Saturday, July 31, 2010

Thoughts on blogging and online influence...

What makes me laugh the most these days are people who claim to know how to make anything go viral and therefore influence a critical number of people to adopt an idea.

Granted that there are a lot of persuasive and brilliantly executed stuff on the internet, there hardly exists a foolproof way of putting an accurate metric that would show just how influential one is.

Visit counters, Alexa Ranking, Technocrati Authority, PageRank, the number of people in one's "community", how many votes you get for one contest or another, and other such measures are mere ego-candy.  The fact is, any of these "influence" indicators can be "gamed", but that is not to say that these indicators are completely worthless.

I guess, the only proof of influence or how influential one is can be judged best by the effect you have on a population.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

DJ Mojo Jojo leaving 89.9? WTF?!


Magic 89.9 ought to do all it can to keep Mojo Jojo in their station.  It will be a big, big loss to the station.

Fixing the real problem... It's me, not PNoy.

Last night, I had planned on waking up early to finish a blog post regarding my reaction to President Noynoy Aquino's first SONA.  However, after checking my Facebook account, I found that I had been tagged in Ben Kritz' note on Facebook and this has turned my mind on a different track.

Here is Ben's note:
As I was sitting and letting my mind stretch out and run this evening, a thought occurred to me. Noynoy Aquino is not really the problem here: For all his incompetence, demonstrated lack of understanding of priorities, vindictiveness, and lack of statesmanship, he is not the source nor hardly an aggravating factor of the mess this country is in, but rather the ultimate expression of its dysfunction. When the machinery fails to operate correctly, or operate at all, one can hardly blame the bent screwdriver or wrong-sized wrench used to try to fix it. In essence, Aquino is the human equivalent of someone trying to hammer a 15-mm socket onto a 5/8 inch headbolt -- the best result is going to be something completely half-assed. It's not the socket's fault; blame the lazy mechanic.
Does that mean I believe Aquino should be off the hook for criticism? Absolutely not. He asked for the job and fought hard for it, no matter what he says about "being chosen by the people". He deserves every bit of critical micro-examination everyone can muster. But consider this: what do you do when you have the wrong or a broken tool? You chuck it aside and pick up the RIGHT tool. No amount of constructive criticism is ever going to change 15-mm N/A into the 15.875-mm he needs to be to fit properly on that 5/8" bolt. So whatever criticism -- and God knows there's a lot -- that can be made of him should be made in such a fashion as to address the real problem: the messed-up cultural system and mindset that said, "Eh, we're out of nails, let's just hammer a screw in instead," and put him into office. When we can successfully make it clear to the people that N/A's failures are actually THEIR failures, we will be well on our way to solutions.
Here is my comment on Ben's Note:
In first year highschool, back when cory aquino had just been installed as president, there was a resurgence in organizing student councils and part of the whole exercise was electing classroom presidents. Now, my classroom adviser being a miserable and mean old fart led the process of electing. For some reason, in his twisted mind, he blurted out to the class that they should elect someone big as president. Now, in my class, i was perhaps, the biggest kid and most of my classmates, being hopelessly preconditioned to obey 'authority' figures like zombies by the educational system, did as they were told. I got to be president of the class, a responsibility which i hardly understood and i did a half assed job.
I could have had a hand in articulating student issues and having them resolved. But being ill equipped, i ended up as the class adviser's boy - following his orders, which included keeping the class quiet whenever he decided to step out in the middle of class, selling raffle tickets, erasing the blackboard, et cetera.
Applied to our current situation, the classroom adviser is the co-opted press, the unenlightened economic elite, and opportunist politicians.
Guess what these people want? Oh... Well...
Oddly enough, this sort of reminds me of a series of books by Douglas Adams that I had read through back in college.

The "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is part of a four part "trilogy" that I had pored through over and over through out college.  First because it took me a while to get all the jokes and second, because the jokes were funny in different ways each time I re-read it.

One part of the book that sort of reflects on Ben's thoughts about President Noynoy today and my recollection of being Class President in first year highschool is the 42 puzzle.
Through archival recordings, he relates the story of a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who built a computer named Deep Thought to calculate the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. When the answer was revealed to be 42, Deep Thought had predicted that another computer, more powerful than itself would be made and designed by it to calculate the question for the answer.
Now, this stresses on one idea that the Get Realists and I agree on.  It is the idea that one's conclusion of what the problem is, is perhaps the most crucial phase in one's search for a solution.

What is the ultimate question for the
ultimate answer to life, the universe,
 and everything?
The number 42, in my personal lexicon, is more of Douglas Adams way of saying that this entire planet of humans is clueless about what they are for and will only get a glimpse of their true purpose just a few seconds before complete annihilation.

Applied to this country, the Philippines, I think that its people has bungled one way or another through finding the real problem.

Four or five hundred years ago, perhaps the inhabitants of these islands thought the problem was to stop the European invasion.  Rizal thought it was the unequal treatment of Indios and Spanish colonizers (the first Filipinos).  Aguinaldo thought it was the rule of the Spanish and Sakay thought it was the rule of the Americans.  Several Filipino politicians (descendants of the first Filipinos, Japanese Collaborators and partners of the American regime in the Philippines) professed the idea that being an American colony was the problem and so placed themselves in pivotal roles essentially as 'brokers' of Philippine Independence.

After being granted its so-called Independence, Philippine leaders have at consistently professed poverty and corruption (sometimes one more than the other) as the real problems.

What they didn't say is that corruption, in their Lexicon, is really a means of the rich to protect their business interests and vast stores of wealth.  More to the point, what the economic and political elite really mean by stopping corruption is to put an end to having to pay people off so that they can continue what they normally do -- which is to smuggle or misdeclare imported goods, not pay the right taxes or pay as little of it as possible, abuse labor, sell things that are bad for the people, not follow laws that cut into their earnings, swindle one another, etcetera.

Corruption is hardly a concern of the poor, very few of whom actually appreciate what corruption really is and understand the concept of corruption that does not necessarily involve stealing actual money from the Philippine National Treasury -- which, much as it may shock most people, isn't a government office with a huge vault full of cash.

One way of defining corruption more truthfully is that it is the willful and deliberate act of putting one's self interest above that and to the detriment of the common good.

Common Good or the Welfare of All Concerned should be one of the chief values that should guide all actions. (Of course, the theory in Beautiful Mind comes to mind, wherein individuals acting in their self-interest  produces beneficial effects for other individuals.  However, this can only happen if the behavior of all the individuals are uniformly predictable and consistently function within a range of parameters.)

The thing is, the Philippines will not be able to end corruption until a sufficient number (perhaps all) of Filipinos figure out what Common Good is.

So far, the odds of this happening within the next six years is 42 to 90,000,000 and counting.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Noynoy S. Aquino III Jul 26, 2010

State of the Nation Address of His Excellency
Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
to the Congress of the Philippines
Session Hall of the House of Representatives
July 26, 2010

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Vice President Jejomar Binay; Chief Justice Renato Corona; Former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps; my fellow workers in government;

Mga minamahal kong kababayan:

Sa bawat sandali po ng pamamahala ay nahaharap tayo sa isang sangandaan.

Sa isang banda po ay ang pagpili para sa ikabubuti ng taumbayan. Ang pagtanaw sa interes ng nakakarami; ang pagkapit sa prinsipyo; at ang pagiging tapat sa sinumpaan nating tungkulin bilang lingkod-bayan. Ito po ang tuwid na daan.

Sa kabilang banda ay ang pag-una sa pansariling interes. Ang pagpapaalipin sa pulitikal na konsiderasyon, at pagsasakripisyo ng kapakanan ng taumbayan. Ito po ang baluktot na daan.

Matagal pong naligaw ang pamahalaan sa daang baluktot. Araw-araw po, lalong lumilinaw sa akin ang lawak ng problemang ating namana. Damang-dama ko ang bigat ng aking responsibilidad.

Sa unang tatlong linggo ng aming panunungkulan, marami po kaming natuklasan. Nais ko pong ipahayag sa inyo ang iilan lamang sa mga namana nating suliranin at ang ginagawa naming hakbang para lutasin ang mga ito.

Sulyap lamang po ito; hindi pa ito ang lahat ng problemang haharapin natin. Inilihim at sadyang iniligaw ang sambayanan sa totoong kalagayan ng ating bansa.

Sa unang anim na buwan ng taon, mas malaki ang ginastos ng gobyerno kaysa sa pumasok na kita. Lalong lumaki ang deficit natin, na umakyat na sa 196.7 billion pesos. Sa target na kuleksyon, kinapos tayo ng 23.8 billion pesos; ang tinataya namang gastos, nalagpasan natin ng 45.1 billion pesos.

Ang budget po sa 2010 ay 1.54 trillion pesos.

Nasa isandaang bilyong piso o anim at kalahating porsyento na lang ng kabuuan ang malaya nating magagamit para sa nalalabing anim na buwan ng taong ito.
Halos isang porsyento na lang po ng kabuuang budget ang natitira para sa bawat buwan.
Saan naman po dinala ang pera?

