Thursday, July 30, 2009

Busting bluffers in the 2010 Philippine Elections

With the Philippine Elections less than a year away, it has become more and more crucial to educated and inform the public about the candidates who will be seeking national and local positions.

If I had a hat and if I were wearing it, I'd doff to Better Philippines, Get Real Philippines, and all other Filipino bloggers I don't know off for taking up the cause of trying to educate and inform Filipino voters about Presidential candidates in particular.

Better Philippines came up with a movement to bust the political bluffers with "Hindi Ako Uto-uto" in May 2009 and months after this, Get Real Philippines came up with Platform Plez which basically asks candidates to talk about their platform -- if they have one.

Hindi ako Uto-uto asks people to spurn the TV ads of people clearly aspiring for the Philippine Presidency and Platform Plez demands that the Philippine Presidential candidates present platforms of governance.

I support both of these movements, however, after viewing the Platform Plez matrix I noticed that BenignO (the blogger behind platform plez) I noticed a couple of things which could be added.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to include a column that could contain a rap sheet on each of the candidates. Because, if it came down to choosing the lesser of many evils, we should at least be forewarned of whatever evil we're buying into. I realize that this proposition might involve reworking the matrix and assigning a positive/negative point system. Moreoever, candidates will not admit to having any negative traits and the best Filipino politicians have made careers out of hiding their negative traits.

Take the case of this article on Vice President Noli De Castro or this article on Senator Chiz Escudero.

A group that I am with actually has a matrix of all of the presidential candidates andI'll post it, perhaps, after I get approval.

Till then, support the movements "Hindi Ako Uto-uto" and "Platform Plez".

(And, if in case you're wondering why I put the picture of Rene Requiestas here, it's because I would have nominated him for President but he died ahead of his time.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vice President Noli de Castro admits government housing program failed

The hourly TV ads telling everyone to avail of housing loans from Pag-IBIG Fund have another purpose apart from displaying the mug of Vice President Noli De Castro. That is to hide the massive failure of the government's housing program, a task given to De Castro who sits as the Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).

If you didn't know, the HUDCC is comprised of the heads of Key Shelter Agencies (KSAs), namely: the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC), the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (HGC), and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB); The Heads of three (3) funding agencies, namely: the Social Security System (SSS), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF); The Heads of seven (7) government support agencies, which include the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA); and Two (2) private sector representatives from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and private developers.

As HUDCC Chairman, Vice President Noli De Castro has the complete run of everything that has to do with providing homes for the poor as well as providing low income families with a means to avail home loans. He has the financing agencies to fund the housing projects and he has the implementing arms of housing programs as well. With massive powers at his disposal, one wonders why a large number of working people still do not own their own homes.

Today, Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) was led to conclude that the government has terribly failed to implement an effective housing policy. This, apparently, resulted in alleged housing-loan auction anomaly currently being investigated in the Senate.

Vice President Noli de Castro himself admitted that the housing program is a failure under the unified housing loan program.
Gordon laid bare the state of the government's housing program, saying that “The record is very clear. You lend money and people do not pay under a unified housing scheme. If it is not a success, if it is not paying then you are depriving the government. Pinapabayaan natin na hindi makabayad ang mga taong ito. Hindi nababawi ang capital, hindi napapaikot para makapagpautang pa sa mas maraming tao. Ilan lang ang nagpapasasa dun sa pinahihiram ninyong bahay. Iyan ang nakikita kong sitwasyon dito.

“That is why I consider the housing policy of the government an abysmal failure. Mabuti nakita ngayon na malaki pala ang bukol (housing loan problem) na ito, lalaki pa ang bukol na ito, magiging cancer, eventually malulugi tayo. That is why walang nangyayari sa pabahay natin.”

Gordon also cited that the housing programs of by-gone years had proven to be more successful.

“In the 1950’s, in the 1930’s, gumawa ang gobyerno ng mga Roxas District, Quezon City, Quirino District, Pandacan, Project 1 to 8. Mukhang nakabayad lahat iyan. That is a successful housing program.

“Ngayon, nagpapautang tayo, meron pa tayong socialized housing, merong low-cost housing pero hindi tayo makasingil. Something is wrong with the housing policy. We have to have a better policy and you in the executive should give us better policies here.”

The blue ribbon panel and the committee on urban planning, housing and resettlement are jointly conducting a further review of a joint-venture deal between the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporations (NHMFC) and Deutsche Bank Real Estate Global Opportunities (Global) amid concerns over violations in the auction of delinquent loans affecting 53,000 families listed as beneficiaries of a government-backed housing program.

But, why am I picking on this bit of news? Ask me where the Blue Ribbon investigation will lead to? Ask me, which real estate corporation earns BILLIONS from government housing loans and home loans from Pag-IBIG Fund? Ask me about the Wednesday Club!

Opinion on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's 2009 SONA

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's ninth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2009 presents a problem for those who embark on analyzing it. So many economic figures are cited in attempt to present the Arroyo administration's view of how the country is faring that it becomes difficult to make sense of it all. For the most part, you are basically left to cope with mere impressions of the statistics cited and when asked for an opinion on it, I find myself merely reflecting back on my long held overall opinion of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

So, I basically tend to reject President Macapagal Arroyo's SONA as a product of verbal smoke and mirrors or a cerebral horse and pony show.

Nevertheless, it basically boils down to two major points:

First, is that her administration had accomplished so much despite the challenges it faced.

Second, was an attempt to rub the figurative face of her detractors in her administration's supposed accomplishments.

If she were a basketball player, her SONA was supposed to be a slam dunk right in the face of her political opponents. I can imagine her flying through the air and jamming the ball into the basket, then grunting "Ya feel me brah? Ya feel me?!"

Then again she's a midget, basketball posts are set 10 feet in the air, and she didn't say it in a cool way.

On page one, paragraph five of her speech, she said, "A few days ago Moody's upgraded our credit rating, citing the resilience of our economy. the state of our nation is a strong economy. Good news for our people, bad news for our critics."

If I didn't have Google, I wouldn't have probably found that the Moody's credit rating for the Philippines "...stands at Ba3, three notches below investment grade. Previously, the rating stood at B1, four notches below investment grade."

What does a Moody rating of Ba3 mean? The lowest investment-grade rating is Baa3. The highest speculative-grade rating is Ba1. A rating of Ba3 is just above B1, which was the Philippines' previous rating.

Sure, it sounds good to have a credit upgrade, but what does it really mean good news? Well, I really don't know but lemme try to figure it out.

A rating of Ba3 is described as:
Obligations rated Ba are judged to have "questionable credit quality." -- wikipedia
Having speculative elements --
Moreover, consider this analysis from the Inquirer:
Moody's, like most foreign credit rating firms, keeps the Philippines below investment grade because the proportion of the government's debts to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) remains relatively high. Government data showed that its debt-to-GDP ratio stood at over 50 percent, higher than most of the ratios of other developing countries with the same credit rating.

