Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The kind of publicity Rene Villa, et al want

The kind of publicity 
Rene Villa, et al want

"What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself."
Abraham Lincoln 

By Alex P. Vidal

If we think Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Chairman Rene Villa is embarrassed by latest report that he had professional links with jailed bogus NGO organizer Janet Lim-Napoles, we can be dead wrong.
Villa, who could not win a congressional seat as long as the Defensor father and son -- Iloilo Gov. Arthur Sr. and Rep. Arthur "Toto" Jr. -- are lording over the third district of Iloilo, must be enjoying the kind of publicity he has been reaping in the national media these past days.
Touted as one of the most brilliant Ilonggo lawyers to ever serve the cabinet during the time of President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; and now in the cabinet of President Nonoy Aquino, Villa's admission that he once served as Napoles' lawyer and financial adviser is not actually a mortal sin.

Nobody gets jailed or stripped of his dignity for counseling a charlatan in the past. Nobody loses his job for waltzing with a Madame Bovary or a Lady Chatterley. Any politician worth his salt in Villa's shoes today would prance around the paddock if given the same opportunity to expound on his ties with a high profile inmate in national media.
The kind of publicity that Villa is enjoying in the Napoles l'affaire is the kind of publicity that most politicians want--and need! 
Notwithstanding the eerie tag and freakish notoriety attached to her name, Napoles can still be considered now as a celebrity in her own right--and a national figure to boot. 
To be linked to Napoles in a not-so-scandalous fashion isn't an outright kiss of death. It may, a little bit, dampen a public servant's bid for an Order of Sikatuna award, but not his political career. 


In a country where popularity is convertible to elective government post, the more you are mentioned in media--and the controversy you are embroiled with is endlessly tackled in prime time and headline news, the more that your name-recall edge will be amplified and sharpened. Voters will easily remember you during election period whether you belong in the reel or real world.
It is easy to decipher if Villa detested the Napoles link publicity. If he refused to elaborate further, that means he was uncomfortable in the "hot seat" he was in. But if he was willing to talk and share willingly what he knew and in the mood to flash his brilliancy in the Q and A arena, you can bet he was in the joy ride. 


The late former House Speaker Jose M. Aldeguer (Nacionalista Party, Iloilo 5th district) would reportedly pay radio block time talents to lambast him on air. Aldeguer believed that if no one was attacking him as a public official, he was not doing his job; that means he was lousy and irrelevant. 
The late former Senator and Iloilo City Mayor Rodolfo "Roding" T. Ganzon considered bad publicity and criticism as "good" if leveled against a politician. 
"They (my political opponents and media) can say anything they want under the sun against me as a public servant. I will not complain. Basta indi lang sila mag alegar nga putyong ako because only my wife has the right to say that," enthused Ganzon, the "Stormy Petrel of the South."
Fans and admirers of Chairman Rene Villa should relax and enjoy the show.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I'll write a speech for you again in heaven, sir Ed

I'll write a speech for 
you in heaven, sir Ed

"To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure."  J.K. ROWLING

By Alex P. Vidal

Eduardo "Edddie" G. Laczi was already a household name in the 80's and Ilonggos fell in love with his advocacy in his pro-poor "Ikaw Kabuhi Ko" (You Are My Life) program on Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) TV-12 where he was the station manager during the Marcos era.
I had the opportunity to serve briefly the late very popular broadcast media personality not during his salad days in the now sequestered IBC TV-12 and dyBQ Radyo Budyong, but during his stint at the Iloilo City Council in the early 90s.
It was then Vice Mayor Dr. Guillermo "Doc Guiling" dela Llana who "hired" me with a specific task to write speeches for the two city bigwigs very dear to him: Laczi and Atty. Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III, now the incumbent vice mayor of Iloilo City.
I was initially hesitant to accept the job since it would mean a conflict of interest, being one of the founding officers of the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps (ICHPC) in 1993. But after Doc Guiling explained the parameters of my tasks for the two aldermen, we inked the deal.
Because both Laczi and Espinosa III chaired powerful committees and needed to collaborate with Dela Llana on the legislative branch's budget and appropriations, their hands were full. They were also active officers of private organizations engaged in charity works and community assistance--Laczi with the Lions Club and Espinosa III with the Rotary Club. 


I ended up writing their speeches for these clubs, among their other private duties and functions, and helping their staff draft resolutions and ordinances. 
Despite wearing two hats at the same time, I did not renege on my obligation as a journalist. When the Royal London Circus controversy erupted in 1993, I joined my fellow beat reporters in writing critical articles and lambasted the entire members of the city council -- including Vice Mayor Dela Llana, Laczi and Espinosa.
We thought it was a moral obligation to inform the public that the city government did not benefit when the local legislature approved a resolution giving tax breaks for the globetrotting international performers who amassed gargantuan profits in entertaining the Ilonggos for several weeks at the vacant space of the Iloilo Diversion Road.
The furor created a whirlpool of disgust and disenchantment between media and city officials; and, for a while, seared their otherwise cordial relationship. 