Naglaan ng dalawang bilyong piso na Calamity Fund bilang paghahanda para sa mga kalamidad na hindi pa nangyayari. Napakaliit na nga po ng pondong ito, ngunit kapapasok pa lang natin sa panahon ng baha at bagyo, 1.4 billion pesos o sitenta porsyento na ang nagastos.

Sa kabuuan ng 108 million pesos para sa lalawigan ng Pampanga, 105 million pesos nito ay napunta sa iisang distrito lamang.

Samantala, ang lalawigan ng Pangasinan na sinalanta ng Pepeng ay nakatanggap ng limang milyong piso lamang para sa pinsalang idinulot ng bagyong Cosme, na nangyari noong 2008 pa.

Ibinigay po ang pondo ng Pampanga sa buwan ng eleksyon, pitong buwan pagkatapos ng Ondoy at Pepeng. Paano kung bumagyo bukas? Inubos na ang pondo nito para sa bagyong nangyari noong isang taon pa. Pagbabayaran ng kinabukasan ang kasakiman ng nakaraan

Ganyan din po ang nangyari sa pondo ng MWSS. Kamakailan lamang, pumipila ang mga tao para lang makakuha ng tubig. Sa kabila nito, minabuti pa ng liderato ng MWSS na magbigay ng gantimpala sa sarili kahit hindi pa nababayaran ang pensyon ng mga retiradong empleyado.
Noong 2009, ang buong payroll ng MWSS ay 51.4 million pesos. Pero hindi lang naman po ito ang sahod nila; may mga additional allowances at benefits pa sila na aabot sa 160.1 million pesos.

Sa madaling sabi, nakatanggap sila ng 211.5 million pesos noong nakaraang taon.

Beinte-kuwatro porsyento lang nito ang normal na sahod, at sitenta'y sais porsyento ang dagdag.
Ang karaniwang manggagawa hanggang 13th month pay plus cash gift lang ang nakukuha.

Sa MWSS, aabot sa katumbas ng mahigit sa tatlumpung buwan ang sahod kasama na ang lahat ng mga bonuses at allowances na nakuha nila.

Mas matindi po ang natuklasan natin sa pasahod ng kanilang Board of Trustees. Tingnan po natin ang mga allowances na tinatanggap nila:

Umupo ka lang sa Board of Trustees at Board Committee meeting, katorse mil na. Aabot ng nobenta'y otso mil ito kada buwan. May grocery incentive pa sila na otsenta mil kada taon.

Hindi lang iyon: may mid-year bonus, productivity bonus, anniversary bonus, year-end bonus, at Financial Assistance. May Christmas bonus na, may Additional Christmas Package pa. Kada isa sa mga ito, nobenta'y otso mil.

Sa suma total po, aabot ang lahat ng dalawa't kalahating milyong piso kada taon sa bawat miyembro ng Board maliban sa pakotse, technical assistance, at pautang. Uulitin ko po. Lahat ng ito ay ibinibigay nila sa kanilang mga sarili habang hindi pa nababayaran ang mga pensyon ng kanilang mga retirees.

Pati po ang La Mesa Watershed ay hindi nila pinatawad. Para magkaroon ng tamang supply ng tubig, kailangang alagaan ang mga watershed. Sa watershed, puno ang kailangan.

Pati po iyon na dapat puno ang nakatayo, tinayuan nila ng bahay para sa matataas na opisyal ng MWSS.
Hindi naman sila agad maaalis sa puwesto dahil kabilang sila sa mga Midnight Appointees ni dating Pangulong Arroyo.

Iniimbestigahan na natin ang lahat nang ito. Kung mayroon pa silang kahit kaunting hiya na natitira - sana kusa na lang silang magbitiw sa puwesto.

Pag-usapan naman po natin ang pondo para sa imprastruktura. Tumukoy ang DPWH ng dalawandaan apatnapu't anim na priority safety projects na popondohan ng Motor Vehicle Users Charge. Mangangailangan po ito ng budget na 425 million pesos.
Ang pinondohan po, dalawampu't walong proyekto lang. Kinalimutan po ang dalawandaan at labing walong proyekto at pinalitan ng pitumpung proyekto na wala naman sa plano. Ang hininging 425 million pesos, naging 480 million pesos pa, lumaki lalo dahil sa mga proyektong sa piling-piling mga benepisyaryo lang napunta.

Mga proyekto po itong walang saysay, hindi pinag-aralan at hindi pinaghandaan, kaya parang kabuteng sumusulpot.

Tapos na po ang panahon para dito. Sa administrasyon po natin, walang kota-kota, walang tongpats, ang pera ng taumbayan ay gagastusin para sa taumbayan lamang.

Meron pa po tayong natuklasan. Limang araw bago matapos ang termino ng nakaraang administrasyon, nagpautos silang maglabas ng 3.5 billion pesos para sa rehabilitasyon ng mga nasalanta nina Ondoy at Pepeng.

Walumpu't anim na proyekto ang paglalaanan dapat nito na hindi na sana idadaan sa public bidding. Labingsiyam sa mga ito na nagkakahalaga ng 981 million pesos ang muntik nang makalusot. Hindi pa nailalabas ang Special Allotment Release Order ay pirmado na ang mga kontrata.

Buti na lang po ay natuklasan at pinigilan ito ni Secretary Rogelio Singson ng DPWH. Ngayon po ay dadaan na ang kabuuan ng 3.5 billion pesos sa tapat na bidding, at magagamit na ang pondo na ito sa pagbibigay ng lingap sa mga nawalan ng tahanan dahil kina Ondoy at Pepeng.

Pag-usapan naman natin ang nangyari sa NAPOCOR. Noong 2001 hanggang 2004, pinilit ng gobyerno ang NAPOCOR na magbenta ng kuryente nang palugi para hindi tumaas ang presyo. Tila ang dahilan: pinaghahandaan na nila ang eleksyon.

Dahil dito, noong 2004, sumagad ang pagkakabaon sa utang ng NAPOCOR. Napilitan ang pambansang gobyerno na sagutin ang dalawandaang bilyong pisong utang nito.

Ang inakala ng taumbayan na natipid nila sa kuryente ay binabayaran din natin mula sa kaban ng bayan. May gastos na tayo sa kuryente, binabayaran pa natin ang dagdag na pagkakautang ng gobyerno.
Kung naging matino ang pag-utang, sana'y nadagdagan ang ating kasiguruhan sa supply ng kuryente. Pero ang desisyon ay ibinatay sa maling pulitika, at hindi sa pangangailangan ng taumbayan. Ang taumbayan, matapos pinagsakripisyo ay lalo pang pinahirapan.

Ganito rin po ang nangyari sa MRT. Sinubukan na namang bilhin ang ating pagmamahal. Pinilit ang operator na panatilihing mababa ang pamasahe.

Hindi tuloy nagampanan ang garantiyang ibinigay sa operator na mababawi nila ang kanilang puhunan. Dahil dito, inutusan ang Landbank at Development Bank of the Philippines na bilhin ang MRT.
Ang pera ng taumbayan, ipinagpalit sa isang naluluging operasyon.

Dumako naman po tayo sa pondo ng NFA.

Noong 2004: 117,000 metric tons ang pagkukulang ng supply ng Pilipinas. Ang binili nila, 900,000 metric tons. Kahit ulitin mo pa ng mahigit pitong beses ang pagkukulang, sobra pa rin ang binili nila.

Noong 2007: 589,000 metric tons ang pagkukulang ng supply sa Pilipinas. Ang binili nila, 1.827 million metric tons. Kahit ulitin mo pa ng mahigit tatlong beses ang pagkukulang, sobra na naman ang binili nila.

Ang masakit nito, dahil sobra-sobra ang binibili nila taun-taon, nabubulok lang pala sa mga kamalig ang bigas, kagaya ng nangyari noong 2008.

Hindi po ba krimen ito, na hinahayaan nilang mabulok ang bigas, sa kabila ng apat na milyong Pilipinong hindi kumakain ng tatlong beses sa isang araw?

Ang resulta nito, umabot na sa 171.6 billion pesos ang utang ng NFA noong Mayo ng taong ito.

Ang tinapon na ito, halos puwede na sanang pondohan ang mga sumusunod:

Ang budget ng buong Hudikatura, na 12.7 billion pesos sa taong ito.

Ang Conditional Cash Transfers para sa susunod na taon, na nagkakahalaga ng 29.6 billion pesos.

Ang lahat ng classroom na kailangan ng ating bansa, na nagkakahalaga ng 130 billion pesos.

Kasuklam-suklam ang kalakarang ito. Pera na, naging bato pa.

Narinig po ninyo kung paano nilustay ang kaban ng bayan. Ang malinaw po sa ngayon: ang anumang pagbabago ay magmumula sa pagsiguro natin na magwawakas na ang pagiging maluho at pagwawaldas.

Kaya nga po mula ngayon: ititigil na natin ang paglulustay sa salapi ng bayan. Tatanggalin natin ang mga proyektong mali.

Ito po ang punto ng tinatawag nating zero-based approach sa ating budget. Ang naging kalakaran po, taun-taon ay inuulit lamang ang budget na puno ng tagas. Dadagdagan lang nang konti, puwede na.
Sa susunod na buwan ay maghahain tayo ng budget na kumikilala nang tama sa mga problema, at magtutuon din ng pansin sa tamang solusyon.

