Featured Post

Love’s Labor Found

Love’s Labor Found August 4, 2019 Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Luke 12: 13-21 Someone in the crowd said to Je...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Aquino’s Governance Gone Wild

Aquino’s Governance Gone Wild
What a ride these past few days have been. Don’t you notice that whenever charter change gets closer to the goal, monkey wrenches come flying out of the woodwork?
For instance, last year 2012 when Enrile and Belmonte were already discussing charter change – the CJ Corona Impeachment, RH bill, and CCT Subidy come to the fore.
This year 2013,when Belmonte had submitted the bill to amend the charter and it was already being discussed more openly. Then suddenly out of left field – another teleserye was launched that involved Napoles, Noynoy, and the bogeyman.

Zarzuela in Congress

It’s one helluva plot. A whistle is blown on Napoles. Napoles goes into hiding. Then Napoles surfaces in Malacañang. Then charges are filed against people who are considered inimical to Aquino’s political machine.
The haste and partiality is as consistent as was done in Corona’s time. The inconsistencies are also consistent.
All the while, Aquino’s handlers probably thought that by filing charges against a few and then say it’s the start of the “cleansing process” then the public will be appeased. This does not appear to be the case as the more cluey among us
see through the posturing and the mockery of the process

1 – Why is the COA audit limited to a few only?
2 – Why aren’t all lawmaker’s PDAF audited and disclosed to the public. If the public paid for it ? The public have a right to know how the money was used. And don’t give us the bullshit about national security interests – that only infuriates taxpayers some more.
3 – Why is the DBM withholding information about the disbursements of Aquino and his allies? It’s okay to disclose information about Aquino’s opponents – but not okay to disclose information about Aquino’s allies?
Obviously these were disconcerting questions which had to be buried by another subplot – one that’s drawn from the playbook called
domestic diversionary war.

Zarzuela in Zamboanga

It’s amazing how the media quickly drew the conclusion that it was the MNLF despite the categorical denial of the MNLF’s leadership.
Citizens are no longer falling for the lopsided coverage of corrupted mainstream media.
“Splinter groups” are a dime a dozen when people are illiterate, poor, and hungry. When options for improving one’s life are all closed to folks with minimal skillsets – all that’s left is raw rage and a desire for retribution. All that’s needed is a mischievous whisper in the ear, a supply of weapons and ammo – and the MNLF’s chain of command can be broken – and still make it appear that it was the MNLF.
The question really is who stands to gain if the public’s attention drawn to Zamboanga?
What issues other than Zamboanga are then tackled with business as usual? Here’s a sprinkling:
- Taxes and fees gone wild.
Local property tax hikes all over the country. Sin tax hikes for lousy tax-funded universal health care. A.O 31 gave blanket authority to increase gov fees for non-existent services.
Government spending gone wild.
PDAF budget was not eliminated nor refunded to taxpayers. It was realigned – as if the government line agencies are icons of spotlessness- from the frying pan to the fire. The budget deficit has expanded. Expect MORE taxation to help pay the deficit. A deficit by the way where only 30% was actually disbursed for the intended use – and 70% pocketed by Aquino’s porksters.
The 2014 budget has increased an Aquino’s pork barrel kitty now stands at a mind-boggling 1.3 trillion pesos. How will this be spent? Should it even be spent? How many taxpayers had to give up a meal, a movie, a vacation, a tuition fee, a medical payment, clothes just so Aquino and his porksters can redistribute your income so that their supporters will have a meal, a movie, a vacation, a tuition fee, a medical payment, clothes – all at your expense.
Corruption gone wild-ER.
And you thought Arroyo was wild. Aquino’s plunder is WILD-er. His pork barrel is bigg-ER. Fact of the matter is PDAF expanded under Aquino’s time – PDAF doubled under the Aquino administration – that’s twice the PDAF allocated in Arroyo’s time. The 2010 PDAF under Arroyo was P10.86 billion. By 2011, the Aquino administration alloted P24.62 billion to the PDAF.
Joblessness, Poverty, Hunger still wild.
Poverty has practically remained unchanged from 2006 to 1st semester of 2012. It was 23.4% in 2006, 22.9% in 2009, and 22.3% in H1 2012.
Subsistence poverty was 10.8% in 2006, 10.0% in 2009, and still 10.0% in H1 2012.
During the 1st semester of 2012, on the average, a poor family of five members needed a monthly additional income of P2,292 to move out of poverty.
This could have been easily augmented with a more dynamic open economy with more good paying jobs and without any income tax.
At the moment – we have a government increasing spending by 17%, plundering tax money like hell, and spending money like water while citizens have to eke out a living and cut down on their expenses because government wants more of your money.
What outcomes does it have to show for it? More misery. Why do Filipinos put up with the misery? For love of company? If true, this country is far doomed than we care to admit.
One thing’s for sure – as long as Filipinos give consent to an Aquino government gone wild, Filipinos will be living like wild animals scavenging for pagpag in an animal-eat-animal Philippines.