Instead of slamming the door on us, Laczi, a veteran broadcast TV journalist during the Marcos years, cautioned his colleagues, especially the impatient Councilor Rolando Dabao, "not to be onion-skinned as they are only doing their job." In face of imminent embarrassment and public censure after being severely assailed in media, Laczi could afford to show a soft spot for his former peers in the industry that made him a public icon.  
Aside from Laczi, four other incumbent city councilors at that time were also former members of the Fourth Estate: the late Suzanne Pastrana (Laczi's subordinate in IBC 12), the late Melchor Nava, Dr. Perla S. Zulueta (Laczi's partner in the IBC 12 newscast), and Restituto "Agent Kurantay" Jotis.
Laczi and former city legal chief, Atty. Jose Junio Jacela, who was also city councilor at that time, asked my publisher Marcos Villalon, their colleague in the Lions Club, to invite me as member before his three terms in the city council expired in 2001.


Our colleague, Florence "Enciang" Hibionada, who visited Laczi in the hospital in Connecticut, USA two weeks earlier, broke the news of Laczi's demise in Facebook: "Rest In Peace Boss. EAGLELOVE SIGNING OFF. A phrase that once meant he is done for the day is back again, yet this time telling us he is really done. 
"Eduardo G. Laczi, the only man I call 'Boss' has passed on. After about two years of cancer battle, word came today that Boss is 'gone.' Tomorrow this world is one less good man whose life has amazingly touched and reached out to countless others. 
"All battles need not be won. Sometimes, like this time, it is more than enough to have put up a good fight. And so I share this few words to all who care to read, asking for prayers that in this most difficult and hurting of time, the entire Laczi family be comforted. That his wife, Tita Fatima and children Sal, Don, Ian and Nina find strength. That those who had wronged him particularly the time he served the Iloilo City Government be sorry, and find in their hearts and conscience to pray hardest for forgiveness. 
"Boss has made me the journalist that I am now, or at least the good journalist in me. He knew I was going to love being one even before I realize I could be one. For that and all that he is in my life, I am forever grateful. Rest In Peace Boss."  
According to veteran radioman and now US-based Leo Dumagat, Laczi made his official "sign off" at around 1:45 in the afternoon New York time last Oct. 27. Farewell, sir Ed. I'll write a speech for you again in heaven. Fly and soar high, the Eagle!

Brgy. Chairman Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

"Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe."  Theodore Roosevelt 

By Alex P. Vidal

THERE was no neuro test required when candidates for barangay elections filed their certificates of candidacy, so we can't expect that all winners in the October 28 elections are sane.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should be empowered to cancel or to declare as null and void the victory of any barangay official--chairman or councilman-- found to be unfit mentally or with serious case of neurosis. 
So many cases of insanity involving barangay officials have been recorded in the past. 
Instead of becoming an asset to the smallest political unit in the country, elected barangay officials with brain damage have become thorns and liabilities.
We remember one case in Iloilo City where a punong barangay or village chief missed a lot of opportunities to serve his constituents because he had to spend much of his time in the psychiatric ward of the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in the early 90s.


In one media gathering held at the RPTA Hall of the old Iloilo provincial capitol sometime in December 1992, a deranged village chief suddenly barged inside and threatened to throw a grenade to the crowd. 
Broadcaster Sol Genson pacified the lunatic and convinced him to leave the premises. 
He listened to Sol, his drinking buddy at Virgo night club.
Earlier when the late Pres. Cory Aquino appointed Rosa "Tita" Caram as OIC city mayor in April 1986, another lunatic village chief asked the first lady mayor in Iloilo City to extend the route of Dinagyang tribes to Port San Pedro "so that people of Guimaras and Negros can watch the event." 
Caram dismissed his "crazy" idea.    
A village chief in Jaro district always brought a monkey in the barangay hall because "the monkey had helped me a lot when I won in the Who Wants to be a Millionaire show." 
He accused a barangay councilman of poisoning the monkey, who died under a mysterious circumstance. 
The lunatic village chief wanted to bury the animal at Christ The King Cemetery using barangay funds. 
"I oppose!" shouted the barangay councilman, the suspect in the monkey's death, who came to our office at Sun Star to report the "abuse of authority."