Tom Byrne, senior vice president at Moody's, said the Philippine government's fiscal position worsened, with its budget deficit rising. But he likewise said the higher deficit, prompted partly by falling tax collection resulting from the crisis, would be easily funded. Byrne said the Philippines seemed to have no difficulty funding its expenditure requirements.
In a succeeding paragraph from the same article on the Inquirer:

The government expects its budget deficit to hit as much as P250 billion in 2009, much higher than last year's P68.1 billion. Fiscal officials said the deficit would naturally be higher because the government needed to spend more on infrastructure and services to pump-prime a slowing economy.
Anyway, this bit of information from the Inquirer makes it rather difficult to understand why in page 4, paragraph 37, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo says:
The next generation will also benefit from our lower public debt to GDP ratio. It declined from 78% in 2000 to 55% in 2008. We cut in half the debt of government corporations from 15% to 7%. Likewise foreign debt from 73% to 32%.
What strikes me is this, the government is functioning under a deficit situation -- meaning it is spending money it hasn't earned from revenues -- and yet we have President Gloria saying, that as it stands, the government owes less in public debt.

What isn't mentioned is just how much the government owes.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's 2009 SONA

Tomorrow will be President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's last State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Although some people could be wondering what her ninth and final SONA speech will talk about, I already have an idea that it won't contain any surprises. It is after all a valedictory SONA, the last of a long line of SONAs which began in 2001 when Macapagal Arroyo first came to power after usurping authority from President Joseph Estrada.

The only surprise (which really doesn't qualify as a surprise at all since some sectors opposed to Macapagal Arroyo are expecting it) would be if the President revealed that some move that would allow her to maintain her hold on power beyond the one term allowed for Presidents under the 1987 Constitution.

Most likely, and predictably, part of Macapagal Arroyo's last SONA speech will contain references to the accomplishments of her administration. You can already see some elements of the speech on Metro Manila's roads.

Driving through Quezon Avenue on my way to SM City's The Block to pick up my kid's pictures at Picaboo, my wife and I couldn't help but see the large tarpaulin banners festooned on the elevated walkways spanning across this major street.

One was saying that the Macapagal-Arroyo Administration put up thousands of retail stores for the masses, another announced that 14,000 mini-drug stores were opened, and the one that really got to me was the claim that millions of scholarships were given way by her administration.

I wonder who is going to be enterprising enough to check if they are true?

I'll try my best to spot one of the thousands of retail stores, mini-drug stores, and even look for one of the millions of students that were given scholarships by the Arroyo Administration.

Then again, what would be the point? Would it be to prove that the Arroyo Administration has lied again? What would be new about that?

She was sworn in as President on the false assumption that President Joseph Estrada was no longer the legitimate leader of the land.

In 2002, she gave a speech on Rizal Day saying that she would not run for President in 2004 and here's an excerpt of that speech.
"In view of all these factors, I have decided not to run for president during the elections of 2004. If I were to run, it would require a major political effort on my part. But since I am among the principal figures in the divisive national events of the last two or three years, my political efforts can only result in never ending divisiveness. On the other hand, relieved of the burden of politics, I can devote the last year and a half of my administration to the following: First, strengthening the economy, to create more jobs, and to encourage business activity that is unhampered by corruption and red tape in government. Second, healing the deep divisions within our society. Third, working for clean and honest elections in 2004."

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Baguio City
December 30, 2002

In 2004, President Macapagal Arroyo RAN for office and was said to have won by 1 Million votes -- which later turnout out to be another lie. This was exposed through the Hello Garci scandal.

The Hello Garci scandal (2005—present) (or just Hello Garci) is a political scandal and electoral crisis in the Philippines.

The scandal involves incumbent president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who allegedly rigged the 2004 national election in her favor. The official results of that election gave Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Noli de Castro the presidency and vice-presidency, respectively. Hundreds of national and local positions were also contested during this election.

The scandal and crisis began in June 2005 when audio recordings of a phone call conversation between President Arroyo and then Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano allegedly talking about the rigging of the 2004 national election results, were released to the public. This escalated, when the minority of the lower house of Congress attempted to impeach Arroyo. This was blocked by Arroyo's coalition in September 2005.[1] No trial has taken place thus far.

Allegations against Arroyo and her accomplices in government are many, including electoral fraud and a subsequent cover-up. The administration has denied some of the allegations and challenged others in court.

The House of Representatives, which is dominated by Arroyo's coalition allies, blocked attempts for an impeachment trial. Arroyo's most well-known alleged accomplice from the electoral commission, Virgilio Garcillano, was missing for a few months, but has returned to the capital in late 2005.

Allegations persist regarding possible conspirators from the government who helped in his escape, and another alleged cover-up. Garcillano denied any wrongdoing, before his disappearance, and after his return.

In December 2006, Garcillano was cleared of perjury charges by the Department of Justice.

-- Wikipedia on Hello Garci
For sure, there were other lies told throughout President Macapagal Arroyo's term and I can't remember them all. Then again, the biggest lie would be that we are actually better off than we were at the start of her first term as President.

Just consider this speech delivered after being sworn in as President in 2001.

On many occasions, I have given my views on what our program of government should be. This is not the time or place to repeat them all. However, I can tell you that they converge on four core beliefs.

1. We must be bold in our national ambitions, so that our challenge must be that within this decade, we will win the fight against poverty.

2. We must improve moral standards in government and society, in order to provide a strong foundation for good governance.

3. We must change the character of our politics, in order create fertile ground for true reforms. Our politics of personality and patronage must give way to a new politics of party programs and process of dialogue with the people.

4. Finally, I believe in leadership by example. We should promote solid traits such as work ethic and a dignified lifestyle, matching action to rhetoric, performing rather than grandstanding.

Did she succeed or not?

I'd say, she failed.

But thanks for the revitalized PNR though and thank you for getting rid of the squatters along the riles.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Attacks on Dona Victorina continue! (UPDATED)

Being famous has its downside and the bloggers of Dona Victorina may be getting acquainted with the dark side of fame.

In its latest post, the Victorina Council writes that is continually being attacked and the objective of the attack may be to screw up the blogsite so that it doesn't appear on the internet anymore.

"the Victorina Council has reason to believe that the Magdalo group and/or their supporters have been trying to sabotage our blog using underhanded technology. Victorina strongly denounces this cowardly act and vehemently denies any insinuation that these are provoked attacks."

Countermeasures are now being deployed to stop these attacks but what is worrisome is the possibility that the attacks may migrate from cyberspace to real life.

Will the members of the Victorina Council be subjected to threats of bodily harm? I hope not.

Anyway, the attacks haven't been limited to Victorina.

Even Pinoy Buzz was subjected to a DOS or Ping Bomb attack, making it difficult for me to log on the internet.