Government Itself is the Problem – Not the Form of Government

Government Itself is the Problem – Not the Form of Government
As the Yellow Hermit kingdom reeks withs corruption – the Philippines and Filipinos are in search for solutions. Obviously each group has their pet solutions – as I have mine.
I would state that there two basic camps in the search for solutions – authoritarian and libertarian.
You can easily recognize the supporters of authoritarianism. These people think that government is the answer to improving lives. They think that government can be “fixed” by changing its form of government.
The libertarian camp is a rather new phenomenon in the Philippine debate. Libertarians think that government cannot be fixed because government by its coercive and intrusive nature – is the problem. No matter what form of government is adopted (presidential, parliamentary, monarchial, socialist) – government will dip its hand into your income and redistribute your money to the vested interests – whether rich cronies or grassroots associations of the political base of the incumbents.
Separating the Chaff from the Wheat
Here is an example of how the authoritarians presented their case
Orion's FLAWED Analysis
Note further, the fixation on GDP per capita. Now would be a good time to remind people that GDP per capita is a measure of national income  - and is not a measure of individual incomes. All it does is divide the GDP by the population size.
Comparisons of national wealth are also frequently made on the basis of nominal GDP, which does not reflect differences in the cost of living in different countries.
When only 2% to 3% of the population control all the assets in the country – the GDP per capita values no longer apply to the 97% of the population who don’t own jack.
You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of Noynoy Aquino, who keeps on talking about GDP growth. It’s growth alright – but, only for the few 2%-3% who control 80% of the country’s assets.
And here is the reply of the libertarian camp.
When we look into the details of Orion’s chart, he was pointing out the “dishonesty” in the hybrid systems. Now, the hybrid systems are a combination of presidential and parliamentary systems – thus, semi-presidential and semi-parliamentary can be in both camps.
What Orion conveniently missed in his chart, are the items he highlighted in green, and which for further clarity, I have encircled in red. Obviously, these highlighted items are not hybrid systems and are PURE parliamentary systems.
Thus while Orion was chewing the bone on the hybrid systems, he just had to pretend that the items  highlighted in green and encircled in red – PARLIAMENTARY SYTEMS –  which have high unemployment, have high spending – do not exist.
The phenomenon of singling out the hybrids – while conveniently blocking out the presence of PURE PARLIAMENTARY systems is an example of cognitive bias.
A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion.Individuals create their own subjective social reality from their perception of the input.
An individual’s construction of social reality, not the objective input, may dictate their behaviour in the social world. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality
The rhetoric of “more efficient government” is alluring. However, what are the facts?
On Public Spending
Spending and System of Government

On Taxation
Tax Burden and System of Government
On Unemployment

More Irrelevant Indexes
The supporters of authoritarianism claim that parliamentary systems are less corrupt – based on the Corruptions Index of Transparency international.
The corruption perceptions index makes good headlines BUT it is facing severe criticism in its methodology.
Elaine Byrne, in an article titled “Problems with Transparency International corruption perception index” pointed out the following:
The CPI has been credited widely with putting the issue of corruption on the global policy agenda and raising international awareness about the phenomenon. Nonetheless, the CPI has been the focus of much criticism regarding its methodology (Arndt and Oman 2006; Galtung 2006).
There is growing concern among anti-corruption agencies and the international community that perception-based indexes are not accurate measures. The best perception-based surveys do not always account for indirect effects of subjective factors, and their margins of error are large when compared with actual corruption (Bertrand and Mullainathan 2001).

