Saturday, October 31, 2009

'The Scourge of Climate Change' By Fr Shay Cullen (Olongapo City)

The waters of the great flood of Metro Manila and Laguna may have receded somewhat, yet they have left behind destroyed communities and thousands of impoverished families. The emotional scars remain, caused by the loss of loved ones, children and parents, drowned, and thousands of homes, lovingly built brick by brick collapsed and in ruins. That's the aftermath of the floods.

Lack of prevention has been underlined as the biggest cause of such human suffering. No foresight or emergency response teams were ready. Few trained disasters or emergency medical personnel were available. Billions of public funds that should have developed public safety emergency plans and resources have disappeared through corruption, waste and mismanagement.

Why is it that we have to see the bloated bodies of dead children, parents and heroes, swept away by flood waters and a torrent of national and international criticism before government officials and big business tycoons feel the sting of shame and are forced to act however sluggishly for the public good and not always for there own gain.

Every year there are floods and the engineers, bankers and politicians know why and they know what should have been done. The Manila Times has revealed in an exclusive report a few weeks ago that one major cause of the floods are the alleged corruption riddled delays of a vitally important multi-billion peso flood alleviation project.

The huge mega project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) worth US$14 million, known as the Pasig-Marikina River Improvement Project was supposed to start last 2007 and be complete in 2013 yet hardly a bulldozer has moved or a backhoe mobilized. It is the Marikina Valley that has been most devastated by the floods. We have to research the factors that are causing such disasters, is it incompetence, politicking, corruption? Hundreds have died because of the snail like pace of project implementation.

Likewise the Kamanava Area Flood Control and Drainage System improvement Project in the same area Northeast of Metro Manila worth US$15 million has also been delayed. It was due to be completed last 2007. It is 90.5% complete but until now that vital last section has remained uncompleted due to the haggling and bargaining going on over money and payments for the right of way compensation.

The necessity for such flood control projects is simple, the forests have been cut down, the soil is washing away so there is nothing left to absorb the rains. Corrupt politicians protecting logging companies and promoting the interests of foreign mining companies are behind the loss of 70% of the forest cover of the Philippines over the past 60 years. The archipelago was one massive rain forest at the turn of the century, now it is has just a few scraps left.

Even those remaining forests could be a starting point for regeneration and reforestation, but they too are being hacked to the ground, all laws forbidding it are ignored. Three weeks ago, I saw a huge truck hauling massive cut trees through the heart of Manila.

Reforestation is one of several important things that the G20 nations of global community need to do to slow global warming. The forests and the seas are the great absorbers of the deadly CO2 gas that we generate by burning coal and oil in our power stations and cars. Yet it is too late to reverse global warming by replanting trees alone. Climate change is coming on faster than predicted. We have to turn to renewable sources of energy on a massive scale and stop burning fossil fuel.

While the insatiable and criminal greed of Wall Street financial traders and the irresponsible bankers of the world brought the global economy to the brink of disaster, it is becoming clear they are too powerful to restrain, regulate and control.

Perhaps they could be directed to turn their propensity for profit to funding the next great industrial revolution of renewable energy and the electric car. Such massive investment is needed to save the planet from irreversible climate change and reduce the severity of the floods, droughts and famine that are on the way to the poorest of the poor everywhere. (Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines.

4 senators inhibit selves from anti-dynasty measure

By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Four senators, who are scions of political families, have strongly expressed their intent to inhibit themselves from the passage of the Anti-Political Dynasty Act that would ban any spouse or relative of an incumbent elective official to run for any elected office.

The senators signed the committee report on the Anti-Political Dynasty Act, but admitted plans to hold it back.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the bill’s principal sponsor, re-filed the measure just before Congress went into recess last Oct. 14.

The measure is recommended for approval without amendment before the Senate plenary. If passed into law, the measure will be effective in the May 10, 2010 elections.

Sen. Francis Escudero, who bolted last Wednesday from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) in his fight against so-called traditional and party politics, signed the report as chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws.

He vowed to “sponsor” the measure even if there was “potential conflict of interest” on his part.

Escudero’s father is Salvador Escudero III, a congressman from Sorsogon who was a member of the Marcos cabinet. The senator’s great grandfather, Salvador Sr., and grandfather, Salvador Jr., were also politicians of their time in Casiguran, Sorsogon.

Aside from Escudero, Senators Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Rodolfo Biazon, Loren Legarda, Manuel Roxas II, Jamby Madrigal, Richard Gordon, Lito Lapid, Joker Arroyo and Francis Pangilinan signed the report as committee members.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, also a member of the committee, did not sign the report, notably because her brother, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is also a member of the Senate.

Their father, the late Rene Cayetano, was a senator. Sen. Alan’s wife, Lani, is incumbent congresswoman of Taguig.

Ex-officio members Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. also signed the report.

Although they signed the measure, Lapid, Zubiri, and Estrada separately noted that they “may have to inhibit due to possible conflict of interest,” while Arroyo signed with “serious reservation.”

Aquino, who has been banking on the political influence of his parents, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and late President Corazon Aquino, in his presidential bid, said he would interpellate on the measure.

Lapid’s son, Mark, is also a former Pampanga governor. The senator is reportedly mulling to leave the Senate and return to Pampanga where he intends to run again for governor next year.

