Category Archives: Politics

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.

inlandviewofrunway

(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

withfarmersIn 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.

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(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.

outwardviewofrunway

(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.

lookingathimself

(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.

 “PROJECT 2021”

 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);

withwidowofairportproponent

(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. (
jglariosa@hotmail.com)

Videoclip:  https://youtu.be/oUize3Zp4g4

Joseph G. Lariosa
Correspondent
Journal GlobaLinks
5401 West Lawrence Ave.

Suite 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714
E-Mail address: Jgl@jgli.net
Website: jgli.net
Facebook: Joseph G. Lariosa
Twitter: @jogalar
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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.

 “BATCH FEEDING”

voting1

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. (jglariosa@hotmail.com)

Joseph G. Lariosa
Correspondent
Journal GlobaLinks
5401 West Lawrence Ave.

Suite 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714

E-Mail address: Jgl@jgli.net
Website: jgli.net
Facebook: Joseph G. Lariosa
Twitter: @jogalar
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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.

onoy

Onoy

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

bilyong

Bilyong

 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?

PARENS PATRIAE

 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?

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The Mayor (left) with the author Josep G. Lariosa

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. (jglariosa@hotmail.com)

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Catholics and women against Duterte

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

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A vote for our future

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The sins of corruption of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte:

By Maria Luarca-Reyes

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EVILS OF POLITICAL DYNASTY

 

JGL Eye

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! (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

Joseph G. Lariosa
Correspondent
Journal GlobaLinks
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714

—————————————–

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Congratulations Mayor Marnellie Ballesteros!!!

Bulan Observer congratulates the newly-elected mayor of Bulan Marnellie Ballesteros!

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With her, we hope for a brighter Bulan!

I also  send my warmest greetings to my former classmates Rommel Gonzales and Chito Hao.

Keep up the good work- and our spirit!

jun asuncion

——————–

Official tally: Bulan, Sorsogon

       
.      
.      
. MAYOR – BULAN   Total Votes
. BALLESTEROS, MARNELLIE LIBERAL PARTY 17,760
. DE CASTRO, DONDON UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 13,618
. GUYALA, NONONG PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 7,090
.      
.      
. VICE-MAYOR – BULAN    
. GOCOYO, RONALDO LIBERAL PARTY 13,031
. GOGOLA, MANUEL JR. INDEPENDENT 4,860
. GURAN, TESSIE UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 17,562
. ONG, DANILO PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 484
.      
. MEMBER SANGGUNIANG BAYAN  
.      
. ALCANTARA, NOLI LIBERAL PARTY 6,879
. BONCAN, ANTONIO LIBERAL PARTY 7,536
. BURIAS, EDGAR PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 4,093
. BURIAS, ELMER UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 12,110
. COX, ROSE PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 11,965
. DELMONTE, CHITO UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 15,856
. GALLEGO, ALBERTO INDEPENDENT 1,660
. GERONGA, GUTO UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 13,422
. GIGANTONE, RONNIE UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 16,378
. GOGOLA, BOY LIBERAL PARTY 8,798
. GOGOLIN, RODOLFO PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 1,289
. GONZALES, ENTE PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 1,511
. GONZALES, ROMMEL LIBERAL PARTY 8,380
. GORDOLA, ROMEO LIBERAL PARTY 11,012
. GOTLADERA, CRIS LIBERAL PARTY 13,809
. GOÑA, AGNES PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 1,527
. GUELAS, ALER UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 15,239
. GUETA, PANDING LIBERAL PARTY 5,791
. GUTAY, IRISH PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 1,233
. HAO, CHITO UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 15,459
. LETADA, JASON PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 3,581
. MONFORTE, NEIL PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO 1,386
. QUE, ROBERTO JR. INDEPENDENT 8,524
. SOLIS, JOANNE UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 9,316
. VALERIANO, RECTO LIBERAL PARTY 14,472
. ZUÑIGA, EKEL UNITED NATIONALIST ALLIANCE 10,967

 

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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)
GALLEGO, ALBERTO
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)

Source: COMELEC

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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:evelynbikolusamid@gmail.com.  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. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

Accepts BNAA Invite To Chicago

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)

Campaign Opening Salvo (1)

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

Correspondent
Fil Am Extra Exchange
Journal Group Link International
P. O. Box 30110
Chicago IL 60630
U.S.A.
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714 
————————————————-

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Plunder case against Governor Raul Lee et al.