Orion's Flawed Analysis 2
As the country searches for solutions, we need to be very careful not to be hoodwinked by supporters of authoritarianism.
Frankly, presidential yellow, parliamentary yellow – same yellow welfare state policies – and yet the authoritarianists expect different results.
The INCORRECT 3 point agenda.
The incorrect 3 point agenda boils down to this – open the economy so that people will have jobs and incomes – that can be taxed and redistributed more efficiently by government.
To the authoritarians, the implosion of the economies of the Euro parliaments does not exist because there is a parliamentary Singapore that did not implode. Which again brings out the point consistently missed by the authoritarians – given the same parliamentary system – ceteris paribus – all things being equal in the form of government, it boils down to economic policy – just compare the health care systems of Singapore (which has minimal government intervention) versus the health care of Australia.
Then there’s also the matter of social security – compare the privatized social security system of presidential Chile versus the government run social security system of presidential USA.
For short, so what if you have an open economy with a federal parliamentary form of government – and still be saddled with HIGH TAXES, HIGH PUBLIC SPENDING, and HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT as has been the experience of the Euro parliaments – it still does not make your lot in life any better at all.
So what then is the GENUINE CORRECT 3-POINT AGENDA, here it is:
1 – Free Open Markets and Free Enterprise
2 – Minimal Taxation and Regulation
3 – Limited and Small Government
Even as we seek clarity in the current “As-Is” state. We also need to be very careful in choosing the “To-Be” future state.
Learn from the experience of other countries so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Nor do you want to  jump from the frying pan into the fire.

Noynoy Aquino’s presidency has been nothing but one big lose-lose situation

October 30, 2013
by FallenAngel
I think it’s time to call things as they really are, again.

Things have been going downhill lately for President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino’s term. His credibility both abroad and at home is virtually non-existent. Calls have been mounting for him either to be impeached or to resign. The popularity that is the primary foundation of his government’s legitimacy has been taking a nosedive. In fact, the drops in net satisfaction ratings have hit him so hard that he couldn’t help but blame them on former president Gloria Arroyo again.
BS Aquino’s critics must be having a field day.
Defenders of the Aquino administration would say that when he does nothing, his critics complain, and yet when he finally does something they still complain.
They catch on quick.
That’s EXACTLY what defines his presidency: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
What does this mean? Simply put, most of the time, whatever BS Aquino does eventually turns out detrimental not only to people’s perception of him, but to the people he presumes to govern as well.
Critics have every reason to do what they’re doing. Nobody’s expecting the president to be perfect, but it is reasonable to expect more than a half-assed reaction from him when the time calls for it. You can’t please everybody? The post of president, the highest government post in the land, is one where intense public scrutiny is not only experienced, it is expected. It has aged and sucked the life out of those who have held its position. If BS Aquino and his supporters do nothing but complain about critics complaining about BS Aquino’s less-than-stellar performance, then perhaps he shouldn’t have been put there in the first place.
BS Aquino and his supporters accuse critics of pulling down the president and not wanting him to succeed. They counter that instead everyone should support the president regardless of what he does. Those who do not are being unpatriotic.
Do you want to hear the other just as undesirable option? If no one criticizes him, no one will hold him accountable to make sure that he and his cronies do not get away with skirting, sidestepping, or willfully violating the law, and/or putting themselves above it. It is their duty to make sure that BS Aquino walks the REAL straight path, and not the product of that silly rhetoric “daang matuwid”.
Nonoy Aquino, will attract criticism whatever he says or does; that’s just the way it is by virtue of being in the highest government post. Because the fate of an entire “nation” is in his hands, every decision he makes, every sound bite he utters, all of these have to be scrutinized very intensely. That’s the nature of the job.

