Thursday, February 28, 2013

Against the Law

The verdict is out. The Roman Catholic Church (at least the Visayan branch in Bacolod) has elected the path of irrelevance. In his column at the Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled "Which way for the Church?" (December 19, 2012), Randy David quotes Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, as follows:

"In the message, we find a humble church, admitting that it does not understand everything that's happening in the world. That it's confused, that it has suffered, but it also admits its share in the wounds of society . . . Humility for the Church is not a strategy; it is the way of Jesus. It is how God manifested himself to us in Jesus, and loved us in the form of Christ crucified."

If only the rest of Cardinal Tagle's brethren would follow his lead, then the Church may recover some of its thoroughly eroded credibility in light of its despotic, over-bearing, one-dimensional and deceitful approach to the RH bill. Yet, the actions of the diocese of Bacolod, blessed by their bishop, Vicente Navarra, wreaks of "petulance" and "insolence" in the words of the editorial below. Petty, legalistic, fallacious, entitled, abusive, arrogant, hypocrites, modern day pharisees . . . all come to my mind.

It doesn't really matter whether or not their actions in Bacolod are "against the law". The Church's demeanor before and after the passage of the RH bill confirms what I had concluded many years ago (after I had some time to independently evaluate my Jesuit indoctrination). That is, the moral ascendancy that is so imperiously and cavalierly wielded by the Roman Catholic Church is undeserved. Yet, the poorer the country and the less educated its population, the greater the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Conversely, the more prosperous the country and the more educated its population, the lesser the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Do you now wonder why the Church is against the RH bill, which could, for the first time in Philippine history, reverse the trend of a runaway population of the uneducated or, from the Church's perspective, a waning of its influence in the Philippines. Enough with these great pretenders, who should finally be seen in the proper light--quite simply, irrelevant.

The decision of some members of the diocese of Bacolod, backed by their bishop, Vicente Navarra, to hang a giant election-related sign outside the San Sebastian Cathedral has again trained the spotlight on the Reproductive Health Law and the political role of the Catholic Church. The sign calls on the faithful to vote for six senatorial candidates and two partylist groups classified as “Team Buhay” and against seven candidates and four partylist groups they dubbed “Team Patay.”

The sign violates many laws, and should be taken down immediately.

It violates the election law, specifically the provision on “lawful election propaganda” in Commission on Elections Resolution No. 9615. “Posters made of cloth, paper, cardboard or any other material, whether framed or posted, [should have] an area not exceeding two feet (2’) by three feet (3’).” The Comelec has served notice to Bishop Navarra that the signs needed to be resized, but a lawyer for the diocese played for time by asking the Comelec whether the sign was in fact election propaganda. This tactic, to borrow a buzzword from the Corona impeachment trial, is mere “palusot.” The same Comelec resolution clearly defines “election campaign” and “partisan political activity” as “an act designed to promote or defeat a particular candidate or candidates to a public office,” such as “publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate.” You do not need to be a lawyer to know that the sign clearly falls under these definitions.

The diocese has since cut the sign in two, separating the Team Buhay part from the Team Patay half—but this is not an act of compliance but, rather, of petulance, or even insolence, since each half is still clearly larger than the maximum allowed by the Comelec. Even if the diocese members responsible for the sign found it in their Christian hearts to abide by the unmistakable letter of the law and replaced it with signs measuring two feet by three, however, should the good bishop allow it? We hope not, because the content of the sign also violates other kinds of law.

It violates the moral law which governs all of us, whether Catholic or not, because it perpetuates a blatant lie, that the Reproductive Health Law promotes abortion. That is simply not true; every provision that could be misinterpreted as encouraging or allowing abortion has been removed from the law; indeed, the law reaffirms that abortion is illegal, and declares it state policy to be open to all methods of family planning that are, among other characteristics, “safe, legal, non-abortifacient.” So the sign reduces the complex debate over the controversial law to whether one agrees with the narrow Catholic view that the new measure promotes a generalized culture of death. The least the good bishop and his flock can do is acknowledge that many Catholic legislators voted for the new law precisely because they saw it as contributing to a culture of life—literally, since it will save many mothers and infants from an avoidable death.

It violates the law of self-preservation, because the diocese defends the posting of the sign as free speech—the very defense that the controversial reproductive-health activist Carlos Celdran invoked in the infamous Manila Cathedral case. While we believe that freedom of speech is a privileged right, the complainants in the “Damaso” case argued that offense to religious feelings trumped that privilege. Since Celdran has appealed his lower-court conviction to the Court of Appeals, he can now point to the Bacolod sign as an argument in his favor. To put it another way: What is to stop a parishioner in Bacolod from suing the administrators of the San Sebastian Cathedral, on the grounds that the sign offended his religious feelings?

