 and all sub-paragraphs as provided in the said Code.
Furthermore, the candidates who joined the peace accord have agreed not to engage in either vote buying or vote selling, not to bribe voters with money, directly or indirectly nor to intimidate them through violence or threat.
They have also agreed to abide by the COMELEC rules and regulations not to carry or transport firearms and other deadly weapons as well as to hire security aides and bodyguards more than the allowable limit prescribed by the COMELEC.
They have also agreed to a friendly rivalry and to observe the rules and regulations on prohibited propaganda such as the posting of posters, billboards, streamers and other propaganda materials outside the COMELEC poster areas.
Any of the undersigned candidate who violates, or attempt to violate the afore-quoted stipulation, re, engaging in vote-buying, and giving money or material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions, committed acts of terrorism to enhance his/her candidacy, spending election campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by the Code and among other acts constituting election offenses, shall motu proprio voluntarily withdraw his/her certificate of candidacy from the COMELEC. No court action is necessary, but in conscience, she/he must tender and withdraw his/her from the political race for committing such violations.
Undersigned commit themselves to be catalysts of reformation and transformation for a better society, insulated from the old system of traditional politics or politics of patronage and promise not resort to vote-buying to enhance the chances of winning in the election.
BINDING EFFECT OF THE COVENANT
This covenant shall remain in force and effect until May 10, 2010 local election, and shall be binding between and among the undersigned candidates, who are law-abiding citizens.
This Agreement shall be effective immediately upon signing by the parties hereof.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties, hereto signed this _____ day of April 2010 in Bulan, Sorsogon, Philippines.
(To sign online, please use the reply or comment box with your name, official e-mail and relevant candidate’s profile information. Or the candidates may print out this covenant and sign it among themselves.)
Still Tongue Makes a Wise Head
By Oliver Geronilla
Politicians and their apologists have never failed to amaze me. From their empty rhetoric to their convoluted orchestration of truth down to their infuriating chutzpah, everything seems to bring me to a fleeting rapture of guffaws every time I see them on national TV unsuspectingly shedding their own skin.
That’s true for national politics where the media seem to follow political demagogues quite naturally for juicy bits of information and commentaries. But does it also hold true for local politics? I’m afraid not. Perhaps it’s too parochial to merit the giant TV networks’ costly airtime and the major broadsheets’ precious op-ed page. Thank God we have Bulan Observer.
A couple of days ago, while dining with Dr. W. Scott Thompson, FVR’s biographer and former US assistant secretary of state, I mentioned how frustrated I was with the LGU’s nonchalance over some pressing matters in our hometown. He laughed and said: “Oh, perhaps they have forgotten what Thomas Tip O’Neill, a longtime Speaker of the House in the U.S. Congress, once said.” He paused, banged the table (perhaps for theatrical effects), looked at me, and said: “Remind them that all politics is local.”
I nearly drew a blank. In fact, it took me almost half a minute before I recognized that he was waiting for me to react. When I was about to give my rejoinder, he started speaking again and ended up giving me a “lecture” on the dynamics of Asian politics particularly that of ours. He went on and on only stopping to have a sip of wine. Then, he mentioned “hiya” as one of the culprits of our flawed perception of leading and following—our own rendition of democracy.
According to Dr. Thompson, hiya, loosely translated as shame or sense of propriety, is a Filipino cultural trait that unites and divides us as a people. How? Well, look at those comments generated by the article posted by Mr. Jun Asuncion regarding the “fate” of Congressman Jose Solis. Most of them can be described just by using the word hiya and its cousins: nanghihiya, hiniya, walang hiya, nahiya, kahiyahiya, etc.
All these can either be a coping mechanism or a mere defense mechanism. But I could evidently see the angst, frustration, and resentment in their words. These, I suppose, were bottled up emotions just waiting to be “unleashed.”
