Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dona Victorina's Blogger Encounter at Boracay Mandarin starts today!

Top Philippine bloggers of Dona Victorina together with Boracay Forever Movement will be in full force at the Boracay Mandarin starting today.

Atty. Trixie Angeles will handle a forum on Environmental Laws Affecting Boracay and perhaps much will be explained about whether these laws are being enforced adequately or if the laws are inadequate.

I might be able to join the discussion via Skype or YM (as spindroid) later. Hopefully, I can discuss organization of a new group of volunteers out to save the planet earth.

Basically, what the group proposes to do is to viralize behaviour that will in the end help clean up the mess we've made.

We're not going to do anything new, but we are going to do things much more differently.

I think the challenge, really, with spreading environmental awareness is that you basically have to get the urban bred young masa to adopt practices that will not only benefit the environment but also give them livelihood.

If you're at all interested in helping save the planet or at least Boracay, do join. You can contact 332.10.31 local 107 or text 09209026583 for details.

Free Jun Lozada? Jail Arroyo and Arroyo, Abalos and Neri!

NBN ZTE whistleblower Jun Lozada is in jail for perjury charges filed by former Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor.

And perversely enough, those implicated in what amounts to economic plunder in the senate Blue Ribbon investigation on the NBN ZTE deal remain at-large. They probably watched the whole drama of the Lozada arrest unfold in their comfortable houses or offices or wherever they may have been. Then again, perhaps they completely ignored it.

I have no idea where resigned Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos and Former NEDA Chief Romulo Neri were when the Lozada arrest was taking place.

Then again, I knew where Michael Defensor was at around 2:00 PM yesterday. He was at Annabel's giving a press conference to explain why Lozada had to be arrested. Of course, the law is on his side on this one as Lozada's arrest was ordered by a Manila Court. It wasn't as if Defensor himself drove to Lozada's hiding place in La Salle Greenhills campus in Mandaluyong City, armed with his 9 MM, and escorted by his loyal bodyguards. (Which I think he actually did once, but that's another case and it happened in Tagaytay.)

At the press conference, Defensor said that all that Lozada needed to do to regain his freedom is to retract his statement that Defensor forced him to lie that he was kidnapped when he arrived from Hong Kong in February 2008.

There is a bit of ad miserecordiam, an appeal to the heart, as Defensor further explains that he was doing this for his children.

I remember one early evening after Defensor appeared at the NBN ZTE hearing at the Senate, Julie Tactacan-Defensor began shouting at Leah Navarro at the Senate building's entrance. Julie was quite livid, telling Leah "Why are you lying? Pati mga anak ko dinamay niyo." Or something to that effect.

I have a wife who is just as fierce, if not fiercer than Julie. And, believe me, I understand that an angry wife is more than enough reason to go to start a war. Their fury will negate all commands and appeals coming from bosses and friends.

Fearing repercussions of the case on the administration, two Cabinet officials called him up to convince him to drop the case against Lozada, Defensor said.

“Cerge Remonde called me up last Saturday, and Gabby Claudio called me up on Sunday. Cerge again called on Monday evening. They asked me to withdraw the case, because the Lozada issue was dead but is being revived,” Defensor told reporters

But, perhaps, Defensor's struggle to clear his name is insignificant when compared to the still unresolved question of whether or not there was any truth behind Lozada's more damning statements of massive corruption that reaches all the way to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Lozada's more damning statement is the allegation that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo together with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo conspired with high ranking officials of the government to enter into an allegedly overpriced NBN-ZTE deal worth $329 Million. Lozada said that bribe money for signing the deal reaching billions of pesos already changed hands.

Defensor is, perhaps, just a bit player in the whole mess and what he is doing is motivated by self-interest -- but, really, who can blame him.

Mar Roxas on fixing the country

I was trying to ignore this but, heck, what can I do. He actually said something in an Inquirer report that kinda roused me.

Here are more of Mar's deft verbal maneuvers.

“You just have the elite back-scratching each other and protecting each other’s interest. The elite screwed us up over the last four generations,” he said.

He acknowledged that he might be part of the elite in terms of socio-economic status.

Circumspection will sometime save the day.

When the Araneta's Gateway Mall was being built, several MMDA trucks were seen hauling gravel and cement to the construction site. Talk about not using your connections. Sure, this can be explained away. Oh well!

“But my record, my father’s record and grandfather’s record speak for themselves. It’s not like at anytime they stole or took advantage of their position, or in any way used their position to enlarge their economic interests,” he said.

How about Manuel Roxas I being a Japanese collaborator? How about the continuing connection between Mar and Japanese investors?
Remind me again, what was his stand on JPEPA?

The moneyed Araneta-Roxas clan owns the Araneta Center, the vast commercial center in Cubao, Quezon City, and are landowners in Capiz province. Roxas City, the capital of Capiz, was named after the clan’s patriarch, the first President of the post-war Philippine Republic.

“Why is it that Cubao is only doing call centers today when I was the guy who started it? [As trade and industry secretary], I was the one who awarded eco-zone status [to investors], which meant incentives and no taxes,” said Roxas.

His own town in Capiz remains a fourth class Municipality, while they live in great wealth both here in the Philippines and abroad.

Instead of raising the masses to their level, they pander to their baser interests. What can we expect from his as President? An end to corruption? He didn't even make a dent against the trade cartel in DTI, what makes him say that he can make a dent against bigger cartels running the national government?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why not a political ad for values, instead of buwa or padyakitos?

This is going to be short.

Instead of using political TV advertisements to extoll one's efforts to help OFW's or brandish an avowal to fight for the common man's interests, why don't politicians come out with ads that urge or inspire people to adhere to certain values.

What Manny Villar and Mar Roxas are saying in their ads is, basically, that they understand the plight of the masses.  They are saying that are going to do everything they can, after they are elected to fight for the common man's cause.  It's an upmanship between billionaires to show off who can be more masa than the other and ultimately, merely a pretense to mask their real ambition.

When did they start caring for the masses?

For Mar, I think it was sometime when he was first appointed as Trade Secretary by Joseph Estrada.  Before that, he was a Congressman whose own district (if he really cared for it) remains a fourth class municipality.  If he didn't care for his own people, how can he really care for everyone else's plight.

I'll be fair with Villar, because as far as Las Pinas is concerned I think he has done some good for low-income families there.  But apart from giving away money, I don't know what else he can claim to have done for Las Pinas -- the city is very much plagued by nightmarish traffic and crime.

Anyway, as I said, it would be better to extol values... Like perhaps, love of country.

Dona Victorina's First Boracay Bloggers Encounter April 30 to May 1

I haven't been to Boracay in ages but I've been seeing the Facebook status posts of my famous and not so famous friends who are either going to Boracay, in Boracay, or just left Boracay.

I've found myself turning different shades of green, including environmental green.

(Yes, after stinging politicians, Pinoy Buzz will also be lending its little wings to the cause of preserving our planet for future generations.)

Rain B of Dona Victorina, one of my favorite blogs, will be hosting the First Boracay Bloggers Encounter. Here's that announcement:

We aim to launch an online campaign to save Boracay from environmental destruction through information dissemination and policy advocacy.

Atty Trixie Angeles will handle a forum on Environmental Laws Affecting Boracay, then representatives from Boracay Forever Movement will provide the bloggers with an update on their own initiatives.

There are two modes of participation:

Bloggers who will be in Boracay April 30 – May 1 are invited to join the forum on April 30 6:00 to 9:00 PM, the bloggers contest the next day and the party and commitment signing on the evening of May 1, food and drinks will be provided for free.

bloggers may also join the discussion online through YM or skype.

For details, please contact 332.10.31 local 107 or text


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Philippine Presidential DNA: The Roxas Legacy

We no longer live in an age where Kings and Queens hold absolute power. But our country, the Philippines, remains feudal in certain crucial ways.

Take how we choose our leaders. They're all either from the ranks of Big Money or are owned by Big Money.

Even the daughter of the Poor Boy from Lubao is a slave to the interests of Big Money.

Will we see another product of Presidential progeny take the country's helm at a time when tough decisions have to be made and the country needs to be steered decisively away from the whirlpool of economic recession.

