Saturday, May 28, 2016

Joblessness, misery amid ‘economic rise’

 (The Philippine Star) 
Noynoy Aquino’s Presidency is to end in days, but he has not learned the first lesson in popular economics. That is, that glowing figures mean nothing to the hungry man.
He trumpets a “better-than-forecast” economic growth in the first quarter of 2016. At 6.9 percent, Philippine GDP supposedly was the best in the region. China had 6.7 percent, Vietnam 5.5, Indonesia 4.9, and Malaysia 4.2.
Yet, as Ibon Research points up, unemployment is also the worst in Asia. Joblessness means poverty. “Makakain ba namin ‘yang mga numero (Will those numbers feed us)?” the miserable folk would ask.
About 2.6 million were without work in 2015, 6.5 percent of the labor force. The figure excludes Leyte-Samar, still reeling due to scanty rehab from super typhoon that struck three years ago.
Most of the jobless are in the rural areas. P-Noy’s very figures show that, despite the supposed spectacular GDP growth, agriculture slid 4.4 percent in the past four quarters. One-third of the workforce is in agriculture, and more than half of poor families are in farming.
Two-thirds of the jobless are males. In this gender-discriminating land, that also means the more numerous working females are underpaid and overworked. Total underemployment in 2015 was 18.5 percent, or 7.2 million warm bodies.
Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1Three-fourths of the workless are youths aged 15-24, and below middle age at 25-34. They are at the prime of their lives but cannot rise. No wonder they formed the age bloc that mostly voted for change that Rody Duterte symbolizes.
* * *
Three-fourths of the workless are youths aged 15-24, and below middle age at 25-34. They are at the prime of their lives but cannot rise. No wonder they formed the age bloc that mostly voted for change that Rody Duterte symbolizes.
* * *
P-Noy’s wrong policies caused the joblessness and inequitable incomes. Unjust taxation, crony capitalism, and unbridled borrowings favored the rich and propertied. The poor became poorer, while the middle class suffered under-productivity due to lack of infrastructures.
The 50 richest Filipinos’ net worth of $74 billion in 2014 was a staggering 20 percent of the country’s GDP, the Freedom from Debt Coalition noted. No wonder that 50 percent of Filipinos, 11.2 million families, rated themselves poor as of the Social Weather Station polls of December 2015.
P-Noy kept borrowing, mostly for feeding programs, but stinted on infrastructure works that would have spurred jobs and businesses. Of the government’s total debts of P6.4 trillion, P4.8 trillion was incurred under P-Noy in 2011-2015.
Supposedly it was smart to borrow new money at present low rates to pay off old debts that had higher interest. Yet more likely it was for secret commissions. P-Noy’s finance men are married to the very bankers who make stupendous bonuses from collecting early and then re-lending to the government.
Only on paper was the P4.8-trillion debt supposed to improve sea and airports, and build new railways. In 2015 P-Noy kept P780 billion new borrowings in the bank. Taxpayers are footing the interest on the government loans, but got no transport facilities in return.
Whatever few deals that P-Noy’s men granted in transportation only went to business cronies and Liberal Party-mates. Those are the only ones who exclusively enjoy the 6.9 percent economic growth. P-Noy’s policy has even been to keep the crooked transport officials.
Economists calculate that, for every P150 billion in government spending, GDP kicks up one percentage point. Had P-Noy spent the P780 billion, the economy would have grown five percentage points higher. More Filipinos would have been employed directly and indirectly from the infrastructure works.
But that was not to be. Instead, hunger worsened in the rural areas. P-Noy’s agriculture managers were too busy racketeering in rice and vegetables. They withheld farm aid to those worst hit by El Niño drought. In Kidapawan they even rained bullets on hungry farmers begging for food and seedlings.
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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

The worm turns

posted May 26, 2016 at 12:01 am by Jojo Robles
The worm, as Shakespeare sagely observed, has turned. And if DAP is going to be reinvestigated, can Mamasapano be far behind?