In no time, BO became a temporary theater of word war. Yes, explosive bursts of emotions flooded BO’s comment page making it a repository of genuine sentiments and scathing remarks worthy of being “processed” to redefine our atavistic views.
I cringed in utter disbelief when I found out, through this site, how some of us could be vindictive—at least verbally. Still, I think there are many things that we can learn from out of this issue. One of them, and perhaps the most salient, is how we view success, failure, and downfall vis-à-vis “hiya.” We always bask in our victories walking tall thinking that our triumphs would last forever. That, of course, is an example of delusions of grandeur. Even mighty monarchs of great civilizations were dethroned. And in our case, we had the Marcoses who tried to cling to power at all costs disregarding that Filipino virtue of hiya (sense of propriety). In recent history, Erap suffered from more or less the same fate; but as we can see, he’s back in politics trying to have his last shot at the presidency. The Marcoses have long been back and, without a shadow of doubt, have reintegrated themselves to the local and national politics. Where is their sense of propriety?
What about Congressman Solis’ case? Is this the end of his political career? Maybe yes, maybe not. It’s just too bad that the verdict came out very close to the election season. Bad timing for Congressman Solis; good timing for his critics and political opponents. Well, as the cliché goes, “bad publicity or good publicity…it’s still publicity.”
Now, on the issue of hiya, is this something that is kahiyahiya? Perhaps, yes… for it has tarnished his reputation both as a public servant and as a private individual. But this is not the end. Vindication is not included in our lexicon for nothing. As pointed out by some observers, there are ways to prove his innocence. It is, in my own reckoning, clear to everyone how to do that, and where to do that.
BO writers and observers have no business defaming anyone. That’s for certain. Admittedly, some observers might have gone overboard. And their best defense? Of course, a good offense.
As I write this, things aren’t fizzling out yet. In fact, everything seems to be coming to a head. I join Mr. Jun Asuncion in asking everyone to remain level-headed and to avoid mudslinging. Let’s give our readers something worthwhile to read, something that is edifying, something that identifies us as civilized Bulanenos. Remember, what sauce is for the goose is sauce for the gander. That can perhaps change our warped views, and put hiya to proper use.
Generally speaking, we, Filipinos, are magnanimous. That’s something to bank on especially for Congressman Solis and his family members. Criticisms are part and parcel of politics. Noynoy said it well when he reminded Kris “that in any election, we’ll have our share of fervent supporters and harshest critics. And if you can’t take the heat, then politics isn’t for you.”
by jun asuncion
Yasmin Busran was a good classmate of mine in college and we both majored in clinical psychology. That was in the early 80’s in FEU. There we founded the FEU Psychological Society together with some other classmates, I being the first elected president and Yasmin being the technical adviser. She was very good in organization and in bringing clarity to some complicated issues, especially during our society’s regular meetings.
After graduation, I lost sight of Yasmin but I knew that she went back to Marawi, back to her people and ancestors, to serve and fight for the rights of disadvantaged Filipino Muslim women and children on one side and- on the other side- to continue with her scholarly interests by teaching at the Marawi University.
We parted ways with the same theories, college memories, friends and professors in our heads. These figures of Muslim women and children in her heart and mind brought her immediately back to Marawi, while figures like Bleuler, Marx, Freud and Jung brought me to Zürich University and to the C.G. Jung Institute of analytical psychology in Küsnacht.
Looking back, I had already sensed during that time Yasmin’s strong political mind as I had admired her high sense for justice and human rights and for her belief in the usefulness of communication in resolving conflicting issues; looking back, Yasmin embodied that perfect harmony of sharp intellect and compassionate heart in ways very feminine in an unassuming, modest character.
Now, she’s a senatorial candidate of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and Sen. Mar Roxas ticket of the Liberal Party- presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively.
I just wrote her two weeks ago and she said she remembers me and I told her I would help in ways I can to spread her message to the Filipino people, particularly to the Bicolanos at home and abroad.