It violates the law of equity. The lawyer for the diocese questioned the duty of the Comelec to enforce election laws, by saying it should start with “more glaring violations,” as the Inquirer report phrased it, of the candidates themselves. This betrays both a sense of entitlement, as though the diocese members behind the sign are exempt from the law, as well as a sense that if politics is dirty, the dirt must come from the politicians themselves, and certainly not from pious, church-going people.

What was it the Gospels taught all of us again, about the mote in our brother’s eye?

See more at:
When the Mangal Marine Sanctuary "MMS") is established, the first joint project of Mangal and the Municipality of Mansalay will be to seed MMS with giant clams.

Giant clams: The answer to PHL’s dwindling fish supply?

SCIENCE tells us that among the three nutrients—carbohydrates, fat and protein—many Filipinos are deficient in the third. This deficiency has a bad physiological impact on muscles and bones, as well as cell functioning.
For many years, fish served as the poor’s man source of protein, providing more than half of Filipinos’ protein needs. However, that no longer seems to be true.
In 2011 The Philippine Star reported that the country’s fisheries are about to collapse because many have plundered and abused the seas.
In 2003 some 28 kilograms of fish were available for every Filipino, but in 2010 it dropped to a woeful 10 kgs.
Our bodies are not equipped to store protein for the long term; it has to be used. In the past Juan de la Cruz needs to consume a lot of fish to keep himself healthy.
(To digress: Nonito “The Flash” Donaire eats nothing but fish while on training; Manny Pacquiao, though a herbivore or a vegetable eater, is as much of a carnivore as the lions in Africa. Guess who was named 2012’s “Boxer of the Year”?)
Science teachers tell us a teenage girl and boy needs 46 and 52 grams of protein, respectively, every day; the adult man and woman, 48 and 56 grams, respectively. The World Bank, aware that the Filipino population grows at 1.9 percent per annum, said the demand for fish will shoot up to 2 billion kgs by 2020. Where will Filipinos then get their protein, given that meat is not as healthy as fish?
Perhaps giant clams, also known as Tidacna Gigas (TG), could substitute for fish, since it does not only provide protein, but also selenium, zinc, calcium, iron and magnesium.
TG provides a lot of meat, since it can grow up to 4 feet and balloon up to 40 pounds. It is, however, among the most endangered of the 150 clam varieties in the world, and can be found only in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. How lucky can we get? Even better, they can propagate very fast, even in captivity. That’s why these clams are cultivated in the Bolinao Marine Laboratory in Pangasinan province.
TG is also very prolific creature—a hermaphrodite, in fact, since it contains both sperm and eggs and is capable of producing a million eggs at any one time.
In an experiment, a TG produced—hold your breath—14 million eggs, according to agri-fishery sources. Even better, a chemical called serotenin can be used to induce the clam’s valve to open and release sperm and eggs.
TG is said to enhance the life cycle of corals, which serve as sanctuaries for fish, and can attract many varieties of fish to where it lives. That’s a marine treasure, right there.
Is TG the new “gold of the sea,” a pleasant substitute for fish whose numbers are dwindling in the country? Can you imagine TG being grilled, stewed, dried or eaten raw? Can you imagine it being used in Philippine dishes like sinigang, adobo, tinola and paksiw? After all, TG is considered as an exotic delicacy among picky gourmands in Japan and France.
It must be noted, however, that men should go slow in eating TG, since it is a known aphrodisiac and can increase testosterone levels. If that happens, our population problems may worsen.
Kidding aside, we hope that we are planting the seeds of a new scientific approach to food sustenance in the face of dwindling food sources worldwide. Recently, an AFP C-160 cargo plane transported 200 giant clams from the Bolinao marine lab to Bohol province for propagation.
Obviously, we can no longer rely on fish. We cannot bang our heads against the wall while waiting for the return of the Great Fish. Propagating TG, therefore, represents science’s victory over despair.
Truly, success is infectious. Consider: 250 feet off the shores of Batangas province, very near the high-end seaside resort village of Pico de Loro of the Henry Sy Group, is a “clam garden” using the TG variety.
The smart Henry Sy, entrepreneur par excellance, must know something we ordinary folks are just beginning to understand.
Are we on our way to finding a long-term solution to our dwindling fish supply?

