Fast track core houses, please

    THERE’s a need to speed up core houses promised by the government, both national and local.   Why? The victims of earthquake of magnitude 7.2 are suffering. They’re not only suffering from the pain of having no physical structure they may call their own, but of mental agony of losing their loved ones, of losing their source of livelihood and also of fear and trauma that may take days even years to recover.   Stories of government’s effort to put in place the core houses through the DSWD in partnership with the Habitat Foundation, a known entity worldwide of building roofs and hopes, as well, is laudable.   It is even more praiseworthy that the government poured billions of pesos for the core houses and other public structures to be built. An amount of Php700 million, more or less, for core housing. Php2.3 billion for rehabilitation of public structures destroyed by the tremor. That’s a lot of money.   And it’s almost two years after that fateful day on October 15, 2013, still slow motion of recovery efforts seem unbearable for those who have already suffered.   Local officials may be partly correct in saying that gone are the days that resources were insufficient, such as funds and personnel to effect the desired project.  It is a hard or rather sad reality that lack of funds makes projects delayed, if not a failure.   But now almost all ingredients are ready to make things work but government projects, and this time the core houses, still hit snags. Why? The taxpayers, most of them, do not know.  ...

Juana have more

Advancing the rights of women has gone a long way from the tragic March 25 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City. The factory accepted mostly Italian and Jewish women immigrants because they are paid lower. Over 140 women, consumed by the will to bring warm food to their starving families, slaved in inhumane conditions and beaten by unfair labor practices got charred; even their dreams of a better meal got over-cooked. The incident ignited the wick that soon consume kindling and blazed into the international observance of the Women’s Day. By the mid 20th century, women with the burning passion for equal rights organized pickets and strikes to grab attention over their miserable conditions. Unjust pay, inhuman working conditions, and male-biased labor laws were insults they had to bear until their backs break. They saw, until can wield the hammer pounding policies, the apron-wiping kitchen fixture would have no other place but home. In the Philippines, six women now occupy senate halls, patting legislation to be more polite to women in a largely patriarchal society. In Congress, women legislators sidled into 79 of 289 seats. The past polls also showed that women occupy 22.5% of the total gubernatorial posts and 18.5% of the total vice gubernatorial posts. In Bohol, about 33% of the 48 mayoralty seats have women wielding power in an unprecedented takeover. Another 10% of the vice mayoralty seats find women banging gavels to hammer local legislative agenda. At the recent Kapihan sa PIA, BM Godofreda Tirol acknowledged the advanced state of women empowerment here. But a cursory look at local appropriations for women gets...

Actual production

First, the good news. According to Gov. Edgar Chatto, Bohol’s tourist arrivals in 2014 is higher than 2013. The bad news, according to lawyer Lucas Nunag, Provincial Tourism Council chair, is that Bohol remains short of food supply. Whether we like it or not, the second will impact the first. Indeed, this is worth reflecting upon. Bohol has been considered an agricultural province. It was in fact touted as the rice granary of Central Visayas a few years back. But we all know that Bohol is not entirely self-sufficient in the sense that it needs to import rice from other places. The danger is not so much that many rice fields have been converted to other uses. That is an alarming thought considering that while population, and rice consumers, is increasing, rice production is going down. Instead of devoting more lands to rice by providing better irrigation, the opposite is happening as farmers are discouraged by limited opportunities to water sources that will sustain their paddies. That is the bigger tragedy. There are many more idle lands that could have been put to good use but are not because farmers cannot risk production on unpredictable water supply. If only smaller water-impounding dams were built instead of mega-dams, but that is a different story. Apologists will point to the series of calamities that wreaked havoc on the province the last two years. They claim that the devastating 2013 earthquake and the typhoons destroyed rice fields and pulled down production levels. There is truth to that, but it would be unfair to attribute everything to nature. Production was not at par...