I like to help introduce Yasmin to the readers of Bulan Observer not only because she was a good classmate of mine but because I support Article II, Section 26 of our Constitution which says that ” The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”
Yasmin is almost unknown outside Marawi City, for she is not a movie star but a Muslim scholar, a political mind yet not coming from a political dynasty. She represents those lost segments of democracy which have been ignored by the current system and which we have been advocating for. In short, Yasmin represents an essential part of that social change that we have recently been talking about.
I do not say vote Yasmin for that would sound very impolite, rather know her and reflect on the deeper meanings of her message and how they relate to the issues that have always been of interest to us here at BO- the issues of social justice, human rights, peace and understanding through dialogue and inclusive governance, political reforms and more democracy, indeed, issues that stand for a brighter Philippines. /
By Nixon Kua
Pagbigyan naman natin ang mga kandidatong walang pambayad ng ads o di kaya’y hindi masyadong kilala bagama’t karapat dapat manungkulan kung ibabase sa kanilang track record.
Unahin natin si Yasmin Busran – Lao, isa sa kandidato ni Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino at ni Sen. Mar Roxas ng partido Liberal sa pagka senador.
Ito ho ang liham ni dating Sec. Teresita “Ging” Quintos Deles (kasama ng Hyatt 10 na nagbitiw sa gabinete ni Madam Senyora Donya Gloria dahil hindi nila masikmura ang Hello Garci at kasama ng inyong lingkod sa pakikipaglaban sa mga katiwalian ng kasalukuyang administrasyon) tungkol kay Yasmin.
“I have known Yasmin Busran-Lao for more than a decade. We first met as civil society advocates in the Philippine peace movement. I headed a peace institute and several national-level peace networks with secretariats based in Manila, while she was and continues to be based in Marawi City in Mindanao, heading a Muslim women’s NGO and, I think, initially also serving on the faculty of the Mindanao State University. Almost at the same time that she became engaged in the peace movement, she also joined the national women’s organization PILIPINA, to which I belong and was a co-founder, and she came to head the organization’s chapter in Marawi. In 2000-2005, I joined government as a member of the Cabinet, initially heading the National Anti-Poverty Commission until September, 2003, and then as the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process until my resignation from government in 2005. Throughout this period, Yas and I retained a close working and personal relationship, closely cooperating in advancing the peace and feminist agenda from our respective sides of the governance fence.
I consider Yas a truly outstanding champion for peace and women’s rights, particularly from the perspective of the Bangsamoro. Her work has been extraordinary in that it has combined both grassroots organizing and development work, on the one hand, with a high level of scholarship and public advocacy—both streams of her efforts contributing to both improving the conditions of communities, especially women and children, caught in the middle of armed conflict, and strengthening public awareness of the challenges confronting the search for peace in Mindanao as well as the rights of Filipino women under Islam.
I admire Yasmin for her clarity of vision and her courage in speaking out on issues, not only when they involve external sources of injustice and oppression but even when they reflect internal contradictions and challenge traditional powers and hierarchies within the Bangsamoro. She has demonstrated rigor and passion in advancing the causes of peace and feminism in national discourse, even as she has remained rooted in her community and island of origin. With the Al Mujadillah Development Foundation and the Nisa Ul-Haqq Fi Bangsamoro, which she founded with other Moro women, Yasmin has worked tirelessly and relentlessly, even through periods of personal trial and affliction, to bring about women’s empowerment, improved local and regional governance, civil society consensus-building and conflict mediation, and humanitarian assistance for families displaced by war in Central Mindanao.
She has been steadfast in her commitment to the cause of women, peace for her people, and the national welfare. I think the Philippines is badly in need of having someone like Yasmin Busran-Lao in the Senate.”