Then there were three instances when my Motigo vist counter logged over a thousand page views from a single IP address. My google analytics also registered the same event.

You see, one way to get keep people from viewing a website is to deploy a program that repeatedly downloads or accesses the webpage at a very fast rate. What happens is that the server which hosts the website becomes so flooded with download or access requests that it exceeds its bandwidth allocation and when this happens, the website returns a 404 message when accessed by other users.

I don't know if this was the actual technique deployed on Pinoy Buzz, but it sure did look like it.

Oddly, these "page view" spikes occurred after I posted the entry "Querubin's minions hack Dona Victorina blog" on June 22. My counters registered a spike on June 30 (1,503) and July 6 (1,890), there were at least three IP addresses that was recorded as doing most of the pageviews and two were located in Singapore while the third was located in Dubai.

Another "page view" more recently on July 20 with 1,412 pageviews after I posted the entries "Querubin writes to Pinoy Buzz" on July 10 and "Colonel Querubin's crusade against Dona Victorina" on July 13.

I have to admit that much of what I am saying is circumstantial and I have some doubt that ranking as well as bemedalled soldiers will actually waste their time trying to destroy my blog.

The thing is, Pinoy Buzz is a free-blog and I haven't gotten around to actually buying a domain name or leasing server space. If they do manage to destroy it, I have six other blogs that I can use to get back at them.

Then again, it would really be a bad thing if Querubin was really behind the attacks on Victorina and Pinoy Buzz. One wonders how he'd handle a Senate interpellation where his views are thoroughly taken apart and proven to be of marginal value. I wonder if we'll actually see our senate erupt in a brawl such as what happened in Taiwan or South Korea.

Paano na lang kung pikunin siya ni Pimentel or ni Joker Arroyo, baka makipag-suntukan pa sa mga matanda. Nakakahiya naman!

Of course, I always entertain the idea that I can be wrong about Querubin.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reasons for rejecting Amnesty for the Abu Sayyaf (Part Two)

Even before it could be considered further, amnesty for the Abu Sayyaf has been rejected outright by the Arroyo Administration after Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said it was actually a good idea.

Senator Richard Gordon proposed a lot of things to end conflict and kidnapping incidents in Mindanao. This is part of a statement he released to the media regarding his proposal of amnesty for the Abu Sayyaf:

I am glad that everybody is now joining the debate regarding amnesty for some members of the Abu Sayyaf Group who may want to go back into the fold of the law.

What I want to do is to put people into a peace mode from a war mode.

It is only in this mode that we can move forward to find a solution.

What I proposed was not just AMNESTY.
What I am calling for is a sincere, effective, and comprehensive solution to the never ending war in Mindanao.

This entails a full court press from the government in terms of improving the economy, delivering justice, and infusing infra in conflict areas.

All out war has ever led to peace and to progress. It only digs a deeper hole and creates more problems and new complications. Long term solutions are arrived at after sound consideration and constructive debate. They do not just appear in one’s minds as a brilliant idea at a snap of a finger.

In anycase, let me explain the point of offering amnesty to the Abu Sayyaf another way and it might be familiar to some of you who are fond of allegories.
One day the Sun and Wind saw a man walking with his coat on. The Wind made a bet with the sun and said that because he was more powerful than him, he could blow the man's coat off his back. The Sun smiled and being quite an agreeable fellow, he agreed to the wager.

The Wind tried to blow off the man's coat with all his might. Leaves, trees, grass, and boulders started flying in all directions as he vented his might on the man. But no matter how hard he blew, the Wind could not blow the man's coat off his back.

The Wind was flustered and became even more upset when he saw the Sun smiling. He said, "Why are you smiling? Are you making fun of me? Go ahead, why don't you try and get the man to take off his coat. I bet, you can't."

The Sun said, "Sure, just stop blowing."

And the Wind stopped blowing, while the Sun just kept on smiling and doing nothing.

Pretty soon, it began to get warmer and the man started sweating. After a few more minutes, the man couldn't take the heat anymore and took off his coat.

Let me put it another way, when you offer amnesty to the Abu Sayyaf members who want to return to the fold of the law, what happens?

Well, the first thing they have to do is to surrender or at least, stop kidnapping or killing people. This alone would be of great benefit as it reduces the number of Abu Sayyaf that the government has to hunt down and apprehend or fight. Perhaps, it may even be necessary to bring the members of the Abu Sayyaf seeking amnesty to Metro Manila along with their families and probably get them to "inform" the government about the situation in Sulu.

Those interested in amnesty, as a sign of their sincerity in returning to the fold of the law and in an effort to convince the government to forgive whatever crimes they have committed, may even -- as a condition for considering their application for amnesty -- be asked to cooperate with the government for a number of things.

To assuage any fears about expunging the criminal atrocities of the Abu Sayyaf, the government still has to follow LAWS in granting amnesty and those laws basically prohibit the grant of amnesty for the following:
Amnesty does not cover the crimes against chastity, rape, torture, kidnapping for ransom, use and trafficking of illegal drugs and other crimes for personal ends and violations of international law or convention and protocols, even if alleged to have been committed in pursuit of political beliefs.
Moreover, the PERSPECTIVE OF THE UNITED NATIONS must also be considered.
Strategies for expediting a return to the rule of law must be integrated with plans to reintegrate both displaced civilians and former fighters.
Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration processes are one of keys to a transition out of conflict and back to normalcy.
Carefully crafted amnesties can help in the return and reintegration of displaced civilians and former fighters and should be encouraged.
However, amnesty can never be permitted to excuse genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or gross violations of human rights.
So, what all this boils down to is not really an issue of allowing criminals elements of the Abu Sayyaf to go scot-free. It is an issue of stopping the war which evidence already shows merely intensifies the desperate circumstances experienced by people in Basilan and Sulu, which breeds armed dissent and eventually war.

Secretary of National Defense Gilbert Teodoro made a brave pronouncement, he said that the Abu Sayyaf will be neutralized by December.

How many times have we heard this pronouncement?

Just google it and you'll see.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reasons for rejecting Amnesty for the Abu Sayyaf (Part One)

In an atmosphere of hate and anger, all peaceful solutions proposed to resolve conflict will be seen as foolish and even criminally wrong.

The release of Abu Sayyaf kidnapping victim Eugenio Vagni last week was tainted with the usual doubt and cynicism.

News reporters present at the Press Conference at the Philippine National Red Cross found it necessary to ask if any kind of financial inducement was given to the Abu Sayyaf in exchange for Vagni's release.

Among those present to answer the question were Philippine National Red Cross Chairman and Senator Richard J. Gordon, Italian businessman Armando da Rossi, and Sulu Vice Governor Lady Anne Sahidulla.

Gordon said that as far as he knew, no ransom was exchanged for Vagni's release; Da Rossi made the same denial; and Sulu Vice Governor Sahidulla said that P50,000 was given to the Abu Sayyaf Group as some sort of good will token.