 

Republic of the Philippines
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Quezon City

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Incumbent Member of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan
Complainant,

-versus- OMB-C-C-12-0355
FOR: Violation of R.A. 3019
Section 3, Paragraphs (a) and (g)

RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor,
ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor, REBECCA D. AQUINO,
FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III,
ARNULFO L. PERETE, FRANCO ERIC
O. RAVANILLA, ANGEL E. ESCANDOR, BENITO L. DOMA, BERNARD H. HAO, PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA, NESON A. MARAÑA, all incumbent Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.
HIL BENEDICT G. MANZANADES, Land Bank Legaspi Office
RENATO G. EJE Vice President,
Land Bank of the Philippines,
Respondents.
x————————————————–x

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Incumbent Member of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan
Complainant,

-versus- OMB-C-A-12-0373
FOR: Dishonesty and Grave
Misconduct
RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor,
ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor, REBECCA D. AQUINO,
FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III,
ARNULFO L. PERETE, FRANCO ERIC
O. RAVANILLA, ANGEL E. ESCANDOR, BENITO L. DOMA, BERNARD H. HAO, PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA, NESON A. MARAÑA, all incumbent Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.
Respondents.
x————————————————–x

REPLY

Comes now Complainant, unto this Honorable Office most respectfully avers that:

1. Respondents Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje would like to point out that the loan was duly approved and evaluated by the different channels of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) approving authority – from the recommendation of the Account Officer to the approval of different signing authorities, to show that there could not be any conspiracy between Sorsogon Governor Raul R. Lee and some officials of the LBP (See paragraph 3 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje). With all due respect, NO EVIDENCE has been presented to prove this allegation;

2. Paragraphs 4.1; 4.2; and 4.3 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez and Renato G. Eje are correct statement of facts. Paragraph 4.4 is not known to the Complainant while paragraph 4.5 is an anomalous allegation designed only to circumvent the evidences at hand and make it appear that (i) there was no conspiracy and that the THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P350,000,000.00) LBP loan is advantageous to the Provincial Government when in truth, it was not;

2.1 For instance, respondents Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje said in paragraph 4.5 mentioned in their Counter Affidavit, they sent a second letter to Governor Lee dated March 30, 2011 with an offer of interest rate of 5.061% as a result of recent movement of rates in the financial market (See paragraph 4.5 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez and Renato G. Eje);

“4.5 The Land Bank-LC, thru respondent Manzanades, sent its first offer letter on March 07, 2011 offering an interest rate of 7.0% and the second one on March 30, 2011 with an interest rate of 5.061% as a result of recent movement of rates in the financial market. The said letter of Land Bank dated March 07, 2011 states that all other charges shall be waived.”

2.2 With all due respect, the alleged letter contains no receipt of the Office of the Governor. In fact, in Annex “6” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Manzanades and Eje, undersigned complainant brought to the attention of the respondents that I was asking for the letter-proposals of the PNB and LBP but this Annex “5” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje was not among those submitted even to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (See paragraph 1 item 1 of the Annex “6”);

“During the last Regular Session April 11, 2011 there was an overwhelming majority (SPM Benito L. Doma, SPM Berand Hao, SPM Angel E. Escandor, SPM Arnulfo L. Perete, SPM Rebecca D. Aquino, SPM Francisco G. Frivaldo, SPM Renato V. Guban, SPM Franco Eric O. Ravanilla and SPM Nelson Marana) except the undersigned who voted in favor of the Committee Report no.27-2011 of the Committee on Budget and Appropriation joint with the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Amendments in favor of a measure authorizing Gov. Raul R. Lee to enter into a loan agreement to any banking/lending institution in the amount of P350.0 million loan and disregarding my valid objection, on the following grounds:

1. There is still a pending motion referred to the said joint Committee to tackle the undersigned letter dated April 2, 2011 requesting for copies of the letter proposals from both the Philippine National Bank and the Land Bank of the Philippinesmitted and received, Governor Lee would not have made a letter dated May 17, 2011 (Annex “K” of my Complaint) addressed to Vice Governor Antonio H. Escudero submitting the proposed Loan Agreement from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) for perusal, review and ratification as well as the proposed PNB Loan Agreement requested by the Governor to be ratified (Annex “L” of my Complaint);

2.4 Even granting without admitting that Annex “5” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje was submitted, the allegations in paragraph 4.5 that all charges shall be waived according to Annex “4” are NOT CORRECT. Review of Annexes “4” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit reveal the truth.

“Fees : 1% handling and ½ % commitment fees, inspection, and appraisal/application fees are waived. Pre-payment fee of 3% shall also be waived but it shall be collected in case of loan take-out by other banks and if required by special financing program.”

2.5 Worst, when the two (2) Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13 and Omnibus Loan Term) with LBP was executed, all these fees that should have been waived but are actually still included in Section 5 of the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13) of Annex “14” and Section 5 of Omnibus Loan Term of Annex “15”, as follows:

Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13)

“Section 5. Other Fees and Charges: Subject to a 3% pre-payment penalty in case of loan take out by other banks or as required by the Special Funder. Commitment handling, filing/processing & appraisal/inspection fees are waived unless required by Special Funder. GRT for the account of the LGU.”

And

Omnibus Loan Term

“Section 5. Fees/Charges. Commitment, handling, filing/processing and appraisal/inspection fees are waived unless required by Special Funder. The LOAN shall be subject to a pre-payment penalty of three percent (3%) In case of loan take-out by other banks or if required by Special Funder.”