SINO SI YASMIN BUSRAN-LAO?:
Mula sa magigiting na lahi at mabuting angkan
– Kaisa-isang Muslim (Maranaw) na babaeng tumatakbo sa Senado
– Anak ni Justice Mama Busran, ang kauna-unahang Muslim na husgado na naluklok sa Court of Appeals
May kakayahan at kasanayan
– Nagtapos ng Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Magna Cum Laude sa Far Eastern University
– Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Fellowship for Professional Development awardee (2005)
Tumataya para sa kabutihan ng Sambayanan
– Tagasulong ng kapayapaan sa Mindanaw at karapatan ng kababaihan; nagtatag at namumuno ng Al Mujadillah (babaeng sumasamo sa Kor’an) Development Foundation
– Naninindigan para sa tapat na pamahalaan; Regional Coordinator ng Change Politics Movement (CPM) sa Muslim Mindanaw
Boses ng Kapayapaan sa Senado
– Magtatrabaho upang tapusin ang tunggalian/digmaan ng mga armadong grupo tungo sa pangmatagalang kapayapaan sa mga komunidad
– Ipapawalang-bisa ang R.A. 9372 o Human Security Act
– Isusulong ang reporma sa militar at kapulisan upang sila ay mas tunay na makapagsilbi sa taong-bayan
– Babantayan ang Pambansang Badyet, lalong-lalo na ang nakalaan para sa Mindanaw at Gender and Development (GAD)
– Itutulak ang pagtuturo ng madrasah sa mga batang estudyanteng Muslim
– Palalawigin ang kaalaman ng mga kababaihan at kabataang Muslim ukol sa Code of Muslim Personal Laws (CMPL)
– Magpapasa ng batas ukol sa kalusugan ng kababaihan at pagpapaplano ng pamilya.
IN 2005 YASMIN BUSRAN-LAO was granted the Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Fellowship for Professional Development Award given by the American embassy and the Benigno S. Aquino Foundation. The award came as a surprise to the woman who had repeatedly spurned similar nominations by conveniently forgetting to submit her credentials. “I never expected to be publicly recognized for what I do,” she says. “Fighting for the rights of Muslim women and other marginalized groups is something personal for me. I get enough satisfaction helping people gain a certain control over their lives.”
What is not surprising is how this Psychology graduate of Far Eastern University came upon her advocacy. Yasmin recalls how, as an 11-year-old probinsyana, she had to contend with seatmates who would suddenly edge away when she was introduced before the class.
“Muslims were seen as devils, complete with tails and horns,” she recalls of the prejudice and stigma she had to put up with when her family moved to Manila in 1972. Like thousands of other families, they had to flee war-torn Marawi where private armies like the Ilagas and Barracudas had established a reign of terror. Her father, too, had just been appointed as the first Muslim judge in the Court of Appeals, and had to stay in Manila.
The experience, Yasmin says, made her conscious at an early age of the “impact of bigotry and discrimination on human relationships, especially on dignity and communal harmony.” It also made her a thorn in her mother’s side. She recounts: “It was at the Quiapo mosque where I met these women who were abandoned by their Iranian husbands. This was during the time of Khomeini in Iran. The women were disowned by their families and kicked out of their homes, so I decided to bring them with me. I was running some sort of a woman’s crisis center at home, and my mother could only shake her head.”
Soon, she was joining other activists when they visited Muslims in death row. “I just wanted to know what was happening,” says Yasmin. It was an unusual show of spunk for one who was only in her third year high school then.
Such dissonance ushered her into an existentialist phase at 16, when she studied the Qur’an, Buddhism and other religions to find where some oppressive practices were coming from. “They were not in the Qur’an, so why are Muslims embracing them?” she asked.
The questions led her to establish the Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation (AMDF) in 1997, shortly after she attended the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women as a representative of the feminist group PILIPINA. “In Beijing, I was able to interact with Muslim women from other countries,” recounts Yasmin. “I realized that much of the Islamic teachings we adhered to, particularly those pertaining to women, are not really what is in the Qur’an, but rather cultural interpretations of Islam.”