At some point during the press conference, Gordon was heard as saying that Sulu should now be bombarded with all out peace and development measures -- including amnesty for Abu Sayyaf Members who had signified their intent to return to the fold of the law.

In the context of hate and anger, such pronouncements become hot targets for negative publicity because it runs against the more powerful and common sentiment of the moment. After being stripped of all euphemisms, what most people (who are not in Sulu or Basilan) have on their minds is to kill all members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and make them answer for their crimes.

Naturally, your accurate, fair, objective and impartial Philippine journalists looked for the odd man out in the statement and newspapers EXPLODED with AMNESTY FOR THE ABU SAYYAF on its frontpages. It was the perfect MAN BITES DOG story, it was NEWS.

Peace and development for Sulu and Basilan, after all, had been the mantra for the last twenty years as a means to temper, defuse or neutralize secessionist statements from Muslim radicals in Mindanao.

Then again, of course, we haven't even considered the possibility that people are going to ride on the TOTAL WAR sentiment in a bid to brown nose their way into the Presidency.

Anyway, as far as peace and development is concerned, especially when considered by the common mind and under the cloud of public indignation, should come after the Abu Sayyaf has been eradicated.

But didn't the military declare the neutralization of the Abu Sayyaf Group several times already?
If that were the case, peace and development efforts should have been immediately stepped up during the times when it was declared that the Abu Sayyaf Group was neutralized. However, Sulu, Basilan, and other provinces of ARMM continued to remain backward and no such development efforts pushed forward during the times when the Abu Sayyaf Group was supposed to have been neutralized.

What most people realize is that the Commission on Audit, at a Senate Hearing on the ARMM Polls, admitted that they dared not venture into ARMM for fear that their agents would end up beheaded. The Commission on Audit, regardless of what can be said about its inutility in preventing graft and corruption, still has some effect in making sure that the money released for government services actually happens -- at least, a certain percentage of it will. Can you imagine what happens when the COA is completely unable to do its job?

For all we know, the national government may have been releasing hundreds of millions of pesos for development projects in ARMM. But in the end, was only assuming that the money was indeed going to the projects they were supposed to go to.

Remember the time when former MNLF head honcho and former ARMM Governor Nur Misuari was found to have a huge sum of unliquidated government funds? In common parlance, unliquidated government funds means that a government agency released money for some purpose or other (like buying asphalt for roads) but the agency cannot produce proof (like a receipt) that the money really went to where it was supposed to go. That is what happens when the COA cannot do its job.

Before Gordon even hinted at AMNESTY FOR THE ABU SAYYAF he was already saying that the COA should do its job in SULU, BASILAN, and OTHER ARMM provinces. But that didn't land in the newspapers, of course not, why should it?

What would have landed in the newspapers would be a story relating how a COA agent was beheaded and made to eat receipts in some conflicted area in Mindanao. Now THAT is news.

As far as 'all out offensives' against the Abu Sayyaf Group is concerned, the national government cannot claim to be successful and will never claim to be successful.

Remember the time when the government launched an all out offensive against the Abu Sayyaf when they beheaded 14 marines in Basilan? Zip.

The problem with the Abu Sayyaf and all other Muslim groups is this: When they put their guns down and strip off their battle uniforms, they look like any other person in Mindanao.

You'd be surprised that the Abu Sayyaf and MILF have day jobs. When they're not fighting with the military or doing some other thing, they're actually in market places selling produce or driving tricylces or even selling DVDs.


(End of part One)

Friday, July 17, 2009

All out war in Sulu, again.

Rain started pouring hard yesterday and it kept raining all throughout the night.

I lulled my two year old child to sleep as the rain drummed on our tin roof, I held him close to me with both of my arms locked tightly around his chubby little body and felt him slowly drift off to sleep.

My wife, who just arrived less than an hour before from covering the Presidential non-debates in Quiapo, walked into the bedroom to find me cuddling our son and smiled the contented smile that only happy mothers can make.

We talked for a while about the news and then after about an hour or two, fell silent as the pull of sleep took over.

When I woke up this morning and went down from our bedroom to the kitchen to make my first cup of coffee, it dawned on me that the simple everyday things I take for granted are luxuries that other people can only imagine having.

But my thoughts weren't really about being thankful for what I have, my thoughts were about the soldiers in Sulu and the many more who would be boarding ships or planes bound for Sulu. I wondered just how many of them were like me and wished I could meet one of them before they boarded the ship or plane going to Sulu, so that I could at least shake their hand to wish them a safe return.

I remembered the time when I was still a scriptwriter for RTVM (Radio Television Malacanang) when Fidel V. Ramos was our President and revisited the many memories of riding a C-130 bound for Mindanao together with our soldiers. I can't remember any particular soldier, but I remember some of the conversations that began with jokes about durian or tuna and ended with stories about members of their families.

I remembered the discomfort of having to stand in the cargo-hold of the C-130, crammed shoulder to shoulder with our soldiers and having our heads frozen by the air-conditioning while our torsoes dripped with sweat. There were times when our conversations would pause as we shifted our weight from one foot to the other, carefully maneuvering our feet, legs and bodies into another position while taking care not shove a knee in someone's groin or plant an elbow in someone's gut. We shuffled our feet because as soon as one of them left the steel floor of the C-130, we were sure that somebody else's foot would take its place and it would lead to a situation where you'd have to endure standing on just one leg or step on somebody's foot.

Usually, as soon as we landed, my colleagues at RTVM would rejoice and the soldiers who had been with us during the trip would simply file out, carrying their gear. Our hardship usually ended with the C-130 touching down on some airport in Mindanao; in contrast, the hardships of our soldiers were just beginning. There were many times that I looked at them as they filed into formations after disembarking from the C-130 we shared, wishing they were just part of the military contingent that were deployed to augment the rangs of the PSG -- they would be bored by the duty of having to provide additional security for Ramos but at least they would be safe.

Just how many of the soldiers I shared so many C-130 rides with are still alive today, I will never know.

After drinking my first cup of coffee, my thoughts were about the statements that my boss and friend Senator Richard Gordon had made about proposals to offering amnesty and peace to the Abu Sayyaf that kidnapped three ICRC workers earlier this year and had communicated their intent to return to the fold of the law.

Nearly two years ago, we shared a ride on a C-130 bound for Sulu. We were on a mission to pick up fruits from farmers there who were unable to bring their produce to markets in Zamboangga because the military had restricted travel to and from the island province. The idea was to buy the fruits from the farmers of Sulu and have small time fruit vendors as well as large supermarket chains sell the fruits.

Gordon embarked on the C-130 to start up a project under the Philippine National Red Cross called the Fruits of Hope. This project was meant to mitigate the hardships faced by the people of Sulu, Basilan, and other conflicted areas in ARMM during the then freshly declared "all out war" against the Abu Sayyaf who had killed 14 Marines in Basilan. It was his second trip to Sulu after visiting it just a week earlier and reporting his findings to the President in a letter.