The greatest damage done to our peoples' psyche by the Arroyo government is not the hundreds of billions of pesos it has stolen from the nation's coffers by now, but the sickening of the spirit and amorality as well as apathy that prevails in our state's affairs -- everything from getting a cedula to bidding for billion peso projects. Transactionalism is how you describe what's happening in Philippine government these days.

We cannot have another leader who believe and acts out his or her belief in a middle ground between right and wrong. We cannot have someone who is willing to sit on a fence as long as his interests are protected. We cannot have someone who is willing to sit on a fence when people are dying left and right for their causes.

One candidate Presidential candidate, instead of telling the people about how he's going to lead the country has resorted to media gimmickry.

Mr. Oras na, Mr. Padyakito, or Mr. Palengke or whatever you want to call Manuel "Mar" Roxas II is playing the rich man who loves the masses. Surely, the maseses will lap it up because they scarcely look beyond the pretended affections that mask his ambition.

How Mr. Roxas II will be as a President can be hinted at by looking at how his grandfather and name sake acted as a leader during one of the most difficult times in Philippine history: the Japanese Occupation. Here's an excerpt from Saul Berg's Post Liberation Struggle in the Philippines.

Osmena and his “guerrilla” faction of the Nacionalistas are threatened with possible defeat in the coming elections at the hands of Roxas, the darling of the collaborators.

Roxas’ corkscrew career is typical of Filipino politics. Leaving his office of Senate president, he became a brigadier general in the Usaffe (US Army Forces in the Far East) at the beginning of the war.

Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he soon was busy working for the puppet government, whose constitution he wrote. However, Roxas kept contact with the more “respectable” guerrillas, and was at one time in a Japanese prison camp for
six months as a result of his activities.

Nevertheless he rejoined the puppet government later and was a member of the cabinet when the Americans landed. Escaping from the puppet capital at Baguio, he reached the American lines and was given a clean political bill of health by MacArthur.

All the out-and-out unvarnished collaborators are hiding beneath the skirts of this

The Manila Daily News and the Star-Reporter, who praise puppet President Jose Laurel as the savior of the Philippines, acclaim Manuel Roxas as their presidential candidate.

He is the hero of the collaborationist Congressmen and Senators, the man who will kick the guerrillas out of office and put government back into the hands of the “experienced, responsible people.”

Horace in chapter III, 6 of "Odes" says "For the sins of your fathers you, though guiltless, must suffer."

And Roxas, if he becomes President, will be the second instance where a President's child cleaves to a flawed legacy.

The first had been Gloria Macapagal Arroyo whose father Diosdado Macapagal was nearly impeached because of the Blue Book scandal. An account of it is written in Agoncillo's Philippine History where a cabinet memeber of Diosdado Macapagal was found taking money for favoring a bigtime businessman in his deals with the government. Word of it leaked to the press and eventually, congress was set to impeach the President. Macapagal escaped embarassment (which is probably his saving grace) by whisking the bigtime businessman out of the country and thereby stopped any investigation into the bribery. It was said that money flowed all the way to the President's office.

Does the account sound familiar? Does it bear some resemblance to NBN ZTE and the Fertilizer Fund Scam? My contention is that it does.

If we have Roxas as President, perhaps we may see him sitting on the fence on a lot of issues.

A true leader makes a difficult stand, not when its easy but when it is difficult and when the risks are greatest.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mar and Korina, why can't I be happy for them?

I am so happy I can't stop laughing.

Mar and Korina, why can't I be happy for them?

I am so happy I can't stop laughing.

But my Facebook buddy and long time friend Louis the King from Upsilon had a different take. He said that the masa was so kilig by the Mar and Korina engagement announcement, it may just as well swing votes for Senator Roxas and this might win him the Presidency.

And, did you see the 50-ish bachelor cry because, like my candidate, the emotions were running a bit too high.


In a land where people voted for Erap as President, this is very plausible. Then again, if surveys really count for anything, Mar seems to be lagging behind. Let's see if the wedding drama on noon time TV can work some magic for Mar.

I have nothing against Mar. I worked for him ages ago and I know he is a decent guy. If you want a relatively clean candidate, one who hasn't been accused of corruption, then he is your guy.

As congressman, he successfully got an education law enacted and as Trade Secretary, one of his pet projects was to give away computers under the Japanese funded PCs for Public Schools program.

Cheaper Medicines through parallel importation is a brainchild of his and we now have the Cheaper Medicines law -- where the cheaper medicines actually are, is another matter.

Whatelse did he do?

Well, he hurled choice gutter language at President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for choosing to push for Charter Change.

He's giving away lawyer services for those affected by the sinking of some pre-need plan companies.

He also rode a padyak or pedicab in a TV commercial -- one I really hate.

What more? Honestly, I don't know. That is what bothers me.

You can ask the same thing about Senator Manny Villar, Vice President Noli De Castro, Senator Loren Legarda and even Senator Chiz Escudero.

What more?

I am one with Better Philippines in his call to demand more from our candidates.

My suggestion is this, why don't we look at the 2010 Presidential elections as a job interview.

The job itself is very difficult and crucial. It is to lead the country out of the cess pool it is sinking in.

We need someone who knows what to do and where to go.

We need someone who not only claims to know what to do and where to go, but also has experience in saving people from tough situations.

We need someone who, beyond all of this, already has a long standing record of saving people from tough situations.

Does Mar have the backbone to really crack the whip on corruption? What if some of the people he has to battle are as rich and as powerful as he is or maybe even more powerful?

To get an inkling of Mar's political DNA and therefore find out what kind of leader he'll be, you have to do some research and find out what his grand father, Manuel Roxas I did during the Japanese Occupation.

After Quezon's departure, Roxas went to Mindanao to direct the local resistance.

In 1942 Roxas was captured by Japanese forces and was imprisoned as a prisoner-of-war at Bukidnon, Mindanao.

For fifteen weeks he was interrogated and threatened with death, rescued only by members of the Japanese puppet government under José Laurel's sponsorship.

He was returned to Manila and joined Laurel.

His records under the puppet regime was unclear.

A resistance group's offer in 1943 to extricate him was declined, "he either thought the plan unsafe or was feeling friendlier toward the enemy; it is impossible to tell", said William Manchester.

Dr. Emigidio Cruz, an army major and also Quezon's personal physician, infiltrated Manila and made contact with Roxas in fall of 1943, Roxas made known to Cruz that he had no interest to go to the United States, while at the same time did not report Cruz to Japanese authorities.

The next year another mission was planned to infiltrate another operative to speak to Roxas, but it was tipped off and everyone involved in that plot was beheaded, except for Roxas.

Records were not clear whether Laurel granted amnesty for Roxas, if the Japanese valued Roxas' presence in the puppet regime, or perhaps if Roxas was actually the source of the tip.

In Oct 1943, he helped to write the constitution of Laurel's government and signed the final draft. He later became the head of the Economic Planning Board and the Biba, the powerful branch of government that regulated rice distribution.

When Philippines was liberated by MacArthur's forces, Roxas was originally arrested under the charge of collaborating with the enemy, but MacArthur cleared him. His rank in the US Army was also reinstated.

Many Filipinos forgave his apparent collaboration for that he was rumored to had been a valuable inside agent for resistance fighters and guerrilla groups during Japanese occupation.

He assumed his elected position as the president of the Senate in 1945. In 1946 Roxas ran for presidency under the Nacionalista Party ticket, and defeated Sergio Osmeña; he won the election of 23 Apr and became the first president of the new independent Filipino republic.

Elpidio Quirino was his running mate who became the vice president.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez engagement on Wowowee!

It was a status update on Facebook that tipped me off about Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez announcing their engagement on Wowowee.

Could it really be love?

I'd hate to think that nothing is sacred any more and that even wedding plans can be used as a political gimmick. Then again, we have Sharon Cuneta and Senator Kiko Pangilinan, Vilma Santos and former Senator Ralph Recto, and Judy-Anne Santos and Senator Jamby Madrigal...

If this were a political gimmick of any sort, it would probably eat the cake -- literally. That is, if and when, the wedding actually pushes through.