What followed was intensive research on the situation of Muslim women-from their domestic roles to reproductive health and poverty, from politics to the impact of armed conflict. “This we did in response to allegations that gender issues are Western issues that have no resonance in Muslim Moro communities,” says Yasmin.
The Foundation was inspired by a Qur’anic verse, Al-Mujadilah (Qur’an verse 58), which, depending on one’s source, either means “The Woman who Pleads,” “The Woman who Seeketh (Justice),” or “The Woman who Disputeth.”
The AMDF has been acknowledged by its partner networks for the significant role it plays in Maranao society, the Bangsamoro struggle, and society in general.
As an institutional partner, Oxfam NOVIB, the Dutch organization for international aid, had this to say about AMDF: “(It) has proven its worth in community organizing, convening of civil society organizations, organizing youth clubs for high school students, breaking the barriers with (Muslim) women theologians and other conservative sectors of the community, capacitating local government units (LGUs) in mainstreaming gender and pushing for the implementation of the gender and development (GAD) budget, legal literacy and popularization of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws, and the construction of a grassroots’ women training center. The AMDF has a good opportunity to further develop its distinctive role in the Lanao Sur area as a community-based nongovernment organization (NGO) advocating for women’s rights, peace and governance.
The Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute has been working with the AMDF since its inception and has been supportive of its various initiatives on peace building in the region. The AMDF is a member of civil society third party mediator for the declaration of ceasefire and third party observer to the peace process undertaken by government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It has created venues for the diverse civil society organizations to come together, share perspectives and collaborate in addressing the various peace, governance, poverty and other social issues confronting Maranao society. It has also trained LGU officials on conflict resolution, negotiation, counseling and paralegal in selected municipalities and their consequent organization into Barangay Justice Advocates (BJAs).
PILIPINA recognizes AMDF as its affiliate institution in Lanao del Sur. As such, it acknowledges its pioneering and unique contributions in advancing the discourse and praxis of putting gender values and principles in the center of peacebuilding, right to self- determination and governance efforts in the Bangsamoro homeland.
CO Multiversity, on the other hand, as the partner of AMDF in crafting its community-based strategies, acknowledges the remarkable transformative processes the organization has been able to catalyze as breakthroughs in Maranao culture as it makes a difference in governance and electoral politics while taking stock of the challenges it has to face such as (a) sustaining existing initiatives in people’s planning and decision making process; (b) maximizing participation in the barangay development planning and management; (c) participating in the educational processes for electoral reforms; and (d) sustaining initiatives on gender mainstreaming.
In 2007 Yasmin also cofounded the Nisa Ul-Haqq Fi Bangsamoro (Women for Truth and Justice in the Bangsamoro) to respond to the need of Bangsamoro women for a deeper understanding of Islam from a feminist perspective and reclaim the spaces and voices of women in Islamic discourse and praxis. Under her leadership as its current chair, the foundation has initiated the following activities: (a) conduct of study group sessions and round-table discussions on Islam and gender; (b) conduct of evidence-based researches to address the issues of Bangsamoro women such as early and forced marriages, polygamy, divorce, inheritance, reproductive health and rights, political participation, and economic empowerment; (c) engagement with the regional government of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on gender-responsive governance; and (d) collaborate with the ARMM regional government and the Philippine Commission on Women on the development of a GAD Code for ARMM.
Busran-Lao in Naga City
NAGA CITY – It was a very brief visit, lasting just under seven hours.
But, it was also a memorable visit that left enduring impressions on
Busran-Lao was in the Camarines Sur to drop by the johor, a Muslim
religious fellowship attended by thousands of Muslim males from all
over the country. This year’s three-day johor is being held in Naga
upon the invitation of Mayor Jesse Robredo since the city is home to a
significant number of Muslims.
