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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why the Philippines is forever imprisoned by pork barrel politics

August 12, 2013
by benign0
Well now, isn’t it just so not typical of Philippine Congress to shrink away from what could be a media bonanza for the vote-hungry lot. If anything, the Pork Barrel Scam is a gold mine of media mileage for any politician who has the cojones to take the reins on this one. After all, there is nothing like a Senate or House inquiry for the purpose of “aiding legislation” that draws in the cameras and sets the tongues of Manila’s chattering classes wagging.

As North Cotabato Vice Governor Manny Piñol observed …
Indeed, this was the same Senate and House which initiated and concluded the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, the same institutions which conducted a probe into the “pabaon” system in the armed forces which led to the suicide of former AFP Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes, and the same bodies which dipped their fingers into such inane issues as sex scandals.
Today, the usually trigger-happy Senate and Congress both said it would not be a good idea to investigate its own members, with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. downplaying corruption among Congressmen.
But of course. Why open a Pandora’s Box that could bring an entire kleptocratic infrastructure down in front of national television? Seen from that perspective, Speaker Sonny Belmonte does make sense in the simple position he takes: Huh? What pork barrel scam?
I beg to differ with Vice Governor Piñol on one thing though. Congress did initiate and saw through the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Corona. But did it follow-through on the main legislative learning from that whole exercise, the archaic and justice-process-hoblling nature of the Philippines’ bank secrecy laws?
Of course not.
Like this whole pork barrel fiasco we are currently embroiled in, bank secrecy is also a key component of the Philippines’ deeply-embedded kleptocratic infrastructure. To count on legislators to investigate issues that may very well impact their personal money trains is just plain unrealistic. It’s like asking them to shoot their own feet.
Even discounting its failure to go the whole nine yards and re-evaluate the purported wisdom of the country’s bank secrecy laws, the Corona trial for its part attracted more scrutiny on the lifestyles and ethical standards of the people who presumed to judge the former Chief Justice — the obvious elephant in the room that moved Ilda to write her seminal piece Some Senators who found Corona guilty committed worse crimes than what he was accused of.
As for the “anger” and “indignation” now gushing like a river as the drama surrounding the alleged misuse and misappropriation of Congress’s cherished “Priority Development Assistance Fund” (PDAF) unfolds, you just gotta wonder. Pork barrel has been around for some time and has always been a major source of corruption in government. Why all the noise only now?
Perhaps it does not help that many of the self-described “activists” who pine for a “clean” and “just” government traditionally did so under the banner of the Yellow “people power” and/or Laban movements of which key members of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan have crowned themselves princes and princesses. The interesting thing to note here is that pork barrel and the unique way it is practiced in the Philippines was a creation of the government of the late former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, mother of current President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III. This fact might go a bit of a way in explaining why calls to abolish the pork barrel in Philippine Congress in the past have never reached the crescendo we see today.
Even in the legal way that it is used, the pork barrel by its very nature results in astounding waste due to the lack of scale with which it is mobilised. This was described well by Manuel Almario in an article he wrote for theInquirer.net earlier this year…
Under the PDAF, each senator is allocated a definite sum of P200 million and each representative P70 million. While it is true that formally their participation is only to determine the project on which the funds shall be spent, and the implementation and spending shall be done by the Department of Public Works and Highways or a government agency, in practice the individual representative or senator designates the contractor for the project. Here is the opportunity for kickback.
But because of the relatively small sums involved for each district or for each senator, the PDAF is usually spent for minor or insignificant projects like barangay halls, waiting sheds, basketball courts, sports gymnasiums, scholarships for a few, dirt roads and small bridges “leading to nowhere.” Such projects are usually uneconomical and unproductive. So we often see unused waiting sheds, unkempt barangay halls sometimes used for drinking parties, easily eroded roads, broken bridges, and gyms with no equipment.
In totality, the PDAF represents a huge part of the national budget. If concentrated on big infrastructure projects like hydroelectric dams, farm-to-market roads, highways, railways, airports, seaports, power plants, educational facilities and well-equipped modern hospitals, it can contribute more substantially to regional and national development, and create employment on a large scale. What happens, however, is that the national funds are dissipated in small projects, resulting in a massive waste of government money.
Yet all this escapes the cretinous intellectual faculties of Malacañang; “…it is really the share of the constituents in the budget yung PDAF so technically, ang trabaho ng isang legislator ay to bring to the attention of the national government yung mga concerns na hindi ho napapansin on the national level ngunit kailangan ng distrito, o kaya nung bayan, o munisipyo na hindi kayang pondohan ng local government unit,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte reportedly said echoing her boss’s position on the matter. Translation of Tagalog parts: “…so technically, the job of a legislator is to bring to the attention of the national government the concerns that are noticed at the national level but are needed by the district, community, or municipality that cannot be funded by the corresponding local government unit.”
To that, the question remains: Why do we need Senators and Congressmen to channel these concerns to the national level when there already exists a communication line via the offices of the local government units themselves? Indeed, the mind is most creative in justifying itself when it comes to thievery.
Why the “anger” and “indignation” only now? Simple. Too many distractions. Too many feel-good slogans. Too many “heroes”. Too many circuses. Too many spectacles. As the old saying goes, a fool and his money are soon parted. We take stock of the “anger” and “indignation” over this or that pork barrel “scam” then feel our eyes roll upward to the sky.
[Image courtesy John Hopkins Magazine.]