200 giant clams to be transported to Bohol

Category: Agri-Commodities
Published on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 19:26
Written by Zaff Solmerin / Correspondent

 A fish swims above a giant clam at a coral reef in the waters of Bolinao town, Pangasinan province. 200 clams like the one in the photo are expected to be transported to Bohol province’s Bingag town soon.
THE local government unit (LGU) of Bolinao town in Pangasinan province is set to provide at least 200 giant clams for seeding in a marine protected area (MPA) in Bohol province’s Bingag town as part of a livelihood project, it was learned on Wednesday.
Known locally as taklobo, these clams are expected to attract other marine species by providing nutrition and shelter to small sea animals.
The Bohol provincial government regards the project as a way to reduce poverty and ensure food security in the province without sacrificing vital marine resources in protected areas.
Brig. Gen. Rolando Jungco, head of the Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said the military has teamed up with the Bingag and Bolinao LGUs to implement the project, which not only aims to provide livelihood to people in some insurgency-free provinces like Bohol, but also to help promote and protect the environment. He added that the venture is in line with the Armed Forces’ Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan.
“Actually, this is the main objective of the Bayanihan. After clearing an area from the influence of rebels, we have to support efforts of the government to [promote] economic development such as the introduction of sustainable livelihood projects for the people,” Jungco said.
He also said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista allowed the use of military resources to help the Bohol provincial government implement the project.
AFP Spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said the military will provide manpower and equipment in transporting the giant clams from an ocean nursery in Bolinao.
“The giant clams will be flown via the Philippine Air Force’s C130 plane to Tagbilaran, Bohol, before they are transported onboard four M35 trucks to the MPA,” Burgos said.
“[Transporting the taklobo is crucial,] since any delay in the schedule will threaten the survival of [the] giant clams, [which] can only be transported [within] 11 hours,” he added.
“By providing a C130 plane [and] M35 trucks, the AFP will shorten the time needed for the swift transportation and seeding of the giant clams,” the spokesman said.
According to the spokesman, the AFP and the Bohol provincial government have been partners for many years, especially during the implementation of the IPSP, which was called the “Bohol Experience.”
“Through the partnership of the local government, private organizations and individuals, and other stakeholders, the anti-insurgency efforts of the AFP in Bohol was successful and accounted for the further improvement of tourism and economy of the province,” Burgos said.
Bautista lauded the provincial government and the people of Bohol for their contributions in the nationwide effort to save the environment and the marine resources of the country.
“The strong partnership we have with the government and people of Bohol remains to be one of the success stories of IPSP Bayanihan,” Bautista said.
“We are well aware of the adverse effects of environmental degradation [on] our communities, especially in coastal areas. This effort to transport 200 giant clams will further increase the volume of marine species in the seas of Bohol and promote biodiversity in the area,” he added.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tama na! Sobra na!

Sukang-suka na kami sa inyo! Pinagsasaksakan pa ninyo ang mga anak ninyo sa mga ignorante! Si Jinggoy naman, nahuli na, nagpapapogi pa! Kunwari pa raw gusto niyang malaman saan naputa yung pera. Ignorante lang talaga yung maniniwala sa iyo. If you're not corrupt (if you really don't know how the funds were spent), then you are incompetent. Either way, your kind represents the most compelling reason to abolish the Senate.

Even before the COA disclosure, the following article "The Three Kings of UNA" hits the nail on the head. Bang! Bang! Bang! A must read before this May 2013 elections. God bless Virtual Vigilante!