Robredo brought Busran-Lao and Col. Joey Forteza, chief of staff of
fellow LP candidate Alex Lacson, around the grounds of Metro Naga
Sports Complex to meet Muslims who attended the johor. While the two
men were able to go inside the sports complex, religious traditions
prohibited Busran-Lao from going with them. This did not faze her,
however. She held a spontaneous dialogue with the men right on the
grounds of the sports complex. They were all one in saying that it’s
been too long since Muslims were represented in the Senate. That is
why they fully support candidate Busran-Lao for senator.
Aside from meeting with Muslim men, Busran-Lao, together with some
women kagawad, also met with ordinary women from four of Naga’s 27
barangays during their Bayanihan sa Barangay. She saw for herself why
Naga under Robredo is a perfect model of active citizen’s
participation and engagement in governance, a cause that is very dear
to Busran-Lao’s heart since she herself has been advocating for
transformative politics and active citizenship.
Busran-Lao was also interviewed by RMN Naga where she cited the city
as an example of how Christians and Muslims can co-exist in peace and
harmony and work for the community’s progress.
Accompanying Busran-Lao around Naga were barangay kagawads Medith
Bollosa, Lolita Nantes, Regina Alcantara, Janet Ayubo, Wenifreda
Villacruz, Jesus Barcena, Susan Bragais, and punong barangay Elmer
(click image for more)
By Oliver Geronilla
Ask the children around you what they know about Bulan politics. I’m dead certain that you’d get the same answer that my childhood friends and I used to give: it’s all about the bigwigs plus their phalanx of entertainers and never about the nonentities.
Not a bad answer. At least they, or should I say we, know their names and the good and the bad things associated with them. What worries me is that these innocent children might have the notion that politics is all about these politicians, the external and internal struggles that they face, and how they paint reality according to their own world.
But why be bothered by these kids when they have no direct stake in the upcoming local election?
Well, we were all once like them. And we knew how amusing it was when election seasons kicked in. There were endless sources of entertainment to look forward to. Political junkets made us feel like we’re in a circus where music, dance, and other similar tricks were dime a dozen.
We didn’t care; we just took pleasure in all these jollities which went on and on like eternity. Then without us noticing it, the time came when we could start exercising our right to vote. Sadly, we’re no longer amused with their old tricks. But…oh yes, we still remember the names that entertained us every election season. And lo and behold! They’re still part of the “numbers game.”
Of course, there are some variations. For instance, when I was 16, it was Mr. Guillermo De Castro who was at the helm; and now that I’m 31, it’s his wife who’s there. She’s running for office again, and many say that she will once again win.
I was told about the many fine accomplishments of the De Castros: they’ve done these and those and have made our town more attuned to the times. According to my high school classmates, the signs of progress are everywhere. In fact, they enumerated quite a lot. Good tidings, aren’t they?
Bulanenos won’t forget these things. For sure, such accomplishments can help the incumbent mayor win the race again. That’s a good track record that’s hard to beat and the best launch pad she can ever have.
Are these things due to her efforts and of those manning the LGU? Or is it because of what we call “concurrent development” which might result in progress trap if not properly carried out?
I think it’s mainly due to concurrent development wherein we don’t have much of a choice but to forge ahead; otherwise, we’d be facing problems that are difficult to solve due to lack of resources which can of course halt further progress. It does not really matter who is in control. Progress in our town is inevitable given the kind of people that we have, not because of the kind of politicians that we have.
Remove them from the office, and the whole state of affairs will continue. A new set of leaders will come to the rescue, and things will get back to normal. No one is so indispensable.
The opposition members will certainly have the “burden of proof” for they have not proven anything substantial yet. They’ll be articulating their promises, their aspirations. And you and I know that these are the main fares of election banquets. Partake but never be fooled for most of them are just empty roughage meant to satiate us temporarily. Forewarned is forearmed.
The official campaign period for local posts next month is nothing more than what we call “cramming.” Political candidates make themselves busy with all kinds of sorties conceivable just to get the figures that they need to win the battle of bailiwicks.