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Ilan lang ito sa mga natuklasan nating problema. Heto naman po ang ilang halimbawa ng mga hakbang na ginagawa natin.

Nandiyan po ang kaso ng isang may-ari ng sanglaan. Bumili siya ng sasakyang tinatayang nasa dalawampu't anim na milyong piso ang halaga.

Kung kaya mong bumili ng Lamborghini, bakit hindi mo kayang magbayad ng buwis?

Nasampahan na po ito ng kaso. Sa pangunguna nina Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares at Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez, bawat linggo po ay may bago tayong kasong isinasampa kontra sa mga smuggler at sa mga hindi nagbabayad ng tamang buwis.

Natukoy na rin po ang salarin sa mga kaso nina Francisco Baldomero, Jose Daguio at Miguel Belen, tatlo sa anim na insidente ng extralegal killings mula nang umupo tayo.

Singkuwenta porsyento po ng mga insidente ng extralegal killings ang patungo na sa kanilang resolusyon.
Ang natitira pong kalahati ay hindi natin tatantanan ang pag-usig hanggang makamit ang katarungan.

Pananagutin natin ang mga mamamatay-tao. Pananagutin din natin ang mga corrupt sa gobyerno.
Nagsimula nang mabuo ang ating Truth Commission, sa pangunguna ni dating Chief Justice Hilario Davide. Hahanapin natin ang katotohanan sa mga nangyari diumanong katiwalian noong nakaraang siyam na taon.
Sa loob ng linggong ito, pipirmahan ko ang kauna-unahang Executive Order na nagtatalaga sa pagbuo nitong Truth Commission.

Kung ang sagot sa kawalan ng katarungan ay pananagutan, ang sagot naman sa kakulangan natin sa pondo ay mga makabago at malikhaing paraan para tugunan ang mga pagkatagal-tagal nang problema.
Napakarami po ng ating pangangailangan: mula sa edukasyon, imprastruktura, pangkalusugan, pangangailangan ng militar at kapulisan, at marami pang iba. Hindi kakasya ang pondo para mapunan ang lahat ng ito.

Kahit gaano po kalaki ang kakulangan para mapunan ang mga listahan ng ating pangangailangan, ganado pa rin ako dahil marami nang nagpakita ng panibagong interes at kumpyansa sa Pilipinas.

Ito ang magiging solusyon: mga Public-Private Partnerships. Kahit wala pa pong pirmahang nangyayari dito, masasabi kong maganda ang magiging bunga ng maraming usapin ukol dito.

May mga nagpakita na po ng interes, gustong magtayo ng expressway na mula Maynila, tatahak ng Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, hanggang sa dulo ng Cagayan Valley nang hindi gugugol ang estado kahit na po piso.

Sa larangan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas:

Mayroon po tayong 36,000 nautical miles ng baybayin. Ang mayroon lamang tayo: tatlumpu't dalawang barko. Itong mga barkong ito, panahon pa ni MacArthur.

May nagmungkahi sa atin, ito ang proposisyon: uupahan po nila ang headquarters ng Navy sa Roxas Boulevard at ang Naval Station sa Fort Bonifacio.

Sagot po nila ang paglipat ng Navy Headquarters sa Camp Aguinaldo. Agaran, bibigyan tayo ng isandaang milyong dolyar. At dagdag pa sa lahat nang iyan, magsusubi pa sila sa atin ng kita mula sa mga negosyong itatayo nila sa uupahan nilang lupa.

Sa madali pong sabi: Makukuha natin ang kailangan natin, hindi tatayo gagastos, kikita pa tayo.

Marami na pong nag-alok at nagmungkahi sa atin, mula lokal hanggang dayuhang negosyante, na magpuno ng iba't ibang pangangailangan.

Mula sa mga public-private partnerships na ito, lalago ang ating ekonomiya, at bawat Pilipino makikinabang. Napakaraming sektor na matutulungan nito.

Maipapatayo na po ang imprastrukturang kailangan natin para palaguin ang turismo.

Sa agrikultura, makapagtatayo na tayo ng mga grains terminals, refrigeration facilities, maayos na road networks at post-harvest facilities.

Kung maisasaayos natin ang ating food supply chain sa tulong ng pribadong sektor, sa halip na mag-angkat tayo ay maari na sana tayong mangarap na mag-supply sa pandaigdigang merkado.

Kung maitatayo ang minumungkahi sa ating railway system, bababa ang presyo ng bilihin. Mas mura, mas mabilis, mas maginhawa, at makakaiwas pa sa kotong cops at mga kumokotong na rebelde ang mga bumibiyahe.

Paalala lang po: una sa ating plataporma ang paglikha ng mga trabaho, at nanggagaling ang trabaho sa paglago ng industriya. Lalago lamang ang industriya kung gagawin nating mas malinis, mas mabilis, at mas maginhawa ang proseso para sa mga gustong magnegosyo.

Pabibilisin natin ang proseso ng mga proyektong sumasailalim sa Build-Operate-Transfer. Sa tulong ng lahat ng sangay ng gobyerno at ng mga mamamayan, pabababain natin sa anim na buwan ang proseso na noon ay inaabot ng taon kung hindi dekada.

May mga hakbang na rin pong sinisimulan ang DTI, sa pamumuno ni Secretary Gregory Domingo:
Ang walang-katapusang pabalik-balik sa proseso ng pagrehistro ng pangalan ng kumpanya, na kada dalaw ay umaabot ng apat hanggang walong oras, ibababa na natin sa labinlimang minuto.

Ang dating listahan ng tatlumpu't anim na dokumento, ibababa natin sa anim. Ang dating walong pahinang application form, ibababa natin sa isang pahina.

Nananawagan ako sa ating mga LGUs. Habang naghahanap tayo ng paraan para gawing mas mabilis ang pagbubukas ng mga negosyo, pag-aralan din sana nila ang kanilang mga proseso. Kailangan itong gawing mas mabilis, at kailangan itong itugma sa mga sinisumulan nating reporma.

Negosyante, sundalo, rebelde, at karaniwang Pilipino, lahat po makikinabang dito. Basta po hindi dehado ang Pilipino, papasukin po natin lahat iyan. Kailangan na po nating simulan ang pagtutulungan para makamit ito. Huwag nating pahirapan ang isa't isa.

Parating na po ang panahon na hindi na natin kailangang mamili sa pagitan ng seguridad ng ating mamamayan o sa kinabukasan ng inyong mga anak.

Oras na maipatupad ang public-private partnerships na ito, mapopondohan ang mga serbisyong panlipunan, alinsunod sa ating plataporma.

Magkakapondo na po para maipatupad ang mga plano natin sa edukasyon.

Mapapalawak natin ang basic education cycle mula sa napakaikling sampung taon tungo sa global standard na labindalawang taon.

Madadagdagan natin ang mga classroom. Mapopondohan natin ang service contracting sa ilalim ng GASTPE.
Pati ang conditional cash transfers, na magbabawas ng pabigat sa bulsa ng mga pamilya, madadagdan na rin ng pondo.

Maipapatupad ang plano natin sa PhilHealth.

Una, tutukuyin natin ang tunay na bilang ng mga nangangailangan nito. Sa ngayon, hindi magkakatugma ang datos. Sabi ng PhilHealth sa isang bibig, walumpu't pitong porsyento na raw ang merong coverage. Sa kabilang bibig naman, singkuwenta'y tres porsyento naman. Ayon naman sa National Statistics Office, tatlumpu't walong porsyento ang may coverage.

Ngayon pa lang, kumikilos na si Secretary Dinky Soliman at ang DSWD upang ipatupad ang National Household Targetting System, na magtutukoy sa mga pamilyang higit na nagangailangan ng tulong. Tinatayang siyam na bilyon ang kailangan para mabigyan ng PhilHealth ang limang milyong pinakamaralitang pamilyang Pilipino.

Napakaganda po ng hinaharap natin. Kasama na po natin ang pribadong sektor, at kasama na rin natin ang League of Provinces, sa pangunguna nina Governor Alfonso Umali kasama sina Governor L-Ray Villafuerte at Governor Icot Petilla. Handa na pong makipagtulungan para makibahagi sa pagtustos ng mga gastusin. Alam ko rin pong hindi magpapahuli ang League of Cities sa pangunguna ni Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.

Kung ang mga gobyernong lokal ay nakikiramay na sa ating mga adhikain, ang Kongreso namang pinanggalingan ko, siguro naman maasahan ko din.

Nagpakitang-gilas na po ang gabinete sa pagtukoy ng ating mga problema at sa paglulunsad ng mga solusyon sa loob lamang ng tatlong linggo.

Nang bagyo pong Basyang, ang sabi sa atin ng mga may prangkisa sa kuryente, apat na araw na walang kuryente. Dahil sa mabilis na pagkilos ni Secretary Rene Almendras at ng Department of Energy, naibalik ang kuryente sa halos lahat sa loob lamang ng beinte-kwatro oras.