Former Iloilo Gov. Sim Grino had to ask the help of provincial tourism officer Manny Benedicto to escort a disoriented village chief from Dumangas back from capitol to the lunatic's municipality because he kept on addressing Gov. Grino as "Congressman Monfort" and refused to leave the governor's office.
"Indi ako si Narsing (4th district Rep. Narciso Monfort). Si Sim ako. Gob Sim Grino kapila ka na gid hambalan (I am Gov. Sim Grino and I have already told you this repeatedly)," an irate Grino ribbed the village chief.  
"Lakat ta kap makadto ta kay Narsing (Come kapitan, we will go to Narsing)," Benedicto told the village chief.  
This is the most common dilemma of people in the barangay. 
Because vote-buying is now rampant even in the barangay level, it is easy to elect hoodlums and mentally deranged as officials.  
If a punong barangay is not drug addict, he is a drug pusher. If he is not engaged in selling of drugs, he is engaged in illegal gambling and maintenance of prostitution dens--or in cahoots with operators of these illegal activities. 
Or he is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

God allowed 'pork' to teach us a lesson

God allowed 'pork' to teach us a lesson

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth."   ROMANS 1:18 

By Alex P. Vidal

We cannot blame God for the acts of men. The "pork barrel" scandal is an act of man; therefore, God should have nothing to do with it.
But could God have prevented "pork barrel"? Either He wanted to stop it but could not, or He wanted to stop it but did not. Perhaps, God allowed "pork barrel" to unleash its wrath on the Filipino people to teach us a lesson as we have apparently become a nation of apathy, greed and neglect.
We neglected our fundamental duties and responsibilities to elect competent and honest leaders by selling our votes to the highest political bidders. We push these ruffians in government to steal by being in cahoots with them in age-old moral malady called patronage politics. We scratch their backs, they scratch ours. We fool each other.


We rely everything on politicians and oblige them to underwrite even petty domestic expenses that fall under our responsibilities as members of the working class. Because of our callousness, we created our own Frankensteins and call them "honorable" ladies and gentlemen.
We could see a strongly-worded pastoral letter that condemns the misuse of "pork barrel" in a giant billboard located on the left side when we enter the Santuario Nacional de Nuestra SeƱora de la Candelaria or Jaro Cathedral in Jaro, Iloilo City.
The pastoral letter considers the misappropriation of "pork barrel" funds amounting to billions of pesos mostly by our lawmakers as "also a sin against God."


The "pork barrel" fiasco is supposed to be an affair of the state and our constitution clearly prohibits the church from interfering in the affairs of the state vice versa.
But the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) believes that the separation of Church and State does not prohibit moral ethical values from influencing public policies. 
If governance were conducted from a platform that disregards ethics and morality, CBCP says it only exposes our nation to greater peril and "we have only ourselves to blame and we make ourselves the victims of our own amoral conduct."


We are actually partly to blame for the sins of thieves in government because their mandates emanate from us. Sin is a religious term and refers to man's offense against God. It has no meaning apart from the awareness of God's holiness and majesty. And since it is essentially not a legal or moral term, there is no sense of sin, no matter what a person may do or fail to do, if there is lacking in awareness.
We can always pray for Divine Intervention to abolish "pork barrel" like what the CBCP is doing when it spearheads the "Abolish the Pork Barrel, Now Na" movement, but we must not forget that we are part and parcel of the king-sized monster that has eaten up the moral fiber of our leaders; and God will help us only if we help our own selves first.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pinoy nurses in grisly Chicago crimes

Pinoy nurses in grisly Chicago crimes

"Successful crimes alone are justified."  JOHN DRYDEN 

Top row from left: Gloria Davy, Patricia Matusek, Valentina Paison,
Merlita Garguilo; bottom row from left: Mary Ann Jordan, Nina Schmale, Pamela 
Wilkening, Suzanne Farris
By Alex P. Vidal

Crime stories in Chicago have always fascinated us. The recent cases of three Filipino nurses (one of them an Ilonggo from Oton, Iloilo) -- two murder victims and one the alleged perpetrator of a sexual crime--in Chicago, Illinois, brought us back to the "crime of the century" that happened 47 years ago where two Filipina nurses were butchered beyond recognition by a drunken rapist. 
A year after she was brutally murdered, police have not yet solved the murder of Virginia “Virgie” Perillo, 72, who worked as nurse for 40 years at the Rush University Medical Center. She was robbed before being killed in her garage in Brideport, Chicago.
Another Chicago resident, Juanario “John” Rosas, 51, was murdered in Pearland, Texas in September allegedly by his lover Courtney Grace King, 22; and Damien Lucas Salinas, 23, both of Houston.
Most recently, Dioscoro Flores, 39, a male nurse from Oton, Iloilo, was nabbed for sexual abuse of a paralyzed soldier at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Flores' alleged victim is a US war veteran who became quadriplegic and cannot speak following a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was being held on a $50,000 bail. 