COA: 3 senators’ pork went to bogus NGO

JPE, Estrada, Revilla tied to P195-M scam


Some P195 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of three incumbent senators and a former congressman went to a questionable nongovernment organization in 2011, according to a report of the Commission on Audit (COA).
The PDAF, a pork barrel that funds pet projects of members of Congress, is a known source of kickbacks for lawmakers. Yearly, a senator is entitled to P200 million in PDAF and a member of the House of Representatives, P70 million.
The audit report identified Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. and then Buhay Rep. Rene Velarde as the sources of the P206 million in PDAF for the Department of Agriculture that was released in several batches in 2009 and 2010.
Of the amount, P201 million was turned over by the agriculture department to ZNAC Rubber Estate Corp. (ZREC), a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC), which in turn transferred P194.97 million to Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (PFI).
Of the amount received by PFI, P74.69 million came from Enrile’s pork barrel, P106.7 million from Estrada’s, P9.7 million from Revilla’s and P3.88 million from Velarde’s, the COA said.
The COA report further said that the financial statements and income tax returns from 2006 to 2008 indicated that the government was PFI’s only source of funding.
Estrada seeks probe
Estrada confirmed that part of his PDAF went to the foundation during the Arroyo administration.
Estrada wants an investigation of how his PDAF was spent if indeed PFI was a bogus NGO.
Enrile withheld further comment until he had checked his records.
“I cannot make a statement. I will have to check records and facts,” he said in a short reply coursed through his media staff.
First time
“This is the first time I heard about ZNAC Rubber Corp. and Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc.,” he added.
Revilla gave no comment. He sent word that he had yet to go through the records.
The COA said the offices of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Velarde all nominated the PFI as the beneficiary of the funds to implement its claimed livelihood projects.
Sought for comment, Enrile said this was the first time he heard of ZREC and PFI.
The ZREC is involved in commercial crop production, particularly rubber.
It operates a plantation on a 1,000-hectare property in Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte province. The ZREC uses the land owned by Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College, under a usufruct agreement for 50 years.
The ZREC was formally incorporated and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 17, 1984. In 2010, it was on the list of 36 “underperforming” GOCCs that Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez wanted abolished.
Fake documents
The COA report reiterated its previous recommendation to ZREC to require PFI to refund P162 million “due to fabricated documents and forged signatures” it submitted for the liquidation of funds received from ZREC.
The COA also recommended that ZREC inform Enrile et al. “that PFI should no longer be granted any fund assistance and have it blacklisted.”
Livelihood projects
State auditors raised doubts on the legal personality of the recipient nongovernment organization which claimed to have been implementing livelihood projects and programs in Ilocos Norte in Luzon; Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; Aklan and Iloilo in the Visayas; and Camiguin, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga City and Basilan in Mindanao.
Office address
The PFI listed its office address as No. 050 D&E Building on Roces Avenue corner Quezon Avenue in Quezon City. Its previous address was No. 31 Ignacio Avenue, North Susana Executive Village, Matandang Balara, Quezon City.
The COA report noted that PFI had five tax identification numbers (TIN) based on different documents submitted to various government agencies.
For example, PFI’s certificate of incorporation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had TIN 006-728-526 but a different TIN 229-081-506 was reflected in the general information sheet, which it also submitted to SEC.
In the PFI’s certificate of registration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue dated April 26, 2007, it had TIN 251-538-626-000 but used TIN 026-723-526 in its income tax return for 2006 to 2008. However, a copy of PFI’s purchase request obtained by auditors showed its TIN as 004-574-001.
“Based on the information above, the validity and accuracy of the documents submitted by PFI were doubtful which also put to question its legal personality,” the COA report said.
COA auditors had asked ZREC to explain the discrepancies in the information when informed of the audit findings but the auditors were told that ZREC could no longer contact Petronila A. Balmaceda, PFI president, and that she had not replied to its letter dated Jan. 27, 2011.
In PFI’s income tax return (ITR) for 2007 and 2008, the report said PFI paid an identical amount of P17,500. PFI declared P1.75 million in total income tax payable because it was indicated in the ITR that its tax payments for the first three quarters amounted to P1,732,500, the report said.
“However, there was no deferred income tax or prepaid income tax of P1,732,500 and income tax payable of P1,750,000 reflected in the financial statements for CY 2007 and CY 2008 which cast doubt on the ITRs and financial statements submitted,” the COA said.
No liabilities
In 2007, PFI declared total assets of P5,668,594. However, there were no recorded liabilities, thus the fund balance was equal to the total assets.
“Likewise, total receipts and disbursements for CY 2007 amounted to P48,000,000 and P43,000,000, respectively, thus excess of receipts over disbursements amounted to P5,000,000. The above amounts were also the figures indicated in the CY 2008 financial statements.
“In short, the financial statements for CY 2007 and CY 2008 were the same,” the report said.
It said that from the financial statements for 2006 to 2008 submitted by PFI, there was no property, plant and equipment account, “thereby casting doubt as to how the foundation operated its business without any office equipment, furniture and fixtures which are essential in carrying out the day to day operations of a company.”
Unqualified for state funds
Neither was there a declaration of PFI’s other related business, if any, “prompting auditors to declare that from the start, PFI should not have qualified for entitlement as a recipient of government funds even if it was nominated by Senators Enrile, Estrada, Revilla and Congressman Velarde to implement the programs/projects.”
The report reiterated its previous recommendation to ZREC that it request PFI to justify “why the water pumps, hand tractors, composting facilities, planting materials and vegetable seeds were purchased from supplier which were very far from the location of the projects.”
Estrada said he didn’t know the people behind PFI but acknowledged that it was an organization accredited by the Department of Agriculture.
“It was the DA that recommended it (to be a beneficiary of my PDAF),” Estrada told the Inquirer.
Before Aquino administration
Estrada said this was “way back” before President Aquino took office in 2010.
“Our function is only to identify projects. The funds never passed through us. That’s the case for all of us senators,” Estrada said.
On the report that the NGO was bogus, Estrada said: “Now, I want to join the investigation… I want to know where the people’s money went.”
See more at:

Learning from the discovery of Marcos assets

We should have more of the following article to set the record straight about Marcos, instead of all these revisionist crap being peddled by his wife, kids and former cronies. I should also point out that contrary to the said article that suggests "closure" to a painful chapter in Philippine history, the Philippine-Swiss experience vis-à-vis the recovery of a very small portion of Marcos' ill-gotten wealth should serve as the foundation or the beginning of a continuing joint effort to recover the much greater balance of the same that remains in the hands of his heirs.

(The following is a joint article by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and his Swiss counterpart, Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, on the passage of the Human Rights Compensation Act.)
MANILA, Philippines - On 28 January 2013, the Philippine Congress, wrapping up a thorough and inclusive legislative process, passed the landmark law on the reparation and recognition of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime.
Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III brought the “Compensation Act” into force by signing it on 25 February 2013.
The passage of the Act reflects the high importance the Philippine government is devoting to the promotion and protection of human rights. It helps ensure that gross human rights violations under a dictatorship will never happen again in the Philippines.
This widely supported legislation puts an end to the long quest for justice for many thousands of victims of the former Marcos regime. It is one of the first and most prominent cases where assets looted from the state have been returned to the rightful owner in a fair manner through the funds recovered from a corrupt dictator.
It also sets new standards for the future restitution and use of illegally acquired funds. It is difficult to find a better example of retributive justice.
The peaceful People Power revolution of 1986 was a turning point in Philippine history. Filipinos were galvanized by Cory Aquino, the mother of the current Philippine president, and ousted the corrupt Marcos regime.
The uprising returned democracy to the country after years of martial law, political aberrations, economic mismanagement and egregious human rights abuses.
Indeed, the severity of these human rights violations was only matched by the excessive greed of the dictator and his cronies. The “Compensation Act” finally recognizes the plight of the many thousands of victims of the Marcos regime and awards them long overdue financial compensation, legal recognition, their individual acknowledgement on a victims’ honor roll, and a moral tribute to their suffering.
The law also marks an important stage in a remarkable joint effort between two countries to right the wrongs committed by the Marcos regime.
Only hours after the ousting of the dictator in February 1986, the Swiss government imposed an unprecedented governmental freezing order on all Marcos assets located in Switzerland. It did so after being informed by a Swiss bank that a representative of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos had requested the transfer of assets out of Switzerland.
Soon after the freeze, the Philippine government filed a request for mutual legal assistance with the Swiss authorities, thereby setting in motion the process to repatriate the assets stolen by Marcos.
A number of legal hurdles had to be overcome in these novel proceedings before a total of US$684 million could be transferred to the Philippines.
In 1997, the Swiss Supreme Court issued its final ruling enabling the funds to be legally moved out of Switzerland.
After being held in escrow, the money was finally released to the Philippine Treasury in 2003 following a Philippine Supreme Court decision ordering the forfeiture of the Marcos assets. This restitution marked one of the largest sums ever returned by any government to a country formerly ruled by a kleptocratic regime.
The successful process of returning the Marcos assets to the Philippines has been a formidable learning experience for both our countries as well as for the international community.
Prior to the Marcos restitution, no other case involving similar amounts of money had been brought to a successful conclusion – and not many since.
The close cooperation was clearly beneficial to the Philippines and Switzerland. First and foremost, the Filipino people regained hundreds of millions of dollars that had been stolen from them.
Moreover, it contributed to bring closure to a difficult time in their history. Switzerland also profited from the experience. By freezing the Marcos assets, the Swiss government manifested its political will to prevent its financial center from being abused by dictators and autocratic regimes.
The message proclaimed was clear: Switzerland is a high risk place for illegal funds.
Building on the Marcos experience, the same powers to freeze dictators’ funds have been reapplied by the Swiss authorities repeatedly, most notably in the wake of the Arab Spring of early 2011 when the assets of three former regimes were blocked.
Since 1986, Switzerland has returned over US$ 1.7 billion of assets stolen by politically exposed persons and their cronies to their countries of origin, more than any other financial center in the world has ever returned. Today, the Swiss expertise and commitment to asset recovery is recognized internationally.
The Philippine-Swiss cooperation made a significant contribution to the international debate on the handling and restitution of funds illegally funnelled abroad by politically exposed persons.
Thus, the Marcos restitution has become a model for the recovery of stolen assets, an issue of increasing importance in the global fight against corruption. It also had a direct impact on the negotiations of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which devotes an entire chapter to asset recovery.
President Aquino’s steadfast efforts to promote good governance, to curb corruption and to end impunity are bearing fruit. The recently signed Involuntary Disappearance Act and the passage of the Compensation Bill further advance this agenda.
The Swiss government’s determination to prevent illegal funds from ending up in its financial institutions by tightening anti-money laundering provisions and advancing the restitution of assets of corrupt officials resonates to the same tune.
Indeed, our countries’ joint efforts go beyond the specificities of the Marcos asset recovery. Cooperating in the struggle against corruption is as much a moral necessity as it is a legal obligation, explicitly stated in the UNCAC. Yet, in the end, success also depends on the ability and willingness of the involved states to work together in a spirit of cooperation and trust.
The Philippine-Swiss experience clearly underscores this fact. If the cooperation between our two countries has contributed not only towards bringing closure to a painful chapter of Philippine history, but also helped to emphasize that progress in the fight against corruption necessitates determination and close cooperation of all parties involved, it will have served an important goal beyond the specific case or the testimony to the excellent bilateral relations between our two countries.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lawmakers slam Ongpin for historical revisionism