Ito pong sinasabing kakulangan sa tubig sa Metro Manila, kinilusan agad ni Secretary Rogelio Singson at ng DPWH. Hindi na siya naghintay ng utos, kaya nabawasan ang perwisyo.

Nakita na rin natin ang gilas ng mga hinirang nating makatulong sa Gabinete. Makatuwiran naman po sigurong umasa na hindi na sila padadaanin sa butas ng karayom para makumpirma ng Commission on Appointments. Kung mangyayari po ito, marami pa sa mga mahuhusay na Pilipino ang maeengganyong magsilbi sa gobyerno.
Sa lalong madaling panahon po, uupo na tayo sa LEDAC at pag-uusapan ang mga mahahalagang batas na kailangan nating ipasa. Makakaasa kayo na mananatiling bukas ang aking isipan, at ang ating ugnayan ay mananatiling tapat.

Isinusulong po natin ang Fiscal Responsibility Bill, kung saan hindi tayo magpapasa ng batas na mangangailangan ng pondo kung hindi pa natukoy ang panggagalingan nito. May 104.1 billion pesos tayong kailangan para pondohan ang mga batas na naipasa na, ngunit hindi maipatupad.

Kailangan din nating isaayos ang mga insentibong piskal na ibinigay noong nakaraan. Ngayong naghihigpit tayo ng sinturon, kailangang balikan kung alin sa mga ito ang dapat manatili at kung ano ang dapat nang itigil.
Huwag po tayong pumayag na magkaroon ng isa pang NBN-ZTE. Sa lokal man o dayuhan manggagaling ang pondo, dapat dumaan ito sa tamang proseso. Hinihingi ko po ang tulong ninyo upang amiyendahan ang ating Procurement Law.

Ayon po sa Saligang Batas, tungkulin ng estado ang siguruhing walang lamangan sa merkado. Bawal ang monopolya, bawal ang mga cartel na sasakal sa kumpetisyon. Kailangan po natin ng isang Anti-Trust Law na magbibigay-buhay sa mga prinsipyong ito. Ito ang magbibigay ng pagkakataon sa mga Small- at Medium-scale Enterprises na makilahok at tumulong sa paglago ng ating ekonomiya.
Ipasa na po natin ang National Land Use Bill.

Una rin pong naging batas ng Commonwealth ang National Defense Act, na ipinasa noon pang 1935. Kailangan nang palitan ito ng batas na tutugon sa pangangailangan ng pambansang seguridad sa kasalukuyan.
Nakikiusap po akong isulong ang Whistleblower's Bill upang patuloy nang iwaksi ang kultura ng takot at pananahimik.

Palalakasin pa lalo ang Witness Protection Program. Alalahanin po natin na noong taong 2009 hanggang 2010, may nahatulan sa 95% ng mga kaso kung saan may witness na sumailalim sa programang ito.
Kailangang repasuhin ang ating mga batas. Nanawagan po akong umpisahan na ang rekodipikasyon ng ating mga batas, upang siguruhing magkakatugma sila at hindi salu-salungat.

Ito pong mga batas na ito ang batayan ng kaayusan, ngunit ang pundasyon ng lahat ng ginagawa natin ay ang prinsipyong wala tayong mararating kung walang kapayapaan at katahimikan.

Dalawa ang hinaharap nating suliranin sa usapin ng kapayapaan: ang situwasyon sa Mindanao, at ang patuloy na pag-aaklas ng CPP-NPA-NDF.

Tungkol sa situwasyon sa Mindanao: Hindi po nagbabago ang ating pananaw. Mararating lamang ang kapayapaan at katahimikan kung mag-uusap ang lahat ng apektado: Moro, Lumad, at Kristiyano. Inatasan na natin si Dean Marvic Leonen na mangasiwa sa ginagawa nating pakikipag-usap sa MILF.

Iiwasan natin ang mga pagkakamaling nangyari sa nakaraang administrasyon, kung saan binulaga na lang ang mga mamamayan ng Mindanao. Hindi tayo puwedeng magbulag-bulagan sa mga dudang may kulay ng pulitika ang proseso, at hindi ang kapakanan ng taumbayan ang tanging interes.

Kinikilala natin ang mga hakbang na ginagawa ng MILF sa pamamagitan ng pagdidisplina sa kanilang hanay. Inaasahan natin na muling magsisimula ang negosasyon pagkatapos ng Ramadan.

Tungkol naman po sa CPP-NPA-NDF: handa na ba kayong maglaan ng kongkretong mungkahi, sa halip na pawang batikos lamang?

Kung kapayapaan din ang hangad ninyo, handa po kami sa malawakang tigil-putukan. Mag-usap tayo.

Mahirap magsimula ang usapan habang mayroon pang amoy ng pulbura sa hangin. Nananawagan ako: huwag po natin hayaang masayang ang napakagandang pagkakataong ito upang magtipon sa ilalim ng iisang adhikain.

Kapayapaan at katahimikan po ang pundasyon ng kaunlaran. Habang nagpapatuloy ang barilan, patuloy din ang pagkakagapos natin sa kahirapan.

Dapat din po nating mabatid: ito ay panahon ng sakripisyo. At ang sakripisyong ito ay magiging puhunan para sa ating kinabukasan. Kaakibat ng ating mga karapatan at kalayaan ay ang tungkulin natin sa kapwa at sa bayan.

Inaasahan ko po ang ating mga kaibigan sa media, lalo na sa radyo at sa print, sa mga nagbablock-time, at sa community newspapers, kayo na po mismo ang magbantay sa inyong hanay.

Mabigyang-buhay sana ang mga batayang prinsipyo ng inyong bokasyon: ang magbigay-linaw sa mahahalagang isyu; ang maging patas at makatotohanan, at ang itaas ang antas ng pampublikong diskurso.
Tungkulin po ng bawat Pilipino na tutukan ang mga pinunong tayo rin naman ang nagluklok sa puwesto. Humakbang mula sa pakikialam tungo sa pakikilahok. Dahil ang nakikialam, walang-hanggan ang reklamo. Ang nakikilahok, nakikibahagi sa solusyon.

Napakatagal na pong namamayani ang pananaw na ang susi sa asenso ay ang intindihin ang sarili kaysa intindihin ang kapwa. Malinaw po sa akin: paano tayo aasenso habang nilalamangan ang kapwa?
Ang hindi nabigyan ng pagkakataong mag-aral, paanong makakakuha ng trabaho? Kung walang trabaho, paanong magiging konsumer? Paanong mag-iimpok sa bangko?

Ngunit kung babaliktarin natin ang pananaw-kung iisipin nating "Dadagdagan ko ang kakayahan ng aking kapwa"-magbubunga po ito, at ang lahat ay magkakaroon ng pagkakataon.

Maganda na po ang nasimulan natin. At mas lalong maganda po ang mararating natin. Ngunit huwag nating kalimutan na mayroong mga nagnanasang hindi tayo magtagumpay. Dahil kapag hindi tayo nagtagumpay, makakabalik na naman sila sa kapangyarihan, at sa pagsasamantala sa taumbayan.

Akin pong paniwala na Diyos at taumbayan ang nagdala sa ating kinalalagyan ngayon. Habang nakatutok tayo sa kapakanan ng ating kapwa, bendisyon at patnubay ay tiyak na maaasahan natin sa Poong Maykapal. At kapag nanalig tayo na ang kasangga natin ay ang Diyos, mayroon ba tayong hindi kakayanin?

Ang mandato nating nakuha sa huling eleksyon ay patunay na umaasa pa rin ang Pilipino sa pagbabago. Iba na talaga ang situwasyon. Puwede na muling mangarap. Tayo nang tumungo sa katuparan ng ating mga pinangarap.

Maraming salamat po.

Monday, July 26, 2010

President Noynoy Aquino's First State of the Nation Address

I hate it when people state the obvious.

Now, given the amount of airtime and newspaper space usually given to the State of the Nation Address of Presidents past, I am pretty sure I don't think I will be able to escape President Noynoy Aquino's Statement on the Obvious National Address.

Like the launch of a premiere teledrama, ABS-CBN has been hyping up President Noynoy's coming SONA and yesterday was a special treat on the Philippine Daily Inquirer as it bannered that the SONA will be beyond "SHOCK AND AWE" -- which I think was penned without the usual journalistic restraint that the Manila Bulletin is known for.

Days ago, just before his inaugural, a couple of friends were saying that President Noynoy's handlers were lowering expectations with phrases like "he's not superman" and other phrases to that effect.  Now, after 26 days, I think we are going to be treated to another whole level of 'lowering expectations".

In the art of managing expectations, the first step is usually to muddle whatever promises that were made -- this is usually made easier by making the promises VAGUE and AMBIGUOUS as well as making sure that printed copies of those promises are made unavailable from official websites.

President Aquino's promises are contained in his platform.  It was originally seen on his official campaign website but now this website has been taken down and replaced with a "place holder" page.

Another step in "lowering expectations", as briefly highlighted earlier, is to come up with a lower estimation of one's abilities.  Where previously one was saying that he could lead the country, one would now say that leading the country and solving its problems would not be possible without the PEOPLE'S SUPPORT.