In his letter to the President, Gordon wrote about teachers in Sulu who were teaching despite not receiving their salaries because they could not take licensure exams in Zamboangga. He wrote about farmers standing on the street corners of the towns of Sulu, selling their fruit at unbelievably low prices. He wrote about a hospital completely run by volunteers because government health workers refused to be assigned to Sulu for fear of their lives. He wrote of an absence of governance and a failure to deliver basic government services.

After reporting the state of Jolo to the President, he delivered a privilege speech in the Senate. It was in this speech that he first began advocating the "full court press" delivery of good governance and development in Sulu in line with what he described as a new paradigm for peace and development in Mindanao. I watched him as he delivered the speech then, I noticed that most of his colleagues at the Senate were not listening.

A week after that speech, we arrived at the airport in Jolo to begin implementing the Fruits of Hope project.

We were startled by band music and the sight of a huge crowd. After coming to terms with the fanfare, my eyes finally focused on the long line of trucks laden with rambutan, mangosteen, lanzones, durian, and other exotic fruits that grew in Sulu. We were then ushered to a banquet table laden with more fruits and an assortment of suman -- every Philippine province has a version of suman -- but theirs was outstanding.

Gordon made a short speech and while he was talking, a teacher who was in the crowd offered some coffee made from coffee beans grown on the hillsides of Sulu. It was the best cup of coffee I ever tasted and so I asked where I could get the beans. She pointed me to a bunch of sacks by the banquet table and told me to take as much as I want, so I did.

After about an hour or two, I was back on the C-130 with Gordon and the cargo hold was crammed tight with about seven tons of fruits -- along with a couple hundred pounds of black ants. I must have eaten several pounds of rambutan and lansonez as we flew back home.

I had been in Jolo, Sulu before when I was with RTVM but in the many trips to this island province in Mindanao, I had never encountered so much great tasting fruit. In my visits to Sulu with RTVM, we usually just hanged around the port where the LSV Bacolod was docked during most of the day time. There was a small market just outside the port, but most of the stuff sold there were canned goods and two choices of fruit -- marang or durian.

An engineer of RTVM, who had never before encountered marang, made a mistake of buying one and taking it back to our airconditioned quarters in LSV Bacolod. One of the officers of the ship eventually found out and tongue lashed our engineer because the smell of the ripe marang invaded almost every other part of the ship, at times overwhelming the smell of diesel in the engine room.

On the C-130 ride home with Gordon, the smell of the tons of fruit we were riding with began to suffocate me as we circled over Manila. When it finally touched down, I almost ran out of the cargo hold and made a promise to myself not to volunteer to accompany him to similar mission.

Two weeks later, I was back on another C-130 trip for the Fruits of Hope and this time, we were bound for Davao.

In the first and second trips of the Fruits of Hope program, we shared the ride with soldiers who were detailed to help us load and unload the fruits. I had a chance to talk with three of them and while I don't remember their names, I remember their sentiments. All in all, they said that they were happier breaking their backs hauling fruits from Mindanao and delivering humanitarian aid from the Red Cross. What they were doing was a vacation compared to what their real job was, and this is basically choosing between killing or getting killed.

This morning, the government seems bent on continuing with its policy of war and retribution against the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf first gained notoriety when it raided the town of Ipil in Zamboanga del Sur in April 1995. Over 50 people were killed when the bandits pillaged and then burned down the town center. Thereafter, the list of the atrocities they have perpetrated kept growing.

The government, since the first Abu Sayyaf atrocity, has gone all out in its campaign to eliminate all members of the Abu Sayyaf. And yet, despite killing almost all of its prominent leaders and declaring that the group has been neutralized, the Abu Sayyaf still exists.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Golez confirmed that the proposal to grand amnesty to the Abu Sayyaf has been rejected.

Here's an excerpt from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“I have been authorized by the executive secretary to advise you that there will be no amnesty granted to the Abu Sayyaf group,” deputy presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez said in a briefing.

This, Golez said, was consistent with the government’s position that “such leniency” should be extended only to individuals accused of political offenses, “not common criminals especially as brutal as the Abu Sayyaf.”

“These bandits are involved in kidnappings, bombings, beheadings, pillaging of villages, killing of innocent civilians, including women and civilians, rape, ambushes, looting and holdups, illegal taxation, sowing fear in investors,” he said.

When asked how the government should then deal with the bandit group, Golez said: “Just like how we are dealing with the Abu Sayyaf now and Thursday: all-out war against terrorist groups.”

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. ordered an offensive against the kidnappers after Sunday’s release of Italian Eugenio Vagni, 62, the last of three volunteers of the International Committee of the Red Cross abducted in January to gain freedom.

I just wonder how things will turn out differently if we insist on applying the same failed solutions to persisting problems?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pag-IBIG Fund foots P500 Million face job for Noli de Castro

(Being formerly employed with Pag-IBIG Fund or the Home Mutual Development Fund under its Public Affairs and Information Office and aware of the mandate of this housing finance company, I feel strongly about this issue.)

Some people don't need to go to Vicky Belo to have their faces prettified, they go to Pag-IBIG Fund and spend up to P500 Million of its members contributions to put out all manner of advertisements featuring their face and voice.

Vice President Noli De Castro, who was appointed to lead key government shelter agencies and is the Chairman of Pag-IBIG Fund, is the main endorser and major beneficiary of the advertisements.

De Castro has denied that he is using Pag-IBIG Fund commercials to prop up his political image for the 2010 elections. But then again, he hasn't denied that the Pag-IBIG Fund commercials have contributed significantly to his popularity ratings.

He doesn't have a top rating TV program anymore and his only exposure comes from either the news or the Pag-IBIG Fund advertisements. Any advertising or PR guy will tell you that media exposure through the news only gives marginal publicity points when compared to media exposure through paid advertisements that really drives up the numbers.

For 2009, a total of P208.5 million has been allotted for the Pag-IBIG advertisements. A big chunk of the budget (P109 million) goes to TV placements. The rest goes to radio placements (P54 million), print media (P16 million), cinema placements (P9 million), and sponsorships (P11.7 million).

At least one person has come up to fight what looks very much like a gross abuse of power and lack of delicadeza.

The issue of pillaging Pag-IBIG Fund for political gain was brought up by Attorney Ernesto Francisco who is seeking a court injunction against de Castro and seven other high-ranking government officials from using public funds “for their respective political campaigns.”

Francisco said the ads violate Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. The case is pending at the sala of Judge Marino dela Cruz Jr. of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 22. Francisco also wants the officials to return to the government the funds used to pay for the ads.

The lawyer has estimated that to date, Pag-IBIG Fund has already spent a whopping P500 Million on advertisments featuring De Castro.