2.6 What about the alleged offer of 5.061% by Respondent Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez Department Manager/Head, Legazpi LC contained in the letter dated March 30, 2011, marked as Annex “5” in their Joint Counter-Affidavit, the same has never happened, on Section 4 of the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13) of Annex “14” and Omnibus Term Loan of Annex “15” provides thus:

Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13)

“Section 4. Interest: Prevailing prime rate at the time of availment plus 1% min. spread, provided a minimum of 3% Account Profitability Rate (APR) is met. Subject to quarterly repricing or at applicable special financing rate if special funds is accessed.

And

Omnibus Term Loan

“Section 4. Interest Rate/s. Interest of the LOAN shall be equivalent to LENDER’S prevailing prime rate at the time of availment at applicable special financing rates, if funded under special financing program. Gross Receipt Tax (GRT) shall be for account of the BORROWER.

2.7 Respondent Manzanes offer of 5.061% has become an illusion. It is no longer found in any of the two LBP Loan Agreements (marked in the Annexes “14” and “15” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje) both signed by Respondent Governor Lee and Respondent LBP Vice President Renato G. Eje.

Unfortunately, Respondents Gov. Raul R. Lee, Vice Gov. Antonio H. Escudero, Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan namely Rebecca D. Aquino, Fernando David H. Duran III, Arnulfo L. Perete, Franco Eric O. Ravanilla, Angel E. Escandor, Benito L. Doma, Bernard H. Hao, Patrick Q. Rodrigueza did not exert effort nor initiated action to secure a concessional interest rates lower than the prevailing interest rates set by the Central Bank’s standard reference rate, thereby violating Article 395 paragraph C of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code (R.A. 7160) which provides thus:

“Government financial and other lending institutions are authorized to grant Local Government Units such loans, credit lines, advances, and other forms of indebtedness for projects and purposes referred in paragraph (B) hereof, preferably at concessional interest rates lower than the prevailing rates as may be authorized by the governing board of the financial or lending institution.

Prevailing rates shall mean the Central Bank standard reference rate for medium-and long-term loans.”

3. With their admissions on their Counter-Affidavits and Omnibus Joint Counter Affidavits’ of Respondents Gov. Lee, Vice Gov. Escudero, Board Members Aquino, Duran, Perete, Ravanilla, Escandor, Doma, Hao and Rodrigueza about the truth regarding the existence of the PNB proposal (marked as Annex “J” of my Complaint) and the fact that the latter was the one most advantageous to the Provincial Government an offense for violation of Section 3(a and g) of R.A. No. 3019 was indeed committed, thus:

Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
(a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.
xxxx
(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.

4. Indeed, with the admission of the truth that the PNB proposal of five percent (5%) is most advantageous than 5.061% of LBP but was never acted upon by the Provincial Government and by the Respondents, the evidence of guilt of respondents are strong enough to warrant immediate preventive suspension from the office.

5. The undersigned would like to respectfully reiterate that in a Letter dated July 5, 2012 (marked as Annex “N” in my Complaint) of Dominador O. Jardin, Prov’l. Gov’t. Dept. Head of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), addressed to the undersigned complainant, he stated that his Office could NOT come upon any feasibility study of the list of projects such as roads, bridges, buildings, farm to market roads and tourism facilities funded in the P350,000,000.00 LBP loan from available existing records. These only shows that the PPDO officer nor his office was made a part of the official action of the provincial government to come up with the decision to justify and substantiate the loan application for some “priority projects“ of respondents.

6. Worst, based on the Letter dated June 1, 2012 (marked as Annex “V” in my Complaint) of Provincial Treasurer Efilda C. Nogales and Provincial Accountant Mercedes J. Ativo duly noted by Respondent Gov. Lee, the Provincial Government had ALREADY PAID an amount of SEVENTY TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FORTY EIGHT PESOS AND SIXTY ONE CENTAVOS (P72,925, 948.61) to various contractors.

In sum, the THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P350,000,000.00) LBP Loan resulted in grave irreparable damage and prejudice to the Sorsogon taxpayers.

In view of the said acts of Respondents Gov. Raul R. Lee, Vice Gov. Antonio H. Escudero, Board Members Rebecca D. Aquino, Fernando Dave H. Duran III, Arnulfo L. Perete, Franco Eric O. Ravanilla, Angel E. Escandor, Benito L. Doma, Bernard H. Hao and Patrick Q. Rodrigueza, they should also be held liable for violation of Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7080 or “An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder, thus:

Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties – Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Complainant respectfully prays of the Honorable Office to institute the appropriate charges against Respondents and in the meantime order their immediate preventive suspension from the office;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto affixed my signature this 12th day of February 2013 at Quezon City, Philippines.

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Affiant

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 12th day of February 2013 at Quezon City, Philippines. Affiant exhibited to me his Driver’s License bearing number 3-90-102197 containing his picture and signature as competent evidence of his person.

ADMINISTERING OFFICER

 

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Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, Graft and Corruption, Politics, SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN, Sorsogon City, VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

The politics of an executive order

Marginal Note

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.

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Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, Mayor Helen De Castro - LGU Bulan, News, PIO- Bulan, Politics, SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN, Sorsogon City, To Be Or Not To Be, Views and Concern

DILG closes the political intent of Bulan town executive

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.