If there is anything that President Noynoy Aquino must be deathly scared of, it’s an impartial revisiting of his unconstitutional and illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program. The program released P144.38 billion in government funds to various agencies, including Congress, from 2011 to 2013.
It was slapped down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court soon after it was discovered to have been used to bribe members of the Senate in order to secure the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012. Aquino, in television addresses, defended his “cross-border” transfer of DAP funds, which the high court shot down anyway.
Of course, the Supreme Court, in a subsequent ruling on Malacañang’s motion for reconsideration, gave Aquino and his co-author of DAP, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, a fig leaf to cover their behinds with. The tribunal mitigated its earlier decision by giving Aquino and Abad the benefit of the doubt through the so-called operative fact doctrine, saying that the disbursement program may have been implemented “in good faith.”
But the ruling will provide scant protection for Aquino when the new secretary of justice, Vitaliano Aguirre, goes back on the matter. After all, the first ruling was perfectly clear on DAP —huge sums were illegally disbursed and were never, ever returned.
Aquino deployed all of his propaganda artillery, in and out of the palace press office, to control the damage of DAP. There was also the fact that, because he enjoyed immunity from suit, Aquino could not be charged for misusing the fund during his term.
The operative term, of course, is “during his term.” And it is to the credit of Aguirre and his principal, President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte, that they are willing to consider reopening the DAP case even before Aquino has removed his ashtrays and chicharon wrappers from the presidential palace.
(The irony of Aguirre’s involvement as a private prosecutor in the Corona impeachment trial, where he became famous for drawing the ire of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago when he covered his ears during one of the feisty senator’s tirades, should not be lost on Aquino, Abad and all the others who conceived, implemented and ultimately benefited from DAP. From pursuing Corona at the behest of Aquino, Aguirre has now been given the job of filing charges on the misuse of the fund “no matter who gets hurt,” according to him.)
And if there is any scandal that took place during Aquino’s vengeful and thankfully ending term that has the potential of sending the president behind bars, it’s DAP. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to run to the supermarket to stock up on popcorn.
The worm has truly turned. And the tradition of throwing ex-presidents in jail seems certain to continue.
* * *
The details of another scandal—there is no other way to describe it—that Aquino is scared will come to light involves the killing by his administration’s “peace partners,” the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force in January last year in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. If and when the incoming Duterte administration takes a look into that monumental crime perpetrated by Aquino, it’s safe to assume that the new ex-president will stay in jail even longer than Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has.
Aquino proclaimed loud and long that he was not involved in the Mamasapano massacre, that he was gypped by his own people, particularly Generals Alan Purisima, his suspended, graft-prone PNP chief, and Getulio Napeñas, chief of the SAF at the time and the designated scapegoat. But despite so many investigations and cover-ups, the fact remains that Aquino sent 44 commandos on a mission to capture a terrorist but failed —perhaps even refused—to get them out when they were set upon by his bloodthirsty peace partners.
Aquino famously declared that he would bring with him to his grave the killing of 44 commandos in Mamasapano. But that vow is not nearly good enough for the families of the troopers who were left without artillery or air support as they were butchered for an entire day in that godforsaken cornfield.
Aquino will have to answer for his sins of omission and commission, since he had command responsibility and knew exactly what went down that fateful January day. And if he is finally made to account for what he did and did not do as far as DAP and Mamasapano are concerned, that would be more than enough for me.
Let’s see how brave Aquino really is once he is shorn of his immunity from suit a little over a month from now. I can hardly wait.

Stroke Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore!