Their cases actually paled in comparison to what happened to three Filipina exchange student nurses evening on July 13, 1966 inside a dormitory on 2319 East 100th Street (I regularly passed by this street on my way to the Union Station). 
Corazon Pieza Amurao, 23, of San Luis, Batangas; Valentina P. Pasion, 24, of Jones, Isabela; and Merlita Ornedo Gargullo, 22, of Naujan, Mindoro were among the nine student nurses attacked by a lone assailant, Richard Franklin Speck, a drifter from Texas, inside the dormitory. Only Amurao survived.
Pamela Lee Wilkening, 22, of Lansing; and Nina Jo Schmale, 24, of Wheaton, both in Illinois were raped and killed. The others who suffered multiple stab wounds and strangulation were Patricia A. Matusek, 21, Mary Ann Jordan, 20, and Suzanne Bridget Farris, 21, all of Chicago; and Gloria J. Davy, 22, of Dyer, Indiana.
According to US-based Fil-Am journalist Joseph Lariosa, who interviewed Jack G. Wallenda, the first Chicago police homicide detective to arrive at the crime scene, the incident chipped away at the conventional wisdom of accommodating an armed intruder instead of putting up a resistance to survive. Amurao and Gargullo tried to loosen their hands and Amurao whispered to others that when she freed herself, she could pick up a steel bunk ladder and hit the man with it. They could have leaped on him and overpowered him. 
Lariosa said they could have done this when Speck was stripping the bed sheets to use them to tie their hands and ankles as he laid his gun aside. But the rest told them to keep still as they accommodated Speck’s demand to give him $38 as he was heading to New Orleans. 


Although a sneeze away from getting detected, Lariosa said two things that saved Amurao’s life were her foresight and her pure luck when Speck lost count. As Speck took Gargullo out of the bunk bed from the room and stabbed and killed her in another room as he had done with the rest, leaving Davy on top of the bunk bed and Amurao under the bunk bed, Amurao summoned all her strength to wiggle herself towards the bunk bed earlier occupied by Gargullo. So that when Speck returned to look at Amurao’s previous location and saw it empty, Speck thought that Davy was the last in the room.  She then climbed out of the bedroom window onto a ledge and screamed that her friends were all dead.
The next day, Amurao fled a scene of such great carnage that it made veteran cops and police reporters vomit. 
Detectives would find Davy dead on the sofa, naked and sexually assaulted. Upstairs, Wilkening had been gagged and stabbed through the heart. Farris was in a pool of blood, having been strangled with her own stockings and stabbed 18 times. Jordan was stabbed three times. Schmale was stabbed in a pattern around her broken neck. Paison's throat had been cut. Gargullo had been stabbed and strangled. Matusek was also strangled. The women had been so disfigured that the director of nurses was able to recognize only 3 of them.
According to Amurao, Speck, armed, had forced entry into the dormitory and tied up the women. She hid under a bed, forced to listen as he raped, beat, and killed each of her friends. His was an easy conviction, and Speck died in prison when suffered a heart attack in 1991. 


The case also demonstrated that individual rights take precedence over diplomatic niceties, added Lariosa. As the Philippine Consul General Generoso Provido in Chicago at the time wanted to provide legal assistance to Amurao, the young nurse diplomatically declined the offer after getting wind of the scheme that the Filipino American lawyer being recommended by Provido was more interested in getting a slice from money generated from rights to her story than protecting her legal rights. 
In a curt statement, Amurao issued the following statement: “It is my desire to make it clear that the memory of dear colleagues is of such character that I do not want to have it tainted by the acceptance by me of money or other personal benefit.” 
Aside from getting $5,000 out of the $10,000 reward money offered by the South Chicago Community Hospital leading to the solution of the case, Amurao has stuck by her word, resisting bids for her to sell her rights to her horrifying experience. 

Sue based on evidence, not on rivalry and hatred

Sue based on evidence, 
not on rivalry and hatred

"Look around. There are no enemies here. There's just good, old-fashioned rivalry."  BOB WELLS

By Alex P. Vidal

The acts of indiscriminately filing plunder and graft cases against incumbent public officials by losing candidates and frustrated politicians has become a fad nowadays.
Incumbent government officials who are recipients of these suits cry political harassment because the cases were filed either by their political rivals or supporters of their rivals in the most recent elections.
It is always easy for the accused to dismiss the actions of their accusers as "desperate" acts of vendetta and sour-graping because the public is more inclined to believe this type of defense mechanism. Nobody loves a loser. Victory, as the saying goes, has many fathers and defeat is an orphan.


The most recent congressional and local elections happened just four months ago and the scorching and bitter exchange of words between warring parties during the campaign period is still fresh in the memory of the constituents.
When a combatant falls in a close contest, it is usually the crestfallen who makes alibis and shouts highway robbery.  
So even if the cases filed in the Office of the Ombudsman against Senate President Frank Drilon, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, and Iloilo City Rep. Jerry P. Trenas appeared to be slambang and meritorious, they would still be tainted by an iota of doubt, suspicion and pessimism.
If the cases weren't filed by former TESDA chief Augusto "Buboy" Syjuco (against Drilon) and former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. (against Mabilog and Trenas) but by ordinary citizens with no known ax to grind, people would think that Drilon, Mabilog, and Trenas were really crooks and embezzlers.