SORSOGON CITY (BicolToday.com/29-Feb-12) – The day of the hearts was not too good for the lady executive of Bulan town here when the joint committee of rules, privileges and amendments and the committee on public works, highways and infrastructure of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon treated the core issues of Executive Order No. 1, Series of 2012 issued by the Mayor Helen de Castro which was based on Article III, section 32 of the Local Government Code of 1991 which speaks of general supervision.

The executive order requires and enjoins all public infrastructure and other projects within the direct supervision of the local chief executive . . . especially those implemented in the barangays before acceptance should be inspected and evaluated first by the municipal government.It also created a project monitoring team tasked to recommend for the final acceptance of the project. The committees at the onset set the tone of clarification, distancing themselves from the perilous issues of politics and instead tasked the DILG Provincial Director, Dr. Ruben Baldeo, to explain the limitations of an executive in executing administrative laws.

His explanation, doused cold water to the politically couched executive order.

DILG Baldeo’s observations said, that “supervising officials merely see to it that the rules are followed, but by themselves do not lay down the rules, nor they have the discretion to modify or replace them”.further stating that “if the rules are not observed, they may order the work done or redone, but only to conform to such rules”, in effect interpreting for Mayor de Castro the intentions and applications of Article III, Section 32, which the town executive interpreted to suit a political need.

Her executive order further laid down rules and regulations that limit the performance of the function of concerned barangay, in effect exercising control over the punong barangay which will limit the authority of the punong barangay.

Baldeo’s likewise zeroed in the creation of the executive order of a project monitoring team which he opined runs counter with the DILG MC 2004-78, subject of which is the organization/reactivation of project monitoring teams in the local government units, for it does not conform with the mandatory membership as provided for in the circular.

The circular has a mandatory membership for a project monitoring team that includes the DILG official assigned in the locality, two NGO or PO’s representative and four members to be appointed by the local chief executive from among five nominees of the local development council.

De Castro’s monitoring team came from the municipal engineering office. BicolToday.com

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Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, News, PIO- Bulan, Politics, To Be Or Not To Be

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.

jun asuncion

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Filed under Europe and Bulan Observer, News, Politics, President Benigno Aquino III

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.

[VIDEO]

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.

Thank you.

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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!

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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.


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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.

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Filed under Graft and Corruption, History, Politics

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)

Inaugural Session

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.  //

                                                                                                          ——end—–

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Filed under Bulan Developments, Mayor Helen De Castro - LGU Bulan, PIO- Bulan, Politics, Town Agenda

Inaugural Message delivered by Helen C. De Castro

PIO- Bulan

July 2, 2010 at 6:54 am The following is the Inaugural Message delivered by Helen C. De Castro, Re-elected Mayor of Bulan, on the occasion of her Oath taking on June 30, 2010. We shall be posting pictures and other materials of interest at the Bulan website before the end of July 2010.(LGU Bulan PIO)

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Mayor Helen C. De Castro

Bulan, Sorsogon

Inauguration and Oath-taking Ceremony

of Newly- elected Municipal Officials

June 30, 2010/ 4:30 PM

Bulan Freedom Park

INAUGURAL MESSAGE 2010

The Honorable MTC Judge Emmerson Carpio;

Mga bag-o na Miembros san Sangguniang Bayan, sa Pamumuno ni

Vice-Mayor Marnellie B. Robles;

Mga Kapwa Trabahador sa Gobierno, mga Serbidor Publiko;

Mga Bisita;

Sa Entero na mga Kabungto Ko, Mga Pinapadaba na mga Bulaneno:

I. INTRODUCTION:

Dios marhay na banggui tabi sa iyo entero!

Pasalamatan ko mun-a tabi an saato Honorable na MTC Judge Emmerson G. Carpio sa pag-onra niya sa ato niyan na magpasumpa sa amo mga Opisyales. Kaogmahan ko man i-congratulate si Vice-Mayor Marnellie, nan an mga bag-o na Konsehales san Sangguniang Bayan ng Bulan. Congratulations man tabi, nan best wishes sa iyo mga Pamilya, nan an iyo mga kaurupod.

Niyan na adlaw, segun sa mando san ato Konstitusyon, sa entero na gobierno local sa bilog na Pilipinas, kasabay san ato bag-o na mga opiyales nasyonal, may seremonya sin pagsumpa o inagurasyon para sa mga bag-o na elihido na opisyales. Nan didi sa Bungto ta, yaa man kita niyan, nagpapartisipar sa seremonyas na ini, manungod sa destino san padaba ta na bungto, sa paagi namo na hinatagan niyo pagtiwala san nakaagi na eleksiyon. Ini an panahon o tiempo sin paglaom, pagtubod, nan pagpasalamat. As we witness local history unfold before us, and as we aspire to move toward a better destiny, we consider this moment as a moment of hope, faith and gratitude.