BS Aquino, his handlers, and his supporters had Filipinos believe that a vote for any of his opponents back then in 2010 was a vote for EVIL. The flipside, however, was that a vote for BS Aquino was in effect, a vote for stupid. And not just stupid; undiplomatic, brash, grossly incompetent, and as recently pointed out, an unflinching liar.
BS Aquino and his handlers also had them believe that intellect and skill would only be used to further corruption and to continue the culture of impunity that has happened here. In him we have a mediocre, emotionally stunted, president, one who happens to embody everything wrong with the Filipino himself. Are we faring any better?
Do some thinking here: we’ve had well-studied presidents, we’ve had (and are having) presidents who have no more than a well-known name going for them. Yet our society is pretty much the same. Is it really the quality and the character of the leaders that makes a big difference?
If BS Aquino gives up his pork barrel or discretionary funds, he would be exposed as a lame duck limp-d*cked president who wields very little influence without any dangling discretionary funds to back him up. On the other hand, if he keeps it, he has no choice but to live with being perceived as corrupt as almost every other politician in the Philippines. Ironic for someone who campaigned on the basis of “kung walang hirap, walang korap”, and on the basis of being someone who is supposedly incorruptible.
When it comes to his and his government’s response to calamity situations, BS Aquino has had a reputation for being slow. Don’t get me wrong; no one ever said that he absolutely must be there at every crisis site. No one ever said that he must micromanage the crisis response; he just has to make his presence felt at the right time, and he has to be absolutely reliable when it counts. Yet what does he do? He makes no public announcement as soon as possible after the event occurs. When he does visit the site, it’s several days after when the height of the calamity has passed. When he does visit the site, he makes a big fuss. As a result, he is perceived to show lack of empathy toward those affected.
Let’s also not forget that BS Aquino’s government is all too eager to prematurely congratulate itself for what they perceive as a successful early warning campaign, yet they shift all blame away from themselves and towards the people when the casualty list starts piling up. Just ask the victims of typhoon Bopha.
Speaking of natural calamities, let’s also remind everyone that he arbitrarily cancelled many flood control projects without having replacements immediately ready.
Last year, he brought out his senatorial candidates with him to the flooded areas and got perceived as epal and a premature campaigner, for it.
If the recent earthquake in Bohol and Cebu was any indication, BS Aquino doesn’t seem to have developed a learning curve. A picture of him by the church ruins and flashing his trademark ngiting-aso went around, which some people perceived as horribly insensitive to the plight of the earthquake victims. In addition, he visited the site, but left the Philippines for a trip to Korea, which some people noted as lack of empathy. According to them, the president of Korea would have well understood if he had to cancel a trip due to a natural calamity. Yet it seems no one could stop BS Aquino, allegedly because one of the highlights of that trip was for him to receive recognition on behalf of his father, Ninoy Aquino, who covered the Korean War in the 1950’s as a correspondent for the Manila Times. Finally, when he did come back from that foreign trip, he visited Bohol, distributed relief goods, and stayed in a tent. And an all too willing and very complicit media had helped him to be painted as “one who was one with understanding the plight of his people.” That’s PR stunt for those of you who don’t get it.
And recently, the unresolved issue of the Luneta hostage situation in 2010 came up again. Even if Manila Mayor Erap Estrada has already apologized, BS Aquino still refuses to. He still refuses to because he insists that it was the act of one man, even if the deterioration of the incident was ultimately his command responsibility. The failure of the PHILIPPINE National Police, the failure of PHILIPPINE media, and the cultural dysfunction of the PHILIPPINE people: it all falls on HIM.
What’s the backlash if he does apologize? Legal, according to him; he is concerned about those among the relatives who might sue. Well, if they do, does he intend to hide under somebody else’s skirt indefinitely? He should man up. Oops, sorry, I don’t think he knows the meaning of that.
Oh, and that whole impeachment thing with former Chief Justice Renato Corona? The impeachment court handed down a verdict on someone who was accused of being favorable to the EEEVVVIIILLL Gloria Arroyo, and of betraying public trust by allegedly not declaring his SALN truthfully? Well, we got a replacement a Chief Justice who has not earned the respect of her peers, and someone whose competence, mental stability, and decision-making ability have been put into question more than once. Kind of sounds like the one who appointed her, no?
Is it really that hopeless, one may be tempted to ask? Well, BS Aquino has three (3) years left to turn a losing situation into a winning one. Assuming of course, that he actually starts listening to people who don’t necessarily agree with him, and assuming that he can stop thinking about his clan’s interest first before the country’s.
Ultimately, whose responsibility is it that we have a lose-lose situation with our government?
The Filipino people’s.
As GRP webmaster benign0 said, “That’s what you all get for following a man that clearly cannot lead.
If the Filipinos who thought very highly of BS Aquino STILL can’t see that after this time, then they can very well take comfort in the fact that losers love company.
[Photo of Laban sign courtesy Townhall.com]
[Photo of tent setup courtesy Gising na Pinoy]


Wer mit der Herde geht, kann nur den Ärschen folgen - whoever runs with the flock, can only follow ass.

