Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beyond Disgusting

The Philippine Supreme Court order to suspend the implementation of the RH Law is beyond disgusting. Parochial minds unable to transcend the despotic aura of the Roman Catholic Church. Secular Justices turned Catholic Ayatollahs deciding on religious jurisprudence. Another example of my taxes going to waste. Another reason to abolish government.

Lives are at stake


Philippine Daily Inquirer
Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
The order of the Supreme Court suspending the implementation of the controversial law on reproductive health was a real surprise, and not in a good way. Petition after petition against the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 was filed as soon as President Aquino signed it into law last December, but the high court declined to issue a restraining order. Less than two weeks before the law was to finally take effect, however, the tribunal suddenly decided to put it on hold.

There is no question that the Supreme Court acted within the scope of its responsibilities when it issued the status quo ante order. And yet we are flabbergasted just the same. The law was heavily debated in the political branches of government for over a decade; the intensity of the controversy in the last two years is a good gauge of how much discussion had been generated, how many compromises had been reached, how much political capital had been spent, in both the halls of Congress and the corridors of Malacañang. The Supreme Court should have used a higher standard, required a greater showing of rank unconstitutionality or alleged abuse of discretion on the part of either Congress or the Palace, before giving the petitions due course.

This was no stealth law, like the ill-conceived Cybercrime Prevention Act; this was a measure which, during its glacial progress through Congress, allowed for input from every interested party. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines may have already forgotten, but it engaged both Congress and Malacañang in the effort to cobble together an acceptable version. That in the end its supporters lost the legislative battle is not a reason to run crying to the high court.

We are especially concerned about the 120-day period the tribunal prescribed. We realize it used exactly the same tack in managing the case involving the Cybercrime Law, down to scheduling oral arguments about a month before the order expires. But there is a crucial difference. Lives are at stake, literally, in the suspension of the RH Law.

Depending on which source one uses, there may be as many as 14 mothers who die in the Philippines every day, from preventable pregnancy problems or complications from unsafe abortions. The RH Law was designed first and foremost to lower maternal mortality, by providing pregnant women, especially those who cannot afford it, adequate maternal care, and preventing the need for abortions. If we assume that because of the law’s suspension, at least one woman who could have been helped by it has instead passed away, we cannot escape the tragic conclusion: Many, many women will die from the high court’s leisurely approach to a life-or-death issue.

As we have asserted before, the arguments against the RH Law are essentially based on a sweeping interpretation of its provisions. A reading of the law should suffice to reassure the public that it does not promote a proabortion policy. In the words of principal sponsor Rep. Edcel Lagman:  “The RH Law does not legalize abortion. In fact, it acknowledges that abortion is illegal and punishable and is not a family planning option or method.” So the abortion argument against the law disregards the plain meaning of its provisions, and seeks to impose an alarmist interpretation instead.

It is the same thing with the argument involving freedom of religion. A reading of the law should suffice to reassure the public that it does not forbid the exercise of religious conscience. Lagman again:  “The act is replete with provisions upholding freedom of religion and respecting religious convictions. The guarantee of freedom of informed choice is an assurance that no one would be compelled to violate the tenets of his religion or defy his religious convictions against his free will and own discernment of his faith.” The petitioners’ argument from freedom of religion disregards the plain meaning of the provisions.

It is unfortunate that these arguments based on a breathtaking notion—that the provisions of a new law do not in fact mean what they say—have been given the proverbial day in court. It is a greater misfortune that that day is still many months, and lives, away.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/49187/lives-are-at-stake#ixzz2OUy2a6Kb

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The longest running joke in contemporary history . . . North Korea

The Presiding Brat and his pathetic sychophants
In one of the latest salvos from Pyongyang, North Korea confirmed that it had shredded the 60-year old armistice ending the Korean War. Big Daddy Deal! It's amazing how much international media coverage Pyongyang gets for what is arguably the most silly and preposterous excuse of a "state" known as North Korea. Most of its people are malnourished, if not starving, while it's "leaders" squander minuscule resources on an imaginary sub-standard nuclear weapons program (for sabre-rattling purposes only) and on their secret ultra-luxurious lifestyles behind closed doors. "Order" is achieved by wholesale state terrorism enforced by an autocratic military clique--most recently symbolized by a soft, obese, inexperienced, world-class brat, whose only "qualification" is being the son of his father, as was the only "qualification" of his father. North Korea is nothing more than a geographical designation with a dysfunctional, highly precarious and crumbling mob oppressed by a bunch of gun-wielding hoodlums posing as leaders to the rest of the world. It has managed to survive up to now because of China, which has a penchant for "supporting" impoverished lackeys (like North Korea, Cambodia and a few other quasi-failed states in Africa) in an effort to develop its global diplomatic clout. However, even China is reassessing its affiliation with North Korea, which has increasingly become a major diplomatic liability. Bottom line is, North Korea is not sustainable, particularly in this day and age.