Filipinos stink

August  13, 2013
by FallenAngel
Something has been bothering me these past few days. Something smelled quite fishy, but I couldn’t quite put a bead on it. The words to describe it had been escaping me.
Then it just hit me: Filipinos stink. In more ways than one.
They showed this more than ever just recently, if you saw how the Filipino fans reacted when the Gilas Pilipinas team lost to the Iranian national team in the FIBA Asia championships last Sunday. That #Puso vs #Putok thing trend that spread like wildfire? Well, Filipinos used it to describe the Gilas team and the Iranians, respectively.
Let’s explain the terms a little bit. Puso means heart, and it was the tag the fans used for the “heart of a champion” and “fighting spirit” terms to cheer for the Gilas team. Putok, on the other hand, is a slang term for body odor here in the Philippines. I’ll give you one good guess as to whom they were referring to. I don’t even know where Filipinos came up with that connection; perhaps they used the stereotype (that Filipinos have) of Indian and Middle Eastern people having offensive odors (according to the “well-refined” Filipino nose, at least). And how convenient is it that there is a slang term for body odor that starts with the letter P.
You’ve got to admit, Filipinos can be witty, if they want to.
That’s not the worst of it though. Put things together, and you come up with the underlying snide remark that Filipinos ultimately wanted to make, and did: that ultimately no matter how much “heart” the Gilas team had, they were no match for the “body odor” of their opponent. Their opponent wastoo overpowering.
Underneath all that “heart” of the fans is an utter lack of brains and good manners.
Congratulations, Gilas fans: you just set a new low with that #Puso versus #Putok statement, which combined arrogant, dramatic, flippant, moronic,pikon, racist, whiny, and vulgar all in one.
Akala ng mga Pinoy kung sino sila. Ambaho na nga ng bansa nila, ambabaho pa ng ugali nila.
Loose translation: Who do the Filipinos think they are; not only does their country stink, but their manners, too.
Yup, a group of people that stink goes hand in hand with a country that stinks. People like Claire DanesAdam CarollaNicole Lynn, and Jimmy Sieczka have learned only too well the truth about Filipinos. Especially when you call out to them just how offensive they and their odors get and insult their precious, but utterly fragile, Pinoy pride.
Filipinos play up the ethnic stereotype that Indians and Middle Easterners physically stink. As I mentioned above, this is the most likely basis for labeling the Iranian basketball players as #Putok.
Let us ask a few questions, however:
Between the Filipino fans and the Iranians, whose stink was more readilyevident?, and;
Between physical stink and stinky manners, which one is more easilyremedied?
You can take the Filipino out of the barok, but can you take the barok out of the Filipino? If that recent show of Filipino pride was any indication, it will be a cold day in hell before that happens.
Simply put, until they learn to control themselves, Filipinos are doomed to suffer the stink of being Filipino as a result of their actions.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

-- Worth a read if you eat at McDonalds, maybe you will not after reading this

Hamburger chef Jamie Oliver has just won a battle against one of the largest fast food chains in the world. After Oliver showed how McDonald’s hamburgers are ma...de, the franchise announced it will change its recipe.

According to Oliver, the fatty parts of beef are “washed” in ammonium hydroxide and used in the filling of the burger. Before this process, according to the presenter, the food is deemed unfit for human consumption.

According to the chef and presenter, Jamie Oliver, who has undertaken a war against the fast food industry: “Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold in the cheapest way for dogs, and after this process, is being given to human beings.”

Besides the low quality of the meat, the ammonium hydroxide is harmful to health. Oliver calls it “the pink slime process.”

“Why would any sensible human being put meat filled with ammonia in the mouths of their children?” asked the chef, who wages a war against the fast food industry.

In one of his initiatives, Oliver demonstrates to children how nuggets are made. After selecting the best parts of the chicken, the remains (fat, skin and internal organs) are processed for these fried foods.

The company, Arcos Dorados, the franchise manager in Latin America, said such a procedure is not practiced in the region. The same applies to the product in Ireland and the UK, where they use meat from local suppliers.

In the United States, Burger King and Taco Bell had already abandoned the use of ammonia in their products. The food industry uses ammonium hydroxide as an anti-microbial agent in meats, which has allowed McDonald’s to use otherwise “inedible meat.”