II. PAGPASALAMAT:

An una na kamaw-otan ko, nan nato, an pasalamatan an Mahal na Kagurangnan Dios, kay nangyari nan natapos ini na makasaysayan na Eleksiyon 2010 na matoninong nan matrangkilo. Natubod ako na an Mahal na Diyos man gihapon an may gabay sa ato entero. Ini dahilan na kadaghanan sa ato na mga Pilipino, nato na mga Bulanenyo, nangaradyi nan nagmaw-ot sin mayad na ehersisyo political. Sayo ini na karakter nan ugali sin mga taga-Bulan na dapat nato ika-orgulyo nan ikaogma. Ini na nangyari sayo man na regalo sa ato san Mahal na Kagurangnan.

Ikaduwa, ini man an oportunidad na ipahayag ko, sa ngaran man san ako Pamilya, an Pagpasalamat sa iyo entero, lalo na sa mga nagsuporta sa ako, nan sa amo mga Kaurupod sa Partido san Lakas Kampi CMD, dahilan sa pambihira na tiwala na inhatag niyo sa amo. Personalmente, dako-dako na kumpiansa an inhatag niyo sa ako na iboto gihapon bilang Mayor sa bungto ta sa pangtolo nan ultimo ko na turno. Kadaghan san dapat namo pasalamatan, batog sa mga nag-aasikaso sa Party Headquarters , abot sa mga lideres political, sa mga posters boys, pati sa mga volunteers sa barangay, hanggang sa ultimo na botante na, naasikaso man namo o dire, nagpahudam san kanira suporta sa amo.

III. AN NAKAAGI NA KAMPANYA NAN ELEKSIYON:

Dire ko inhuna, nan talagang napangaratan ako, sa pambihira na resulta san ato eleksiyon local. Grabe ka-overwhelming an pagboto niyo sa ako. Nan ini an primero sa kasaysayan san Bulan na an Mayor hinatagan niyo sin pinakadako na mayoriya. San 2004, 16,500 an boto na hinatag niyo; san 2007, 17,400 na boto. Pero niyan na 2010, mas dako-dako na boto an inpaimod niyo sa paagi sin 23,300 na boto. Nan maski pa ngane biriyoon an boto san duwa ko na kalaban sa politika, naglalamang pa gihapon ako sa kanira sin sobra diyes mil na boto. Nan dire lang tabi yuon, binotohan pa niyo an pito sa mga kapartido ko na mga Konsehales, mayoriya na ini sa Sangguniang Bayan. Natubod ako na ini na pagdesisyon niyo niyan sayo na apirmasyon o pagkumporme sa amo pag-administrar san ato bungto.

Dire ko maiwasan sa okasyon na ini, na magpahayag sa iyo na ini na nag-agi na Kampanya nan Eleksiyon, sa pamate ko, mao na an pinaka-emosyonal na Eleksiyon para sa amo. Masasabi ko na mao ini an pinaka-emosyonal, nan nagdara sa amo sin grabe na kamunduan sa dahilan na nakahampang namo an sayo na grupo sin mga kandidato na wara na sin hinimo sa tribuna o entablado kundi isabotahe, pakaraoton nan raw-ayon an pangaran san Pamilya De Castro sa hampang san Publiko sa Bulan. Alagad, tinios mi yuon, pinasensiya, pinatawad, nan dire kami nagbaba sa level nan klase san kanira pamumulitika nan pangampanya. Mas naghurandig nan nagtiwala kami sa pagiging matured san mga taga-Bulan. Mas nagtubod kami sa konsensiyoso na pagtimbang san mga taga-Bulan, nan sa pagdesisyon niyo para sa ato puturo. Personal namo na kaogmahan na dire kamo nadara san klase san kanira pangampanya, alagad lalo niyo pinaimod tabi na habo kirita sini na mga paagi sin politika.

Sa parte po namo na Pamilya De Castro, ini po na pagboto niyo sa ako na makumplehan ko an saako ikatolo na turno, sayo na pagpaimod tabi pambihira na paghatag po niyo na mga taga-Bulan sin pagtiwala nan pagpadaba sa amo. Kun iisipon baga, batog pa kan Guiming nan hasta niyan na turno, onom na na turno na dire niyo kami sinalidahan, nan bihirahonon an irog sini na mga situasyon politika sa ato komunidad. Alagad gusto mi tabi ipaisi sa iyo na dahilan sini na kumpiansa niyo, lalo tabi kami nagpapakumbaba sa iyo. Permi nakatanom sa puso nan isip namo na ini na tiwala inpahudam lang niyo sa amo. Nan aram namo na wara sin bagay na permanente sa kinab-an, lalo na an pagpugol sin autoridad nan poder. Naglilipas nan naglalaos an mga lideres. Importantehon didi na pilosopiya an tungkol sa integridad sin serbisyo publiko.