Asking for the PEOPLES' SUPPORT is actually helpful and only right, but ONLY IF YOU'VE ALREADY LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR TAPPING AND MANAGING THAT SUPPORT.

Yet another step is to blow up the proportion of the problems while shrinking down the resources needed to solve them.

In any case, however the SONA goes today, I'll concentrate on whether President Noynoy Aquino makes mention of any solutions to the problems he'll encounter.

Here are a few that he has run right smack into within the first 26 days of his administration.

1. Empty coffers.
2. Corruption.
3. Power shortage.
4. Water shortage.
5. An impending food shortage.
6. Climate change.
7. Disaster preparedness.
8. Traffic.

Here are the perennial problems encountered and unsolved by all previous administrations.

1. Corruption.
2. Declining quality of education.
3. Poor disaster planning and preparation.
4. Weakening agricultural production.
5. Smuggling.
6. Drugs.
7. Continued insurgency and separatist movements.
8. Rampant criminality.
9. Lack of investment in infrastructure.
10. Heavy dependence on OFW remittances.




Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Marlene Aguilar to star in new movie "HUMITHIT AKO NG ZONROX"

It seems Marlene Aguilar is going nuts -- even if she was already a bit weird already.

Here's a recent status update on her Facebook Account which is rather disturbing.  She says: GO TRILLANES! FUCK THE EVIL SYSTEM!!! I SUPPORT YOU! I WILL HELP YOU KILL THE EVIL SYSTEM!!!"

Couple this with a statement Major Jason Aquino: "To those officers who aided and abetted Garci, those responsible for extra judicial killings and disappearances, those who stole public funds, in the name of my country and all that is right and just, I’m coming for you."

Oh man!

Yan po, mga kaibigan ang tutoong MAGDALO. UTAK PULBURA.


Dealing with the water crisis

Like me, you'd probably be among those who expect that the most recent Typhoon (Basyang) would have already filled up the Angat Dam by the time it left the Philippines.

A water shortage at the start of the rainy season seems improbable, but that's what we are experiencing right now.

Last year, I blogged that Ondoy was a sign that climate change was here and as I write this, I feel convinced that the current water shortage may yet be another sign of climate change.

Climate change isn't just unusually heavy rains that brings floods, it is a global shift in weather patterns.  It can also mean that rain is falling in places where it normally doesn't.  It can miss watershed areas while dumping a virtual ocean on areas which do not normally experience rain.  This can lead to flooding in some areas and drought in others.

This dry spell wasn't completely unexpected and experts (Pagasa) had been warning for years about dry spells getting longer and longer.

It isn't that the previous administration didn't do anything about it or didn't do enough.  Certainly, it can point to a number of measures which may include a number of infrastructure projects aimed at tapping more sources of water.

The more important facet of the water shortage problem is how the general population uses or abuses its water resources.

We basically just throw all our water down the drain and what is worse is that THAT dirty water eventually ends up in streams and drivers... polluting our water resources.

Right next to experiencing a water shortage at the start of this year's typhoon season, I think one huge writing on the wall that has been missed for decades is the fact that Metro Manila has to depend on water sources from neighboring provinces when we have the Pasig River running through the middle of the city.

We've been hearing and seeing all manner of media hoopla about saving the Pasig River, but the river is still dirty and stinky.

I may be mistaken, but, we've had all manner of save the Pasig River movements for decades... But the river ain't getting any cleaner.

Where did all the billions of pesos supposedly donated for the cause end up?  Where was all that money spent?


If Pasig River is dirty, can you imagine how much dirtier Laguna de Bay is?   The Pasig River flows but the Laguna de Bay is turning into open sewerage pit.

Anyway, here comes my point.

I think, in the next few weeks or months, the present government should come out with a program for managing Metro Manila's water shortage problem.

Cloud seeding is a band aid solution, as I've said.  What is really needed is a long term water conservation and RECYCLING policy.

I don't know if the measures I am going to point out are already being implemented, but here it goes:

1. All buildings should be retrofitted so that it will be able to recycle the water it uses for its sinks and toilet bowls.

2. All buildings should start storing rainwater.

3. All commercial establishments and private residences must have a waste water treatment facility.  Smaller establishments can opt to have a communal waste water treatment facility, larger establishments may have their own.

4. Ban the development of new golf courses and inland water resorts.

5. Start the construction of desalination plants.  The benefits may be marginal at this point, but as it has been said, climate change is here to stay for the long haul.  Investing in this technology now will give us the advantage of developing expertise and homegrown technology -- something that will be crucial in the decades to home.  The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was seen as a White Elephant by the short-sighted and vengeful Cory Administration, but what it was really meant to provide was a training ground for our own experts in nuclear power technology.  If it had continued, we would by now have access to third generation nuclear power technology which basically recycles nuclear fuel.

6.  Start the construction of water recovery facilities along the Pasig River and in Laguna de Bay.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Mark Lapid to keep PTA post in exchange for Senator Lito Lapid's support for Senate Presidency


CORRUPTION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

A mole says that Philippine Tourism Authority Manager Mark Lapid is bound to keep his post as a trade off for Senator Lito Lapid's support for the new administration's favored Senate President.

Mark Lapid was appointed acting PTA manager in mid 2008 by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Now, the mole says that the PTA ain't exactly sparkling clean when it comes to SOP's or tongpats.  But the innovation introduced by the new appointee was that suppliers and government contractors had to fork over as much as 30 percent of the tongpats in ADVANCE.

The mole said that most of the contractors and suppliers were, of course, used to the fact that they had to grease some hands in order to keep their business.  This was something they factored in when submitting their bids and usually forced them to supply either substandard products or services.

The mole said that what really peeved them was that despite forking over the exorbitant tongpats, the release of their payments for services rendered became even much more circuitous and more tongpats was demanded just to make the processing of the payments move a bit faster.

A couple of suppliers and contractors resisted Lapid's scheme which resulted in their projects being discontinued.  The suppliers and contractors of bigger projects, which were already fifty percent delivered, were actually asked for as much as P10,000,000 just so that the PTA would continue the projects with them.

A number of projects, one worth P100,000,000, has been halted just because the supplier refused to participate in Lapid's corrupt scheme.

The contractors and suppliers, a number of whom actually contributed money for PNoy's campaign and personally asked people to vote for PNoy, are wondering if PNoy is really serious about clamping down on corruption?

Will PNoy allow Mark Lapid to keep his post just so that his favored Senate President will get Senator Lito Lapid's vote?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Still on PNoy berating Pagasa...

"Look at Japan and look at Bangladesh.  Japan has more scientists than lawyers.  Bangladesh has more lawyers than scientists.  Now, look at the Philippines.  While export our scientists, we have to exile our lawyers." -- Yosi break observations.

Bad Manners Gun Club has this to say about PNoy berating Pagasa:
So while President N/A’s criticism of the agency might well be criticized as a lame cover for his own lack of initiative, it’s still objectively valid — as long as the country has to rely on PAGASA for guidance on how to withstand and recover from destructive storms, PAGASA owes it to the country to do a better job. Getting them the equipment they need should be a critical priority — but then so should making sure that the agency is appropriately-staffed with competent, motivated people who understand the importance of what they do. Hopefully, the president understands that as well, and won’t simply assume that his over-reported complaints amount to proper attention to the matter. The next storm may be worse or it may not, but one thing is absolutely certain: it will be here, eventually.

I tend to agree with what BMGC said, but I'd have to add a couple of things.

First, not many people realize the extent to which Pagasa is underfunded, undermanned, and ill-equipped for the "important" job they are supposed to do.

My wife, who has met almost everyone in Pagasa over the years as a reporter, relates that the people in this small government agency is made up mostly of scientists -- actual scientists -- whose job is to make sense out of the data they get.  

She says that the reason that the country gets only a few snippets of satellite images every six or so hours is because that is  what the agency's budget can afford -- we do not have it on tap.  

Perhaps, our weather scientists are forced to make predictions with huge gaps in their data.

Ergo, they have stick their heads out of the window and use their Magic Eight Balls as well as jargon laden explanations of why their predictions missed.

And, I think it would be a mistake to say that our people at Pagasa AREN'T IMAGINATIVE... Because after sticking their heads out of the window and using their eight balls, THAT'S THE ONLY THING THEY HAVE TO RESORT TO... They have to imagine what the next series of satellite images will look like.

If you want to talk about brain drain, another friend relates that one of our meteorologists had finally given up on trying to serve the country that he opted to get a job at Australia's (don't know where exactly) weather bureau.  From P20,000 a month, he is getting ten times that plus other benefits.

Anyway, as far as bad predictions go, all weather services -- even the best ones --  have that problem... Hence, the Weatherman Cliche.

If we want a better weather service, we might have to look seriously into pouring more funds into it -- which is the job of Congress, a branch of government which Pnoy was a part of until very recently.

I don't know if at all PNoy found it necessary to champion the cause of better weather prediction services in all of his nine years in the Lower House.  After all, his home province is Tarlac and it is part of the Central Luzon Region (along with Pampanga, Zambales, Bulacan) which regularly experiences flooding.  With better weather prediction services, he would have help his province as well as other provinces with huge flood plains in setting the timing of their planing season as well as avoid typhoon related disasters.