Willy Revillame actually asked Mar Roxas when the actual date of the wedding would be and Mar didn't mention a specific date. He went into this winding diatribe about just how really simple they really are and that they're just contented to go through a drive-in (movie) which Mar later corrected to say drive through.

In anycase, I guess, I shouldn't pass judgement on the sincerity of the act displayed so publicly on one of the biggest noon time shows in the Philippines. I mean, after all, engagement announcements are often publicized in newspapers and for a billionaire like Mar, he can probably afford to do it on live television with millions watching. Only the best that money can buy for Mr. Palengke!

Any how! Is it really love?

I ask myself this question whenever I see a foreigner and a Filipina walking together along Mabini. I ask myself this question whenever I see websites or newspaper ads with the words, "Filipina Bride".

Who am I to doubt their motives?

Then again, if you watch Willie Revillame, it seems even he got a little green around the gills and got the bad sort of goosebumps that portend a major date with the porcelain bus.

Anyway, normally, newly engaged couples normally get the ribbing of their lives and here's my opening salvo...

It's not true that Mar Roxas originally wanted to announce his engagement to Korina on the corner of Ayala and Paseo De Roxas in Makati City by shouting, "Putangina! Ikakasal na ako!"

Wedding planners have factored in that the actual wedding, if it happens, will be at least three hours late. That's the time it takes to take a pedicab from Cubao to wherever the church is in Metro Manila.

Instead of the traditional freeing of doves that happens at wedding receptions, Mar and Korina will be freeing a flock of ducks. Senator Manny Villar was much relieved by the news -- then again, he didn't see that the menu included Peking Duck.

On their wedding night, Mar won't be calling his mother Judy Araneta for advice. Neither will Korina.

On their wedding night, Mar won't be calling his mother Judy Araneta for advice. Nope, we won't hear Judy say, "Mar, iho, just put your biggest thing in her hairiest thing." And to which Mar would reply, "Okay, my checkbook is in her armpit, what next?"

On their wedding night, we won't hear Judy say "Iho, just put your biggest thing in her hairiest thing." And to which Mar would reply, "Okay, my balakang is in her armpit, what next?"

On their wedding night, we won't hear Judy say "Por dios por santo iho! Get Boy Abunda out of the room first!"

On their wedding night, we won't hear Judy say "Iho, remember what I said about taking risks?", to which Mar said, "Yes Mama, you said 'a bird in hand is worth two in the bush." and to which Judy would say, "Iho, it doesn't apply to honeymoons."

On their wedding night, we won't hear Judy say "Que horror! Who put Jamby and Pia together in the same table?!! Was it you Korina?"

On their wedding night, we won't hear Judy say "Padyak! Padyak! Padyak!!!!!"

We certainly wouldn't want to hear, "Korina, I want you to meet Mr. Hoy! Hoy! Hoy!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

2008 Philippine Bar Topnotcher Lardizabal to work for Solicitor General

It was Malaya reporter Jiji de Vera's status update on Facebook that got me to hunting for news about Judy Lardizabal the Philippine Bar topnotcher for 2008.

My first reaction was, why aren't we all agog about engineers, doctors, or nurses that top licensure exams? In a country that already has too many lawyers (bar passers and amateurs all together), why hail the feat of this particular topnotcher?

The rest of Jiji's status update said that Lardizabal, unlike other Bar topnotchers, had chosen to work for the government (particularly the Office of the Solicitor General).

Among government offices, perhaps, this is one where there is no pretension of what it is supposed to do and that is to represent the government in court. This is unlike the Department of Justice under Secretary Raul Gonzales and the Office of the Ombudsman under Merciditas Gutierrez. The DOJ and Ombudsman ought to be serving the interests of the people but are clearly there to serve the interests of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as road blocks to justice and stonewalls against corruption charges.

Anyway, in the on-line news reports I've read so far, it says that Lardizabal comes from a humble background too. Throughout her law studies, she worked for the National Irrigation Authority. Her father is a tricycle driver (not a padyak driver) and her mother is a sari-sari store operator.

It is certainly a great story to tell, not exactly "from the mud to the stars" but certainly proof that if you study hard enough, work hard enough, and pray hard enough you can fulfill your dreams. Perhaps, you could also say that Lardizabal's choosing to work in a government office may be a sign of patriotism -- at least, I'd like to see it this way -- because very few people can truly be called patriots these days.

Here's something for Better Philippines to pick at and I hope he reads this.

We normally hear our politicians exhort that they love the Philippines and some even cry because the feelings of love are apparently too much. But really?! Perhaps they love it so much because they steal so much from it. Would they say the same thing if they were dirt poor, hungry, dying of some undiagnosed malady, and living out what remains of their life under a bridge?

Anyway, I'll take my momentary gains and squeeze as much good feeling as I can from Lardizabal's story. We need stories like her to keep us going and keep us hoping that perhaps we can still change this country for the better.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No to Charter Change before 2010

The idea for Charter Change has been with us since 1989 or roughly a year after the 1987 Constitution was ratified and 20 years later, it is still an idea that people are espousing for various reasons.

Almost every move to amend the Constitution has been plagued with accusations of vested interest -- mostly that of prolonging the term of the Chief Executive or

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hacking the 2010 Automated Elections or Laying the predicate for Villar's electoral protest when he loses in 2010

I think the name of the game here is to stop Automated Elections in the Philippines, no matter what the cost is.

Then again, we may have an example of a duck that laid, not a golden egg, but a predicate for an electoral protest when his billionaire candidate loses in 2010 -- despite the surveys that say he will win.

In an Inquirer article Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said at a press conference that he has filed a resolution setting aside P100 million as an incentive to anyone who can convincingly demonstrate the weakness of the automated poll system.

Cayetano, at a press conference Friday, said that if any IT expert can establish that the system to be used in the 2010 polls is not secure from fraud and tampering, “Comelec should cancel the contract, save the P11 billion and sue for damages the contractor in the event of such successful hacking.”

He said he would rather revert to the manual counting of votes if the computerized system would lead to wholesale cheating.

The reporter did not mention if Cayetano's resolution identified the source of funding or if such funds are really available.

I think what Cayetano is really doing is laying the predicate for a electoral protest later, just as is often the case with all the elections we have been through since we had elections. This is the rotten, transactional culture that is HIS legacy and heritage -- kay Cayetano, walang nananalo at walang natatalo, kungdi may mga abugadong nagsasabi na may mandaraya at may nadaya.

I think it is short of saying that he knows that with the Automated Election System in place, his favored Billionaire Presidential candidate from Las Pinas will lose in the 2010 elections -- contrary to all the surveys that say he will win.

Another reason why he wants to find out if the Automated Election System has flaws is that he wants to find out how the automated election system can be cheated, so his billionaire buddy from Las Pinas can exploit the vulnerabilities.

But in any case, as I have said, any mere mention of money for hacking is enough to create a friendster among computer geeks.

I can see a situation where hundreds of Filipino geeks with laptops are going to claim that they can hack the Automated Election System and live-out their fantasy of being Hugh Jackman's character in Swordfish -- because many of them weren't alive when Robert Redford did Sneakers.

And right on cue, the Computer Professionals' Union (the first time I've heard of them) has surfaced to say that hacking the Automated Election System can be done.

A group of computer experts has warned that the planned automation of national and local elections in May next year will not diminish fraud and cheating and could lead to the rise of a new type of election operator capable of manipulating the results of the automated polls.

Rick Bahague, national coordinator of the Computer Professionals’ Union, said automated large scale cheating could happen with the Commission on Elections’ (COMELEC) plan for automated elections. He said poll automation could give rise to a new "Garci", referring to former Commission on Elections official Virgilio Garcillano who allegedly tampered with the elections results of the 2004 presidential elections.

"Perpetrators of cheating and fraud like Garci will be back in 2010, more manipulative and more systematic than the past elections with the help of [automated elections system] that we have to be ready to preempt their plans," Bahague said in a statement on the CPU website.

Bahague said the proposed automated election system (AES) has several technical vulnerabilities including insider threats, software engineering limitations, network vulnerabilities and lack of required auditing procedures.