Even more disturbing is that because ammonium hydroxide is considered part of the “component in a production procedure” by the USDA, consumers may not know when the chemical is in their food.

On the official website of McDonald’s, the company claims that their meat is cheap because, while serving many people every day, they are able to buy from their suppliers at a lower price, and offer the best quality products.

In addition, the franchise denied that the decision to change the recipe is related to Jamie Oliver’s campaign. On the site, McDonald’s has admitted that they have abandoned the beef filler from its burger patties.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ban on provincial buses on Metro Manila roads made commuting a living hell

August 8, 2013
by Ilda
They say nothing dies harder than a bad idea. That saying is nowhere truer than in the Philippines where bad ideas replace one bad idea after another. What’s worse is that the bad ideas often come from government agencies that affect millions of Filipinos and make their lives a living hell. No wonder international best selling author, Dan Brown referred to Manila as “the Gates of Hell”.
Ill-conceived idea left thousands stranded.
Ill-conceived idea left thousands stranded.
Take the case of Executive Order No. 67 restricting the entry of provincial buses and Asian utility vehicles from entering EDSA. Someone from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) must have thought that to solve the traffic congestion in Manila, they needed to think like a smoker who wants to quit smoking really quick. This could explain why they used the “cold turkey” approach in banning the provincial buses from entering Metro Manila hard and fast.
It was reported that thousands of passengers coming from Cavite and Batangas were stranded and helpless on the first day MMDA implemented the operation of the Coastal Bus terminal this week. I can imagine them weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth while waiting for something or someone to save them from the nightmare. Who knows what happened to those passengers? I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes considering it was raining and they had to wade through muddy if not flooded streets.
It was evident that the public was not properly consulted before the bus ban was implemented. Neither was the public adequately informed of alternative public transport vehicles that would replace the buses that brought passengers to their usual destination. According to another report, the only people who were consulted were the Cavite mayors who conveniently forget what passengers go through when using the country’s decrepit public transport system.
Unfortunately, a mass and a ribbon-cutting ceremony held during the formal opening of an integrated provincial terminal at Uniwide Coastal Mall in Parañaque City for buses from provinces in Southern Luzon was not enough to pacify angry commuters who thought the coordination skills of the government agencies like MMDA and DOTC sucked. Obviously, the MMDA was good enough to organize things for photo-ops but were not good enough to organize communicating the new system with the commuters.
Banning the buses seemed like a good idea until one realizes that there is no alternative public transport system that would adequately replace the buses. The MMDA and the mayors who agreed to this scheme probably thought the commuters would accept their fate without complaining. They obviously assumed that the commuters would have no choice but to suck it up.
The banning of the provincial buses from entering EDSA would leave commuters exhausted, frustrated and disillusioned from simply trying to get to and from work. This situation will not be good for the productivity of the workers. No wonder more and more Filipinos end up quitting working all together. The simple task of going to work becomes an adventure in theLand of the lost. No wonder more and more men are becoming “tambay sa kanto”. They might as well stay home until the government agencies involved start using their common sense.
To be fair, the DOTC and the MMDA were just following orders. It seems someone from the top wanted to take the credit for fixing the traffic problem before his term ends at all costs and at the expense of the commuters. It seems President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino signed the order without asking if it will cause bigger problems during implementation. The executive order mentions the establishment of Interim Transport Terminals in three sites for the North, South and Southwest lines. However, nothing in it says anything about addressing the problem of how the commuting public will continue their journey after getting off at the said interim transport terminals.
Clearly, this is another case of “bahala na” attitude on the part of the government agencies involved. Indeed, how the commuters will get to their destination is not their problem anymore. As long as President BS Aquino’s orders are implemented, it’s all good to the agencies involved. It is useless to ask the question “what were they thinking?” It is crystal clear that the safety and convenience of the public are the least of their concerns.
The more important question to ask is this: How did the government agencies particularly the DOTC, the LTFRB and the MMDA allow the problem the buses are creating on major roads get this far? Just like the squatter problem, they did not nip the problem in the bud. Instead, they issued permits to bus operators indiscriminately and allowed bus drivers to wreak havoc by behaving like kings of the road. Now, faced with the enormous task of solving the Metro Manila’s traffic problems, they want to reinvent the wheel. Their solution is to pull the plug on the buses without thinking of the consequences of their actions.
Another irony here is that MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino is petitioning for a P2-fare reduction for bus passengers from Cavite and Batangas. Meanwhile, the Executive order states that appropriate fees for the maintenance of the bus terminals could eventually be collected from the bus operators. With the fees from DOTC and the loss of income from passengers, the bus operators will surely be unhappy with Tolentino’s petition. If anything, they could ask for compensation in the form of a fare hike.
The new scheme did not receive a thumbs up from some advocacy groups. A militant transport group, Piston has labeled the policy “anti-poor”. Another group the National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection claims that the policy is doomed to fail:
“This just shows the lack of preparedness and study by the MMDA,” says Elvie Medina, president of the National Center for Commuter Safety and Protection (NCCSP).
“Because there is no effort to really analyze what causes Metro Manila traffic, schemes like these will fail and will cause inconvenience every single day while MMDA implements this central bus terminal scheme, “ Medina added.
Medina is opposing the scheme because there is no developed intra- and inter-city modal system that would support a centralized bus terminal scheme. She says that provincial buses, which roughly consists about 6 percent of overall vehicular traffic along EDSA, is not the problem.
Medina says that city buses, colorum jeepneys, bad driving habits and lack of a more expansive road network contribute to EDSA traffic.
The implementation of President BS Aquino’s Executive Order No. 67 will definitely not solve the underlying problem of lack of discipline in Philippine society. The absence of the provincial buses on EDSA will not change the fact that ordinary drivers still ignore road rules. This is because most Filipinos including commuters and drivers have this baseless sense of being more important than everybody else. It is why you see people cutting you off on highway lanes on the road or pushing their way in lines ahead of the rest in a queue. As long as Filipinos put their own interest first before other people, the traffic chaos on the road will not be solved.
Bad ideas are just like bad excuses. Some people will never run out of it. That’s because they refuse to accept that they are part of the problem.
[Photo coutesy Adobo Talk.]