We are not preempting the investigation being conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman here. Drilon, Mabilog, and Trenas might be found guilty or not guilty. If Syjuco, Gonzalez, and former Provincial Administrator Manuel "Boy M" Mejorada (against Drilon) have loaded guns and indisputable pieces of evidence, they could hack out a grand slam.
If they slapped the three highest Ilonggo public officials with Ombudsman cases only because they wanted to get even for the drubbing (except for Mejorada) they got in the May 13 polls, the cases might nosedive and won't merit any public outcry. 
Public support or opinion, however, cannot convict or acquit the accused. It's the weight of evidence that will do all the talking during the investigation, not whether the accused are popular and "more credible in the eyes of public"; not whether Drilon, Mabilog, and Trenas are the lesser evils.
It is best that the accuser goes to court with clean hands in particular, and file the cases based on strong evidence in general--not based on past political conflict and degree of hatred for someone who inflicted the accuser a swashbuckling electoral defeat his ego and conscience cannot accept. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

'Pork' criminals are still free: Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

"Luzviminda, wake up. Don't lose your mind."  FREDDIE AGUILAR in "Luzviminda" song

By Alex P. Vidal

Several months after the looting of our natural treasury via "pork barrel" scam was exposed, the gangsters and hoodlums in the SIN-nate and House of Representa-THIEVES have not been placed behind bars despite the formal filing of plunder cases against them by the Department of Justice before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Chances are, many of them will even manage to get off the hook and continue to laugh their way to the banks-- given the apparent squalid and rotten type of justice system we are having in this country.
They have already stolen billions of pesos of taxpayers money and built mansions left and right; deposited wads of cash using fictitious names if not dummies in different banks here and abroad; collected mistresses like they gathered souvenir items; acquired jewelry and fleet of expensive cars; and amassed mind-boggling wealth at the expense of ordinary laborers and other low-paying hand-to-mouth workers who break their bones and risk their lives to eke out a decent living, but continue to wallow in abject poverty.


They are still scot-free; some of them even appear on radio and TV talk shows laughing and giggling as if they have attained the status of rock star celebrities. They continue to make junkets abroad as if they are pristine and immaculate statesmen. Thieves and idiots in coat and tie representing the Philippines in conventions and shaking hands in photo-ops with state leaders from all over the world. 
No arrest means no justice. Justice delayed is justice denied. When justice is on death throes, democracy will die. A dead democracy means a decaying society.
A mass of silent but angry majority is getting impatient. Their disgust is slowly developing into a lava that threatens to overflow and cascade; a social volcano itching to erupt at any given time. Bastille circa 2014?
“Bread, more bread, and not so many words” was the battle cry of Paris women while heckling the National Assembly before the French Revolution.


In social media, gatherings of opinion makers and kibitzers, barber shops, coffee shops and student fora, emotions flare up; people cannot countenance the brazenness and blatant display of arrogance and insensitivity of crooks in government who continue to commit pillage notwithstanding the public flak and uproar hammered out by the non-stop anti-"pork barrel" publicity.
Even ordinary people in the streets are belting out this philosophical question: "Can you hear the drums, Fernando?"
Drums goading citizens to wake up and hear the sirens of mass movement; to rise up against tyrants and hooligans holding key and powerful positions in the Kingdom of Pork Barrel.


ABBA sank a deep message in the heart in a song: 
"Can you hear the drums Fernando? 
Do you still recall the frightful night we crossed the Rio Grande? 
I can see it in your eyes. How proud you were to fight for freedom in this land.
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though I never thought that we could lose
There's no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

El Lute and our social injustice

El Lute and our social injustice

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."  ELIE WIESEL 

By Alex P. Vidal

If we steal two hens or peanut butter and bread and we get caught, we will be hauled off to jail like El Lute, Spain's most wanted criminal in the 60's. 
If the likes of Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, and Tito Sotto steal hundreds of millions of pesos from the taxpayers and get caught, they are awarded with movie contracts, get to smile while doing privilege speeches, and hailed as heroes.  
This is the face of the double standard of justice in the Philippines. Only small fries get bamboozled; the barracudas and reptiles always get away with murder!
On TV, radio and newspapers we regularly monitor street waifs and juveniles being pummeled with police truncheons and locked in overcrowded jails for robbery and other petty crimes. But our SIN-nators and representa-THIEVES, our thick-faced politicians, who plundered and impoverished the nation, get only a rap in the knuckles.


Only in the Philippines where criminals hide under the mantle of "immunity from suits"; where dolts in government can tilt the justice on their own favor by using backdoor influence and arm-twisting tactics like threats and bribery.
Only in the Philippines where powerful politicians live in lavish lifestyles like Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette; where large scale thievery and debauchery involving the public coffer is tolerated like a simple jaywalking misdemeanor; where an ordinary man gets a raw deal if he violates the law or happens to cross path with the mighty and famous.
A deprived and hungry Filipino foraging for food and seeking equal treatment of social justice in this benighted land is the equivalent of El Lute or Eleuterio Sanchez Rodriguez.