In the last paragraph, Bahague's claim of knowledge about technical vulnerabilities in the Automated Election System seems like he really knows something about it. But then again, terms such as "insider threats" or "software engineering limitations" or "network vulnerabilities" are just high fallutin terms which can be attributed even to the most advanced and sophisticated computer systems.

I am sure, there are geniuses within the Computer Professional's Union that can claim to have hacked an ATM network and made away with hundreds of millions of pesos.

I've met a lot of Filipino super geeks in my life and the more respectable ones are still blowhards when it comes to hacking.

Anyway, not one sentence in the article says that the Computer Professional's Union has actually gotten their hands on the Automated Election System or has actually tried to hack the system successfully.

Just as well, Cayetano and the Computer Professional's Union are both barking at the wrong time as the ideal time to spot flaws has already passed. They should have tried spotting flaws when the Automated Elections System was tested in the ARMM elections.

The Automated Election System was already tested and passed successfully during the ARMM elections. The ARMM is among the most difficult areas in which to ensure honest, clean and accurate elections. It was an acid test for the Automated Elections System and if any so called technical vulnerabilities were present, it should have shown up during the ARMM polls and would have been exploited -- but no one was able to breach the security features of the AES.

The Computer Professional's Union, lest it be suspected of wanting or planning to sabotage the electoral process, should have volunteered to do ethical hacking when Automated Elections were being held in ARMM. For real hackers to earn their keep, they should try hacking on a real live system and not a simulation -- that would have been available during the ARMM elections.

I wonder who's funding the Computer Professional's Union? See if the bank is from Pateros or Las Pinas, you'll have your answer -- unless, of course, they got their money in cash.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Better Filipinos equals A Better Philippines

What we are as a country is the sum of what we are as individuals.

It is an equation where the sum of our individual attributes forms the character of our nation.

It is an equation where an individual's action eventually merges and amplifies in the actions of others, like ripples joining other ripples until the totality of its momentum becomes a tidal wave that sweeps across the land.

It is an equation where the whisper of one becomes the din that trembles across the seas, shaking island after island, rousing the entire archipelago from the deep slumber of apathy into an unrelenting rage.

We live at a time when we are about to make decisions that may seem small because we think it merely affects ourselves, our families, and some part of our community.

But no decision ever made has ever been small or insignificant, for one's decision affects the lives of others whose decisions affect other lives.

We are being told that whoever we elect as President in the 2010 elections will not matter. They are all the same and there lies a great lie. If we beli

Saturday, April 18, 2009

All for Villar: Cayetano offers P100 Million of government money to anyone who can derail Poll Automation in 2010

(My apologies to friends whose bosses and clients may get burned by my opinion in this post.)
This is what pissed me off.
Pera pera na lang talaga. Dahil sa pera, babuyin ang lahat dahil sa padrino niya, pati ang dapat sanang SAGRADONG BOTO NG MGA MAMAMAYAN.
CAYETANO CHALLENGES HACKERSHack poll machines and win P100M
By Maila Ager, Michael Lim Ubac,
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 18:09:00
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Alan Peter Cayetano has filed a resolution setting aside P100 million as an incentive to anyone who can convincingly demonstrate the weakness of the automated poll system.
Cayetano, at a press conference Friday, said that if any IT expert can establish that the system to be used in the 2010 polls is not secure from fraud and tampering, “Comelec should cancel the contract, save the P11 billion and sue for damages the contractor in the event of such successful hacking.”
He said he would rather revert to the manual counting of votes if the computerized system would lead to wholesale cheating.
Cayetano said the resolution, which he would file on Monday, was in response to a statement by a Comelec official challenging cyber security experts to test the system for weaknesses.

Some time during the fourth quarter of 2006 till March 2007, I and a couple of my friends began campaigning for the immediate implementation of the Amended Automated Election Law or RA 9369. The law had just recently been enacted and one of the first things that it mandated was for the Comelec (then under Benjamin Abalos) to conduct pilot testing of the Automated Election System.

The Comelec, under the newly enacted law, was mandated to conduct the testing of automated polls in six cities and six provinces in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao in during the 2007 elections. Inspite of the mandate, Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos refused to conduct pilot testing of the automated polls. Abalos made up all sorts of reasons why it could not be done and despite being soundly refuted at every turn, he still did not implement pilot testing of the automated polls.
Oddly enough, Abalos launched the testing of Internet Voting for overseas workers in Singapore when there was no law that expressly and explicitly sanctioned the conduct of such a practice. Tens of millions of pesos were spent for the exercise where only a few thousand were able to vote.
Meanwhile, as the election season in 2007 opened up in January, my friends and I mounted a nationwide mock poll using automated election machines (we used the Botong Pinoy system, which is a DRE machine with touch screen monitors and barcoded print outs of ballots).
We brought automated polling machines to 6 provinces and 6 cities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Around 1,800 students participated in the automated mock elections which were held at the Don Mariano Marcos University, Northern La Union Campus; Don Mariano Marcos University, Mid La Union Campus; University of Makati; Negros Maritime College in Dumaguete City; University of the Philippine Los Banos, Laguna; and Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City.
Polling was conducted and the results were made known publicly through radio, TV, and newspapers. It proved that the testing of automated polls could be done with volunteers, a little money and a lot of passion for honest and clean elections.
Bit despite this, we were completely dismayed when Abalos still refused to conduct pilot testing for automated elections in the 2007 elections.
It was a good thing that Senator Richard Gordon, despite the setback that would have derailed Nationwide Automated Elections in 2010, continued to fight for it. He rode the Oversight Committee on Automated Elections, had automated polls conducted in ARMM in place of the pilot testing that was supposed to have taken place in 2007, and pushed Comelec to make sure that Automated Elections would be conducted.
We also have to thank the NBN ZTE probe for forcing the resignation of Benjamin Abalos from the Comelec, thereby eliminating one of the biggest road blocks to Automated Elections.
Anyway, the Comelec now under Melo, has proceeded with the Automation of the 2010 polls and it would be a sure sign that our country will finally be rid of the sort of elections that gave rise to the Hello Garci controversy in 2005.
The controversy came about after tapes of a woman and a man (purportedly President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Virgilio Garcillano) were heard talking about a deal to win the national elections by 1 million votes through illegal means. This was proof, inadmissable as it was, that wholesale cheating had been done to ensure the victory of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over Fernando Poe Jr.
Automating the elections in 2010 will ensure that not even the richest Presidential candidate in the Philippines can do what Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did in 2004. It will end wholesale electoral fraud.
Of recent date, we have heard former Comelec Chairman Christian Monsod go against poll automation, proposing that teachers go back to the manual tally of ballots instead of using a machines that are far more accurate and just as well proposed the use of indelible ink instead of a biometric system to thwart multiple voters as well as flying voters.
Monsod, whose claim to fame is sullied by the fact that under his watch, Miriam Defensor Santiago lost to Fidel Ramos through massive electoral fraud -- using the manual vote counting and indelible ink he is proposing.
In any case, more recently, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano's offer of P100 Million for anyone who can prove that the auomated election system can be hacked is laying the predicate for scuttling automated elections in 2010.
Normally, security testing for such systems are done in an effort to improve the security features. However, Cayetano wants white hat hacking to be done in an effort to discredit the automated election system and thereby stop automated elections in 2010.
This will obviously benefit his benefactor, Presidential Candidate and Senator Manny Villar who has already made a big deal about being ready to use billions of pesos to assure his victory in 2010. Already in campaign mode (with TV ads, radio commercials, and posters) ahead of the start of the electoral campaign season in 2010, Villar seems bent on buying his way into the Presidency just as he bought his way to becoming a House Speaker and Senate President.
However, the only way he'll win is if the 2010 elections can be rigged. This can only happen if the automated elections system is not in place and chief operators within Comelec can be freely engage once more in large scale vote manipulation.
Villar has already bought up Presidential survey results to lay the predicate for a plausible win in 2010. One wonders whatelse he'll buy up.
Mind you, under the OEC, candidates running for a national position are only allowed to spend around 200 to 250 million pesos. Where is Villar going to spend the rest of his billions?
If you want honest, free, and credible elections support AUTOMATED ELECTIONS in 2010.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ang Kapatiran solicits nominees for Presidential Candidate

Perhaps New Philippine Revolution and Better Philippines will perk up to this bit of news as I am eager to find out their own views on this development.