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Filipino doctor is the best, of course!

Skin whiteners damage people and national dignity

By Fr. Shay Cullen, Mssc

(File Photo)
(File Photo)
Imagine the scene in a charity clinic where a teenager was brought threatening suicide. Barbara, 17 years old, was crying out in her anguish, beating her clenched fists on the table and screaming, “I can’t live with a face like this, I am better off dead, dead”. She wailed and wept and the nurses could see the cause of her anger and frustration, uneven dark and white blotches had disfigured her face, the result of dangerous toxic skin whitening creams. She wanted to look like a movie star but it all went wrong.

Barbara was persuaded to calm down and get counseling and help to reverse the condition. We have reason to fear and ban the deadly disease-causing products that disfigure young people, who are feeling insecure and inferior because of a darker complexion. With therapy and counseling, Barbara overcame her trauma and was later empowered enough to be an advocate for racial equality. Those products are truly racist for wrongly promoting the white skinned Caucasian as a superior being and by implying everyone else is a lesser human being.

Whatever skin cream you use, be sure that it is non-toxic and not a skin whitener or bleaching agent. The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned 16 dangerous skin whitening products containing toxic cancer-causing substances. They are suspected of containing high levels of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic. “Continuous use of these products may cause adverse or allergic reactions that can result to severe or irreversible skin problem”, FDA said last week.

Even worse can happen when the dangerous chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause skin cancer, liver, and kidney damage or poisoning. Hydroquinone, a toxic substance is found in many of the skin whitening and bleaching products; they are very dangerous and can disfigure a person’s face over time. (See http://www.preda.org/mailings/mail.cgi/r/preda/732551950078/perrydiaz/gmail.com/ and Youtube)
Young people need to be given affirmation and positive re-enforcement and assurances that they are good, valuable, and loved persons irrespective of race, creed, or skin colour. They need a positive self-image based on good character, spiritual values and not based on outward physical appearance and how one looks. They need to accept themselves as they are, not how cosmetic surgical procedures or skin whitening will make them look. It’s what you are as a person, not how you physically look that matters.

They need help to understand that “true face” is based on integrity and comes from their belief in their own inner goodness, their abilities to help others, being unselfish and authentic and having awareness and respect for human rights and dignity.

Having “face” is an important Asian value; it is the respectful self-image, the dignity of a nation, family and the individual. It is supposedly based on a reputation for goodness, honor, and being true to your word. To lose “face” is to be humiliated, have one’s name besmirched and thus to lose the respect of others or be dishonored or diminished in some way. Everybody needs and deserves the respect and dignity due to every person.

The lack of integrity, cheating and lying, and hypocrisy are the common practice in society and among the greatest cheats are those who make false claims and peddle false images of health and beauty. The advertising, fashion, makers of cosmetic products such as skin whiteners and some medical practitioners do the greatest damage. Instead of giving the “face” that comes from spiritual values, they have created a false image of so called “beauty” that is racist and discriminates against all who do not fit that image. We are made in the image and likeness of God, not that concocted by a beautician.

Many years ago, the “beauty” industry chose to promote a particular image or “most desirable face” that others would be urged to imitate. Their principle beauty model of the ideal movie star celebrity image is one that is slim, white-skinned and looks Caucasian. They seemingly set out to develop and exploit a colonial mentality. In the world of fashion, there are exceptions. Cosmetic surgeons and skin whitening makers are raking in billions of dollars around the world from straightening noses, doing face lifts, eye alterations, bleaching skin white and giving other cosmetic enchantment procedures.
Skin whitening products are considered “racist”, they, by their very existence, promote the false, insulting and racist belief that darker skin colour is indicative of an inferior person or lower race or connotes ugly and not attractive. They promote the attitude that “white is right”. It’s a business that destroys the honor of the people and a loss of true “face”, the one that means self respect and personal honor as a people. These products must be roundly denounced and people of all nations must boycott and shun them.

shaycullen@preda.org,www.preda.org. Postal: St. Columbans, Navan, Ireland.
(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Universe, The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Justice “expedited” is justice served?