I was a bit relieved with the article below after reading the previous one on Ongpin, which was wrought with lies, fabrications and his usual over-inflated sense of worth and achievement. The nerve of these people, who should have been guillotined with the Marcoses when we had the chance. Talk about the loss of a great opportunity!

Lawmakers slam Ongpin for historical revisionism


Lawmakers on Monday slammed former Trade Minister Roberto V. Ongpin for his purported attempt to rewrite Philippine history and paint the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his family and his cronies in a better light.
“Good Lord! More revisionism?” said Sen. Serge Osmeña, who instigated a Senate blue ribbon committee probe on Ongpin for alleged insider trading of Philex Mining Corp. shares, profiting from a behest loan granted by Development Bank of the Philippines in 2009 and acting as a front for former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.
“These are matters of history. It’s amazing that Ongpin is making these claims only now,” said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
In an interview last week with the Inquirer, Ongpin said: “With the election, a lot of people felt that he (Marcos) lost. You know, he won. In my view, he really won.”
“This is a case of historical revisionism. An insult to the heroism of thousands of Filipinos who fought for the ouster of Marcos. A reminder to be vigilant against Marcos apologists who want to rewrite history and justify the crimes of the past,” said Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino.
Belmonte found it strange that Ongpin would follow Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s lead in trying to revise history.
“What about the claim that there was really an ambush prior to proclamation? It’s a different tune from before,” Belmonte said, recalling Enrile’s claim during the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that Cory was the real winner in the snap election that month and that his ambush, which led to the proclamation of martial law in 1972, was staged.
Binondo Central Bank
Osmeña also blasted Ongpin for his alleged attempt to window-dress his brainchild, Binondo Central Bank, which controlled the black market for dollars amid the flight of capital and refusal of exporters to bring their dollars back home following the assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in August 1983.
“Nothing noble about the use of police powers to suspend the law of supply and demand to cover up the plunder and gross mismanagement of the economy and keep the Filipino people in ignorance and misery,” Osmeña said.
In the interview with the Inquirer, Ongpin said that the Aquino assassination ignited massive withdrawals of short-term dollar placements and required extraordinary measures to avert hyperinflation similar to those experienced by economies torn by wars and civil strife. Foreign currency traders in Manila’s Chinatown were having a field day, steadily debasing the peso.
“The country was headed for a runaway inflation, like Argentina. We were right there on the brink. I told Marcos the only way, if you want me to do it, is to get these guys and put the fear of God in them and tell them you’d better do it. And they did. It was horrible,” Ongpin said.
“The whole concept was discipline. We had no money to defend the peso. The only thing we had was moral suasion, or immoral suasion,” Ongpin said. “The traders were using their money. The treasury was bankrupt. I had the President sign arrest and seizure orders for each of the black marketers.”
‘Still doesn’t get it’
“Almost three decades on and he still doesn’t get it. The results of the snap election are irrelevant. No rigged and thoroughly corrupted polls could confer legitimacy on Marcos. The people had had enough of the dictatorship, so the people kicked them out,” said ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio.
“Ongpin’s revisionism highlights the urgent need for a thoroughgoing review of how the history of the martial law period is written, discussed in public and taught in our schools. In Germany, no one can speak favorably about the Hitler period without being called to account. It should be the same here regarding the Marcos era,” Tinio said.
“[Ongpin] claims to have saved the country from a crippling economic crisis that was largely brought about by him and his ilk to begin with? The staggering foreign debt, corruption-riddled white elephant projects and crony monopolies?” he said.
Historical account
Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said: “We should have an historical account of the 20 years of Marcos misrule and make it part of our educational curriculum.”
Guingona said historians with “firsthand” experience with martial law should be tapped to write this chapter of the country’s history.
“I remember reading the column of Ambeth Ocampo (of the Inquirer) that Raul Roco, when he was secretary of education, was talking to him about it. He would have been commissioned by the Department of Education to write about those 20 years of Marcos rule. Unfortunately, it did not push through,” Guingona said.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