Rotten fish

What is bugging the anti-illegal drugs campaign in Bohol? This question comes to mind in the light of the proliferation of illegal drugs in Bohol. While press releases trumpet the arrests of small-fry drug personalities, the big fishes continue to swim freely while plying their trade. If you go by the number of apprehensions recorded every month, you will get the impression that the campaign against illegal drugs is going full throttle. And yet, it flies fast in the face of the inroad that this social menace has gained in Bohol. The contrasting scenarios give rise to suspicions that something is bugging the illegal drugs campaign. If there was none, it would have swiftly and decisively dealt the drug syndicates a beating from which it cannot recover. So where did the government’s campaign went wrong? Some say it has to do with the deterioration of people’s values and the emergence of a decadent lifestyle that trivializes and even romanticize drug use. There is a truth to that. More and more people think that drug abuse is cool because they not only see it in the movies and read it in magazines but witness how their idols in the entertainment and even in the sports industry indulge in it. And yet this would not be enough to turn the illegal drug business into a cottage industry. It will have to take more than that – like law-enforcement personnel and local government functionaries looking the other way. On the other hand, the only way for them to look the other way is to make them part of the industry. And so...

Second time

The Senate investigation into the Mamasapano debacle is not just a soap opera after all. It is worse. A soap opera entertains. It allows people who want to turn their minds elsewhere from whatever it is they want to run away from. It also gives those who have time to kill something to kill it with. Except for those who for those who go for the bizarre, the Senate investigation gives us little satisfaction. It makes people angry, bitter, sad or depressed. All of which helps little to alleviate an already disoriented nation. At the start, there was a glimmer of hope that it would somehow uncover the mistakes that led to the debacle. At the rate things are going, however, there seems to be little reason for optimism. These days, the lines of questioning are leading away from that. There is an obvious and unmistakable effort to draw away attention from the President and his orders and thereby deflect blame from him. If ever, he will only be liable for procedural lapses – and nothing more. The game plan is drawing attention, and with it fire, away from the President and those who ordered and directed the operations. The farther it gets, the better for all of them. Unfortunately, the blame shifts to fall guys like Director Getulio Napenas who, like a good soldier, has bravely owned up responsibility for the debacle. Napenas, in fact, wants to claim full and exclusive responsibility for it. They tried to do that. Napenas uncharacteristically admitted all the mistakes if only he was allowed to do it. That led former President Fidel...

Second time

The Senate investigation into the Mamasapano debacle is not just a soap opera after all. It is worse. A soap opera entertains. It allows people who want to turn their minds elsewhere from whatever it is they want to run away from. It also gives those who have time to kill something to kill it with. Except for those who for those who go for the bizarre, the Senate investigation gives us little satisfaction. It makes people angry, bitter, sad or depressed. All of which helps little to alleviate an already disoriented nation. At the start, there was a glimmer of hope that it would somehow uncover the mistakes that led to the debacle. At the rate things are going, however, there seems to be little reason for optimism. These days, the lines of questioning are leading away from that. There is an obvious and unmistakable effort to draw away attention from the President and his orders and thereby deflect blame from him. If ever, he will only be liable for procedural lapses – and nothing more. The game plan is drawing attention, and with it fire, away from the President and those who ordered and directed the operations. The farther it gets, the better for all of them. Unfortunately, the blame shifts to fall guys like Director Getulio Napenas who, like a good soldier, has bravely owned up responsibility for the debacle. Napenas, in fact, wants to claim full and exclusive responsibility for it. He tried to do that. Napenas uncharacteristically admitted all the mistakes if only he was allowed to do it. That led former President Fidel...

Edsa’s fault?

The 29th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolt proves how fickle people’s minds can be. While those in power come up with different versions of the observance, most people do not care less. There are those who question the observance. Some even go as far as saying Edsa is a failure. Just because we are going through rough times does not mean Edsa is to be blamed for them. For one, to put it that way would be to legitimize the Marcos dictatorship and all that it stood for. That would be the same as saying that all those who were killed, tortured and persecuted deserved their fate. Just because succeeding administrations failed to uplift the conditions of the people does not mean Edsa was wrong. It is a simplistic verdict that does not give justice to all who valiantly fought the regime. A person who suffers a relapse in his condition after going through a medical procedure cannot say the procedure was a failure. There were other factors that led to a relapse that should be factored in diagnosing the patient’s condition. In the same manner, the bungling, failures, inefficiency and corruption of succeeding generations contributed to the deterioration of society into what it is now which should not lead to an indictment of Edsa. There is no such thing as a “live happily ever after” story in this world. This can be said of the best democracies and the worst dictatorships. The top economies can crash down to earth at certain stages in the same manner that the freest nation might yet become authoritarian before they...