What makes Pag-IBIG Fund advertisements particularly effective in driving up the popularity ratings of De Castro is the fact that the institution has a ready audience (Pag-IBIG Fund contributors all over the country).

Being Chairman of Pag-IBIG Fund, Vice President De Castro ought to be more involved on the policy level of the organization and perhaps, in terms of managerial line functions, the President and CEO of Pag-IBIG Fund would be a better endorser -- because he is actually the one who is responsible for crafting the implementation of Pag-IBIG's loan facilities.

The job of endorsing Pag-IBIG Fund contributions would have fallen on the shoulders of Pag-IBIG Fund President Miro Quimbo, who is a better looking guy than De Castro. But one wonders what really became of him? Some say that his career at Pag-IBIG Fund suffered a major reversal at the behest of De Castro which might be a gain for De Castro and a loss for Pag-IBIG Fund members.

The thing on my mind right now is whether or not Quimbo put his foot down and tried to temper De Castro's ad spending?

In any case, Pag-IBIG Vice President for Public Affairs and Information Margie Jorillo testified in the case filed by Francisco that housing loans extended by the Pag-IBIG Fund increased during the period of de Castro’s advertisements.

From 46,041 loans in 2007, equivalent to P22 billion, it increased by 36 percent to 62,507 loans in 2008, equivalent to P34 billion.

Jorillo was my former boss at Pag-IBIG Fund and a breast cancer survivor, naturally she will justify Pag-IBIG's spending for the ads.

Then again, her claims that De Castro's appearance in the ads was abbsolutely essential to the increase in borrowings falls flat.

What drives up the availment of housing loans is not advertisements. Economic conditions make housing loans attractive.

Over the course of the past two years, the cost of construction has plummetted to levels that make building houses cheaper and ergo, housing loans availed under the present conditions will enable borrowers to build either bigger or better appointed homes.

Then again, the question is, who were the borrowers? How many of them were first time home owners? How many went to people who are buying second homes?

The mission of Pag-IBIG Fund is primarily to provide employees low cost home loans so that they can afford to buy their own homes.

Just imagine, if you will, if Pag-IBIG Fund plowed the P500 Million spent on advertising into the provision of more home loans.

If it provided home loans of P1 Million each, that would lead to at least 500 new home owners.

More to the point, companies usually engage in advertising in order to drive up the sale or availment of their services.

From the looks of it, De Castro's P500 Million advertising campaign shouldered by Pag-IBIG Fund drove up the number of borrowers to 16,466. This means that Pag-IBIG fund spent P30,000 in advertising per borrower and I just hope that the advertising cost can be recouped by the earnings on the home loans it has put out.

P500 million of Pag-IBIG money spent to prettify Noli De Castro

Some people don't need to go to Vicky Belo to have their faces prettified, they go to Pag-IBIG Fund and spend up to P500 Million of its members contributions to put out all manner of advertisements featuring their face and voice.

Vice President Noli De Castro, who was appointed to lead key government shelter agencies and is the Chairman of Pag-IBIG Fund, is the main endorser and major beneficiary of the advertisements.

De Castro has denied that he is using Pag-IBIG Fund commercials to prop up his political image for the 2010 elections. But then again, he hasn't denied that the Pag-IBIG Fund commercials have contributed significantly to his popularity ratings.

He doesn't have a top rating TV program anymore and his only exposure comes from either the news or the Pag-IBIG Fund advertisements. Any advertising or PR guy will tell you that media exposure through the news only gives marginal publicity points when compared to media exposure through paid advertisements that really drives up the numbers.

What makes Pag-IBIG Fund advertisements particularly effective in driving up the popularity ratings of De Castro is the fact that the institution has a ready audience (Pag-IBIG Fund contributors all over the country).

In any case, delicadeza

Monday, July 13, 2009

Colonel Querubin's crusade against Dona Victorina


This explains the picture posted here and it is from Amiel Cabanlig who is in the picture:

Hi Paul!

I just read your blog.

First of all, let me tell you straight up that Sec. Mike Defensor has never heard of this Marine Colonel.

Victorina’s visit to the ISAFP compound was out of compassion for Gen. Boy Miranda whose wife is very sick.

Victorina raised funds to help the General’s wife.

Later on, I was able to convince Sec. Mike Defensor to visit the ISAFP detention center so he can HELP out with the Generals problem.

Please bear in mind that the Secretary’s cousin Lt.Col. Custudio Parcon (also a Medal of Valor awardee) is also a detainee.

Let me assure you Paul that there was so much handwriting on the wall- that’s why the wall fell down.



I don't think I can really call myself a journalist as the term connotes a level of professionalism that even some reporters and their publishers or producers fail to live up to.

I am a writer and a blogger who merely attempts to distill some truth in the deluge of political news that comes my way.

And because this is a political blog with my personal views on political developments, you should expect to see a definite bias for or against personalities and issues.

I have no claims of being objective or impartial all the time. I do try to be fair based on my own assessment of what is fair.

Just recently, I received a message on Facebook from someone claiming to be Col. Ariel Querubin and it seemed to be a reaction to a post regarding Querubin's minions hacking/defacing the Dona Victorina Blog. To be fair to the person who had the courage to send me a message that he hoped would 'enlighten me' and since the previous post on Querubin seemed to disparage him, I posted his message to me on Pinoy Buzz.

I thought that would be the end of it.

However, "Querubin" began insisting on me including this picture (the one above) in the post and it carried this caption. "MGA KABABAYAN Mag isip-isip kayo kung bakit kailangang may sirain na tao na kasama nila sa loob pero hindi nakakasama sa kasiyahan tulad nito. SINO KAYA DITO SI SULBATZ AT REBOLUSYON NG BAYAN? ANO ANG GINAGAWA NG TUTA NI GMA? AT ANO ANG NAPAGKASUNDUAN NILA?"

I didn't post the photo and the caption right away, as "Querubin" requested. First, I thought that the caption was a bit cryptic and didn't make any sense at all. I could probably make a guess but that wouldn't be right at all.

Then Querubin sent me another message which sparked a series of exchanges:

Dear Paul,

I just visited your blog. I would appreciate it very much if you will also post the picture just like what you did with mine. So it would be fair and let the people make their own conclusions. Thank you and best regards. God bless

Col Ariel Querubin

To which I responded:


Perhaps you should come out with direct accusations against the people shown in the photograph here first. Then I'll consider posting it.


Thereafter, Querubin responded:


I cannot speculate on what they have agreed upon. I don't need to accuse them. The picture paints a thousand words. I will just let the people who will see the picture conclude.

I will not go down to their level and dignify them. For as long as the truth is on my side, they can vilify my name to their hearts content but definitely, I'll never be cowed by people whose character and reputation are not at par with mine.

Character assassination is indeed the product of very corrupt people. As the saying goes "Birds of the same feather flock together".

I do believe that responsible journalism requires that both sides should be ask about any issue at hand before it is even printed. It should be thoroughly investigated.