Stroke is a medical term used to describe a brain attack that comes as a result of irregular blood circulation in the brain. According to official statistics, stroke is among the top 5 reasons of deaths in the United States. The situation is similar all over the world. Brain strokes are also one of the leading causes of handicaps in adults.
Stroke Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore!
People who have experienced brain stroke have experienced either hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke. The latter is triggered by blocked or tightened canals that lead to the brain and as a result of that blood supply in the brain is inadequate. Hemorrhagic stroke is very rare and it is caused by aneurysm burs tin the brain or blood vessel seeping.
By learning more about the early signs and symptoms of this health issue, you will be able to protect yourself and lower the chances of experiencing brain stroke. Whenever you notice some of the symptoms, you should talk to a doctor right away. This is the only way to prevent the serious consequences of this health problem and get the right type of treatment.
Each type of brain stroke is marked with a few different symptoms and signs and the consequences are different in different individuals. However, all strokes share one thing – the symptoms usually appear all of a sudden. Now let’s highlight the most typical symptoms and signs of stroke:
  • Difficulties talking and not being able to express yourself in a proper way
  • Difficulties strolling, imbalance and lack of control
  • Face and limbs numbness that usually affects one side of the body.
There are few other symptoms of stroke that occur in many people:
  • Eyesight problems in one of the eyes or in both eyes
  • Total paralysis
  • Unexplained and sudden depression.
We will now show you what FAST acronym often associated with stroke prevention really means. Thanks to this explanation you will be able to identify the symptoms of stroke easily:
  • Face – check all the elements of your face. Do you think that your smile looks normal? You should also examine sagginess on your face.
  • Arms – Lift up the arms. Find out whether some of the arms drift downwards.
  • Speech – Pick a phrase and say it aloud a few times. Do you have any difficulties doing this?
  • Time – Every second counts, so ask for medical help right away.
Don’t forget that these early symptoms appear all of a sudden. Don’t sit and wait for the situation to resolve on its own. Contact an ambulance whenever you notice some of these symptoms and signs.
Avoid driving to the hospital because there is no time for that and you might cause a major auto accident. The medical team that will get to your home will start the procedure right away.
In some cases, all these symptoms can go away after a few minutes, but you must ask for help in any case. These unpleasant episodes are known as TIAs or transient ischemic assaults and they can boost the chances of developing a complete stroke.
There are many individuals who don’t know the difference between migraine and stroke and that’s why we have decided to help you make the difference. The symptoms of stroke appear all of a sudden while migraine is a health problem that develops over some period of time.
Symptoms of migraine can sometimes be beneficial because they increase stimuli. People dealing with migraines may see zigzag patterns or flashing colors and lights. TIA symptoms begin developing with some signs that lead to discomfort like decreased vision, hearing and limb strength.
Cases of stroke were recorded in people of all ages, but there are certain groups of people who are at greater risk. This is a list of things that increase the risk of developing stroke:
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Being 55 years old or older
  • Heart muscle issues, atrial fibrillation and blood disorders
  • Aesthetic issues, migraines
  • Genetics.
If you want to prevent stroke, you must be active. Start by introducing healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and start exercising.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Leni Robredo proclaimed ‘vice president’! Altogether now: ‘Ang bayan kong Pilipiiiinaaassz…’

May 28, 2016
by benign0
Congratulations are in order for “vice president” Leni Robredo. At least the billions Uncle Peping spent yielded a bit of return-on-investment (ROI). The real question is a bit more confronting, however:
Do Filipinos deserve the same congratulations for Robredo’s “win”?
Think about it. Filipinos elected a prayerful widow to a top executive office. Again. What has really been achieved?
More important to note is the bigger context. Rodrigo Duterte’s ascent to power is now widely regarded to be the result of a protest vote — a vote against President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III’s legacy which, itself, is the culmination of the 30-year legacy of the original Prayerful Widow, the late former President Cory Aquino.
So can the proclamation of Leni Robredo by the Philippines’ biggest criminal syndicate be considered a “win” for the Philippines? For Robredo’s supporters, the answer will, of course, be a resounding YES! “Leni is my VP!” and all that. Why? Because Leni, we are told, saved the Filipino people from “another Marcos”.
And so this raises an even more confronting question:
What is more profoundly embarrassing to the global community? Another Marcos being elected? Or another prayerful housewife ascending power?
The answer to that question, of course depends on how Filipinos want to style their collective character. For now, the more important principle to note that is relevant here is the notion of how Filipinos expect different results and yet choose to do the same things over and over again. Even more noteworthy is the irony that escapes Robredo’s supporters, many of whom, for the very same reason they support her, deeply detest Duterte. That irony is in coming back to square one — back to the nostalgia of 1986 when a widow clad in yellow “won”. Thus a comfy familiarity serves as the backdrop to the euphoria of a clique of Filipino society suffering minds imprisoned by an obsolete political spell.
This is the widow that set the Philippines down the path to a point that left voters no choice but to vote on the basis of a protest. I was talking about Cory, by the way. With regard to “vice president” Leni Robredo, all we can do for now is ye ol’ familiar…
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