The Alliance for the Common Good or Ang Kapatiran is soliciting nominations for a Presidential Candidate in 2010.  

The group is a Comelec-registered national political party that stands on a platform with clear and specific policy objectives all aimed at enhancing the common good, promoting the politics of virtue and the politics of duty.

I think that Ang Kapatiran represents another indication of our people's growing ability to create choices for themselves and I support their effort.

Here is their announcement which also appears in their website:
At the meeting of the Party’s National Executive Committee held at #142 Swallow Drive, Greenmeadows, Quezon City on 20 March 2009, a quorum was present and acted throughout; the following resolution was adopted and approved.

“RESOLVED, that ANG KAPATIRAN PARTY shall elect, through a nomination and selection process, its candidate for president for the upcoming 2010 elections.” 

The following are the requirements for nominees:

  1. Must possess the qualifications required by law which are (a) a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, (b) a registered voter, (c) able to read and write, (d) at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and (e) a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such election;
  2. Must be willing to become a member of AKP and accept the AKP Founding Principles and Political Platform in whole without any mental reservation;
  3. Must be morally upright, courageous and competent individual, responsible citizen and parent, and trusted leader;
  4. Must have no previous conviction or pending criminal case in court, in the Ombudsman, or fiscal’s office;
  5. Must have a college degree;
  6. Must be willing to accept and abide by the AKP Code of Conduct;
  7. Must be willing to run for president under the AKP.
The nominating individual must be a bonafide member of AKP.  Deadline for submission of nominations is 30 April 2009.  Nominations may be submitted via email to

I actually exchange text messages with Eric Manalang and was able to learn that any one can nominate their choice for President providing that they join Ang Kapatiran.

I've scoured their website this morning and couldn't find an on-line registration form, which would have made things much simpler for me.

In anycase, if you want to know what an AKP candidate should adopt or integrate in his or her platform, you can find it here.

On a side note, I am just wondering if Better Philippines will nominate Victor Wood.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Villar to dance Itik-itik, Roxas to padyak to the Presidency

If you're wondering how the 2010 Presidential elections in the Philippines will look like, you really have to stretch your imagination.

Most people are betting that Senator Manny Villar will try to make his Presidential campaign take flight with his duck farmer TV commercials. The bill on this ad campaign is truly huge and with the enormous amount of money riding on his campaign, Villar is praying that it doesn't lay an egg.

And as far as betting is concerned, I've heard it said that you'll know when a cock fight or sabong between a cock and duck is rigged when someone bets on the duck and then the duck wins.
Villar reportedly ordered roast duck for dinner. He was a bit upset when his order arrived after an hour. He asked the waiter why it took so long to cook. The waiter said that the duck had to be put in the oven twice. Villar asked why. The waiter replied, "Haven't you heard of double insertion?"
And you wonder, where is Villar getting all his money? Does he actually have the duck that lays the golden egg? Maybe Villar is just waiting for the right time to admit it, perhaps he'll do so off the record and when Congresswoman Cynthia Villar is way out of hearing range.
It's not true that Villar is henpecked, that's just fowl!
It's not true that Villar is henpecked! The last time wife Cynthia threw a plate at him, he ducked.
What do you call the video footage of Villar with thousands of ducks in the background? Duck tape. The ad guys wanted the message to be sticky.
As an added feature of his 2010 Presidential Campaign, Villar was said to have contracted the Bayanihan Dancers to teach him how to dance the Itik-itik so he can perform this in every single one of his campaign sorties.

What can I say? I am egg-cited to see him do this.

Of course, Mar Roxas is relieved that Villar is dancing Itik-Itik and not Cha-Cha.

And what about Mar Roxas?

They say that he'll have Pia Cayetano as a running mate. For God's sakes? Do you expect the man to padyak his pedicab all the way across the country.

Happy Easter everyone!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Attention, Panlilio-Padaca: Citizen Junep's ideas for good governance

There is some glimmer of hope that we will be able to vote for better leadership in 2010.
The first encouraging sign is that we will have automated elections nationwide. If everything works out as it should, we will see an end to an endless electoral contest where there are no losers but those who cheated and those who got cheated. If everything turns out as it should, we will know who our next President is in about a week's time.
The second encouraging sign is that it seems people are creating their own choices for Presidential candidates. This is a very welcome development indeed.
I already have my own choice and I began working on this with a group of people in 2006. It's a good thing that our group is not alone in searching for a better choice, beyond the so-called list of survey frontrunners.
Just recently, we've seen the 'launch' of several alternative candidates.
Of course, there's Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca. Then there's the Moral Force of Supreme Court Justice Reynato Puno. Then there's brother Eddie Villanueva with his Bagong Pilipinas.
What is encouraging to me at this point is not so much that new names and not so new names are cropping up. But it's the idea, just the idea, that people are showing that they're thinking independently of surveys and other so-called indicators of winnability.
A friend in the group I am with right now said it very well, "The elections in 2010 is not about the candidate, it's about us. It's about believing there is a right choice for President and making that choice early."
At this point, I think I have a lot of space to give to friends who have made their choice.
Here is Junep Ocampo's piece on what he thinks ought to be accomplished by Panlilio and Padaca:
Here are my thoughts on the questions you raised. They’re just my personal suggestions to whoever will be elected in 2010. I am sending them to Among Ed (Panlilio) and Ate Grace (Padaca). I believe they have their own programs. I’ll email them to you once I get a copy.
Preserve jobs and create more by introducing radical reforms such as relaxing minimum wage requirements for some industries, longer work hours yet fewer work days.Invest on business infrastructure in the regions to encourage companies to set up businesses there. Give support and incentives to farmers. Put to use all idle government lands. Treat every business owner who honestly pay his taxes as a VIP. Make it easy for him to do business.
Eradicate corruption in DOH. The funds wasted in graft can very well sustain hospitals like PGH.Invest on nutrition. Bring back nutribun and milk in schools. Promote planting and eating of vegetables. Institute a nationwide exercise/fitness program like running, bicycling, walking. Give incentives to companies that will promote a healthy lifestyle among their employees.Ban the selling of cigarettes in the streets. Provide ex-cigarette vendors with a more exciting product to sell.
Predict, prepare, plan and practice for disasters. It’s been done during Martial Law days. It’s a matter of doing it again. Rid the DOTC of corruption. Restore the dignity of the Coast Guard.Rid the BFP of corruption. Find a way to integrate BFP with volunteer fire brigades.
Restore the dignity of the AFP and the PNP through leadership by example. Prosecute and convict all erring military and police officials.Invest in the economy of Mindanao. Help rebels start new lives as productive law-abiding citizens.Rid the judiciary of corrupt justices. I once heard an observation that the Philippines has the best justice system money can buy. Corruption in the courts must end for justice – and peace – to truly flourish.
Our country is like a car that requires a major overhaul. It’s far from being hopeless, though. One Singaporean friend of mine commented that we Filipinos are truly blessed with all the resources. “You just need a good leader to show how blessed you are,” my friend said. I hope we can find that leader in 2010. I see that leader in Governors Panlilio and Padaca. I just pray that our countrymen would also see it in them, too.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Panlilio-Padaca for 2010, still more questions than answers