Do Bulanenos still get amused with the candidates’ old tricks? What I know is that nowadays, people cast their votes not based on these last- minute efforts to make the electorate vote for them. They cast their votes based on how these candidates –novice or not–measure up to their expectations from childhood to the present.
That’s their gauge. No more, no less.
My question is: What are these expectations? Well, they come in full spectrum.
I’m no longer a kid, and I know what’s right and what’s wrong; who are sincere, and who are not. And election season is not really about entertainment and the bigwigs. It is about making the right choice.
Ex-Governor Raul Lee Substitutes For Wife (Sally Lee) As Sorsogon Gubernatorial Candidate
From PIO- LGU Bulan Mr. Tonyboy Gilana
Sorsogon City, December 15, 2009:
In a sudden twist of events, incumbent Sorsogon Governor Sally A. Lee (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), gave up her bid to run for another term, when she filed yesterday at the provincial Comelec a certificate of withdrawal of her candidacy in favor of her husband, former three-termer Governor Raul Lee. December 14 was the last day for filing of substitute candidates by COMELEC-accredited parties.
Political analysts here said that with the entry of the former Governor, the opposition, led by Second District Congressman Jose G. Solis , running under the Kampi Party is in for a real run for their money as the former governor is seen as a more formidable force than his wife. While Governor Sally was seen as having done much for the province in her single term as governor, the ex-governor is believed to be a more unifying force on account of his political keenness and relationship with key political leaders all over the province. He never lost touch with all his political allies, and has continuously observed and participated in major political developments in the province.
While Lee is in for a tough fight in Bulan town, since Solis is from this place, which has a voting population of 46,000, the second biggest in the province, this was neutralized by the partnership with Lee of Bulan ex-mayor Guiming De Castro as vice-gubernatorial candidate. Analysts say Solis may win in Bulan but not with a margin big enough to carry him to victory. The De Castro camp promises a surprise win in Bulan for Lee, who has himself been beloved to the local populace. /
POLITICAL UPDATES ON THE TOWN OF GUBAT, SORSOGON
From PIO- Bulan
(Excerpts from Sorsogon Newsweek, JLG, November 29-December 5, 2009 issue)
Three strong contenders are expected to slug it out in the forthcoming May 10, 2010 mayoralty race here. These personalities include businessman Ronnel Uy Lim (Nacionalista Party), incumbent Vice-Mayor Danilo Pura (Kampi Party), and former SORECO II Director and Board Chairman Rene Hermo (Ang Kapatiran Party).
Hermo is said to be banking for support from the business and religious sectors here; Pura on the other hand reportedly depends on the political and logistical support of gubernatorial aspirant Jose Solis; while Lim is said to be supported and indorsed by the majority of local and barangay leaders.
Outgoing Mayor Deogracias Ramos (Liberal Party), who is running for the Second Congressional District is expected to be neutral, or shall decline to endorse anyone from among the three contenders.
The younger Lim, is said to be getting the edge, as of press time.
Other Mayoralty candidates include Cesar Bartolome (Independent), Alfredo Buergo (Independent) and Ramon EScoto (Independent).
In the Vice-mayor’s race, it will be a battle between incumbent vice-mayor Ramon Encinares (Ang Kapatiran Party); Councilor Juanito Escandor of Kampi; Sixto Estareja of partido Liberal, councilor Adan Eva (Independent). Another candidate is Angel Esmeria, independent.
There are 41 councilor candidates.
Meanwhile, there are three congressional candidates from this town. They are incumbent Mayor Ding Ramos, Cyril Ramos and Judge Edmundo Escalante. They will up against political bigwigs of the second district, like the wife of Congressman Joey Solis, former PCSO Manager Cardo Golpeo, Dr. Sappho Gillego-Ong (Daughter of the late Congressman Boning Gillego), Bulusan Mayor Johny Guysayko, and Provincial Board Member Arze Glipo of Irosin. /