Sa mga dire nakasabay sa ako dahil sa manlaen-laen na rasones, personal man o politika, inpapaabot ko sa iyo na huyuon tabi an ungod ko na pagrespeto sa derecho nan desisyon niyo. Padagos ako na mahinguha, bilang mayor nan magurang san bungto ta para sa kaayadan san entero. Dire tabi ako Mayor san mga nagsuporta lang sa ako, kundi Mayor tabi ako san entero na taga-Bulan, nan responsibildad ko an kaayadan san entero na taga-Bulan. Padagos ako na mahimo sin paagi, na awt pa man, magkasarabay nan magkasarayo kirita. Kirita-kita na mga taga-Bulan an dalan sa pag-unhan o pag-roro ta; wara iba kundi kirita–kita an madaramayan.

An saiyo tiwala, suporta nan pagsakripisyo sosolian namo sin tunay na pagserbisyo segun san mandando san amo posisyon sa abot san amo makakaya.

IV. PILOSOPIYA POLITIKAL SAN ADMINISTRASYON DE CASTRO:

Sa Administrasyon san De Castro naging pilosopiya political na namo na an ananuman na desisyon, pagmanehar, pag-unhan o pagbabag-o san Komunidad, an dapat na sentro an Tawo, kita na mga Bulaneno. Pagtubod san amo Administrasyon na an kada ciudadano ta may dignidad na dapat irespeto, ipromoter nan paunhanon. Ini sa paagi sin Empowerment o an derecho na makapartisipar sa pagbilog sin mga desisyon para sa bungto ta. Mangyayari yoon sa paagi sin sayo na responsable na paggogobierno. We as leaders, are called to that Social Responsibility and a Concientisized Leadership that shall inspire our people to action and actualize and concretize the potentials of our people and our community.

Sa solod sin dowa na turno o seis anyos na ako an saiyo Mayor, naghinguha an saamo liderato na makaambag nan makadanun sa pagpundar, pagtindog nan pagpatalubo sini na bungto ta. Inaako namo na dire man kami an dahilan kun nano kay progresibo nan mayad an bungto ta. Kamu na mga ciudadano an dahilan kun nano kay progresibo nan mayad an bungto ta. Kami na mga lideres kasangkapan lang na mahatagan direksiyon yoon na progreso nan kaayadan. Magiging arogante kami kun sabihon namo na kami na mga lideres an nagdara sin progreso sa Bulan. Dire tabi. Kamo tabi an dahilan san pagprogreso ta. We leaders are just stewards of the community. This is a fundamental political philosophy that should make us leaders serve with humility.

Sa solod sini na primerong duwa ko na turno, naghinguha an saiyo lingkod, kaupod an Sangguniang Bayan, na makalatag sin mga programa nan mga proyekto na makadanun sa pag-unhan san komunidad ta. Pinulsuhan nato an mga pangangaipo san ato mga ciudadano, both real and perceived, maski ngane baga daghanun an mga limitasyon ta, lalo na sa budget, pondo o rekursos pinansiyal. Pero dire man lang pinansiya an kaipuhan para sa sayo na komunidad, kundi an mayad nan matoninong na pag-urupod-upod nan an pagmantenir sin mas masarig nan matibay na social fabric san mga Bulaneno.

Over the last six years, despite our limitations, our Local Government Unit tried to be as creative and as resourceful in order to meet the needs of our constituents.

V. MGA PLANO SAN GOBIERNO LOKAL, 2010-2013:

Sa aga, Hulyo 1, mabatog na naman an panibag-o na turno san amo Administrasyon. Panibag-o ini na agyat sa amo na mga elihido na lideres, alagad padagos kita na ingigiyahan san bisyon nan misyon nato na makamantenir sin sayo na trangkilo, matoninong nan nagkakasarayo na komunidad, nagbabantay nan nagpopromoter san dignidad san ato mga konstituentes, nagpoprotehir san ato kapalibutan, habang insususog nato an sayo na sustainable development nan progreso san bungto ta, basi mapakay-ad ta an kamutangan san ato mga ciudadano.

An masunod na tolo kataon importante para sa ako sa dahilan na gusto ko man makabilin sin sayo na legasiya sa komunidad ta — legasiya sin tultol, mayad nan de-integridad na serbisyo publiko. Kun anano an naimud niyo na kahigusan nan seryoso na trabaho sini na nakaagi na duwa na turno, mas lalo pa namo inpapangako na maiimudan niyo kami sin mas masigasig, mas maagap na pag-asikaso. Dire tabi mabag-o an klase sin panerbihan namo sa iyo, nan dire mabag-o an klase sin paki-upod namo saiyo.

Onra nan kaogmahan ko, na ilatag niyan sa iyo, an mga plano nan programa san ato Gobierno Lokal sa maabot na tolo kataon, sa paagi san ako Opisina nan Administrasyon.

UNA – Ipapadagos nato an HELEN PROGRAM — Health, Edukasyon, Livelihood o Pagbuhay, Environment nan Nutrisyon. Sa solod sin onom kataon, ini na lima na basic services programs an naging giya ko sa pag-administrar san Bulan. Lalo nato ini i-improve o pakay-adon. Kun ananuman an naging mga kakulangan hihipnuan ta basi lalo maging episyente an delivery ta sin basic services; Sa lado san Edukasyon, naging mainit ini na isyu san nakaagi na Eleksiyon. An ato mga educational programs lalo nato i-institutionalize, pero realistic, segun sa kakayahan ta sa pondo o budget local. Nagpa- preparar na ako sin sayo na komprehensibo na Educational Assistance Program para sa mga poor but deserving Bulaneno College Students basi maka-ayuda sa kanira pag-escuela.