Justice “expedited” is justice served?
Alleged kidnappers were gunned down in an alleged shoot-out in Davao City a couple of days ago. After this incident, many Filipinos reacted and were elated that the kidnappers were served “swift justice”.
A video which surfaced on the Internet however tells a different story.
The video showed on Adobo Talks an outgunned and outmanned group of people confined in a car, in the act of surrendering cut abruptly by gunfire.

In the video of the Davao kidnapping rescue, one of the suspects in the SUV can be seen still after the shootout. Police officers approached the vehicle and confronted the kidnapping suspect. It appeared that he had his hands his head when one of the police officers kicked him. Seconds later, a shot was heard and the suspect was seen slumping to the ground. – See more at: http://www.adobotalkph.com/2013/07/davao-kidnappers-rubout-summary-execution-video.html#sthash.OgW880iP.dpuf
I do know of the concept of the right to a speedy trial in a court of law – the death of the alleged kidnappers in an alleged “shootout”, ain’t an example that can be taught in Political Science 101 in any self-respecting school (or law school) in the Philippines for that matter.
Politicians sensing a good source of “pogi points” were quick to do the King Kong chest beating that criminals should stay out of Davao. A quick retort would be – criminals should stay out because there’s already too many of them in Davao? Or perhaps Ernie Macasaet would turn in his grave and say “bawal ang kriminal, kami lang”. But I digress.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t condone kidnapping. However, for justice to be valid, it needs to be served in a court of law which observes due process – not by Judge Dredd, the Lone Ranger, or any self-appointed terminator for that matter.
The early death of the kidnappers deprives investigators of a source of information on the masterminds. Were they executed in order to protect the identities of the masterminds? And if so, were the field operatives knowingly or unknowingly protecting the masterminds? We wouldn’t know for sure – not when the alleged perps are dead.
With the news of their alleged fellow kidnappers dead – the alleged members of the KFR gang can go into hiding and lie low for awhile. To the more jaded, it would mean that the current “batch” have become a liability to their handlers and they will be “cleaned up” to protect the powers that be. With extreme poverty in the background, many will step into the shoes of those whose services have been “terminated”.
I came across an article on Ehow.com about Poverty and Crime
A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office released in 2007 showed that those who are in areas where poverty is abundant had fewer options in life. People living in poverty-stricken areas were more likely to have adverse health issues due to unaffordable health care, risky behavior and the lack of proper education. Those who experience poverty are more likely to suffer from health conditions due to being closer to freeways and industrial buildings that are not usually welcome in higher-income areas. There is also a notable historical rise in property damage that parallels the unemployment rate throughout American history.
Are Filipino leaders addressing the root causes of crime, or are they merely content to address the symptoms?
When Filipino leaders themselves are the source of policies which expand poverty – which in turn drives criminal activity What does that say about the leaders Filipinos have chosen – and the Filipinos themselves?
The nature of crime varies all over the Philippines. However it can be said that there are generic characteristics in each local setting. Note also, that just because people are poor does not necessarily mean they are prone to become criminals because there are rich people who are also criminals.
In a paper written by Steven Levitt which explores the changes in the relationships between race, income, and criminal victimization over time, he points out the following:
1 – The simplest version of the economic model of crime (Becker 1968) would suggest that the rich become increasingly attractive targets as the income distribution widens, leading to rising victimization of the rich relative to the poor.
2 – However, if the rich are able to engage in behavior that reduces their victimization, such as investments in security, victimization of the rich may rise or fall depending in part on the income elasticity of crime avoidance.
3 – Finally, in models such as Wilson (1987) in which the rich provide positive externalities to the poor, increased income inequality along with greater segregation by income can lead to concentrations of poverty. In this scenario, criminal victimization of the poor is likely to rise relative to the rich.
Thus in areas like Makati – or in enclaves all over the Philippines which has wide income income distribution the rich are prone to crime. Those who invest in security may be able to reduce their victimization altough it still is not an assurance – given the phenomenon of “inside jobs”.
In areas where political patronage the rule than the exception – the rich vested interests provide freebies to their political base to reduce their victimization. Criminal victimization is redirected towards the poor. Thus in areas like Davao where political dynasties and their cronies are on steroids, criminality against the rich are minimal – and criminality against the poor are more rampant.
The Philippines is Davao writ large. The political class and their economic cronies have invested in externalities – freebies for the poor – at taxpayers expense. The end outcome of these policies have been to expand poverty – and with it crime, waged by the poor against their fellow poor.
The question to me is – who is the GREATER criminal? Those who committed crime due to dire poverty? Or those who expanded poverty and benefited from it?
In simple terms – Is the 16 million pesos gained from kidnapping more criminal than the plunder of taxpayers money – to include CCT subsidy, sin tax bill, RH bill, protecting cronies businesses, awarding government contracts to cronies only.
What I know is that the alleged kidnappers are dead and the plunderers get re-elected to distribute freebies to their equally criminal supporters – and Filipinos are still as poor as frak.
As more OFWs return to the Philippines to face the prospects of joblessness, poverty, and hunger – this show ain’t over.