I really wouldn't know how Pampanga Governor Among Ed Panlilio and Isabela Governor Grace Padaca intends to win the 2010 elections as President and Vice President, but I am really interested in seeing them run.
Running priest, Fr. Robert Reyes has already voiced his support for the two. I wonder if Senator Pia Cayetano would have anything to say about it.
As I've told my friend Junep Ocampo, I'm all for good choices in 2010 and as I've said before, the emergence of the Padaca-Panlilio tandem for 2010 may be a sign that Filipinos may have realized their capacity to create options other than those presented by the moneyed and influential.
Then again, I'm given to a fair amount of wondering if indeed Panlilio and Padaca really isn't being backed by a faction of the moneyed and influence behind them. I'd really like to see that they aren't being fielded just so that the votes for a moral and intelligent Presidential Candidate will not be divided. It's an old tactic.
Right along with Among Ed and Grace is Brother Eddie Villanueva and Supreme Court Justice Reynato Puno.
(Perhaps and this is just a wild idea, we should all just back one candidate as a moral and intelligent choice. I mean, this would be the way to go, if they are all serious about having a really serious contender against Villar, De Castro, Loren Legarda, and Roxas.)
In anycase, there are really tough questions that Among Ed and Grace ought to answer in the coming days and the easier ones, as Junep says, will be the ones regarding their plans or programs of governance.
Junep sent me this message:
Programs are simple:
- Bring back the dignity of the Philippine government by ridding it of corruption.
- Leadership by example.
- No-nonsense governance that is anchored on justice, peace and simple living.
- Governors Panlilio and Padaca are both single, with no families to take care of, and no debts to pay. They only have the country to serve.
For sure, these may not be the entire programs of governance but perhaps they represent a good direction.
I remember only too well the Presidency of Cory Aquino. Apart from dismantling some of the bad, along with the good, of the Marcos' establishment which was supposedly corrupt to the core -- not much else was achieved in terms of ridding our government of corruption. In the latter years, what we witnessed more and more of was the return of democracy and the democratization of corruption. Instead of paying off just one corrupt government official, you'd have to pay more people.
What I'd really like to hear Among Ed and Grace tell us is how successful have they been in stamping out corruption in their own provinces. Whatever success they may have, may already be a sign of how successful they may be in the future -- if and when they get elected.
But more than graft and corruption, I'd like to hear about their plans for strengthening our economy and how they plan to steer it through the difficult days ahead when the effects of the global recession finally hits the country. How are they going to provide jobs for the Overseas Filipino Workers who may lose their jobs in the coming months?
Also, what are they going to do about the public education system?
What are they going to do about the public health system? I think it was during the Ramos Administration that the Department of Health deregulated health services and now we have instances where health clinics at the city and munipal levels are virtually shuttered closed. Have you been to PGH recently? No dearth of sob stories there.
How about disaster preparedness? Climate change is a reality we will have to face and weather disturbances are going to be more and more severe. What are their plans to end the cycle of disaster and poverty?
Of the many disasters that happen in our country, there is one sort that happens in just one small place in the Philippine Archipelago that does more damage to the entire country than a year's worth of typhoons. That is the kidnappings that is perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf in places in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu. What does Among Ed and Grace intend to do with them? What do they plan to do about the peace or lack of peace situation in certain parts of Mindanao?
I'd really like to hear more and I'll post whatever answers I get.

Senator Manuel Villar to celebrate Easter with duck eggs?

It will be Easter Sunday in the Philippines tomorrow and as if we didn't all have calendars with Catholic Holidays marked by red print, newspapers like the Manila Bulletin will probably display banners reading "Filipinos celebrate Easter".
Then again, you wouldn't realize it was really Holy Week, anyway. It used to be that as soon as Holy Monday rolled in, most commercial centers in Metro Manila would be closed up for the week. These days, malls are all open.
Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday were regular working days, for all intents and purposes.
Maundy Thursday was supposed to be the beginning of a long four day holiday. You'd expect everything to be shuttered up but no. Malls and fast food chains were still open.
On Good Friday, we called up Ace Water Spa to ask if they were (by any chance) open. They proudly announced that they were. We spent the entire morning there, getting massaged by the many water jet and air bubble massage treatments.
I got a much needed soak in a 38 degree celsius herbal pool and it really got all the ache out of my back, between the shoulder blades.
If there was anything Holy about Holy week in the Philippines, I surely missed it and I am sure, I am not alone.
Next week, thousands are due back to Manila from their vacations, spent not in church but on beaches and inland resorts all over the country. So starting on Monday, for the next 358 days, I'll be missing the peace and quiet of an almost empty Metro Manila.
In anycase, Easter is coming and strangely enough, some shopping malls here in the Philippines might be celebrating it in a big commercial way -- if last year's Easter will be any indication. Malls will have Easter Egg hunts.
With this in mind, I am wondering if Senator and Presidential Candidate Manny Villar will sponsor an Easter Egg hunt using duck eggs? It would be a great publicity gimmick and his supporters in Pateros, Bulacan, and Laguna (all duck raising capitals) may very well donate all the duck eggs that will be used.

In anycase, here are a bunch of duck jokes I swiped from Duck Eggs dot com
Why did the duck cross C-5?
He was tied to the chicken.
Why didn't the skeleton duck cross the road?
He didn't have the guts.
What do physics ducks say?
Quark, quark quark.
Why did the basketball player bring a duck to the game?She wanted to shoot a fowl shot!
So, a duck walked into a bar, and asked the bartender, "Do you have any grapes?"
The bartender replied, "No, this isn't a grocery store, get the hell out of here!"
So, the duck came back the next day, and asked the bartender "Do you have any grapes?"
The bartender said "No, I told you before, this isn't a grocery store, and I don't have any grapes, now leave!"
So the duck came back the next day, and asked the bartender, "Do you have any grapes?"
The angry bartender said, "NO! And if you come back and ask me that again, I will nail your butt to the wall! Now leave!"
So, the duck came back the next day, and asked the bartender, "Do you have any nails?"
The bartender, puzzled, said, "No, why?" The duck said, "In that case, do you have any grapes?"
Three ducks went into court. The judge called the first one to the stand.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"Quack." the duck answered.
"And why were you arrested?" the judge asked.
"I was stepping on bubbles." he answered.
The judge didn't see anything wrong with that, so he dismissed the duck and called up the next one.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Quack," the duck answered.
"Why were you arrested?" the Judge asked.
"I was stepping on bubbles." the duck replied.
Again, the judge saw nothing offensive, so he called up the next duck.
"What's your name?? No wait, let me guess, Quack." he said.
"No," said the duck, "My name is Bubbles."
A duck walks into a pub and orders a pint of lager and a ham sandwich. The landlord looks at him and says, "But you're a duck!" "Your eyes work", replies the duck, wryly.
"And you talk!" exclaims the landlord.
"And your ears", says the duck,
"Now can I have my beer and my sandwich please?".
"Certainly", says the landlord, "sorry about that... it's just we don't get many ducks in this pub. What are you doing round this way?".

"I'm working on the building site across the road", explains the duck.
The landlord watches, astounded, as the duck drinks his beer, eats his sandwich and leaves.
The duck visits regularly for 2 weeks. Then one day the circus comes to town.
The owner of the circus comes into the pub and the landlord says to him, "You're with the circus aren't you?, I know this duck that would be just brilliant in your circus - he talks, drinks beer and everything!".
"Sounds marvellous", says the owner, "get him to give me a call".
So the next day when the duck comes into the pub the landlord says, "Hey Mr. Duck, I reckon I can line you up with a top job, paying really good money!".
"Yeah?", says the duck, "Sounds great, where is it?".
"At the circus", says the landlord.
"The circus?", the duck enquires, a bit bemused.
"That's right", replies the landlord.
"What, the place with the big tent?. Big canvas roof, hole in the middle, loads of animals?", asks the duck.
"That's right!", says the landlord.
The duck looks confused. "Why would they want a plasterer"
I have two ducks that I use as an alarm clock.
They wake me up at the Quack of dawn.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Bagumbayan: Changing the Philippine political game

What does it take to change the way politics is played in the Philippines?