As the saying goes, 富 不过三代 (Fu bu guo san dai). This translates to Wealth does not pass three generations.” This same proverb has also been expressed in differing ways such as: “From rags to riches and back again in three generations” and “From rice paddy to rice paddy in three generations”. The explanation goes like this. The first generation works extremely hard to build the family fortune. The second generation reaps the benefits. The third generation squanders the wealth. And so it is with Kim Il-sung (1st generation), Kim Jong-il (2nd generation, The Original Brat) and Kim Jong-un (3rd generation, The Presiding Brat). Hence, it's just a matter of time (certainly within the lifetime of The Presiding Brat) before this joke (a nightmare, really) known as North Korea disappears into oblivion and its atrocities and perversion to humanity recorded in the annals of history like the Holocaust of Hitler throughout Europe and the Rape and Pillage of the Japanese Imperial Army throughout Asia in World War II.

Read between the lines. The intensified provocations from Pyongyang are indeed coded messages of surrender. By appearance alone, The Presiding Brat does not have the character, the discipline nor the stamina to perpetuate the farce that was started by his grandfather. He would be more content living in exile and luxury in Switzerland with the parasitic stash accumulated by his forebears. Hence, he will keep picking fights with South Korea, the United States and whoever else he needs to involve to nudge his adversary to initiate a war against North Korea. Then, he (and most assuredly his closest cronies) will negotiate their luxurious exiles even before the first major battle commences. Ironically, the greatest hurdle to finally closing the incongruous chapter of North Korea is . . . South Korea; more particularly, the capacity of South Korea's economy to integrate with North Korea. This is no mean feat as evidenced by the reunification of Germany in 1990, then already one of the largest economies in the world. Until South Korea is ready to bite the economic bullet, The Presiding Brat will just have to keep waving the white flag patiently by way of more sabre-rattling and hope for the best with respect to his terms of exile. (He and his cronies should all be hanged!) In the meantime, the rest of the world has no choice but to bear the brunt of this stale and disgusting joke . . . North Korea.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

It's the environment, stupid!

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about.
Wayne Dyer

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.
John F. Kennedy


video
Sunrise at the Beautiful Casabangan Beach
(the site of the second marine sanctuary in Mansalay)

A play on the phrase, "It's the economy, stupid!", which was coined by the campaign strategist of Bill Clinton during his successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting President George H. W. Bush (the old man). The current leadership of the Municipality of Mansalay espouses tourism as one of the potential key contributors to improving its local economy and therefore the livelihood and the quality of life of its constituents. Yet, the local legislative body (the Sangguniang Bayan) appears to be having some difficulty in passing an ordinance that establishes a second and larger marine sanctuary in its municipal waters, because of "complaints" from a few ignorant constituents. The beautiful coastline of Mansalay and the potential recovery of its depleted marine biodiversity are the linchpins to attracting tourism investments and tourists to Mansalay. However, that inextricable link between environment and tourism appears to be lost in the discussion. No marine sanctuary translates to the deterioration of the coastline and the unabated destruction of marine resources. In short, no marine sanctuary means no tourism. Mansalay can keep waving the tourism flag all it wants but, in the absence of any serious environmental mitigating measure--such as the second marine sanctuary--it's like waving or shooing the tourists away. It's the environment, stupid!

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Read the article below:

El Nido Resorts awards usher in fresh opportunities for PH

Philippine Daily Inquirer
11:57 pm | Saturday, March 9th, 2013
More opportunities for Philippine tourism in the global market are likely to open up following the inclusion of El Nido Resorts, the cluster of eco-resorts in Palawan, as one of 12 finalists worldwide in the 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards (TTA), one of the most prestigious and highest accolades in the global travel and tourism industry.
Besting 133 other applications from destinations and businesses from more than 46 countries on six continents, the four eco-resorts in the municipalities of El Nido and Taytay that carry the El Nido brand was nominated for the Community Benefit Award. It is one of only three finalists in this category. Other categories in the awards aimed at recognizing best practices in sustainable tourism are: Destination Stewardship Award, Conservation Award and Global Tourism Business Award. El Nido Resorts was also a TTA finalist in 2007.
Organized by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), a forum of business leaders including multinational corporations, airlines, hotel chains and the like, the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards is deliberated on by 15-20 judges representing a wide range of professional backgrounds and expertise in the industry. Three finalists are shortlisted for each category with the final four to be announced in April at the WTTC’s 13th Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The winners benefit from outstanding international media exposure.
One of El Nido Resorts’ four destinations, Pangulasian Island, was also recently named by Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure, and The New York Times as one of the must-visit destinations in 2013 indicating keener interest in the Philippines following its economic upsurge.
The municipality of El Nido is a small archipelago of 45 islands. In 1981, Ten Knots Development Corporation established Miniloc Island Resort within the archipelago. A second resort with 51 rooms was constructed in 1998 in Lagen Island, while the third was opened in 2010 on Apulit island, which is in the municipality of Taytay, and has 50 rooms. The fourth resort with 42 villas on Pangulasian Island opened its doors a few weeks ago.
Laurent Lamasuta, president of Ten Knots Development Corporation, explains the company’s commitment to environmental protection: “We safeguard the vital resources upon which our business is founded. In so doing, we create long-term value for our shareholders and our host communities.”
The group of resorts has been operating for the past 30 years and proof of its commitment to sustainability is the fact that snorkeling in Miniloc Island, where its oldest property is located, remains a spectacular showcase of biodiversity.
Mariglo Laririt, El Nido Resorts’ director for sustainability, observes: “That can only have been made possible by the fact that we have a well-maintained sewage treatment plant and a solid waste program that is uncompromising. That is also because we have well-trained nature guides who steer snorkelers’ fins away from the fragile corals while sharing with them scientific names.”
Moreover, the harmonious relationship between the operators of the four eco-resorts and of the locals “has enabled us to continue with business unhindered, purchasing, recruiting and promoting from among them,” she says. Ninety percent of all the employees are locals and turnover rate at the resort has remained low.
All employees likewise go through a program on environmental conservation called Be GREEN (Guard, Respect, Educate El Nido). This same program has been adopted by some of the local elementary and high schools. Better yet, El Nido Resorts supervisors are required to run programs for locals on food and beverage, kitchen and housekeeping skills among others. Although not all trainees are hired by El Nido, participants get a training certificate issued by local NGO partner El Nido Foundation thus, increasing their chances of employment in the other resorts in the area.
Some years ago, El Nido Resorts made a decision to offer a more sustainable menu to guests, according to its website www.elnidoresorts.com. This meant using as many local organically-grown ingredients as possible to contribute to the growth of the local economy.  Today, as much as 58 percent of all ingredients used by the resorts are sourced from locals.
Known in the province of Palawan to have pioneered in island resorts development, El Nido Resorts’ standards has become over the years a template that has been acknowledged by the local government as well as other resort operators.
For inquiries and bookings, visit www.elnidoresorts.com.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) . . . it's your turn to come clean

It pains me to see a man fall from grace, to be characterized on his misdeeds, instead of the totality of his life. Such is the case of Cardinal O'Brien, whose sexual misconduct has been exposed. In spite of initial statements denying the allegations, Cardinal O'Brien finally relented, admitted his guilt and apologized for his misconduct. Hopefully, his victims, however traumatized, will reach closure on these dark and heinous episodes of their lives. Correspondingly, Cardinal O'Brien should be held accountable for his sexual offenses. Allowing him to retire into oblivion, as the Church is wont to do, would simply add insult to injury.

The case of Cardinal O'Brien has increased the public's awareness of other atrocities within the secretive and self-protective confines of the Vatican and the global Roman Catholic hierarchy.

"Vatican Inc." is a brief documentary on the financial improprieties at the Vatican's own bank, the Institute of Religious Works (IOR). Until now, the IOR has operated with few of the regulations that govern the activities of banks all over the world, with increasingly disturbing consequences. In the 1980's, the IOR was involved in an infamous fraud scandal, the Banco Ambrosiano affair, which made global headlines when its chief, Roberto Calvi, was found hanging from a bridge in London, a murder that has never been solved. More recently, Italian state prosecutors have been investigating allegations of money laundering at the IOR, freezing accounts, seizing funds and putting its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, under scrutiny.

Tedeschi was ousted in a boardroom coup last May 2012. At that time, the board issued a statement that he had not been up to the job. Tedeschi, a former head of Banco Santander in Italy, contended that he had been thwarted in his transparency efforts. Guess who's telling the truth?

Not surprisingly, the following excerpt from a New York Times article published on February 15, 2013 smacks of irony.

“In one of his last official acts, Pope Benedict XVI on Friday named Ernst von Freyberg, a German aristocrat and industrialist, as the new head of the Vatican Bank, reducing the Italian presence in a secretive institution that has struggled to restore its credibility and meet international transparency norms.”