Once listed as Spain's "most wanted" criminal, El Lute, an illiterate peasant, was sentenced to death for armed robbery and for a murder he did not commit in 1965. He fought his conviction and maintained his innocence while in military custody thus his sentence was commuted to 30 years in a military prison.
He became an urban legend, people sympathized with him because the crimes he committed were "peanuts" compared to the rapacity of the oligarchs in their land who were never prosecuted despite their notoriety.


The lyrics of Boney M's 1979 hit song reconciled it best: 
"This is the story of El Lute
A man who was born to be hunted like a wild animal
Because he was poor
But he refused to accept his fate
And today his honor has been restored
He was only nineteen
And he was sentenced to die
For something that somebody else did
And blamed on El Lute
Then they changed it to life
And so he could escape
From then on they chased him
And searched for him day and night
all over Spain
But the search was in vain for El Lute
He had only seen the dark side of life
The man they called El Lute
And he wanted a home just like you and like me
In a country where all would be free
So he taught himself to read and to write
It didn't help El Lute
He was one who had dared to escape overnight
They had to find El Lute
Soon the fame of his name
Spread like wild fire all over the land
With a price on his head
People still gave him bread
And they gave him a hand
For they knew he was right
And his fight was their fight
No one gave him a chance
In the Spain of those days
On the walls every place they had put up
The face of El Lute
And he robbed where he could just like once Robin Hood
They finally caught him and
That seemed the end
But they caught him in vain
Cause a change came for Spain
And El Lute
He had only seen the dark side of life
The man they called El Lute
And he wanted a home just like you and like me
In a country where all would be free
And then freedom really came to his land
And also to El Lute
Now he walks in the light of a sunny new day
The man they called El Lute."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Politicians will wipe us out, not earthquake

Politicians will wipe us 
out, not earthquake

"Learn to see in another's calamity the ills which you should avoid."  Publilius Syrus 

By Alex P. Vidal

Graft and corruption on a massive scale, not earthquake, will destroy the Philippines. If we are prepared, protected and safe from where we are sleeping, sitting or standing when disasters like flash flood, fire and earthquake strike, we have strong chances of survival. 
Since alertness and presence of mind are crucial in any emergency situation, not all will die. Not all will end up in scratches, destitution or dire straits. But with dishonest leaders and corrupt politicians, nobody is safe. Everyone is loser.  
Plunderers in government rob us of our lifetime fortune and strip us of our dignity; rapacious "pork barrel" scam artists run away not only with our hard-earned money, but also steal the future of our children. The mayhem is horrifically scandalous and in colossal scale.


After the destruction, rich countries and concerned citizens around the world will gather their resources together and chip in to help the victims rebuild their lives and the infrastructure; the government will set aside special funds for food and shelter so they can go back to their normal lives after burying their dead and erecting their temporary houses. Life must go on.
It's always embedded in human psyche to help and commiserate when others are in deep crisis and sorrow. Assistance from foreign and domestic sources is inevitable. Filipinos are known for their ability to quickly recover from any catastrophe.
But for a nation robbed and raped by scoundrels in government, it will take years before it can bring back wasted opportunity to distribute the national wealth in the form of taxes paid by people for improvement of their lives, social security and delivery of basic needs because the money went to the pockets of rascals and hoodlums we mistakenly elected in public offices.


Meanwhile, those who perished during natural calamities were usually in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most of those killed in the recent Central Visayas earthquake were children and elderly pinned to death by concrete and heavy walls and ceilings that collapsed, or they failed to come out from their obliterated houses. Destruction during calamities is usually "to whom it may concern."
There are fears that in the future, the Philippines may be depopulated by natural calamities such as typhoon and earthquake as the country sits in a precarious location in the Far East prone to super howlers and powerful tremors. Experts say earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation occur along the plate boundaries where the Philippine islands stand.
Before it can happen, our corrupt politicians have already started to depopulate us, to impoverish us with their insatiable greed for "pork barrel" and other forms of graft and corrupt practices. Our politicians are the worst catastrophe to bedevil the nation. God, please save the Philippines. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Quake church ravage: Iloilo 1948; Bohol 2013

Quake church ravage: 
Iloilo 1948; Bohol 2013

“Once you have been in an earthquake you know, even if you survive without a scratch, that like a stroke in the heart, it remains in the earth's breast, horribly potential, always promising to return, to hit you again, with an even more devastating force." SALMAN RUSHDIE

By Alex P. Vidal

What happened to the most hollowed churches in Bohol Oct. 15 also happened in Iloilo 65 years ago.
Our late high school English teacher Segundina Javellana of Jaro, Iloilo City once shared to us a story about the destruction of Jaro belfry, when super earthquake named "Lady Caycay" hit Panay Island early morning of January 26, 1948. It brought to tears then Iloilo City Mayor Vicente Ybiernas and the prelates of Archdiocese of Jaro, she recalled.
"That was the year when the city's architecture was starting to be influenced by international styles, and Jaro belfry was gaining international fame because of its unique design," Mrs. Javellana narrated. "Mayor Ybiernas could not believe what he saw: ruins of the most magnificent structure in Jaro built during the Spanish era."
Ybiernas just inherited the reigns of the "City of Love" from future Vice President Fernando Lopez by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 158/Republic Act 365 (Dominador Jover was the last to be appointed as Iloilo city mayor in 1954 before future Senator Rodolfo Ganzon became the first elected city mayor in 1955-1959).