On the other hand, Jinggoy is a member of a political empire founded by his father, former President Joseph Estrada who has declared his bid to run anew for the presidency.

Ex-president Estrada’s wife, Dr. Loi Ejercito, recently retired from politics but without first being elected as senator while the former president was still in jail on plunder charges.

Apart from Jinggoy and Loi, one of the ex-president’s sons with another woman, Juan Victor (JV) Ejercito, is mayor of San Juan.

Zubiri is a scion of Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. His brother, Jose Ma, Zubiri II and the governor’s nephew Ignacio Zubiri are also involved in local politics in the province.

In MalacaƱang, President Arroyo is seen as the best example of what political dynasty is. Presidential sons Dato and Juan Miguel Arroyo are representatives of Camarines Sur and Pampanga, respectively. The president’s brother-in-law, Ignacio Arroyo, is a representative of Negros while Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo, another sibling of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, has been accredited recently as a representative of Kasangga party-list group.

Voters’ right to choose leaders

However, the passage of the measure may again be derailed because Congress is in recess until Nov. 8 and will resume session from Nov. 9 to 20.

Congress will have a break again from Nov. 21 to Nov. 30, presumably to allow candidates to file their certificates of candidacy.

During the resumption of session between Dec. 1 to Dec. 18, the lawmakers hands will be full with the continuation of deliberations on the 2010 General Appropriations Act set to be passed before Christmas break on Dec. 19.

By January 2010, candidates for national and local posts are expected to be busy with their respective campaigns.

Before Lacson, the anti-dynasty bill was first advocated by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago who has expressed disappointment over Congress’ dilly-dallying with the passage of the measure in past Congresses.

In his explanatory note for Senate Bill 1468, Lacson lamented that Congress failed to pass the law since its first filing during the 8th Congress because most lawmakers come from “well-entrenched political clans.”

Under the measure, political dynasty refers to the concentration, consolidation or perpetuation of political power by persons related to one another.

“Unfortunately, despite numerous attempts to introduce an anti-political dynasty law (as early as the 8th Congress) to effect electoral reforms and level the political landscape, Congress failed to pass such a law,” Lacson said.

He added that the inaction can be attributed to the fact that many members of Congress came from well-entrenched political clans.

“Over the years, they have successfully argued for the so-called electorate’s right to choose their elected leaders using the oft-repeated principle that sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them,” the senator said.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PDEA arrests Australian, 2 Pinoys in Olongapo drug and sex den raid

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) agents over the weekend arrested an Australian and two Filipinos in a raid on a drug and sex den in Olongapo City, Zambales.

The drug-enforcement agents, armed with a search warrant issued by Judge Fernando Sagun Jr. of Branch 78 of the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City, arrested Robert Paul Mason, an Australian, and Mark Anthony Quinday and Enrique “Jun” Magsaysay Jr.

They were taken to the PDEA headquarters on National Irrigation Administration Road in East Triangle, Diliman, Quezon City

PDEA Director General Dionisio Santiago said a joint team from the elite PDEA Special Enforcement Service, Complaint and Reaction Unit and PDEA Regional Office 3 implemented Search Warrants 4560 and 4561.

Santiago said the operation was conducted at Ces’t La-vie Hotel on Gordon Avenue in Olongapo City at about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday.

PDEA agents confiscated from the suspects six Demerol tablets, several transparent plastic sachets containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, a pocket digital weighing scale, a Valium 10-milligram tablet, several drug-use paraphernalia such as disposable lighters, glass tubes, aluminum foil, improvised tooters, disposable syringes and needles for injecting dangerous drugs, and several rounds of 9mm ammunition.

Operatives also rescued five young girls, three of them minors, who were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for proper care and counseling.

“This operation was the result of several months of intelligence operations and continuous surveillance. We are fortunate that no operatives were hurt during the implementation of the search warrants because intelligence reports indicated that the suspects were armed, dangerous and well-connected,” Santiago said.

He added that the suspects will be charged with violation of Section 6 (Maintenance of a Drug Den)
in relation to Section 26 (c) (Attempt or Conspiracy in Maintaining a Drug Den), Article II of Republic Act 9165. Written by Joel Mapiles / Business Mirror Correspondent

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Zambales Rep. Milagros "Mitos" Magsaysay blew her top over the delayed action on a complaint filed by her constituents against Olongapo City Mayor Bong Gordon for allegedly failing to remit their payments to the National Power Corporation (NPC).

Magsaysay said she is worried their electricity would be cut because of the unpaid dues.

"You're pussyfooting on the case. Pag small fry, ang bilis ng action nyo. Pero ngayon pong taong bayan ang nagfile, por que hindi famous [walang aksyon]. Kailangan ba ako ang magfile?," she said.

"Paying P50 million a month is not enough to cover all the debts we have with Napocor. Didn't you bother to ask the city mayor how come he does not remit every single centavo. Once the National Grid Corp. cuts the power of Olongapo, who will I blame now?" she added.

Magsaysay reminded the Gutierrez that she is the vice-chairman of the committee on appropriations, and she threatened to hold the budget of the deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.

House committee on appropriations chairman Quirino Rep. Junie Cua had to call a break to ease the tension. "Sometimes when we are angry, it is difficult for us to think. Maybe it's time for us to take a lunch break," he said.