Perhaps, in Pnoy's first SONA, he should make a point to ask congress for increased funding for weather predictions services as well as DISASTER RISK MAPPING, DISASTER PLANNING AND PREVENTION.

This is closer to a solution than berating a couple of scientists.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cynthia Carrion is wang-wang personified

(Reposted from Lamang Lupa)

Cynthia Carrion – the most kapalmuks of them all!

Yes, we’ve heard of all those midnight appointments Gloria Makapalmukha Arroyo granted to her friends to offices with fixed terms and how these jerks are hanging on to dear life to keep their jobs. These as so many that P-Noy has made it a key act of his administration to review each and every one of them, especially since they are in very sensitive areas in government that they could do actual damage to the nation’s future.

One of the worse examples of this is none other that Cynthia Carrion – Gloria’s Assumption classmate and personal aerobics trainer.

Carrion was appointed Chief Operating Officer (basically General Manager) of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), which, under the new law (called the Tourism Act 2009 or RA 9593) is the most key agency in implementing in promoting, marketing and providing all PR support to Philippine tourism. In money terms this agency gets the most of the tourism budget – think advertising, junkets, promotions money, PR budgets… you get my drift.

Okay, Carrion insists that she was appointed by a 10-man board. But consider the events leading up to this:

1. After much deliberating, Senator Richard Gordon was able to craft and pass the Tourism Act of 2009.
2. Then Tourism Secretary Ace Durano, in the dying days of the regime, hurriedly drafted the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the new law – but in their mad rush they made one that merely cut and pasted what the law contained. No real value added and detailed implementing guidelines.
3. Then Ace hurriedly called for the Tourism congress where the industry stakeholders were supposed to ratify the IRR. They did, but not without opposition from the true industry players, some of whom even sued Durano as a result.
4. With the sham IRR in place, GMA and Durano hurriedly put the TBP board in place where they voted for a COO, not Carrion, but was rejected from up high. It took three board elections until Carrion was finally elected!

So there. But who is this Cynthia Carrion?

Well, she was GMA’s Assumption classmate – the tisay gal who used to hang around the president’s daughter. They probably were similar to what Tina Fey now calls “The Plastics” in her Lindsay Lohan movie “Mean Girls.”

As GMA moved up, Carrion, being the aerobics instructor and dive buddy, was placed in a sports portfolio – similar to what she tried with her Palace manicurist in housing and gardener in national parks.

GMA first appointed Carrion as commissioner (literally) in the Philippine Sports Commission. But she ended up with so many shenanigans especially in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games that the PSC looked for ways and means to get her out rather than have them face the embarrassment of criminal prosecution.

PSC insiders say that Carrion pocketed so much SEAG money including cash refunds from unused hotel rooms.

Carrion was transferred to the DOT as Assistant secretary for Sports and Wellness Tourism where she supposedly organized (and spent for) exhibitions and conferences for medical and wellness tourism and sports events. In her years in the department there were many such events supported by the DOT. But their funding was greatly from other sources such as Congress or the private sector, leading many to wonder where the DOT budget actually went.

Then came the TPB.

First order of business of Carrion: she wrote the newly appointed Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim that she intends to STAY and will fight tooth and nail to do so. She believes she earned her six-year term. And this despite appeals from her own family (siblings) and class mates from Assumption.

Well, the Tiyanak has news for Carrion: the TPB board is made up of members from the various government agencies (ex-officio) and private sector with the Tourism Secretary as Chair. Since she was elected by the board she can be removed by it.

Add to this, the wrath of God… well, uh, maybe not. But the wrath of P-Noy, at least. You see, nobody in the current crop of the GMA kapalmuks midnight appointees represents this most despicable act than Carrion – because of her unique in indisputable stature as THE Gloria gal.

Cynthia Carrion is the embodiment of everything P-Noy is against.

Cynthia Carrion is wang-wang personified

The Controversial Code NGO Peace Bonds is Back with Vengeance

REPOSTED FROM
The Controversial Code NGO Peace Bonds is Back with Vengeance
BANTAY PILIPINAS
Southern California
July 15, 2010

The Controversial Code NGO Peace Bonds is Back with Vengeance

Los Angeles -- The controversial Peace Bonds that earned a windfall profit of P1.48-billion for the Code NGO then headed by now Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman, along with the sister of then Finance Secretary Isidro Camacho, is back under the rule of President Noynoy "No Wangwang" Aquino III.

People's Organizations and responsible legislators are asking that DSWD's Dinky Soliman and her cohorts should be investigated and that people behind it should be held accountable for the mess that allegedly duped the Philippine government in billions of pesos.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, who used to hold the position during the time of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Arroyo, said she is willing to face the probe. The P1.4-billion earnings from the secondary sale of the bonds was alleged to have ended in the Peace Foundation she headed.

The transaction was alleged to have been engineered by Marissa Camacho-Reyes, the sister of Arroyo’s former Finance Minister Jose Isidro Camacho.

Soliman. a former NGO activists, exposed the different NGO and PO's as " communist fronts" and then went on to organize this super-NGO to monopollize the funding coming from abroad. The funding for NGO dried up after that and was channeled instead to Soliman and her group.

Soliman should be Accountable

The P10 billion Peace Bonds float where a group of civil socialites made a killing in commissions plus another P1 billion plus tax free that went to Code NGO, which funds are not accountable, will have Filipinos paying some P35 billion to pay off these peacebonds.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, in House Resolution (HR) No. 58, said that an investigation into the controversy should be done by the House committee on good government.

The lawmakers said that those involved in the issue, including officials of the Department of Finance (DoF), the Bureau of Treasury, Code-NGO and other individuals, entities and corporations which could shed light and resolve the issue should be summoned by the House to explain what happened with the 10-year zero coupon Treasury Notes that had been auctioned off by the Bureau of Treasury as the Peace (Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificates) Bonds.

“Up until the present, no one knows, except Code-NGO, how the funds generated were spent,” the two lawmakers stressed in the resolution.

Billions in Commissions

“The deal, allegedly allowed the Code-NGO to earn a P1.4-billion commission on a government bond flotation in 2001,” both Rodriguezes’ resolution stated.

The lawmakers said that the Code-NGO, the largest coalition of development NGOs in the country, participated in the auction through Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, a Government Securities Eligible Dealer.

“By virtue of the aforementioned characteristics of the zero coupon bonds, Code- NGO, through its underwriter RCBC Capital Corporation (RCBC Capital), was able to sell the Peace Bonds in the secondary market at a higher price than what it paid for. The realized trading gain was used to create a permanent endowment and capital fund for the Peace Foundation,” the resolution said.

According to Rodriguez the bonds are set to mature next year and that for the original P10-billion bonds issued, the Philippine government will have to pay P37-billion because of the interest.

“Up until the present, no one knows, except Code-NGO, how the funds generated were spent,” Rodriguez said.

******

Disaster Planning and Preparedness

In order to prevent and mitigate the effects of disasters, here are six steps that any community in the Philippines can use to plan and prepare for disasters.


(1) Predict possible threats in the community;

(2) Plan what to do in times of disasters;

(3) Prepare the community for what it would need;

(4) Practice or conduct first aid trainings and emergency evacuation drills;

(5) Report instantly pertinent information about the disaster to LGUs, the Red Cross, and other authorities;

(6) Respond immediately to those in need.

We are poor because of disasters and lack of good governance, NOT CORRUPTION

Typhoon Basyang is another reminder that we ought to learn from our disasters.

You can berate the Pagasa and other government agencies for not doing their jobs well enough or at all.  If that were all a President needs to do in order to set things right, fine! Fire away and enjoy the applause.

But, on a place called Earth and in a country called the Philippines, recriminations and blaming doesn't provide relief for those who were affected or ensure that when the next disaster comes, people will be prepared to deal with it.

We now have a President whose Inauguration was peppered with the word 'pagbabago' and then, about fifteen days into his administration, we see this:
- Pagasa makes a wrong prediction on a typhoon's path
- People are not warned and made to prepare
- Vital infrastructure as well as private buildings and homes are destroyed, basic services are disrupted (power, water, communications) for days.
- Officials are taken to task, promises are made to fix what needs to be fixed.
- Disaster relief is distributed, calamity funds are disbursed.
If you look at the newspapers or Google the news streams last year, guess what?  You'd find the exact same pattern of events.

Look a year before that and a year before that.  Look at every year before this year and you will see the same thing happening over and over and over again.

Okay, I'll give the President a break.  Maybe there's nothing much you can do in 15 days to prepare for and prevent the problems we encountered when Basyang hit Metro Manila squarely.

Then again, perhaps, for someone who has been working on solutions to ending the cycle of disaster and poverty for decades, something might have been done to prevent some of the damage we suffered.

Perhaps, instead of saying 'wang-wang', he would have sounded the sirens to warn the people that the typhoon season is fast approaching and people needed to prepare.

Perhaps he would have sounded the siren to signal the necessity of checking vital infrastructure that might get hit by strong winds or floods.

Seeing as our weather prediction equipment and personnel are almost useless, perhaps an arrangement could have been made for us to acquire the weather prediction capabilities of Japan, Hongkong, and Malaysia -- which have sophisticated weather satellites.