Rule of Law cannot be implemented in the Philippines until Filipinos learn to follow simple guidelines

July 29, 2013
by benign0
Upholding ‘rule of law’ in the Philippines is a complicated, labour-intensive exercise. Take the tony enclave of Rockwell in Makati City. It’s got expensive zebra-striped pedestrian lanes painted across most of where its nicely-paved streets intersect. These markings give the impression to someone who does not know of the way things are in the Philippines that she can cross the street assured that approaching motorists will stop to make way for her. But then, as most island Filipinos know, that is not the way things are in the Philippines. Lane markings on Manila’s streets are really all just decorations. They give a nice “modern” look to Rockwell, for example, something desperately needed to justify the stratospheric property prices there.
A foreigner from Sweden, for example, who finds herself in Manila (on business, presumably) with her kids will appreciate the importance of briefing them carefully to ensure they are fully-aware of the way things are in the Philippines; specifically that pedestrian lanes are of no consequence to the average Filipino motorist. Commanders of the private security army of the principality of Rockwell are fully aware of this. You can see their troopers posted on most intersections there to ensure none of the many foreigners who inhabit the enclave naïvely step onto a zebra-striped lane thinking that these markings are normally honoured in the former US colony.
Having to tell your kids not to trust zebra striped lane markings in the Philippines after they had been raised in places where things generally make sense can be a bit complicated. As kids do, they will ask Why? And in the course of such a hypothetical dialogue on pedestrian lanes with a particularly cluey nine-year-old, the question will eventually come to this: Why paint them to begin with if they aren’t followed?
City ordinances on the use of road markings are among the simplest of guidelines. But in the Philippines, even the simplest guidelines are not followed. In this light, it is easy to see why the Philippines simply cannot progress.
There is very little evidence that Filipinos are capable of living by the “rule of law”. The society is quite extraordinary in the sense that simple rules and regulations whether on the road or in the work place are for the most part ignored. This is because each individual has this baseless sense of being more important than everybody else. It is why you see people cutting you off on highway lanes on the road or pushing their way in lines ahead of the rest in a queue. In other words, Filipinos in general tend to put their own interest first before other people.
One would think that ingraining the concept of the rule of law has to begin in each Filipino household. But as the Rockwell anecdote shows, even foreigners need to adopt a mindset of not trusting Filipino laws if they are to survive their tours of duty in the Philippines.
Indeed, not following the law in the Philippines is a matter of survival.
It is a matter of survival when crossing the street for a Swedish businessperson in the same way that it is a matter of survival for an enormous sector of Filipino humanity — squatters. In this sense, Fililipino squatters and Swedish businesspersons living in Rockwell are really not that different. For both, taking Philippine law with a grain of salt is a conscious life-and-death decision.
So, yeah, flouting the law is an act of desperation for both foreign and Filipino residents of the Philippines. A desperation to get on with meaningful life is something Philippine law and the way it is (or is not) enforced is simply not in strategic alignment with. Following traffic laws on Manila’s streets, for example, will certainly not get you home in time for dinner. Trusting a zebra-striped lane in Rockwell might not get you across the street in once piece. Observing property laws, many have been assured, will not make life for them a fair proposition.
Desperation, indeed, is a good excuse for Filipinos to violate the law.
Got nothing to eat for dinner tonight? Just prove how desperate you were when you stuck an icepick through your pal’s liver for a share of his day’s pay, and you might just be awarded a nice Get-Out-of-Jail pass if you make your appeal within earshot of the right politician. That’s Da Pinoy way. Righteousness-by-desperation is a national philosophy. Indeed, playing the desperation card is favourite campaign fodder for Filipino politicians. It gets them the votes. It makes them look concerned about their constituents’, well, desperate plight.
To understand, then, the innocent elegance of a child’s question on pedestrian lanes, — why paint them to begin with? — is to understand the unique nature of Filipinos’ apathy to their own laws. Indeed, the Philippines’ is a society of modern laws applied to primitive people. It’s sort of like toilet training a dog — an exercise of trying to change one species’ way of life to suit the way of life of its masters’ species. It can be done. But you need to be creative and understand how dogs think.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Philippine SONA: Rosy portraits even as the inside is hurting