The fact that you have taken the cudgels for these people who cannot even come out with their true names and who hide from anonymity and bases their accusation on lies and deception, bespeaks of how your work ethic is founded on.

Thank you and best regards. God bless.


Then, to tell you the truth, I got a piqued by the last paragraph. First, he calls my friends a liar and then insinuates that by association, I am a liar too. And so, I fired back:
Don't talk to me about journalist ethics, I suffered to uphold them and I don't think you have.

I took the cudgels for the bloggers of Dona Victorina without regard for their position on you. An attack on one blogger, such as what was done to Dona Victorina, is an attack on all bloggers.

The bloggers of Dona Victorina have real names. You can look it up in their blog and they are accountable for what they write. They are willing to face libel and all manner of suits. They stand by what they say and do.

In any case, I'll publish the picture as you requested but I'll include this exchange of messages.

I'll let you have the last word, say what you want to say.
I waited for some time but to this day, no response seems to be forthcoming. And I am left to wondering what will come next?

But here's the thing, I don't like people who insult me and I have a low regard for people who violate what is supposed to be a sacred oath to the people to UPHOLD and DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION.

If Querubin is running for Senator in 2010, he should at least come up with some proof that he can really participate in the democratic processes of the Philippine Congress.

We already have enough boobs and nutjobs in the legislature, it's time that we elect real legislators who can wield the power of Congress and the Senate for the benefit of the people. Moreover, I'd hate to think that the Senate is becoming a refuge for people undergoing trial for corruption or rebellion.

We already elected two rebel soldiers into the senate. One seems worse than the other.

And here's another thing.

When you are elected as a Senator, you are supposed to abide and uphold all the laws of the land much more scrupulously than the ordinary citizen.

I just wonder if by some legislative magic, it became legal to walk out of a trial and stage what looked like another stillborn rebellion at the Manila Peninsula.

Come on!

That is the company that Querubin keeps and it doesn't add much to his character.

As for the bloggers of Dona Victorina, I hold them in high regard -- no matter what is said about them.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

(Revised) Huwag iboto si Mar, Manny, Loren, De Castro Binay at iba pang politikong may TV ad

(Revised after anonymous pointed out that Chiz hasn't spent millions on TV ads. Fair is fair, my apologies to the cult worshippers of Escudero.)

Manny Villar, Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda, Jejomar Binay, and Noli De Castro have spent millions and millions of pesos on political TV ads meant to prop up their bid for the Presidency in 2010.

They have exploited a loop hole in the Omnibus Election Code and Fair Elections Act, aided by the Commissions on Elections itself. The provision in the law has basically been construed to mean that if you haven't registered as a candidate, you cannot be charged with premature campaigning.

And yet, it is easy to see that the TV ads they have sponsored are aimed at making their mark as Presidential candidates.


Milyon milyon na ang ginastos nila Manny Villar, Mar Roxas, Jejomar Binay at Noli De Castro sa mga political TV ads na ang tanging pakay ay manghikayat na iboto sila bilang Pangulo sa 2010.

Pinagpasasaan nila ang mga lusot sa batas na Omnibus Election Code at Fair Elections Act, tinulungan pa ng pagtanga-tangahan ng Commission tuwing Elections. Ang sabi daw ng batas, hindi daw premature campaigning ito kasi hindi naman sila rehistradong kandidato.

Pero, hindi tayo mga tanga, alam natin na ang mga TV ads nila ay isa lang ang pakay: ang maihalal sila bilang pangulo.


Friday, July 10, 2009

"Querubin" writes to Pinoy Buzz

On June 22, I put up a blog entry alleging that Querubin's cyber minions had hacked the Dona Victorina blog and reposted the entry which was said to have caused the attack on the blog.

When I was told that the Dona Victorina blog was hacked, I took it at face value because I trust the people who run the blog and have no reason to doubt their word. Moreover, I don't know Colonel Ariel Querubin from Adam and I must confess, I don't trust soldiers who in my view attempted to overthrow a duly elected President.

I have an extreme dislike for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's rule but what I hate more than her is the possibility of a group of military officials who put it into their heads that doing something wrong can ever lead to something right. Macapagal Arroyo was elected (to use the term loosely here) through a democratic process and using force or the threat of force to support an extra-constitutional means of ousting her from power is the wrong way to go.

Brigader General Danny Lim and Colonel Ariel Querubin along with Senator Antonio Trillanes were all involved in attempts to take Gloria Macapagal Arroyo out of power. Perhaps they fully believed that this was the only way to rid the country of the many ills it suffers and that with Gloria out of power, the country would then be saved.

I wish I was still naive.

Here's the thing I cannot get over.

Senator Antonio Trillanes led his men to take over Oakwood as an act of defiance against what they said was the corrupt regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Trillanes was apprehended and brought to trial. Thereafter, he campaigned for a seat in the Senate and won in 2007. Some time after that, he walked away from a hearing and went to the Manila Peninsula.

As a soldier, he swore to defend the constitution. He broke his oath during the Oakwood Mutiny. Then as a senator, he swore an oath to uphold the constitution. He broke his oath again with the Manila Peninsula Siege.

Of course, Trillanes was not the first military man to do this. Before him was General Fidel V. Ramos and then Senator Gringgo Honasan.

How many of our military officials have messianic tendencies, I wonder? And can they really save the country from the cess pool that it is in?

Going back to General Lim and Colonel Querubin, they are now seeking election as senators and I really wonder if they will be truly worthy of that position. Their military track records are great, but their track records as citizens of a democratic country leaves much to be desired.

I wonder how well they can participate in debates, baka kapag nasupalpal ang mga privilege speech nila eh biglang mag-amoy pulbura. Huwag naman ganun.

Anyway, just today I got a message on Facebook from someone who says he is Colonel Ariel Querubin and it is apparently an attempt to contradict a number of things which were written by Rain Barnido in the post "Querubin for Senator?... Quid pro Querubin"

In the interest of fairness, I am posting Querubin's message here:

Dear Paul,

Good morning! I saw this in the wall of a Magdalo coordinator in Nueva Ecija. He reacted to the insults made by Sulbatz Mindanao and Rebolusyon ng Bayan for supporting me.

I had three wives one at a time. The first one was annulled, the second one died and the last is my present wife. I never had a mistress in my whole life. I lived a simple life and not a sinful life.

My wife's first marriage was annulled both in the church and civil courts.

We got married first in the States and later in a simple Church wedding in Puerto Princesa. We're members of the Couples for Christ and the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals.

I was never involved in any case involving moral turpitude.

I was afflicted with cerebral malaria in 1980 during an operation in the jungles of Tawi-tawi. I had very high fever which was why I was delusional. I was released fit for combat duty and 3 years later, I was meritoriously promoted 2 months ahead of the members of class 76 to which Gen Yano and Ibrado belong. I went on foreign studies several times and went on UN Mission, all requiring rigid Neuro-Psychiatric tests. I was promoted several times all needing the same requirements, the last of which was my promotion to full Colonel which was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.