From the frying fan

As things stand, it would take a miracle to salvage the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). This early, the hawks in both houses of Congress appear to be holding the upper hand. Riding high on the crest of people’s emotions over the Mamasapano debacle, they are fanning the flames of anger to serve their ends. It does not take much to do that. The death of 44 Special Action Force commandoes at the hands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters dealt a massive blow to the nation’s psyche. Add to that the scandalous involvement of then suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima and you have the prescription for unrest that wants no less than the head of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. As if that is not enough, the subsequent attempts to at least delay if not distort the congressional hearings to shield top administration officials from liability have raised tempers to boiling temperatures. Indeed, it would take nothing short of a miracle to save the BBL. Having said that, however, the question that should be asked is this: what happens next? That is one question that may well define subsequent events if not the very future of the country. For one, hawks and war-mongers fail to realize the damaging effects of the BBL’s demise on Mindanao and its people. They do not appreciate the fact that the BBL is viewed as the last, best hope for peace in the country’s second biggest island. This is not to say that the BBL is the best thing that can happen to Mindanao. Far from that. It has...

Bad script

What a difference one incident can make. Not too long ago, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was considered as the game-changer in next year’s presidential election. Except for his harshest critics, many conceded that PNoy’s endorsement would tilt the balance for his bet. Not anymore. Today, there are many who say the President’s endorsement would be a virtual kiss of death. This development is due to his plummeting popularity after the Mamasapano fiasco that threw all political equations in disarray. What makes it more disturbing is that the reverberations continue to this day. And unless the President comes clean and bares most, if not all, the negative perception will hit rock bottom yet. Before Mamasapano, PNoy was considered a very important factor in next year’s polls. This is the reason why Secretary Mar Roxas, who has been lagging in the surveys for a long time, refused to give up the fight. Jaded political watchers believed that due to the President’s high approval rating, his endorsement will carry much weight. Add to that the massive organization at the disposal of the Liberal Party and you agree with the optimism. Now, this scenario looks like a thing of the past. There are many among his party mates who think twice before asking for PNoy’s endorsement. Unless he recovers, PNoy’s endorsement may in fact work for the opponent than for his candidate. More than that, however, is the very real danger of PNoy running smack into a diabolical scheme to unseat him through extra-legal means. The threat cannot be taken lightly because there are those who will benefit from his removal. In...

The same

Notwithstanding the obvious animosity between them, it seems like Vice President Jejomar Binay and Secretary Mar Roxas share one thing in common: the desire for a Cabinet position. Well, this is not to overlook the obvious which is the moist eye that the two of them cast on Malacanang. There’s no doubt about that, but the present is far more intriguing than the future. Binay continues to hold on to his position as Housing Urban Development Coordinating Council chairman, a post to which he was appointed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in 2010. The 72-year-old Boy Scouts of the Philippines national president has been at the receiving end of a vicious demolition job courtesy of political rivals in the Senate. This has been blamed for his plummeting ratings. With his peers in the Cabinet clearly treating him as an enemy, Binay would have been better off if only he resigned before the demolition job began. But since he didn’t, he finds himself in an awkward position. He is not considered a part of the Liberal Party administration, which is naturally more inclined to support Roxas, but neither is he considered the leader of the opposition – because he continues to sit as a Cabinet member. If Binay had resigned earlier and established his affiliation with the opposition, he would have had a better chance of getting away with his defense that the Senate inquisition is politically-motivated. Since he continued to hold on to his Cabinet position, something is not right. Why would the administration train its guns on one of its own? While he had long declared his...
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