“The Rev. Federico Lombardi, theVatican spokesman, said that the hire was “a sign of rigor, objectivity, competence and transparency that the Holy See is committed to giving” the bank. The appointment of a new bank chief came after the board had ousted the previous president for poor performance and after Italian prosecutors had spent more than two years investigating the bank on charges relating to money laundering, which the bank has denied.” Ya, right!

"Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" is a documentary about real-life horrors--the sexual abuse and cover-ups that have tortured countless innocents. It begins by focusing on a single case--a priest who, for decades, abused boys at a Wisconsin boarding school for the deaf. Then, it widens its gaze to similar horrors taking place in Ireland, Italy and Latin America. Then, it uncovers the pattern of deceit that denied the victims help and virtually ensured their abusers could continue the assaults.

Will the Roman Catholic hierarchy ever get serious about eradicating these anomalies? In case you haven't noticed, the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines has deftly remained "outside the radar screen" of these global scandals and has likewise skillfully deflected its atrocities that have come to light in the press.

Whatever happened to Monsignor Garcia? http://shootingthebreezebywanderlust.blogspot.com/2012/09/priest-who-had-sex-with-boys-now-tells.html

It's just a matter of time before the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines is placed on the hot seat, for why should it be spared when the rest of its brethren all over the world are being compelled to come forth and to come clean.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Teodoro "Yoyong" de los Reyes

Sometime after Crisanto de los Reyes (my great great grandfather) returned to Manila from exile, he instructed his son, Teodoro (Lolo Yoyong, my maternal great grandfather), to visit a particular family in Marseille, France (having the surname of Goudeau), with which he (Crisanto) had established a second family. The purpose of the visit was for Teodoro to convey funds to help secure the future of the family Crisanto had left when he returned to the Philippines.

Upon his arrival at Marseille, Lolo Yoyong initiated several discreet inquiries as to the whereabouts of the Goudeau family without much success. One evening, he was accosted with a knife to his throat by one of the members of the family he sought. After Lolo Yoyong explained the purpose of his visit, all went well with the rest of his visit with the Goudeau family. They accepted the generous gift of Crisanto. In addition, Lolo Yoyong noted that the ship chandlery enterprise established by his father while in Marseille had flourished, thereby providing more than enough for Crisanto's second family in France.

During Lolo Yoyong's stay in Marseille, he came across the "red light district" and apparently overstayed his welcome when a Madam of one of the brothels quipped, "No vienen aqui para ociosear, aqui viene para joder." (You do not come here to idly observe, you come here to fuck.)

Maria Barbara Padilla - mother of Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo

Maria Barbara Padilla de Resurreccion Hidalgo
As was customary among relatives in that era, Nicanor Padilla (my great grandfather) along with one of his sons, Sabino Padilla (my maternal grandfather who was a young boy at that time), visited his first cousin, Maria Barbara Padilla (daughter of Narciso Padilla and mother of Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo), at her home near San Sebastian Church. They were to have some merienda, which included hot chocolate among other treats. In the course of the tête-à-tête between the cousins, Sabino perceived that the servants may have forgotten to bring him his cup of hot chocolate. And so, Sabino quietly interrupted his Tia Maria to inform her that his cup of hot chocolate had not yet been served. Maria Barbara quickly rectified the situation and said to her cousin, Nicanor, "You should watch this son closely, as he will go far. He knows how to complain and, more importantly, who to complain to."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA) seeks to forever ban the conversion of agricultural lands