Everyone who followed President Noynoy Aquino are now either badly-burned or look like idiots

October 30, 2013
by benign0
The Philippine government is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis of credibitlity and constitutional ascendancy. What the administration of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III touted as its greatest “achievement” in its efforts to make good on its “daang matuwid” (“straight path”) rhetoric and “kung walang kurap walang mahirap” sloganeering — the “impeachment” of now former Chief Justice Renato Corona in early 2012 — may turn out to be its most fatal mistake. Allegations of wholesale big-bucks bribery have been sailing through the Philippines’ political air left and right following Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s tell-all privilege speech in the Senate a few weeks ago. If these allegations — that the administration of President BS Aquino had used mega-mega-bucks from his largely mysterious Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) to “motivate” certain “senator-judges” to deliver a guilty vote during Corona’s trial — are true, the ramifications may be immeasureable.
For one thing, according to retired chief justice Reynato Puno, the “entire process” surrounding Corona’s impeachment could be rendered “null and void”…
[...] if the senator-judges were influenced to vote for a conviction, the entire process should be nullified.
“[If bribery is proven], talagang void yun. Wala kasing impartial tribunal,” Puno said during a roundtable with editors and reporters of The Manila Times.
The former chief justice, who was never implicated in any controversy during his term and has a sterling reputation, stressed that bribery can be used as a ground to declare the Corona impeachment proceedings as void ab initio (from the beginning) since there was no fair and impartial tribunal.
Chief prosecutor Niel Tupas on his Mission from God in 2012
Chief prosecutor Niel Tupas on his Mission from God in 2012
This would constitute a “denial of due process” and, as such, grounds for a mistrial.
Funny that. If we recall the farcical nature of Corona’s “trial”, we had, from the very start, loudly and repeatedly called out that the whole thing was a mistrial even before these bribery allegations were a twinkle in the eye of our so-called Traditional Media “hero” “journalists”.
Forget for a moment that even from a purely legal perspective, a mistrial is already justified. The prosecution after all had been shown to have done nothing but make a mockery of everyone’s intelligence from Day One. The more important point to note is that from the more readily-digestible political perspective, declaring a mistrial makes even more perfect sense for all the parties most involved and most impacted by this national drama — except Noynoy.
The interesting thing we noted at the time was that it would’ve benefitedeveryone if the whole circus had been called off midway through — while everyone was ahead.
The senators at the time were looking good in the eyes of the media, Corona would’ve been let off with just a slap on the wrist, and politicians would’ve merrily continued enjoying pork under the radar. Everyone wins. Except, as what we had pointed out in one of our all-too-typical strokes of prescience, President BS Aquino. The Prayerful One, after all, was on a very specific mission — to save Uncle Peping’s family jewels. Corona, at the time, was seen to be the single biggest enemy of the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan in their quest to secure the future of the vast Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, which is up for subjection to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in 2014.
The unfortunate thing about hindsight is that, while it may be enlightening, it is all but useless to the badly-burned.
Much like the way every one of the world’s heads-of-state who goosestepped to former US President George W Bush’s fraudulent call for a “war on terror” in 2001 will be doomed to be judged harshly by history, many hapless Filipino senators who marched to BS Aquino’s BS in 2012 are now suffering the consequences of their blind idiocy. Aquino’s top hanging judges — Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla — are now all but flattened under the weight of charges of pork barrel thievery in the wake of bouhaha surrounding alleged scam ringleader Janet Lim Napoles. All the other senators and House “representatives” whose hands are stained Hershey-brown by pork are on notice as well.
Everone is suspect.
Only a bozo of the highest order like President BS Aquino can burn himself, his house, and his entire neighbourhood while playing with fire. The rabid way with which he tried to bulldoze a path to securing the future of Hacienda Luisita has all but scorched the entire Philippine political landscape — fatally burning all the fauna erstwhile happily grazing within its once opaque forests. BS Aquino’s manic bulldozing has now leveled the field and laid everything literally bare for all to gawk at.
Told ya so.
That’s what you all get for following a man that clearly cannot lead.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

One-stop online portal for overseas Pinoys launched

By RIE TAKUMI, GMA News October 28, 2013 3:17pm
(Updated 8:46 p.m.) 

A website has been launched to allow overseas Filipinos to help invest and develop the country.

Launched by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) last October 18, BaLinkBayan gives OFWs options on how to launch their own businesses, donate to existing communities, or share their knowledge through volunteer programs.

The website also allows visitors to handle their government transactions online by providing links to SSS, Pag-IBIG Fund, and PhilHealth, according to CFO, an agency mandated to strengthen ties between and among overseas Filipinos and the motherland.

BaLinkBayan, described as a one-stop online portal dedicated to the overseas Filipino, aims to use the significant revenue generated by OFWs to an pursue inclusive and sustainable growth in the country.