I've been through more than a dozen combat encounters that earned me the Medal of Valor, Distinguished Conduct Star and 7 Gold Cross Medals which manifested my stability under pressure. I was brought back to life in 1989 after being seriously injured by a Sykorsky rocket.

For more than 3 years of incarceration, this evil government was not able to come up with an issue to malign my name, not until the visit of GMA's troubleshooter/henchman. These are the people behind the demolition job against me in

I hope you will be enlightened as to why they're destroying me.

Best regards and God bless.

Col Ariel Querubin

A few words about Globe Tattoo

It was a couple months ago when I bought a Globe Tattoo prepaid broadband modem along with a Smart Bro prepaid broadband modem in order to test out both wireless broadband services.

What attracted me to Globe Tattoo was supposedly its faster speeds both in uploading and downloading. The secondary consideration then was the cost of the actual unit (which is lower than that of Smart Bro) and the cost of per block of wireless internet time (which is the same as Smart Bro but is segmented into 15 minute blocks instead of 30 minute blocks).

I initially found Globe Tattoo, on the face of its packaging to be a good buy. But when I plugged it in at my house in Sampaloc Manila, the internet speeds I experienced were hardly any better than the dial up connection I get using PLDT Vibe. In fact, it was a bit worse as the signal often cut out -- which is almost a happy event because that would mean I actually got a signal at all.

As it happens, my location (from the looks of it) is not within the so-called wireless internet hotspot of Globe, ergo, the slow connection speeds.

As for Smart Bro, the connection speeds that I get from where I live are great. I tried it out in several other places and it worked quite well too. I tried Globe Tattoo in the Makati but still experienced slow speeds.

However, in recent weeks, my Smart Bro failed to log on to the wireless internet network and at times the load I put into the prepaid account magically vanished. This happens once in a while and I haven't really kept track of the dates (as well as locations and times of the service outages), but suffice it to say that generally (most of the time) Smart Bro provides good service.

I have since given away my Globe Tattoo and stuck with smart.

How Gloria cheated the 2004 elections

Here is a document originally posted in Manolo Quezon's blog. It purportedly shows how Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cheated in the 2004 elections and is said to have been created by the supporters of FPJ. It is a powerpoint presentation with 108 slides, so you really don't have a lot to read but the presentation is quite easy to understand.

I guess you'd have to make your own judgement on whether to believe the document or not.

But one thing is clear to me and I believe it, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cheated in the 2004 elections. It was her voice on the Hello Garci tapes and she asked Virgilio Garcillano to pad her votes by 1 million. THAT IS THE TRUTH!

In the next elections, we ought to make sure that cheating doesn't happen in 2010. There are more than 80,000 precincts to watch over and even with automated elections, there are still a lot of ways whereby cheating can be done.


2004 Election Fraud - Full Presentation 22 Oct 05

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Michael Jackson last rites: A tribute to hypocrisy

When Michael Jackson was alive, it seemed nothing good could ever be said about him and now that he is dead, it seems the entire firmament of the American who's who has come out to give him tribute.

Granted that these friends couldn't defend Michael Jackson from all the negative flak he received all the time, I just wonder how much of a friend they were to Jacko when he was suffering?

I think the only sincere tribute that was given to Michael was that from his daughter, Paris Michael Jackson. That really choked me up, more than Usher's singing beside Jackson's coffin. (But I wonder why most of Jackson's relatives kept on stroking her hair while she was talking.)

What really got me in the stream of Pinoy TV news reports is the video of Gary Valenciano tearing up. I admit that Valenciano was a real fan of Jackson, but it seemed that TV Patrol made such a big deal about it. I mean, so frickin' what!

Anyway, friendships become kind of strange, I imagine, when you reach a certain status or rise above the status of most of your friends. But friendships among those high up are even more unique.

Maybe this is why I wouldn't want LPGD to get a pagerank 7 or higher, or perhaps become a Google Adsense millionaire. (Hehehe!) He gets this funny look on his face whenever he is happy and it scares the shit out of me.

Then again, still looking at friendships, there's also the friendship between fellow DV blogger Brian Gorrell and DJ Montano. I don't know much about all the details, but Gorrell insists that Montano has not yet paid the money he owns to Gorrell.

Among the not so rich and those struggling not to be poor (like me), it is normal to owe some amount of money. The amount ranges from 500 pesos to a couple of thousand.

But in Montano's case, I think the amount reached US $70,000 and the real cruel thing about not paying this debt is the fact that Gorrell needs the money to keep himself alive. The thing is, Montano was said to have used the money to live the life and now his friend (former lover) is wasting away.

Anyway, here's the latest post from Gorrell on Dona Victorina:

Philippine High Society: PAY UP
by Brian Gorrell
There are few things I truly regret doing in my life. The one thing I regret the most is getting involved with my ex boyfriend DJ Montano, a man who I never really knew as it turned out. The other big regret is having unsafe sex which led to my HIV diagnosis, which of course created it's own set of issues to deal with. I deal with them as best as I can. We all know money helps, and trust me, you only find this out when you have no one to rely on.

Look, I REALLY thought Delfin would pay me back.

I wrote about this before; I truly mean it when I say that having HIV is much easier for me to deal with than losing my money to my ex boyfriend, a man I truly loved. My life savings represented my future, my security and my well-being. Without my money, I've had to seek help from the government due to my many health problems, my newly acquired chronic diabetes being only one of them. I had a blood transfusion yesterday and fell into a 'coma shock' for almost five minutes due to my anxiety medication and an allergic reaction to the blood. I had to be revived with adrenaline.

So you see, I have so many things to deal with which makes it difficult for me to get a job, so I'm on a paltry disability pension, which is humiliating for me actually. When one is in love and swept away in such an exotic fashion, it's easy to lose control of your rationality, especially if you are desperate for love as I was back then. And we all know I did lose my ability to see clearly through the thick haze of lies and manipulation. BUT that is NO reason for me to sit back and let DJ get away with stealing my money AND the contents of my hotel safe. That was, well, shocking really.

Am I tired of this?

Am I tired of death threats?

Am I tired of the abuse?

The hatred?

Yes, I am.For the first time in my life I contemplated suicide five weeks ago before my doctors intervened and placed me on medication. I just want you to know I am doing much better as a result and the thoughts of suicide are gone. But I was scared to death last month when I developed another tumor on my back, which had since been removed. It's the fifth such tumor I've had this past year. DJ has none of these worries. But I do and I need that money back.You ask yourself, how much can one man take before jumping off the edge?I'm exhausted.Just simply exhausted.Please help me.DJ, please end this for me.You give me back my Western Union and my bank deposits, and I will close the blog.

Please DJ, let this end for me.

Hang in there Brian, there's always hope.
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