Mapatindog kita sin mas dako na Bulan Health Center nan Birthing Facility didi sa may Barangay Aquino, botnga san 509th Police Station nan Municipio. Isyu baga ini na Pawa Hospital ta, pero dire nato sadire yuon na pasilidad kaya limitado an pagdanun ta doon. Mas masayon na para sa ato an mga emergencies lalo pa na duwa na an Ambulancia ta.

IKADUWA — Lalo ta tabi pakusugon an Peace and Order nan Public Safety Programs. Nagdadako an Bulan, nagdadaghan an papolasyon, mas nagdadako an mga bisita ta sa bungto. Ini sa paagi sin mas mayad nan mas episyente na Traffic Management Program, kumprehensibo na Disaster Management Program, Anti-Illegal Drugs Advocacy, nan Women and Children’s Rights Advocacies;

IKATOLO — Hatagan ta sin mayor na atensiyon an pagpakusog san Ekonomiya ta sa Bulan, sa negosyo, sa pag-oma, pangisda; Hahatagan ta pansin an livelihood trainings ta; techno-vocational skills enhancement programs para sa mga out-of school youths, nan graduates nato; job placement activities kadanon an mga placement agencies. Plano ta na pakusugon nan ma-institutionalize an Coastal Resource Management Programs pareho sin pag-instolar mga artificial reefs sa ato kadagatan basi mag-daghan an isda ta; pakusugon lalo an Bantay-Dagat program; mapaadal kita sa Seaweeds Production kay may resources kita didi; Nan mabutang kita saro na Revolving Fund para sa kapakinabangan san mga paraoma nan mga paraisda. Ipupursige ta na an Investment Incentives activities para sa mga investor sa negosyo didi sa Bulan; Mabutang kita Bagsakan ng Bayan sa may Old Jeepney Terminal sa relanse, para sa mga produkto ta didi sa Bulan; lalo nato mamanteniron an mga Farm-to Market Roads nato — padagos na pag-abri, pagmantenir nan pag-improve suon na mga arterial roads para sa mga kabarangay ta; Nan mahanap kita paagi na maka source out kita mga proyekto pang-imprastraktura, hale kan Governor nan National Government na makadanon sa pagbuhay ta didi sa Bulan.

Dahil wara na kita masyado problema sa Bus Terminal sa Fabrica, popokusan ko naman niyan na didi sa Poblacion mahingayad, mapormal nan mapagayon an paradahan o Terminal san mga paraTraysikol nan Parapadyak, nan kaupod na didi an de-kalidad na Jeepney nan FX Vans Terminal. Sayo ini na sector sin pagbuhay na maw-ot nato na mapamutang man sin mayad.

IKAOPAT — Ipapadagos ta na an sayo na komprehensibo na Tourism, History and Culture Heritage Development Program. Ini na programa sa turismo, historya nan kultura an kalag (soul) sin sayo na komunidad. Pobre kuno an sayo na komunidad na wara labot o pakamangno o pag-intindi sa sadire na kaagi-agi, nan inutil kono an mga lideres na dire nagmamangno sa kasaysayan san kaniya komunidad na mao an sugpon nan giya/guide san presente nan puturo ta. An sabi sin sayo na German Philosopher, na ngaya, a community is only politically mature depending upon its own historical maturity. Mapokus kita sa sayo na comprehensibo na Poblacion Improvement Program kay basi kaaya-aya an ato Poblacion. An Pblacion baga an pinaka-bintana san ato bungto.

IKALIMA — Mahanap na kita, nan kun puwede, makapatindog na sin bag-o na Sementeryo o municipal memorial park, possible sa may Lahong o Beguin o Fabrica, harayo na sa sentro dahilan na may long-term focus ini.

Sa Lunes, Hulyo 5, hihimuon nato an Executive- Legislative meeting sa Inaugural Session san Sangguniang Bayan na inpapamunuan niyan ni Vice- Mayor Marnellie. Imbitado tabi nato an entero na Kapitanes san Bulan nan an mga Department Heads san Municipio kay basi mailatag nato an Executive nan Legislative Agenda para sa masunod na tolo kataon. Didi nakasalalay an magiging direksiyon san ato Gobierno Lokal. An saako Executive Agenda ipapahayag ko sa kanira sa Lunes.

Sa niyan, mas mapapadali na nato na maaraman an mga kaipuhan pangkomunidad nato dahilan sa naipamutang na nato an Community-Based Monitoring System o CBMS, nan an SLGR o State of Local Governance Report. Ini an reference points nato san mga development prospects nato para sa Bulan.