In an email to GMA News Online, Engr. Romeo M. Rosas II of CFO said BaLinkBayan will partner with more government and private institutions in the future in order to address the needs of their users more effectively.

The functionality of the website will also expand, allowing it to track the progress of each user's projects and transactions with local government units, he added.

Rosas said their target audience includes both temporary and permanent migrant workers, and their dependents or relatives in the Philippines.

"The project is a direct response of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas to have a more needs based approach to philanthropy so that activities and efforts are more focus on the needs of the Filipino community and its development ergo; Diaspora to Development," he said.

Overseas Filipinos are crucial in making the country's economic growth inclusive. Along with the growing service sector in the country, they largely account for the 6.6 growth rate posted by the country in 2012.

While the country experiences an economic boom, President Benigno Aquino III noted during the 21st Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bali last Oct. 6 that wealth from it is concentrated"in the hands of the few." This accumulated wealth must be dispersed, he said, for “a “broader base of society” to benefit from this economic growth.

This “broader base” referred to Filipinos part of the 27.9 poverty rating in the country. Joblessness, which has ironically worsened despite recent changes in the economy, is blamed for this alarmingly high percentage— KBK, GMA News

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Be Patient

The Fig That Was Almost Toast!
Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 13:1-9

At that time some people who were present there told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them -- do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!" And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ´For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?´ He said to him in reply, ´Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.´"

Introductory Prayer: Lord, who am I that you spend time listening to me in my prayer? Who am I that you speak with me? You have given humanity such dignity by assuming our nature and giving me personally so many gifts. Time and time again you have been patient with me and received me back into your embrace when I have strayed from you. Thank you for your kindness to me. I hope to receive it always in the future and especially at the hour of my death. Your kindness and patience are a manifestation of your love for me. I want to return that love, because the only fitting response to love is love.

Petition: Lord, help me to be as patient with others as you are with me.

1. The Fig-less Fig: The owner of the fig tree in the parable, which many spiritual authors see as an image of God the Father, comes for three years in search of fruit. How often our Heavenly Father comes in search of fruit on the fig tree of our lives. And what does he find? He has given us the “soil” and so many elements that are conducive to being fruitful. He has made known his desire for us to bear fruit, and his Son has explained to us how the fruit is to be produced. There are no excuses. Let’s take notice of the lesson of the parable: When the Father comes to us looking for fruits, it is because it is the time for fruit. What will we say to the Father if he has given us ten, twenty, forty, sixty years to bear fruit but finds none? It’s not just about looking nice, as a fig does. It’s about bearing fruit – fruit that will last – according to the Father’s plan.

2. The Fig That Was Almost Toast: There is an American idiom referring to something that is destroyed and no longer what it was: “It’s toast!” The fig tree in the parable was in danger of becoming “toast.” “Cut it down” was the order given by the owner. “Why should it exhaust the soil?” What a terrible accusation! It was useless and only sapping nutrients from the soil for no purpose. When we apply this parable to our own lives, it is ghastly to think that our life, or the lives of others, might be just as useless. Cut it down. Take it away. It serves no purpose. The judgment is just. But it was a judgment that was soon to be lifted, both in the case of the fig tree and in the application to our own lives. Am I sufficiently grateful for God’s continual mercy towards me and others?

3. Leave It… Thanks to the gardener in the parable, the fig lives and is not cut down. The axe does not bite into the trunk of the fig, wrenching from it the beauty of its leaves and meandering branches. In our case, Jesus Christ the Good Gardener steps in and asks the owner, the Heavenly Father, to “leave it;” he, the Good Gardener, will take care of things. And how he does it! The Gardener himself is cut down in a bloody way and crucified. We who indeed should justly be cut down are saved, while the axe is put to the trunk of His body. All for love of us! Archbishop Luis Martinez has a beautiful image in his book, The Secrets of the Interior Life where he speaks of suffering as a manifestation of love: “It is said that the myrrh tree allows its perfume to escape only when it is bruised.” The perfume “flows drop by drop through the lacerations of the bark that enfold them.”