The belfry otherwise known as "campanario", or belltower is a given fixture of every Catholic church and houses the bells, which basically toll the hours and call the faithful to mass, and announce important religious events.
"The sight of the (Jaro) belfry ruins were so depressing," recalled Mrs. Javellana, then a high school student. "The procession (during the Candelaria de Jaro fiesta on February 2, 1948) was the saddest in history. We looked at the wrecked belfry with awful sadness and tears in our eyes as we passed by while praying the rosary."
Jaro and the entire Iloilo City, has not yet recovered from the World War II when the earthquake with magnitude of 8.2 on Richter scale, struck and devastated Spanish-era churches located mostly outside the city. No serious damage was reported in the City Proper except in some old buildings and a hotel on Blumentritt St. used as lair of Japanese "comfort women" (I revisited the place together with the crew of Noli de Castro's "Magandang Gabi Bayan" in the early 90's)." 


Religious fanatics attributed the belfry's collapse to superstition saying heaven was "mad" at Jaro for allowing its public plaza to be used as alternative detention area of Japanese battalions during World War II. Others blamed the "poor" restoration construction in 1831 when the campanario was heavily damaged by a strong earthquake on July 17, 1787. Augustinian friar, Fr. Jesse Alvarez supervised the reconstruction only in 1833.
The Jaro belfry, made of bricks and limestone blocks and was a three-storey tower 29 meters high, was not the only casualty of Lady Caycay's wrath. The churches of Leon, Oton, Alimodian, Cabatuan, Duenas, Dumangas, Guimbal, Lambunao, San Joaquin, as well as Molo and Arevalo districts also in Iloilo City, were also damaged.
"Much part of the province of Iloilo lies in soft ground and one of the possible reasons why the earthquake was called 'caycay' was due to the seeming chicken scratches on the ground caused of the numerous fissures especially in the low-lying part of the province, Fissures were observed along the roads from the town of Pototan to Dingle and along the Santa Barbara railroad tracks," reported the Research Center for Iloilo.
What happened in Iloilo also happened in Bohol. The magnitude 7.2 earthquake Oct. 15 also destroyed heritage churches in Bohol, site of the tremor's epicenter. It was also felt in Cebu, Negros and Panay. No major damage was reported in Iloilo and Guimaras. One hundred forty four people have been reported killed.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Marquez's nightmare with Vegas didn't start with Pacquiao, Bradley

Marquez's nightmare with Vegas 
didn't start with Pacquiao, Bradley 

"There's ups and downs with boxing, layoffs are part of the sport and they can either help or hurt a guy."
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. 

By Alex P. Vidal

Juan Manuel Marquez was always complaining that he could not win a decision in Las Vegas. He has to knock out his opponent to eke out a victory, he grumbled. He thought there was a grand conspiracy to rob him of victory and a racial undertone would always smear his disgust and pessimistic attitude. 
Nobody gave credence to his self-serving braggadocio when Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) protested his 2008 and 2011 points defeats to Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) in super featherweight and welterweight world title fisticuffs.
The 40-year-old Mexican legend also smelled rat in his 2004 split draw with Pacquiao for WBA super featherweight and IBF featherweight titles.  All three encounters that ended in 12 rounds were held in Las Vegas.
On several occasions, I personally interviewed Marquez and he had no qualms telling all and sundry that he was cheated in all the three Pacquiao duels "each time the fight was held in (Las) Vegas" even if Top Rank big boss Bob Arum was in the hearing distance. 


For fight fans, Marquez was a sore loser who packs not only dynamites in both fists, but truckloads of excuses and alibis for his sourgraping spree.
Until he shocked the world on December 8, 2012 with a smashing 6th round KO win over Pacquiao also in Las Vegas. And the world started to hold him with high esteem and respect.
When he was edged by Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs), 115-113, 116-112, 113-115 (split verdict) for WBO welterweight bauble at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas last October 12, Marquez was back to his old habit: sourgraping. 
“Once again we came prepared to give a good fight. I think the people saw a good performance and the judges did it again. We are happy with the performance. When you come to Vegas you need to get a knockout. The judges are more dangerous than the opponents. I want to thank all the Mexican people who came,” Marquez rued.