Well-meaning sectors of the Filipino citizenry finally regained their voices and unleashed them accordingly in protest of what has been going on in their country. For a long while they had kept mum in a self-imposed goodwill gesture to allow the popularly elected president to live up to the legacy of his patriot parents. As with majority of their countrymen, they generously gave breathing space for then president-elect Noynoy Aquino to find his footing while in the process of sorting out the sordid mess that previous administrations had left our country and people. 
It was unfortunate that clashes occurred against law enforcers during the protest rally and people got hurt in the process. The court should be lauded for releasing protesters arrested during that commotion. Advocates for change should not be penalized for their act of sacrificing own well-being in the pursuit of better conditions for the many. 

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino had his honeymoon and should now be made to account for what he has done or has not done so far for the ailing nation. In a few aspects he may have done creditably well but the core issue of poverty and lack of employment opportunity remain. Statistics about GDP growth is good in paper but the chasm between the rich and the poor is wide as ever. It is reported that only 40 wealthy families are monopolizing the gains of economic development. 

Our system of justice is agonizingly slow as exemplified by the absence of progress in the prosecution of those accused in the Maguindanao massacre. Graft and corruption in government is still horrible -- and getting worse. People known to have betrayed positions of trust still occupy high-paying offices. Some generals have sullied the uniform by milking the country in illegal deals netting huge payout. Officials sworn and paid by the people to safeguard the welfare of our overseas workers are instead preying on those in distress and selling our womenfolk to foreigners in prostitution and human trafficking. Even diplomats had been in the news for molesting female OFWs. Then there are the ever greedy and shameless legislators whose gluttony for illegally acquired people’s money seems to know no bottom. 

These are the issues that should have been highlighted in the president’s State of the Nation Address but were ominously absent. It does not do good to be painting rosy portraits even while the inside is rotting. Hurting. Where was the mention of the proposed Freedom of Information Act which our people overwhelmingly supports. Where was the concern about the denuding of forests that had contributed immensely to the occurrence of flash floods, damage to properties and loss of lives? The need for reforms in the mining industry is likewise a priority if only to preclude worsening damage to our natural resources and to the lives and livelihood of people within mining localities. 

True, President Noynoy himself has so far been spared the taint of corruption that seems to have engulfed every sector of the government. Unfortunately for him, however, it is not enough that the presidency be above the fray; leadership is about doing something constructive to address the malaise that has the nation in its grips for so long. The people had given him the benefit of the doubt this long time and provided much needed support in many of his initiatives in the past. In that context he could not afford to rest on laurels, if any, and instead seize the moment to keep the people’s hope in him ablaze. 

For a start President Noynoy should weld the presidential imprimatur and certify the urgency of the FOI bill. Giving greater access to the truth provides a backbone to a program of transparency and will surely strike fear even to the callous miscreants in the legislature and other sectors of the government. And then there’s the pestering sores of extreme poverty and lack of opportunities that had forced many of our brothers and sisters to seek employment in foreign land. A tall order, perhaps, but it's always said that the long journey starts with the first step. In fact that first step in President Noynoy's case is long overdue. -- Dionesio C. Grava 

Ponder isms

(Some things to think about)
1- I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.
2- There are two kinds of pedestrians . . . The quick and the dead.
3- Life is sexually transmitted.
4- Healthy is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
5- The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
6- Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
7- Have you noticed since everyone has a cell phone these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?
8- Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
9- All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
10- In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
11- How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
12- Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, 'I think I'll squeeze these dangly things and drink whatever comes out'? Hmmmmm, How about eggs ? . . .
13- If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?
14- Why does your OB-GYN leave the room when you get undressed if they are going to look up there anyway?
16- If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?
17- Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?
18- Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster?
19- Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
20- Do you ever wonder why you gave me your email address?