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, how patient the Father is with me! Thank you for coming to save me, for laying your life down for me, for suffering what I should endure because of my self-centeredness and sinfulness. But with you, there is hope.
Resolution: I will exercise patience today with everyone I meet, thinking of the patience that God has had with me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tables turn on PNoy: The future of the DAP is a political issue rather than a legal issue

October 23, 2013
by benign0
President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III in his usual form again tried to play down the absolute impropriety with which his government is managing the funds associated with his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) by reportedly pointing out that those who had brought attention to its use were motivated by the flak they’ve been getting as a result of the scandal that originated from traditional pork barrel — the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)…

At the Presidential Forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), Aquino noted: “Since I am in a room full of journalists, perhaps I can leave it to you to connect the dots: All of these attacks came after plunder cases, among others, that were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against a few well-known politicians.”
He also noted criticisms then also followed against changes in the Bureau of Customs and the bonuses of the officials of the Social Security System.
In many words, President BS Aquino is implying that the focus of everyone’s attention ought to be on the PDAF scandal mainly and that Malacanang’s use of the DAP should not be made an issue.
But it’s simple, Mister President. If there is a whiff of misuse of the DAP, then that whiff should be investigated as well. Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t two investigations — the on-going one on the PDAF plus a new one for the DAP — be run simultaneously? But it is unlikely that an investigation such as that being conducted around the PDAF will be initiated by the Department of Justice considering how adamant President BS Aquino is with regard to its legality…
Aquino, who until recently defended PDAF, said he is perplexed that people equate it with the DAP.
“Simply, it was a program that strategically allocated funds to agencies that had already proven the capacity to implement projects and programs rapidly and efficiently,” he said.
He also defended the legality of the DAP, saying: “The legality of such a process has never been in question. As clearly stated in Executive Order 292, or the Administrative Code of 1987 amongst other laws. It is difficult to fathom how one could equate this program with PDAF.”
But of course. The question President BS Aquino would like to emphasize now is the question of the “legality” of the DAP. Indeed, and to be fair, the “legality” of the DAP remains debatable even though as Dean Tony La Viña observes, “the weight of legal opinion seems to be for its unconstitutionality.”
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has pointed out that the Constitution “allows fund transfers, only if there are savings, meaning that the project was completed, and yet the appropriation was not exhausted; but there are no savings if a project was merely deferred.” She observed that it appeared that DAP funds were taken from alleged slow-moving projects. “If so, no savings were generated, and therefore DAP is illegal.”
Disagreeing with Santiago, Ateneo Law Professor Mel Sta. Maria, in an opinion piece for the TV5 website, argues that the DAP is nothing else but the disbursement of funds sourced from savings of a particular item to fund a deficit in another item for the purpose of immediately accomplishing a priority activity. This makes the DAP legal and constitutional.
The fact that there is debate about the constitutionality of the DAP means that the matter should be investigated and subject to legal scrutiny regardless of what the President’s amateur legal opinion on that matter might be.
The important irony to note here is that back in 2012, when it came to investigating and prosecuting former Chief Justice Renato Corona, legalities took a back seat to what was touted as the political aspect of the exercise — that his being tried by a Senate court rather than a judicial court justifies political influence on the outcome regardless of the legal soundness of its approach.
Well now, Mr President, it is just as clear today that the fate of the DAP is as political an issue as you made Corona’s fate out to be back in 2012, wouldn’t you think?
Indeed, it is interesting that President BS Aquino now seems to be a stickler for “legalities” now that he is on the other side of the equation — no longer the plaintiff, now the accused. Evidently the political aspect of the DAP — and the broader issue of pork — has become more relevant than whether or not it is legal.
Amazing how fast tables turn in Philippine politics.
[Photo courtesy Spin Busters.]

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sabah claim alive? Its bones are in Noy closet