18th Annual Philippine Int'l Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Breitling Jet Team
As a recreational aviator, I find the annual balloon fiesta (18 years running and going strong) a truly delightful annual weekend activity at Clark, Pampanga. This year was particularly special with the participation of the Breitling Jet Team. I hope they will make our hot air balloon fiesta an annual stop in their yearly schedule of aerobatic exhibitions all over the world. Kudos to Joy Roa for this terrific addition to the fiesta!  Here's a brief clip of their show on Sunday morning, February 24, 2013:

A brief compilation of afternoon activities at the hot air balloon fiesta:

Solo aerial acrobatics:

Something new in the Philippines . . . the Falconers Club of Pampanga. Excellent hobby guys!

Falconers Club of Pampanga

UK Cardinal Course of Action Revealing / Has Come Full Circle

UK cardinal accused of "inappropriate acts" and the news article reports that "O'Brien had been scheduled to lead a Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Sunday morning (February 24, 2013), an occasion dedicated to a celebration of Benedict's time in the papacy. But he did not appear for the Mass. Instead, a statement was made on his behalf by Bishop Stephen Robson, an auxiliary prelate in the Edinburgh diocese."

"A number of allegations of inappropriate behavior have been made against the cardinal," the Church statement said. "The cardinal has sought legal advice, and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time. There will be further statements in due course."

I don't know about you but when was stating the truth ever inappropriate. Whatever happened to facing your brethren, looking them straight in the eyes and saying, "These accusations are false. Unfortunately, I must deal with these worldly concerns and have no choice but to engage legal counsel to handle the matter. In the meantime, I will continue to fulfill my duties in the Church as usual to the best of my abilities . . ." Unless, of course, he would be lying by broadcasting the likes of the immediately preceding statements.

The cardinal's apparent course of action to NOT follow his schedule as planned and to NOT speak directly to the members of his diocese seems like those of a Wall Street wheeler dealer caught in the act of insider trading. It's high time these modern day pharisees are held accountable for their hypocrisy.

Version 1--Cardinal Keith O'Brien resigns amid claims of inappropriate behaviour. Pope accepts resignation of UK's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, who has been accused of 'inappropriate acts' . . . However, in a statement released by the church on Monday, it emerged that the pope had accepted O'Brien's resignation a week ago, on 18 February. (Authors: Severin Carrell and Sam Jones, February 25, 2013)

Version 2--Pope forces UK's top Catholic to quit: Vatican rocked again as Cardinal is driven out in sex scandal after complaints from priests. (Author: Steve Doughty, February 25, 2013)

Did he resign or was he forced to quit? I would attribute the drastically different versions to sensationalist tendencies of certain journalists but I suspect the truth is somewhere in between. Bottom line is, let's hope the truth about the accusations comes out in the end and not swept under the rug, which has been the preferred modus of the Vatican et al through the ages.