VI. PAGLAOM PARA SA BUNGTO TA:

Sa primerong duwa na turno, may had-it ako na basi kun ikumparar an amo administrasyon sa mga nakaagi na administrasyon, nan dire ko maabot an inlalaom sa sayo na lider. Alagad niyan, yuon na had-it nasalidahan sin mas hararom na kumpiansa, dahilan sa inpaimod nan inpahudam niyo na tiwala sa ako tabi. Niyan, mas inspirado nan mas may pokus nan direksiyon ako dahil sa iyo.

This Inauguration Event is a moment of challenge, and of hope, of faith, and of thanksgiving. As it is necessary, we shall move on to help better the Bulaneno Community, not in a laxed pace, but vigorous and strong, sure and undaunted.

Bilang Lider, aram ko tabi na nakaatang sa ako an magub-at na kargo sin sayo na magurang. Simbagon ko ini dire lang sa iyo kundi sa Mahal na Dios. Simbagon namo ini dire lang sa presente na henerasyon kundi parte man kami na responsable sa kaayadan san maabot na henerasyon nan puturo san bungto ta. An pagdesisyon ta niyan sayo na pagdesisyon sa puturo nan destino ta.

Ini tabi na pagdesisyon niyo na itiwala sa amo an pagrenda san gobierno local ta dire namo sasayangon. Hihirutan mi ini na tiwala, nan papakay-adon namo an pag-asikaso sa obligasyon na inpakargo niyo sa amo.

Pero, aayuon ko gihapon tabi an saiyo mahalagahon na paki-kooperar nan kolaborasyon sa ato Gobierno Lokal. Entero an mga plano nan hihimuon namo wara saysay kun dire tabi niyo kami danunan. Daghanun an gusto namo himuon, pero kaipuhan mi an danun niyo.

An sabi ni Presidente Abraham Lincoln san Amerika, na ngaya, “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time…”. Ngaya, an kadianisan san puturo kay kada adlaw mo lang ini inlalakaw. Simplehon lang ini na kaisipan pero hararomon an kahulugan.

Precioso an kada adlaw kun ini hatagan mo sin puso nan kahulugan. Inpapangako ko sa iyo na hihimuon ko, bilang Mayor niyo, na an kada adlaw magiging adlaw sin serbisyo publiko na may integridad nan may pagmakulog. Padaba ta ini na bungto nan dire ta siya pababayaan.

Magdaranunan nan magkasarayo kita para sa kaayadan san bungto ta. Salamat, nan Dios Mabalos tabi sa iyo entero!    //

                                                                                          ——–end——-

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Filed under Bulan Municipal, Mayor Helen De Castro - LGU Bulan, PIO- Bulan, Politics

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.

                                                                     —-end—–

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Filed under Over a Cup of Coffee, Politics, Views and Concern

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.

                                       

  ———end——-

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Filed under Commentary, Oliver Geronilla's Column, Politics

Mayor De Castro Wins By Landslide

by Tonyboy Gilana- PIO Bulan

 

Bulan Town has new Vice-mayor!

It’s a resounding mandate by the People of Bulan to allow Mayor Helen De Castro another term, her third and last, as she easily defeated perennial candidate Attorney Redentor Guyala. De Castro got 23,350 against Guyala’s 9,705. Boy Gogola of the Liberal Party got 3,305. De Castro won all 63 barangays and all 83 precincts of Bulan.

Meanwhile, Marnellie Ballesteros Robles got the nod of 11,490 voters as against the 7,291 votes on incumbent vice-mayor Manuel Gogola.

Seven of the 8 candidates of Mayor De Castro for the Municipal Council won, while only one from Guyala group made it. The following councilors, out of 25, were voted to sit in the municipal council: Ronaldo Gocoyo, Tessie Guran, Guillermo De Castro, Jr., Bernard Hao, Chito Delmonte, Ronnie Gigantone, Recto Valeriano, and Simmy Gerona. Only Valeriano comes from the local opposition party.

Meanwhile, Former Governor Raul R. Lee was once more voted to the gubernatorial office by trouncing incumbent Second District Congressman Joey Solis. Guiming De Castro of Bulan lost to Kruni Escudero in the vice-gubernatorial race.

The final count for the Second Congressional District is still being fought by Cardo Golpeo of Bulan and Gubat Mayor Ding Ramos.

In the First District, incumbent Congressman Sonny Escudero is on his way to complete a third term in Congress. He defeated former Casigutan Mayor Edwin Boboy Hamor.

This is the first in the history of Bulan that a mayoralty candidate has won in all 63 barangays and in all precincts./

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Filed under Announcement, Bulan Municipal, Mayor Helen De Castro - LGU Bulan, News, PIO- Bulan, Politics

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.

Reframing politics

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.

A peacebuilder

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.

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Filed under Culture, Politics, Views and Concern

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

———————————————————————

 

 

PROPOSED

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:

 

 Section 1.

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.

 

Section 2.

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.

 

Section 3.

 EFFECTIVITY

 

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.

 

 

SIGNATORIES CANDIDATES

(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.)

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Filed under Announcement, Atty. Benji's Column, Legal Corner, Politics, Views and Concern

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.”

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