I have an idea that the first thing that ought to be done is to throw a wrench in the way it is currently played.
Make no mistake about it, the way Philippine politics is set up today, it can only be played effectively by the rich or those backed by the rich. Naturally, all the rules are set up to bar those without enough money from playing it, much less winning it. As it is, there are no clear rules in Philippine politics other than those enforced by those in power and those rule will favor them, otherwise all they have to do is to change the rules.
The first rule in Philippine politics, it can be said, is the Golden Rule. In Cannon Ball (a Burt Reynolds movie), the Sheikh who sponsored their race across America had a line where it was said "He who has to gold, makes the rules."
So, how can you win against the richer and thereby more powerful political candidate?
You win it through people.
People who cannot be bought or intimated by wealth, people who know what is right as well as what is good and are willing to fight for what is right and good, and people who are willing to work just a bit harder, just an hour longer, just a little faster than the next guy. People who are all willing to cast aside petty disagreements, regionalistic mindsets, and other small differences to contribute to making a big difference in the way the country is being run.
Of course, some people would say that it is doubtful that such people exist and these people have already proven that they can surmount great challenges without MONEY.
I'd tell you about Olongapo, Subic, and the Department of Tourism at this point but I've already written about it countless of times. But to be sure, there are many other people just like the people of Olongapo and the volunteers of Subic.
Did I tell you about the teachers in a public school in Jolo, Sulu? Well, in 2007, we found out that a number of them were doing their jobs teaching kids without a salary or benefits. Can you imagine what it would be like to teach kids without getting paid in an area where there is armed conflict?
Anyway, one wrench we can throw at the way Philippine politics is played these days is to change the way we vote. We've already done this with the imminent automation of the 2010 Elections and this means it will be virtually impossible for another 'Hello Garci' to happen -- well, unless one group actually succeeds in having the Comelec implement the Open Election System which still depends on the manual counting of votes.
The second wrench that we can throw is to organize a genuine party. All political parties at present, with the exception of the Philippine Communist Party, are one or two man parties. They are not composed of citizens but politicians and their political supporters. With a real party, people can be organized -- full time, professional staff can be hired; ads can be sponsored; offices can be maintained; and other things necessary to push for political reforms can be financed. Perhaps not by the party members themselves, but working as one, they can solicit or even generate funds for their own cause.
This writer, yours truly, is receiving an allowance from the supporters of Bagumbayan Volunteers for a New Philippines. True, I am paid to write. But the greater truth is that I get to write about things I truly believe in.
We have political campaigners in the field, as I write this. Some are receiving allowances, others are funding their own expenses and still others are putting their own money into the campaign. They are not campaigning for one person in particular but in support of ideas that will bring this country forward.
One great idea that I fully supportive of is the Health and Education Acceleration Program bill. The kernel of this idea is that we ought to bring up the level of public education standards to match those that can be found in more developed countries like Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia. We're not only talking about better schools but a whole new game for public education.
The vision, if you will allow me to use the word, is to provide free education with quality that you will find in schools like Ateneo, La Salle or any other big name universities. Children will have enough classrooms, they will be taught in classes with an ideal size of 30 students to 1 teacher; they will be given really good instruction materials; they will have real science labs (so that we can have more scientists than lawyers!); they will have computer labs with internet and all the licensed software needed (not just posters of computers); they will have well paid, highly trained teachers; they will be given a year round feeding program; and last but not the least, a health services program for school children (meaning they get all their check ups and treatments for free).
The HEAP program is designed to work for five years but its time frame may be extended. In any case, at the end of that five years, the HEAP will give out 100,000 college scholarships and send 10,000 Filipino students to study in US Ivy League universities.
In any case, Bagumbayan is not about one Presidency, it's about ordinary people who care enough to try to make a difference.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ado Paglinawan chooses Dick Gordon for President

(Many thanks to Pedestrian Observer GB for posting and thus making us aware of it.  This article was written by Ado Paglinawan.  He is a former press officer of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC who occasionally contributes to the Philippines Daily Inquirer. He writes for various email groups and blogs under the pseudonym "mymaestro888". Ado has best served overseas Filipinos as a resource person providing inside information and backgrounders about the celebrated fertilizer scam that rocked the Philippine Agriculture Department and the Presidency since 2004.)

My Choice as the Next Philippine President

The Bagumbayan Movement will be inaugurated on April 27, and subsequently it will announce its choice for Philippine President in 2010. Time is running out and unless you have a better man, I hope you will, as I have chosen, concur as to the next President of the Philippines.

Move all the presidentiables from top to bottom and matrix them with qualities and achievements from left to right, and you will find out that there is only one man who we can trust to deliver on his word.

Why? Because he has already performed a national track record even if he were not yet President. Nobody but he can we verify to govern effectively.

Why? Because he is the only one who has over-delivered on his promises and our expectations.

Why? Because he is without a tinge of scandal for the many years he has served publicly.

Dick Gordon was the youngest Con-con delegate. Early in his political career, he made Olongapo the model city because of a deliberate and determined local administration. Go to "Gapo" today and see how the color-coded jeepneys still ply their daily routes efficiently. See how clean and properly zoned the city is. See how despite the country's recession, the city is booming with commercial progress.

Then we saw Mayor Gordon on top of the natural disaster when the earthquake levelled Central Luzon from Pampanga to Nueva Ecija to Zambales. Thus it was no surprise that he was also on top of emergency management when Mt. Pinatubo erupted.

In fact, Dick saved Subic from being ransacked and looted as Clark when the Americans left us holding the bag of confusion the volcano caused. He mustered home-based volunteerism to help clean up the former US naval base and prevent it from being violated.

He did not stop there, immediately after the calamity, he stopped Subic from being a white elephant and a ghost town by working for it to be legislated as and coverted into a freeport.

President Ramos appointed him chairman of Subic Bay Management Authority. He enticed the Philippine middle and upper classes to invest in Subic from leasing housing properties to putting up businesses like the yatch club and the various tourism facilities in-base. He marketed Subic as ideal for light industrials globally and ahead of China, and was able to get Acer to manufacture their computers and electronic gadgets there, Enron to take on the power supply and Fedex to base its transhipment in Asia and Oceania. 

It is not an over-statement to say that Dick already established the Subic Bay experience as microcosmic of what the Philippines can be if seriously na dstragically governed. Si Dick Gordon lang ang magdadala sa sambayanan sa isang destinasyon na alam na natin dahil nagawa na niya.

I can go on and on but let me just say he did not ask for a single centavo from the national or local government to run Subic, he operated the freeport, funding it with its inherent income and giving whatever surplus to the national treasury starting from its first year. To save on personnel cost but getting the creme de la creme, he called on the best in the Pilipino - a new bayanihan or spirit of volunteerism that even attracted my oldest daughter right after her graduation from the University of Virginia and many more second and third generation FilAms. 

Gordon was violently booted out of SBMA by Erap Estrada trumping on his yet unfinished term because the latter wanted his crony former congressman Fely Payumo to be the chairman. Of course Payumo later ravaged Subic and became filthy rich from kickbacks from smuggling and casino abuses. This saw at least Acer and Fedex moving out to China and Enron selling out to the Aboitiz interests instead because SBMA under Payumo kept mulcting the Taiwanese and the Americans.

But when Erap was himself booted out in a power grab by Gloria Arroyo, Dick accepted the portfolio of tourism secretary, and because of that we saw structural reforms combining with promotional programs erstwhile true only during the Marcos era. Intramuros became a historical showcase with year-round festivities that brought in a radical increase in in-bound traffic. With the Wow Philippines campaign, the local governments outdid each other in beautifying their towns and cities and offering attractions powered by local nuances drawing inspiration from Olongapo and Cebu cities as paradigms.

Gordon ran for senator under the administration coalition, but never joined any political party including Ramos' Lakas or Arroyo's Kampi. In fact, he does not belong to any political party. That is why he has been effective in authoring electoral reforms and piloting the Blue Ribbon investigation of the fertilizer scam that Jun Magsaysay was not able to finish.

Thus there is no hot air such as an Among Ed Panlilio promising if elected president to prosecute the Arroyos for corruption. While yet senator, Gordon has already started prosecuting Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, her husband and their ilk.

And as we speak, Dick is presiding over the return of his fellow Red Cross volunteers that have been taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf, something that I suspect as a stated-sponsored kidnapping to stop Senator Gordon from further damaging the Arroyo presidency. I say so because this is the longest time that the Philippine military and police have cordoned off armed insurgents without really getting anywhere.

With Dick Gordon there is no guesswork, he is the definite adrenalin that we need today for a serious, deliberate, time-tested and moral leadership.


It's happening on April 27, 2009 from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Fiesta Pavilion, Manila Hotel.