Cardinal O'Brien admits sexual misconduct (March 3, 2013)

Cardinal O'Brien "blackmail threat" to abuse victim (March 7, 2013)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Underwater Videos in Front of Casabangan Beach

Casabangan Beach from a high vantage point
Casabangan Beach along the shore
The following videos uploaded on YouTube were taken underwater in front of Casabangan Beach, Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro. They illustrate the devastation of the coral reefs in the area but they also provide a glimmer of hope for nature. All need not be lost if the leadership of the local community step-up and provide just that--leadership. A marine sanctuary is in the works. With the ordinance in place and strict enforcement, the local fishermen should catch more fish outside the sanctuary in as little as three years.

1st video:

According to Ka Porek (our farm manager), there were many sea turtle shells left to rot in Casabangan many years ago. That was before the ban on capturing sea turtles. Today, we are fortunate to be visited by one or two sea turtles, which typically bob their heads above water for just a few seconds. In my previous trip to Mansalay, a local spear fisherman by the name of Benazir informed me that a resident sea turtle lives just around the corner of Casabangan Beach towards Sukbong Kugon. He said it measured about one (1) meter in length. I thought this was too good to be true, given the devastation I have observed all over the bay. On this trip, my mission was to find our resident sea turtle, who I would name Benazir (after the local spear fisherman who told me about it in the first place); that is, if I even find it. Lo and behold, during my first dive around the vicinity of the alleged habitat of the sea turtle, I saw it--our resident sea turle, Benazir, with a suckerfish attached to its back. I think it's a Hawksbill sea turtle (a critically endangered sea turtle) that is quite mature. I would also estimate its length to be about 1 meter, which is about as big as it gets. Below is a brief film clip of my second sighting of Benazir on my first dive around his habitat. I dove in the same vicinity the following day and saw Benazir again on two separate occasions during that second dive. Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera (battery low) to record the event.

2nd video:

Baby Pawikan
(I hope this will be revived in Casabangan. There is none left today, except for Benazir.)

Additional underwater videos in front of Casabangan Beach:
3rd video:
4th video:
5th video:
6th video:
7th video:
8th video:

In contrast, the following video in front of Twin Rocks, Anilao, Batangas (a marine sanctuary) illustrates the impressive recovery of marine resources.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Baler, Province of Aurora

My route from Nampicuan to Baler and back
(thru Cuyapo, Guimba, Talavera, Rizal, Pantabangan and Maria Aurora)

The Balete Tree
(probably the largest of its kind in the Philippines)
I rode to Baler, Province of Aurora, from Nampicuan, Province of Nueva Ecija. I would estimate the road trip to take approximately four (4) hours non-stop--probably about the same duration coming straight from Manila. It's a fun ride if you are taking your time. It brings you from the plains of Central Luzon to the peaks of a slice of Sierra Madre, then back down to the Pacific coast. Thanks to the recent "completion" of the cement roads leading to Baler, this part of the Philippines can now be visited with relative ease. One way, which is the one I took, cuts through the town of Castañeda, Nueva Viscaya, where the road remains uncemented. There are also several small bridges along the way where 10 to 20 meters of road leading to and from the bridges remains uncemented. Talk about a perverted fucked-up government that can't get its act together . . . settling for "puweda na iyan" when the incremental work to get the job done right in the first place would have been nominal. Filipino taxpayers have been duped again by corrupt and incompetent politicians, who are voted mostly by non-taxpayers. Something is terribly wrong with this picture . . . ya?

Back to pleasantries . . .

House of Doña Aurora
Historically, Baler is known for being the birthplace of former President Manuel L. Quezon and his wife, Aurora. It is also known for a rather awkward military episode, the Siege of Baler, circa 1898 to 1899, which did not have to happen if not for Baler being cut-off from communications from the rest of the world at that time. For details, see

For now, Baler will surely be another vacation spot for those who enjoy nature and the outdoors. Currently, the main attractions are nature tripping and surfing. There is already one scuba shop in town that can take divers out during the calm months of summer (April and May) and, I am told, up to the months of June and July in the absence of rain and/or typhoons. The rest of the year is for surfers. Two of my favorites (although I have not yet tried them myself) are kite-boarding and kite-boating, which (I bet) would be a hit in the vast expansive bay of Baler. I have not yet explored the plateaus, ridges and peaks of Baler but I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a great paragliding site here somewhere.

This place is known as Sabang Beach, a barangay of Baler.
A cement boardwalk is being constructed in front of existing and new hotel accommodations (also under construction). Assuming the builders don't run out of funds, these should be completed by 2014. In the meantime, you can stay at existing establishments, which are usually fully booked on weekends.