Perhaps, rather than quibble over who gets to be AFP chief of staff, he would have mobilized the NDCC BEFORE the disaster and not AFTER.

Perhaps, instead of a communications group, it would have been better to prioritize an EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM/DISASTER WARNING SYSTEM so that people can either be warned or informed.

Nevertheless, to fix the problem, here are six steps that can be done by ANY community in order to lessen the impact of any disaster.

(1) Predict possible threats in the community;
(2) Plan what to do in times of disasters;
(3) Prepare the community for what it would need;
(4) Practice or conduct first aid trainings and emergency evacuation drills;
(5) Report instantly pertinent information about the disaster to LGUs, the Red Cross, and other authorities;
(6) Respond immediately to those in need.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

PNoy parties as Basyang rips through Metro Manila

In 2009, after Typhoon Ondoy, there was a hearing in the Philippine Senate where Pagasa made its case for the acquisition of Doppler Radar Systems that would help improve the accuracy of its weather predictions.  

With the systems having been procured and installed, it would now be reasonable enough to expect that Pagasa would now be able to warn people about the direction and strength of an approaching typhoon.

However, Typhoon Basyang has shown that Pagasa -- despite having better equipment -- still couldn't make an accurate prediction about the approaching typhoon.  It had said that Basyang would not hit Metro Manila and it did. 
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20100714-281049/Pagasas-weather-forecasting-misses-on-Basyang-hitting-Metro 
At present, PAGASA has two radars with upgraded Doppler capabilities, one in Baler and another in Baguio. But the Baler radar has a blind spot to the east because of the Sierra Madre mountains while the Baguio radar cannot cover Metro Manila. This means PAGASA is only making do with the information from these radars and from old radars.
By August, the agency hopes the upgraded Doppler radar in Subic would be completed. This radar would cover Metro Manila. By September, PAGASA said it would see the completion of the upgrade of radars in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur; Tampakan, North Cotabato; Cebu and Tagaytay. The last radar station would have the capability to cover Metro Manila.

As expected, Pagasa explained away the error, pointing out kinks in its weather prediction model as well as gaps in our country's Doppler Radar system (we only have two and one has a blindspot).

However, the thing is, blaming the weatherman for making a mistake in predicting the weather is CLICHE and PNoy made great friends with this CLICHE with gusto.

The thing is, the island of Luzon is such a narrow target that predicting the path of a typhoon is like predicting whether an elephant can walk through a narrow corridor without breaking anything.

The point is, typhoons are notoriously treacherous and in the face of such a beast, it pays to be overly prudent.

In the crucial hours before the typhoon, PNoy was said to have been partying with Palace reporters.


For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV


http://www.gmanews.tv/story/196108/calm-before-the-storm-pnoy-sings-to-reporters-before-basyang
It didn’t take much prodding from reporters for President Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III to grab the microphone and sing Tuesday night.
At a dinner with Palace reporters, Aquino dished out two songs — Florante’s “Handog" and Dennis Lambert’s “Of All the Things" — before some 150 reporters, MalacaƱang staff, and white-clad members of the Presidential Security Group.
Aquino intended to sing the Dennis Lambert hit only, but shouts of “More! More!" prompted him to take the stage again for a second number.
“Alam niyo last time niyo ko pinakanta binanatan ako ng mga limang kolumnista (The last time you made me sing, about five columnists criticized me)," Aquino told reporters in jest.
Members of the audience gamely joined him in singing Florante’s immortal lines: “Tatanda at lilipas din ako/ Nguni't mayrong awiting / Iiwanan sa inyong ala-ala / Dahil, minsan, tayo'y nagkasama."
It wasn’t the first time Aquino entertained the crowd with his singing. 
At his inaugural street party last June 30, the President sang Michel Legrand’s 1960s hit “Watch What Happens" and Freddie Aguilar's 1980s hit “Estudyante Blues" before an audience of 120,000.
The dinner took place a few hours before Metro Manila was lashed by strong winds brought by Typhoon Basyang which, according to government reports as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, killed 18 people.
Aquino was visibly worried about the possible impact of the cyclone during the social function. He was asking his staff for updates and telling reporters on the sidelines about his government’s preparation plans for high-risk areas.

Knowing that Pagasa makes errors in predicting the path of Typhoons, PNoy ought to have been at the helm of the NDCC hours before the typhoon hits, instead of partying with Palace reporters.

Anyway, apart from Pagasa, we also have to strengthen our Coast Guard and Navy.  Apart from Doppler radar systems, we need to operationalize a nationwide tracking system that would show us exactly where all Philippine vessels are at any given time.

(Maybe more later, on the same topic.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez won't resign and can't be impeached

One of P.Noy's promises on the campaign trail and during his inaugural speech was the delivery of justice -- which is short hand for the prosecution and conviction of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on corruption charges.

Two major cases that some say ought to be filed against the former President involve the NBN ZTE Deal and the Fertilizer Fund Scam.

In 2009, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Senator Richard Gordon came out with a report that claims to have connected the dots and unearthed evidence against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and all those involved in both controversial anomalies.

I wouldn't fault Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez for being close to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or her husband, former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

I would fault her for not acting fast enough on both the NBN ZTE Deal and the Fertilizer Fund Scam.

Moreover, I would fault her for being ineffective in getting crooks in government convicted.
Ombudsman’s record
Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus said the office planned to send out orders to some 700 officials and former officials involved in the fertilizer fund to submit counteraffidavits. He said this would be the start of the case’s preliminary investigation.
(Why only now?)
A Sandiganbayan report released last week said that in the first four months of the year, the Office of the Ombudsman lost most of the cases it had filed in the anti-graft court.
Of the 98 cases resolved this year, 78 individuals were either acquitted or saw their cases dismissed. The Sandiganbayan said that between January and April, it resolved 62 cases involving 98 respondents. Only eight persons were convicted.
(This is an awful batting average.)
The same report showed that 56 people were acquitted, while 22 people had their cases dismissed even before trial could start.
Perhaps only with an effective Ombudsman can we have some hope of curbing corruption and certainly, Gutierrez can be impeached -- all it really takes are the numbers.

ARTICLE XI Section 2. 
ACCOUNTABILITY OF PUBLIC OFFICERS
The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.

Monday, July 12, 2010

PNoy asked to review Cayetano Paderanga Jr.'s appontment

(Reposted from Lamang Lupa.)

At the rate the appointment of Cayetano Paderanga as NEDA director-general and economic planning secretary is being questioned in business and government circles, President Aquino and his inner circle should seriously undertake a review of the allegations and determine once and for all whether the nominee is fit for high office.

The allegations against Paderanga are, to say the least, disturbing.

Two companies in the private sector forced him to resign as their chief executive. One is no less than the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), which dismissed him in 2004 after just six months at the helm. The other is a credit information company, which dismissed him for a host of transgressions, foremost of which was failure to settle the tax obligations of the company for three consecutive years, not for lack of finances but for sheer neglect.

And now there is need to look into his stint at the Monetary Board and the Central Bank. Privately, a former BSP governor is saying that Paderanga took liberties with his access to confidential information and data of the monetary authorities.

These are serious issues to raise, and they do not square with the high importance of the post of economic planning secretary and NEDA director-general. Leadership of the NEDA is one of the most sensitive and important in the Cabinet because it will be instrumental in shaping the economic policies of the government. It was precisely because of NEDA’s role that Romulo Neri got embroiled in the ZTE scandal as approving authority. And it is because of this that some foreign agencies have already made known that they would be uncomfortable discussing official development assistance (ODA) with Paderanga in charge.

The administration and the nominee can persist and face the allegations in the confirmation process in Congress. There they will be confronted by the objectors and legislators who will surely grill the nominee.

The more prudent course is for the administration to seriously review the nomination and examine the brief against Paderanga. If as seems to be the case, there is substance to the objections, the administration should withdraw his name. Or better still, Paderanga should withdraw and make way for President Aquino to nominate and appointment someone who is less ethically challenged.

New Customs Chief scored over golf dishonesty, vows to target 'name droppers'

Here are a couple of news bits I picked up from the Inquirer and Philippine Star.

Inquirer: Sotto wants Customs Chief Alvarez fired for cheating in golf.
Senator Tito Sotto III is asking President Aquino aka PNoy to revoke his appointment of  Angelito Alvarez as Customs Commissioner for cheating in golf.
According to a report, Alvarez was suspended from playing at the Alabang club for six months as well as from participating in the Mango Tee tournament for five years.
Sotto said: "If the President wants to have a clean image in Customs, he should not put someone there with a record of dishonesty."  "It's a gentleman's sport becasue you tend to play alone and that's why it's important to be honest."  "This game shows the character and strength of a person."
Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa has downplayed Alvarez golfing flub and Alvarez has asked that he be given a chance to prove himself through his "collection card".