By Federico D. Pascual Jr.
The Philippine Star 
Sultan-Jamalul-Kiram-III-and-Sabah-mapSKELETONS: Behind the brave front of the Kiram family that the Philippine claim to Sabah is alive despite the death last Sunday of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is the sad reality that the generations-old claim is dead, its skeleton locked in the closet of Malacañang.
The usual Palace spokeswoman, not wanting to roil further the political waters around Sabah (North Borneo), said the claim was still alive despite the Sultan’s demise, and was being “studied” per order of President Noynoy Aquino.
What she did not say was that the President could not have been pressing the claim because he has been cozying up to Malaysia, which in 1963 unilaterally annexed into its federation the resource-rich North Borneo that it has been leasing — until now — from the sultanate at a yearly rental of 5,300 ringgits (P73,000!).
* * *
MILF DEAL: How could President Aquino displease his Malaysian friends when Kuala Lumpur has been hosting the “peace” talks between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front claiming to represent the Filipino-Muslim population?
Over the objections of conscientious groups, Malaysia has insisted on staying in its pivotal position of “facilitator” in the bargaining for the carving out for the MILF a Bangsamoro state in Muslim Mindanao.
The sealing of the MILF deal, assuming it can hurdle the political and constitutional obstacles, is expected to have the effect of the Sabah claim being dropped — or settled to the sovereign satisfaction of Malaysia and the proprietary satisfaction of the sultan’s heirs.
* * *
POOR KIRAM: And how could Aquino, hungry for foreign investments, ignore the growing presence of Malaysian business interests in the Philippines and their promised involvement in the economic development of Mindanao?
In contrast, what can the family of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram III — who had bemoaned his being the poorest sultan in the world — offer President Aquino by way of advancing peace and progress in Southern Philippines?
Besides, how could Kiram III have won Aquino’s sympathy for the sultanate’s property claims to Sabah when he was associated with former President Gloria Arroyo, Aquino’s hate-object? The late sultan was Sabah affairs adviser to her and ran in her 2004 senatorial ticket.
* * *
NEW SULTAN: With the sultan’s death, a family problem looms on the matter of succession and forging a united front in addressing the Sabah claim.
Although Esmail Kiram II, Kiram’s oldest surviving brother, is expected to be crowned next sultan, there are family members who prefer his other brother Raja Muda (crown prince) Agbimuddin Kiram who led followers in fighting Malaysian forces bombing them out of their ancestral home in the coastal village of Lahad Datu in Sabah.
On contentious issues, the collective decision of the Ruma Bechara, a sort of council of elders/advisers, will be important. In the interim of mourning when no sultan is chosen yet, the council’s word will normally be controlling.
* * *
THE HEIRS: Some descendants of the nine recognized heirs of the original sultan might also come forward to protect their hereditary interests.
The heirs — all members of Sulu royalty and nobility — were identified in the 1939 ruling of Chief Justice C. F. C. Macaskie of the High Court of North Borneo with then Dayang-Dayang (Princess) Hadji Piandao holding the major 3/8 share. (Dayang-Dayang, an only child, was childless.)
The other heirs included Princess Tarhata Kiram and Princess Sakinur-In Kiram, 3/16 share each; Mora Napsa, Sultan Esmail Kiram, Datu Punjungan, Sitti Mariam, Sitti Jahara and Sitti Rada, 1/24 each.
All the principal heirs have died, and there are now probably a thousand heirs of the heirs.
Then there is the probability that Malaysian interests, with their superior resources, will attempt to muddle the succession question to weaken the sultanate’s case.
* * *
NOY’S LEANINGS?: In his decrees issued before he died last Sunday, the 75-year-old Kiram III expressed his desire to keep the family united and for the sultanate to continue what it had started.
This was widely taken to mean pursuing its claim to Sabah, and impliedly fighting for the homeland if necessary.
The Tausugs of the Sulu area, many of them warriors of the Moro National Liberation Front chaired by OIC-recognized Nur Misuari, may be a fierce force to contend with on the ground, but Malacañang’s cooperation is pivotal at the negotiating table.
What President Aquino wants and for whom his heart throbs is crucial.
* * *
SSS MESS: After I wrote about my missing Social Security System records, a syndicate securing benefits in my name, then (to close the records) declaring me dead and having a woman pose as my widow to claim death benefits, I have been getting letters from irate SSS members.
One reader, Lilia Galace of Zambales now residing in Australia, wrote in part:
“Yours is not an isolated incident. My uncle who is now 64 has not received his pension because SSS could not find records of his membership. He worked for well-known corporations like Wyeth-Suaco, Filipinas Life and Diners Club. His name is Manolito Ramos, now a resident of San Narciso, Zambales.
“The GSIS is not any better. An aunt who is now 81 years old has been inquiring about her GSIS pension since she became eligible for pension. She worked as a school teacher in Zambales in the 1950s then became a court interpreter at the Court of First Instance in Iba and other courts in Zambales. She moved to the US years ago to join her husband. She is now 81 and has not seen a cent of her GSIS pension. Her name is Corazon Galace Felarca.
“There is one great difference between the two qualified pensioners — my aunt can afford to live without her GSIS, but my uncle cannot. This is now his only income and needs his SSS pension. How can someone with no connections get what is rightfully his?
“I was one of the lucky ones. I had been an SSS member for more than 10 years then left for Australia. But I took a loan. It must have been my saving grace.”
* * *
RESEARCH: Access past POSTSCRIPTs at www.manilamail.com. Follow us via Twitter.com/@FDPascual. Send feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com