Miss America 1924
Helen Keller Meeting Charlie Chaplin
Leather gloves worn by Lincoln to Ford's Theater on the night of his assassination. Blood stains are visible at the cuffs.
Phoebe Mozee (aka: Annie Oakley). Famed for her marksmanship by 12 years old, she once shot the ashes off of Kaiser Wihelm II's cigarette at his invitation. When she outshot famed exhibition marksman Frank Butler, he fell in love with her and they married. They remained married the rest of their lives.
Very Young Lucy Lucille Ball around 1930
This is one of five known X-rays of Hitler's head, part of his medical records compiled by American military intelligence after the German's surrendered and declassified in 1958. The records also include doctor's reports, diagrams of his teeth and nose and electrocardiograms. He had bad teeth, lots of fillings and crowns.
Two Victorian sideshow performers boxing - the fat man and the thin man.
Amy Johnson, English aviator 1903-1941 One of the first women to gain a pilot's licence, Johnson won fame when she flew solo from Britain to Australia in 1930. Her dangerous flight took 17 days. Later she flew solo to India and Japan and became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic East to West, she volunteered to fly for The Women's Auxiialry Air Force in WW2, but her plane was shot down over the River Thames and she was killed.
Prison Garb 1924. Belva Annan murderess whose trial records became the musical "Chicago."
Female photojournalist Jessie Tarbox on the street with her camera, 1900s.
Roald Amundsen was the first person to reach the South Pole. At approximately 3pm on December 14, 1911, Amundsen raised the flag of Norway at the South Pole and named the spot Polheim ? ?Pole Home.?
The extraordinary life of Maud Allen: Seductive US dancing girl who was sued for being too lewd, outed as a lesbian, and fled London after being branded a German spy who was sleeping with the prime minister's wife.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Caroline Otero, courtesan, the most sought after woman in all of Europe. She associated herself with the likes of Prince Albert I of Monaco, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Kings of Serbia, and Kings of Spain as well as Russian Grand Dukes Peter and Nicholas, the Duke of Westminster and writer Gabriele D?Annunzio. Six men reportedly committed suicide after their love affairs with Otero ended. Two men fought a duel over her. She was famed for her voluptuous breasts.
Wedding day photograph of Abraham and Mary taken November 4, 1842 in Springfield, Illinois after three years of a stormy courtship and a broken engagement. Their love had endured.
Billie Holiday at two years old, in 1917
Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "Walter Reed Hospital flu ward." One of the very few images in Washington-area photo archives documenting the influenza contagion of 1918-1919, which killed over 500,000 Americans and tens of millions around the globe. Most victims succumbed to bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection.
Filming the MGM Logo
Amelia Earhart
Mae Questel ca. 1930?s, the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, Minnie Mouse, Felix the Cat (for three shorts by the Van Beuren Studios), Little Lulu, Little Audrey and Casper, the Friendly Ghost
Bea Arthur (n?e Bernice Frankel) (1922-2009) SSgt. USMC 1943-45 WW II. Enlisted and assigned as typist at Marine HQ in Wash DC, then air stations in VA and NC. Best remembered for her title role in the TV series ?Maude? and as Dorothy in "Golden Girls".
In 1911, Bobby Leach survived a plunge over Niagara Falls in a steel barrel. Fourteen years later, in New Zealand, he slipped on an orange peel and died.
Emily Todd was Mary Todd Lincoln's half-sister. In 1856 she married Benjamin Helm, a Confederate general. After Helm's death in 1863 Emily Helm passed through Union Lines to visit her sister in the White House. This caused great consternation in the Northern newspapers. Emily Helm took an oath of loyalty to the Union and was granted amnesty
Three days before his 19th birthday, George H.W. Bush became the youngest aviator in the US Navy.
Market Street, San Francisco after the earthquake, 1906.
All-American Girls Baseball, 1940s
c. 1943 : Breast Protectors for War Workers
Mary Ellen Wilson (1864?1956) or sometimes Mary Ellen McCormack was an American whose case of child abuse led to the creation of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. As an eight-year old, she was severely abused by her foster parents, Francis and Mary Connolly.
Sacajawea. Stolen, held captive, sold, eventually reunited the Shoshone Indians. She was an interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark in 1805-1806 with her husband Toussaint Charbonneau. She navigated carrying her son, Jean Baptiste, on her back. She traveled thousands of miles from the Dakotas the Pacific Ocean. The explorers, said she was cheerful, never complained, and proved to be invaluable. She served as an advisor, caretaker, and is legendary for her perseverance and resourcefulness.
Zelda Boden, circus performer, ca. 1910.
A Confederate and Union soldier shake hands during a celebration at Gettysburg in 1913. Image from the Library of Congress. July 1-3, 2013 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Geraldine Doyle, who was the inspiration behind the famous Rosie the Riveter poster.
Vintage Baked Potato Cart. A legitimate fast food lunch option back in the day.
Black physicians treating in the ER a member of the Ku Kux Klan
Cyclists ride in the first running of the Tour de France, in 1903.
Sergeant Stubby (1916 or 1917 ? April 4, 1926), was the most decorated war dog of World War I and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat. America's first war dog, Stubby, served 18 months 'over there' and participated in seventeen battles on the Western Front. He saved his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks, found and comforted the wounded, and even once caught a German spy by the seat of his pants (holding him there til American Soldiers found him).
Nightwitches - Female Russian bombers who bombed Germany during WW2. They had old, noisy planes & the engines used to conk out halfway through their missions, so they had to climb out on the wings mid-flight to restart the props. To stop Germans from hearing them & starting up the anti aircraft guns, they?d climb to a certain height, coast down to German positions, drop their bombs, restart their engines in midair & get the hell out of dodge. Their leader flew 200+ missions & was never captured.
Marilyn Monroe meets Queen Elizabeth II, London, 1956 Both women are 30 years old.