Philippine Star: Alvarez has trained his sights on "influence peddlers" or "name droppers"
Apparently, the MICP and the ports of Limay, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Clark failed to meet their targets.
MICP collected only P27.62 billion for the first half of the year as against its target of P28.06 billion.
Port officials, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said the collection shortfall may be due to the fact that smugglers connected to the previous administration might have doubled their shipments prior to the elections.
The BOC chief said barely three days after he was sworn in as commissioner, he already received reports that unscrupulous persons have started making the rounds of Customs stakeholders to inform them that they are well-connected with people in the new administration.
The Customs chief said there will be no preferential treatment for companies operating at the waterfront particularly because he used to be president of the freight-forwarding company Airfreight 21 Inc.
“In fact, since I am closely associated with Air21 and FedEx, this preferential treatment will even be disadvantageous to these companies because all eyes will be on them, on us,” he said. “If I give preferential treatment to these two companies, I’m sure the industry would create a big howl so it will be a disadvantage for them.”

My reaction:  Golf is stupid and anyone who says that this game is a game of character is even more stupid.  And more to the point, WHY THE HELL DID YOU MORONS VOTE FOR SOTTO?

As for "name droppers and influence peddlers", Alvarez conveniently has scapegoats for smuggling and that is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo et al.

I doubt it if people these days will still be dropping names associated with the previous administration and MORE TO THE POINT, I'd like to see Alvarez go after those who may use the name of PNoy or any body associated with him.

Right now there is a story going around that PNoy has received quite a lot of gifts, among them might be a couple of 7 series BMWs.  Do you really think these "gifts" are free?

Another point is, while the Customs is one of those agencies functioning under the attrition law and it has been accused of setting its targets at unrealistically low levels.  Even if it does reach its targets set in accordance with the Attrition Law, it doesn't follow that smuggling has been minimized.  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Walang Corrupt DAW: Former PSE Chair says NEDA appointee Paderanga UNFIT for post

(Reposted note from Lamang Lupa.  This may become a reason why 'Walang mahirap kung walang corrupt' will be revealed as mere sloganeering. If it's all the same to you, Let's just bring back Romulo Neri.)

Stockbroker Vivian Yuchengco, former chairman of the Philippine Stock Exchange, has joined the opposition to the appointment of Cayetano Paderanga Jr as economic planning secretary and NEDA secretary-general. She disclosed over the weekend that Paderanga had also been dismissed as president of the PSE.

Yuchengco said that Paderanga served the PSE for only six months in 2004, the shortest stint in its history. “He never came to work; so we forced him to resign,” she said.

Upon investigation, the PSE discovered that Paderanga was holding three jobs simultaneously: president and CEO of the PNOC Management Development Corp., president of CIBI Information Inc., and president of the PSE.

Paderanga’s appointment was earlier questioned by former foreign secretary and former CIBI chairman Roberto Romulo. He disclosed that the appointee was asked to resign by the CIBI board for failing, among other transgressions, to pay tax liabilities and employees’ withholding taxes to the BIR during his watch. “This caused our company millions; the violation is a penal offense,” he revealed.

Romulo said he was making the disclosure as a matter of public interest. “His poor record in the private sector renders him unfit for the highly sensitive post at NEDA,” he said.

In addition to the two dismissals by private companies, a former top official of the BSCP and Monetary Board is also questioning the Paderanga appointment, according to Manila Standard columnist Vic Agustin. He disclosed that Paderanga’s stint in the MB was marred by improper use of confidential data of the monetary authorities.

Critics of the Paderanga appointment said that their opposition stems from the important role of NEDA in our economic affairs. “It was precisely because of Romulo Neri’s leadership of NEDA that he got embroiled in the ZTE scandal,” they said. “The post figures prominently in major projects of the government.” #

How to be an influential blogger...


So...  

There I was standing in front of a rather wide mirror and thinking it was rather funny that some bloggers are so convinced that they are influencing the course of public opinion through their writing.

Apart from my self, there are bloggers out there that think that people actually read what they write and then think or act in accordance to what they've written.

Like, what kind of twisted thinking would have one believe that what they write actually does that?  Even the Holy Bible doesn't claim that and some parts of this book were written by God Himself through dictation.

Oh brother!

Friday, July 09, 2010

PNoy on Cito Lorenzo


Just because Cito Lorenzo’s brother Martin donated millions of Pesos in Aquino’s sorties does not exempt him from charges of PLUNDER…”  
Former Agriculture Secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo Jr. should be charged with plunder along with former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante and other officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the alleged P728-million fertilizer fund scam, former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. said on Thursday… 
Magsaysay said that a joint investigation in 2005 to 2006 by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, which he headed, and the blue-ribbon committee headed by Sen. Joker Arroyo showed that Lorenzo was a “principal” in the scan where the funds meant for farmers were used to buy substandard and overpriced fertilizers and other farm inputs.”

This is what President Noynoy Aquino said in his inaugural speech and in the coming days, we will see if he was indeed committed to walking his talk.

Inaasahan natin sila sa pagsupil ng korapsyon sa loob mismo ng burukrasya. Sa mga itinalaga sa paraang labag sa batas, ito ang aking babala: sisimulan natin ang pagbabalik ng tiwala sa pamamagitan ng pag-usisa sa mga ‘midnight appointments.’

Sana ay magsilbi itong babala sa mga nag-iisip na ipagpatuloy ang baluktot na kalakarang nakasanayan na ng marami. Sa mga kapuspalad nating mga kababayan, ngayon, ang pamahalaan ang inyong kampeon.

To those who are talking about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: there can be no reconciliation without justice.
....

Kung dati ay may fertilizer scam, ngayon ay may kalinga nang tunay para sa mga magsasaka. Tutulungan natin sila sa irigasyon, extension services, at sa pagbenta ng kanilang produkto sa pinakamataas na presyong maaari.

Inaatasan natin ang papasok na Kalihim Alcala na magtayo ng mga trading centers kung saan diretso na ang magsasaka sa mamimili – lalaktawan na natin ang gitna, kasama na ang kotong cop. Sa ganitong paraan, ang dating napupunta sa gitna ay maari nang paghatian ng magsasaka at mamimili. Gagawin nating kaaya-aya sa negosyante ang ating bansa.

....
Sa paglimot ng pagkakasala, sinisigurado mong mauulit muli ang mga pagkakasalang ito. Secretary de Lima, you have your marching orders. Begin the process of providing true and complete justice for all. Ikinagagalak din naming ibahagi sa inyo ang pagtanggap ni dating Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. sa hamon ng pagtatag at pamumuno sa isang Truth Commission na magbibigay linaw sa maraming kahinahinalang isyu na hanggang ngayon ay walang kasagutan at resolusyon.

Ang sinumang nagkamali ay kailangang humarap sa hustisya. Hindi maaaring patuloy ang kalakaran ng walang pananagutan at tuloy na pang-aapi

Speed test on Smartbro



I'm just saying, if there's a way to improve this, it ought to be done.

MTV VJ Sarah Meier charged with estafa

Days before the estafa case was filed, Justin Meier's mother's home had been broken into and it seems too coincidental that the break-in has coincided moves made to file the estafa case.

We do hope that Justin is safe and remains safe.

Model, Former MTV Personality Charged with Estafa in Connection with Younger Brother’s Inheritance

Model and former MTV VJ Sarah Meier has been named in an estafa case in Imus, Cavite, accused of withholding the share of her late father’s estate from her younger half-brother Justin Meier.

The criminal complaint, which also names Meier’s mother Josephine Go-Meier as a co-defendant, accuses the former MTV Philippines host of collecting her late father’s HSBC account in the Isle of Jersey without informing her brother’s guardian or distributing his portion of the proceeds, in violation of an agreement reached to settle a lawsuit filed by the boy’s mother on his behalf in 2006.

Meier’s father, the late Antoine Meier, was a Swiss national and long-time resident of the Philippines who died in Switzerland in early 2004 without leaving a valid will. In 2005, Meier and her mother Josephine, Antoine Meier’s estranged wife, applied for and received a Letter of Administration in the Isle of Man, where most of Antoine Meier’s financial assets were deposited, giving them control over Meier’s estate and naming Meier, her mother, and brothers Albert and Justin as the beneficiaries.

Despite initial assurances to Justin’s mother that she would provide an accounting and turn over Justin’s share of his father’s estate, Meier and her mother later maintained that he was not named as a beneficiary, prompting the filing of civil case 0866-06 in the RTC of Imus, Cavite against them.

A compromise agreement was reached to resolve the case in 2007, resulting in a share of a Friends Provident insurance policy being paid to Justin, with two additional accounts, the HSBC account that is the subject of the present criminal complaint as well as a Scottish Provident trust fund in excess of 200,000 British pounds, to be distributed when information about them became available. Upon learning from HSBC that Sarah had withdrawn the disputed account to her personal Citibank account in New York, in violation of the civil case compromise agreement, a charge of estafa was filed against her and her mother.

According to Justin Meier’s legal representative, an additional estafa case concerning the larger Scottish Provident trust fund is being prepared and will be filed “very soon.” In addition, Meier and her mother are also named in a civil complaint initiated by the Swiss government through their Makati embassy, alleging the pair failed to report the late Antoine Meier’s assets to his government and demanding repayment of several thousand Swiss francs’ worth of public assistance paid to Meier prior to his death in 2004.
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