The mystery of why otherwise intelligent people support Leni Robredo

May 26, 2016
by benign0
Why do smart people support vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo and proclaim her as “my VP”? Indeed, it is a mystery. Robredo’s only value-proposition to the Filipino voter is her being a widow and being an overall nice woman. Other than that, there seems to be no other basis to substantiate any conclusion that she would make a better VP than the other candidates. In short, the choice of Robredo as “my VP” is a purely emotional choice. There is no science behind it.
This makes the whole “Data Science” War surrounding the mounting evidence of electoral fraud surrounding this year’s election a bit ironic. A while back, University of the Philippines statistician David Yap and a certain Benjamin Vallejo independently stumbled upon a disturbing pattern in the way election results were reported by the media. The details of those findings are set out in my article, 1.37 million ‘registered voters’ discrepancy observed in Unofficial Results reporting operations!
More whistleblowers were emboldened by these acts of courage and a resulting torrent of evidence of electoral fraud that cast ever darkening shadows of doubt on the integrity of this year’s and previous years’ elections have come to light. Foremost of these is revelations surrounding the unauthorised tampering of election equipment by Marlon Garcia of Smartmatic (supplier of election voting, transmission, and counting systems) in the midst of the count, which dealt a fatal blow to the credibility of the COMELEC.
Since then, one or the other two-bit “data scientist” and academician has emerged from the woodwork in the Liberal Party camp of Robredo initiating quaint attempts to quash any further inquiry into the soundness of the elections and the way the Philippines’ Commission on Elections have managed. The irony in how these “data scientists” are going about suppressing calls to investigate electoral fraud is in how they now presume to employ “science” to their arguments.
The trouble with these “data scientists” is that they lack the credibility to back their position.
A recent example is the debacle surrounding a statement issued by 100-plus self-styled “data scientists” and “academicians” that was published on the Facebook page of a certain Reinabelle Reyes (refer here for details). Reyes is a self-avowed Leni Robredo supporter who also happens to be an “astrophysicist”. On her Facebook page is an image (at the time of this writing publicly-accessible) of her posed beside a graphic proclaiming “Leni is my VP” (shown below).
Recently too, De La Salle University (DLSU) professor Antonio Contreras (who joined Yap in the push to attract more awareness to electoral fraud) had decided to sue University of the Philippines physics professor Ian Vega for libel following the appearance of slanderous statements against him posted by Vega on Facebook. Like Reyes, Vega is an avowed Robredo supporter and anti-Marcos activist.
This leaves us with a chicken-and-egg question surrounding what is really a blatantly anti-science stand being taken by these two eminent physicists from the Ateneo and UP:
Which came first, the “data science” surrounding their dismissal of fraud allegations, or their Robredo support?
In contrast, Yap, Contreras, and even Anonymous Philippines (who are conducting their own investigations) have categorically stated that their efforts are not motivated by partisan positions. For them the effort is in the spirit of true transparency and scientific inquiry. More interesting, in fact, is how many others have come forward, stated up-front how they are not supporters of Robredo rival Bongbong Marcos, but fully support efforts to reveal the truth about electoral fraud in this year’s elections and those in the past (specifically those in which Smartmatic have been involved in). The mystery deepens. Apparently, academic intelligence does not seem to be a strong contributing factor to the soundness of one’s political choices and positions. Worse, in the wrong combination, such as in the case of these “100+ data scientists and academicians”, a lot of damage to society could be wrought — in terms of irresponsible behaviour fuelled by a beholdenness to one’s own perceived academic superiority.
My theory is that the higher up you go in society, and the further into the circle of “polite” society you immerse yourself in, the less you talk about politics. Thus in the spirit of keeping things “polite”, some of us actually do ourselves and our immediate circles a whole heap of disservice by avoiding real conversations — often ones that necessarily involve impolite talk.
This is a plausible explanation to the mystery of why chi-chi Atenistas and a whole bevy of high-horsed “data scientists” and “astrophysicists” support Leni Robredo. Robredo is the polite choice. For that matter, the Liberal Party, as they’ve in the last couple of years branded themselves around the now-discredited Yellow political persona that characterised the last 30 years, is regarded as the only polite political choice. As such, it is the easy choice for those who are too lazy to think. And, as is evident now, academic intelligence does not make one immune to the strong temptation to succumb to lazy thinking.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

From 3 to 300, PDP-Laban forms ‘supermajority’ in House

From three to nearly 300.

The Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the political party of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, has cobbled together a “supermajority” coalition in the incoming 17th Congress less than three weeks after the May 9 elections.

Incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez said PDP-Laban was close to achieving its goal of creating one of the biggest coalitions in Congress’ history after taking in 37 House members from the independent party-coalition bloc in the 17th Congress.

Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe estimated that PDP-Laban’s Coalition for Change has gathered as many as 260 allies or 90 percent of the estimated 290 members in the next Congress.

Batocabe said this was an extraordinary feat in itself as PDP-Laban started with only three House members on its roster—Valenzuela Rep. Erik Martinez, Lanao del Sur Rep. Jun Papandayan, and Alvarez.

Ako Bicol is among the 32 party-list groups who joined the PDP-Laban as coalition partners. The rest are  1-Ang Edukasyon; AAMBIS-OWA, 1-Care, 1-Pacman, 1-Sagip, Aangat Tayo, Aasenso, Abang Lingkod, ABS, ACTS-OFW, AGAP, Agbiag, Agri, Akbayan, Amin, Ang Kabuhayan, Angkla, A-Teacher, BH, Buhay, Butil, Cibac, Coop-NATCCO, Kabayan, Kalinga, Kusug Tausug, Manila Teachers, Mata, PBA, TUCP, and Yacap. Party-list bloc is made up 73 members. Batocabe explained that 8 other party-list members have been weeded out of the bloc because they joined other political parties.