Bagumbayan is a movement that began more than ten years ago with a mission to manifest transformational politics.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Google aids Indian elections

Found this article on Tech Crunch on how Google is helping India's elections and it make me wonder if the search engine giant can do something similar for the Philippines in 2010.

Google has launched the Google India Elections Center to help engage India’s 700 million eligible voters in the country’s 15th general election, set to take place over the course of the next month. Google launched similar web based election centers in the U.S. and Australia in the past, but Google India’s election center has some new features which make it worth a look.

Available in English and Hindi, Google’s Indian election center lets Indian citizens confirm their voter registration status (which is a new feature that wasn’t fully implemented in the U.S. or Australian versions), find their polling location, view their constituency on a map and access election news. Voters can also get in-depth data about the area where they vote, including changes in literacy, poverty, and employment rates in the constituency since the last election. Voters can learn about the background of their Member of Parliament and this year’s candidates, and are able to see politician’s voting records, and attendance. The site will also feature updates on election schedules, online polls, discussion forums, opinions and photos

Despite the wrangling of one group against the Philippines' first nationwide Automated Elections in 2010, the country should be looking forward to an era where wholesale cheating will be put to an end or at least, thrown in remission.
Going back to Google, I wish there was a website that could collate all the information regarding Presidential candidates -- including news articles, official documents, video, and any other information that would help people decide who to vote for.
To help out in the information campaign, perhaps internet shops all over the country can volunteer to provide free internet time to people who want to look at this website.

Taking the side of the ICRC Hostages in Sulu

Make no mistake about it, government irresponsibility is the reason why Andreas Notter, Eugenio Vagni, and Mary Jean Lacaba became hostages of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.
First of all, their presence in Sulu came about as a result of the government's inability to address the problems that have led to the rise of the Abu Sayyaf in that problems.
Being workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Andreas, Eugenio, and Mary Jean were assigned and bound by duty to undertake a mission to see to the welfare of prisoners kept in the Sulu Provincial Jail in Jolo. Some of the prisoners were members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, apparently captured by the Philippine Military. In areas of conflict, the ICRC deploys its workers to look after those affected by the conflict and ensure the humane treatment of prisoners on both sides of the conflict.
The prison which the three ICRC workers visited was in an area within the Boundary of Jolo and which was supposedly well under the guard of the Philippine military.
On January 15, 2009, the three workers were abducted by members of the Abu Sayyaf Group. Their abductors were able to get through several check points of the military.
Two weeks ago, things came to a dangerous juncture.
The military forces in Sulu, under the command of General Juancho Saban made a reckless attact on the Abu Sayyaf. In the process, they managed to inflict casualties on the Abu Sayyaf while suffering the loss of three marines and getting 17 others wounded.
It would have been called a victory of sorts for Sabban, just based on sheer numbers of Abu Sayyaf members killed versus soldiers killed.
But, what they forgot in the heat of the conflict was that the Abu Sayyaf were still holding the three ICRC workers hostage and could very well, kill them in retaliation for the military's attack.
Abu Sayyaf Leader Albader Parad, in fact, threatened to behead one of their hostages. It was at this stage that Philippine National Red Cross Chairman and Senator Richard Gordon was contacted by Abu Sayyaf Leader Albader Parad.
Now, under the circumstances, what would be the right thing to do?
Do you say, "Sorry, I can't talk with you because the Sulu Crisis Committee is in charge of your situation." Perhaps if you like passing the buck and laying blame, this would be your tact. However, Gordon is one person who believes that the buck stops with him and is ready to take responsible action whenever the task falls on his shoulders, no matter how difficult the circumstances are.
If he had ignored or rejected the communication from Parad it would have in all likelihood assured the beheading of one, if not all three of the hostaged ICRC workers; especially considering that they were placing the call right after they were attacked, apparently with the blessings of the Sulu Crisis Committee.
As the Chairman and CEO of the Philippine National Red Cross, Gordon was responsible if not DUTY BOUND to do all he can to ensure the safe release of the three hostages WHO ARE HIS COLLEAGUES in the Red Cross.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, who has been known to involuntarily put his foot in his own mouth, was reported on April 6 by GMA News dot TV to have said that Gordon should be more CIRCUMSPECT. Apparently, the good Press Secretary should take his own advice first.
In the lead of the article, it was reported that:
Malacañang on Monday branded as “illogical" Sen. Richard Gordon’s claim that the safety of the abducted Red Cross workers in southern Philippines lies in the hands of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“What kind of logic is that?" Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
"Those are very unfair... the statements that say the safety of the hostages are in the hands of the President. We should not forget that the ones responsible for this are the bandits who kidnap and take people hostage,"
Remonde added, referring to the Abu Sayyaf bandit group.
I don't know if there is a translation for the tagalog word 'pamimilosopo', but this is what it is. Beyond that, it is shirking responsibility -- something we already have come to expect from the Arroyo Administration.
Mr. Remonde should be aware that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as the highest leader in this land called the Philippines, is ultimately RESPONSIBLE for all actions of the Philippine Military as its COMMANDER IN CHIEF.
Moreover, Remonde also reportedly gave a low blow:

Remonde, despite his claims that he is not backing Teodoro, said he agreed with him when he said that the Sulu situation would be best handled by the local crisis management under Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan.

Remonde also warned personalities from using the situation for their personal gains.

“And in a crisis situation like this, dapat iwasan natin ang pamumulitika [there should be no politics involved], trying to gather brownie points because that will not help the cause of freedom and justice. It can only help the cause of terrorists who just want attention," he said.

I remember that quite recently word went around that Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro was among those expected to receive the annointment of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as her Presidential Candidate in the 2010 polls.
Who is playing politics and brown nosing here?
I sure hope he really isn't referring to Gordon, who after everything is just issuing appeals to save the lives of his colleagues. Kanino siya magpapalakas? Who is he trying to earn brownie points from for doing what he is duty bound to do?
Instead of taking the side of the hostages, Malacanang is taking the side of an inept Defense Secretary with moist eyes for the Presidency.
And, what galls me at this point, is the thought that the only person (Gordon) in the whole fray who is after the safe release of the hostages (nothing more) is being attacked by the Palace.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Mar Roxas the Padyakito Vs. Manny Villar the Itik Man

I am not looking forward to it but the recent Padyakito TV commercial of Senator Mar Roxas may portend other TV commercials that similarly pander to the sentiments of the lowly masses.
It will be a circus of sorts, probably with one billionaire Presidential candidate engaging in a trumpsmanship of sort. They'll probably try to portray themselves as more masa than the other.
And if it is a circus of sorts, will we see Senator Manny Villar eat a live duck? Entertaining? Yes. Helpful? Not at all.
What will these Presidential candidates think of next? Who will eat PAGPAG (food thrown in garbage bins, recycled, sold, and eaten by the poorest of the poor)?

Who will shout invectives at President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo just to show that they are really against her? (Ooops, Mar already beat everyone to that.)
Who will play as the Muslim sympathizer, just to show that they are for peace in Mindanao?
Come on, people.
We deserve better treatment from our politicians. The only way they will treat us better is if we demand that they treat us better and if we hold them to their word.
So, the next time you see Villar or Roxas on TV, switch channels!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Mar Roxas and the Padyakitos: Child abuse?

I saw Senator Mar Roxas TV commercial just this afternoon while eating spicy pancit canton with my wife. I almost blew a mouthful of spicy noodles through my nose.
First, Senator Manuel Villar's Itik TV commercial where he holds a duck and wipes his muddied hand on his shirt, then says the line "Ang galing sa mahirap, tumutulong sa mahirap." Then comes Mar Roxas being driven by a very small kit on a padyak (a bicycle fitted with a sidecar).
Talk about fakery. The kid wasn't even straining or sweating to pedal power Mar's 240 pounds through a crowded street.

Like, come on naman pare, let's be totoo. You make sakay-sakay the padyak only for the commercial to make the masa think you are one of them. You even made mura-mura at Ayala to protest against Cha-Cha, which we all know is just a bogey that the Code NGO put up so that they'd have a cause.
Desperation has apparently led to some insincere portrayal of Mar.
Show us the real Mar Roxas!
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