Land banking key to future restrictive policies

By 
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UNPRODUCTIVE, underutilized, idle lands can be transformed into zones of progressive housing and residential communities.
The proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA)—Senate Bill No. 3091 that seeks to forever ban the conversion of agricultural lands—has started an interesting trend among property developers: intensified land-banking activities in recent months.
Land banking is a term that refers to purchasing parcels of land and “banking” them for future sale or development.
“It requires planning and patience. This is no longer new as the big ones have been engaging for years, in accumulating raw lands around the Philippines for future projects. Most developers, particularly the small and medium players, would rather preoccupy themselves with the development, sale and lease of their existing projects,” explained Gaspar De Guzman, sales and marketing business development officer of PA Alvarez Properties Development Corp. (PAAPDC).
But the trend has changed in just a few months. A lot of developers became deeply concerned when House Bill No. 6545 or the proposed National Land Use and Management Act was approved on third and final reading last September, and when President Aquino early this month certified as urgent the NLUA, which is currently pending on third reading in the Senate.
For ratification?
Once the Senate passes the bill on third and final reading, both chambers of Congress will tackle the bill in a bicameral conference committee to settle conflicting provisions. It will then be sent back to plenary for ratification before it can be transmitted to the President.
The entries that concern developers include the definition of “agricultural” lands as “protected areas” and the proposed law’s intention to place them under the Department of Agrarian Reform’s jurisdiction and be protected from conversion.
Another entry states that such agricultural lands will be banned from conversion while they are in the hands of landowners, but may be converted once they are awarded to agrarian beneficiaries.
“While the importance of preserving the country’s agricultural land and critical watersheds is crucial (as what the bill seeks to protect), the proposed law, if no amendment will be made, will definitely slow down subdivision projects particularly the socialized-housing boom in the countryside (where most of the lands have been classified as agricultural). Land banking now is thus one of the few viable options left for us,” said De Guzman whose company is now on the lookout for available  and potentially promising idle lands in several parts of Bulacan in the north and Batangas in the south.
Other locations
Because there are few available lands left within Metro Manila (besides, vertical development projects are more suitable and very much encouraged), De Guzman said small  and middle-market developers like PAAPDC have learned to move away from its base of operation (in its case, Laguna province) and look for other locations where there are huge potentials for expansion.
Aside from acquiring lands for future developments, De Guzman added that there are also options available, like entering into joint venture with the landowner.
This convenient partnership also works out well for both as the developer gets the land easily and at much less capital requirements, while on the other hand, the landowner is able to get profit from the idle property.
He said San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan is one example of a formerly purely agricultural area that has become progressive, and benefited from land conversions and joint ventures.
“Though largely agricultural, it has many idle lands that soon gave way to commercial developments and progressive residential communities. Local economy grew and thanks to wide, multilane arterial thoroughfare that connected the city to Metro Manila, San Jose del Monte and outlying areas became very accessible and have become one of the favorite targets of developers, especially those doing land banking and joint ventures,” De Guzman explained.
See more at: http://business.inquirer.net/110169/land-banking-key-to-future-restrictive-policies#sthash.sjZ4vCS3.dpuf

Political dynasties are here to stay


Unless the Supreme Court reverses its position on political dynasties, Congress will continue to flick the finger to the People by continuing to disregard the passage of an anti-political dynasty law.

SC asked to reverse position on political dynasties

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MANILA, Philippines—Despite their initial setbacks in their crusade against political dynasties, a group led by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr. has filed a motion for reconsideration asking the Supreme Court to reverse its position that it could not compel Congress to enact an antidynasty law.
In their 27-page motion filed Feb. 22, Guingona, along with Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption founding chair Dante Jimenez, lawyers Leonardo de Vera, Eduardo Bringas and Vicente Velasquez, and Raymundo Jarque, clarified that they were not asking the court to usurp the powers of Congress to make laws.
“[We] simply pray for a determination of whether Congress by inaction for the past 25 years has violated the Constitution and its duty as the representative of the people when it chose to downplay and disregard the importance of the antipolitical dynasty policy despite the provision in Article XIII, Section 1 of the Constitution, mandating it to give highest priority to enact measures of this nature,” the petitioners said.
Early this month, the high court dismissed the Guingona group’s petition, along with that of senatorial candidate Ricardo Penson, citing the principle of separation of powers and doctrine of political question. The justices also said that the antidynasty provision in the Constitution was not self-executory and needed an enabling law.
However, Guingona and his fellow petitioners insisted that the Constitution had already forbidden political dynasties and Congress only have to define what a political dynasty is.
“Congress does not have, Congress was not granted. Congress was not given the option, Congress was not given the discretion not to pass a law prohibiting political dynasty,” they said.
Instead of invoking the principle of separation of powers in refusing to compel Congress to enact an antidynasty law, the group said the justices could use the same principle to declare that the legislature had committed grave abuse of discretion.
“The act of the majority members of Congress in not passing the law is based on their personal bias as they themselves are part of the political dynasties. Clearly, there is grave abuse of discretion on their part,” they argued.
And when grave abuse of discretion is committed by the legislative or executive branches, the high court “should not use the doctrine of political question as a shield, to the detriment of the Filipino people from where all the branches of government derived their power in the first place,” they added.
They also said that if the high court found that there was indeed grave abuse discretion, there should be a commensurate move to give effect to its pronouncement and this move is to require Congress to follow the Constitution.
“This is not an encroachment or usurpation per se but rather the enforcement of the will of the People as mandated by the Constitution! This is true democracy!” they added.
- See more at: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/367531/sc-asked-to-reverse-position-on-political-dynasties#sthash.aNGjPtKR.dpuf

Friday, March 1, 2013