“Alvarez wanted a clean alliance, not cluttered, because he wants to deal directly with parties and not blocs,” said Batocabe.

Batocabe said Alvarez would recognize the party-list bloc as a political party on its own, which would be entitled to its proportionate share of full, standing committee chairs and memberships for distribution among majority members. Batocabe said Rep. Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA was being groomed as a Deputy Speaker, the first party-list member to hold such a lofty post. Batocabe said Alvarez was also open to converting the special committees on climate change and maritime affairs as full committees.

The PDP-Laban has signed a coalition agreement with Nacionalista Party with 50 members, Nationalist People’s Coalition with 45 members, National Unity Party with 40 members, and Lakas-CMD with four members. The PDP-Laban is expected to emerge as the single biggest party with at least 80 members by the end of its raid on the Liberal Party’s ranks. Alvarez said he expected to reduce the minority bloc to “bite size” or 20 members.

Batocabe said that having a supermajority in the House was important as this would ensure smooth approval of Duterte’s legislative agenda, specifically the reimposition of the death penalty and Charter change to liberalize economic restrictions and shift to federalism.

Aside from the party-list bloc, six House members also shifted to the PDP-Laban. They are Estrelita Suansing of Nueva Ecija, Along Malapitan of Caloocan City,  Ricky Sandoval of Malabon-Navotas, Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino of Cavite, Roy Loyola of Cavite, and Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo of Quezon City.

Electoral fraud activist Antonio Contreras to sue UP professor Ian Vega for libel!

May 25, 2016
by benign0
In a post on Facebook today De La Salle University (DLSU) professor Antonio Contreras announced his intent to sue University of the Philippines (UP) physics professor Ian Vega for libel. Contreras writes…
Today is the day I say enough is enough.
I have decided to file a criminal case of libel against one physics professor. And it is appropriate that I have to start with another academic.
Now, I am angry.
University of the Philippines physics professor Ian Vega
University of the Philippines physics professor Ian Vega
This follows a comment made by Vega on Facebook (screen-captured by Contreras here) in which he attacked Contreras using baldly-false claims about the latter’s qualifications, his motives in spearheading a campaign to expose electoral fraud seemingly perpetrated by the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and his intellectual capacity as a DLSU academic. In his Facebook post, Contreras quotes Vega saying…
[Contreras is] either slow, too proud or paid. Whatever the case, he’s a sorry excuse for an academic. There I said it.
Contreras, working with expert statistician David Yap had been working hard collecting and analysing data to validate long-held suspicions that the COMELEC and its pet supplier of voting technology, Smartmatic, have conspired not only to rig this year’s elections but also that of the 2010 and 2013 elections. On all occasions, Philippine corporate media had seemingly successfully and consistently buried stories to do with incidents that point to this suspect partnership.
Initial data analyses in the early days of the vote count revealed disturbing patterns in the ensuing results over the period since Smartmaric employee Marlon Garcia allegedly implemented an unauthorised change in the system. These patterns were spotted by independent observers one of whom was Yap.
Since then, Contreras and Yap have been the subject of a concerted vilification campaign from various quarters allied with the Liberal Party and its embattled vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo in an effort to discredit a mounting popular and long-overdue movement to call out irregularities in the way the COMELEC has been managing elections in the Philippines and keeping suppliers of critical voting technology under proper control.
Many Filipinos look to both Contreras and Yap for leadership in a growing movement to rid the Philippines of a long tradition of election cheating. Anonymous Philippines for its part have announced their own on-going non-partisan investigation into electoral fraud and have indicated that they are close to submitting the results of that investigation to the proper authorities. Recently, IT experts hired by COMELEC and Smartmatic came forward and blew the whistle on nonsensical orders they received from the COMELEC to recall defective Smartmatic vote counting machines (VCMs) and consolidated counting servers (CCSs) to their Sta Rosa Laguna offices rather than release standby units to replace them.
The COMELEC, being a government agency is not protected by any notion of “presumption of innocence” as its apologists assert and, as such, burden of proof of the soundness of its systems and processes as far as protecting the integrity of the vote falls squarely upon it.
Filipinos are waiting; in the case of Contreras and Yap as well as all of the victims of this travesty to Philippine democracy, waiting bravely.