Marquez's nightmare with judges actually did not start when he yielded two of the three controversial decisions to Pacquiao. In fact, Las Vegas judges have been fair to Marquez, who was awarded with a unanimous decision when he defended his WBO NABO featherweight crown against Alfred Kotey on Nov. 22, 1997. In his first trip to Las Vegas on December 3, 1994, he didn't need the judges' cooperation when he disposed of Israel Gonzalez in the 4th round of an 8-rounder tiff.
Nevada state as a whole was kind and fair to him as he was also given another unanimous verdict against Darryl Pinckney in a 10-round non-title scraper on Oct. 19, 1996.


Marquez's frustration in Las Vegas began when he was outboxed and outshuttled by Freddie Norwood for WBA featherweight championship. After 12 rounds, all the three judges scored a unanimous decision in favor of Norwood: Artur Ellensohn, 112-117; Stanley Christodoulou, 111-115; Duane Ford 112-114.
After the Norwood debacle, Marquez rebounded with 13 straight victories (seven in Nevada) only to be slowed down by a 12-round split draw in a failed bid to grab Pacquiao's WBA and IBF belts on May 8, 2004.  Despite being downed three times, Marquez managed to give Pacquiao hell and escaped defeat. Scores: John Stewart, 110-115; Burt A. Clements, 113-113; Guy Jutras, 115-110. 
The draw left a bad taste in Marquez's mouth and his love-hate relationship with Nevada judges started to roll and escalate. In his frustration, he wanted to bring a loaded pistol in the ring to ensure that his rival will be brought out on a stretcher so the judges will have no more job to perform. 
Incidentally, when he lost by unanimous decision to Chris John for WBA featherweight title in Kutai Kartanegara, Indonesia on March 4, 2006, Marquez did not blame the judges.  He also shut up his mouth when Floyd Mayweather Jr. toyed with him and never gave him a chance to win a single round en route to a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision loss on September 19, 2009 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
There was no need to blame the judges as the score sheets spoke for themselves: Burt A. Clements, 107-120; Dave Moretti, 108-119; Bill Lerch, 109-118.

Friday, October 11, 2013



Food poisoning cases could
damage Iloilo's food tourism

"The symptoms of food poisoning often don't appear for days after the contaminated meal was eaten. As a result, most cases of food poisoning are never properly diagnosed."  ERIC SCHLOSSER

By Alex P. Vidal

The twin food-poisoning cases that rocked the metropolis these past two weeks, could damage Iloilo's food tourism industry if health authorities failed to cushion the impact of the negative incidents.
Although the two incidents appeared to be isolated and did not occur in big festivals or in food gatherings sanctioned by hotel and restaurant organizations and the Department of Tourism (DOT), the impact of their publicity in mass media, especially in internet, could wreak havoc on the food and drink industry here. The way authorities handle the situation is crucial for Iloilo's food tourism.
Those who heard and read the stories outside Iloilo don't really care if the poisoning happened in a milk tea restaurant or in a hotel and victimized several Korean nationals. The fact that 58 people were hospitalized in the milk tea restaurant in Smallville and 11 Korean language students were downed in Castle Hotel on Bonifacio Drive, City Proper, the stories could scare and alarm those intending to visit Iloilo especially the food and drink concessionaires intending to expand their businesses here.


A milk tea restaurant investor friend who just arrived from China, for instance, informed us recently she would not push through anymore with her expansion plan in Iloilo after she heard that several customers of Dakasai Milk Tea in Smalleville in Mandurriao landed in the hospital. 
She lamented that the Dakasai Milk Tea fiasco could affect future milk tea investors. "My investment could go down the drain," she feared. The Manila-based investor also expressed apprehensions of possible sabotage by business rivals if the restaurant is doing good.
The Department of Health (DOH), which released partial results of laboratory tests in the Dakasai Milk Tea incident, said patients may have suffered from salmonella infection. In the case of those who drank milk tea, DOH said the salmonella bacteria likely contaminated the egg pudding, one of the add-on ingredients in the concoction.


Meanwhile, authorities have not yet established officially the cause of food-poisoning that rattled the entire Korean community as of press time. No one was reported dead. The 11 patients had been released from St. Paul Hospital early morning of Oct. 9 where they were rushed several hours after the incident. They reportedly ate friend chicken for dinner on Oct. 8. 
Food poisoning is caused by ingesting food or drink that has been contaminated with either: chemicals such as insecticides or food toxins including fungi (poisonous mushrooms), or gastrointestinal infections of bacteria, viruses or parasites. Most people refer to food poisoning as covering any of those possible sources.
Health experts say the use of chemicals, fertilizers, manures etc. all have the potential to contaminate food as it is being grown. We have been warned not to expect that an item is washed before it leaves the farm.
Also, handling, storing and preparing foods are the most important areas to tackle in order to reduce the possibility of food contamination. If we eat out, health experts say, let's be sure to pay attention to the conditions of food and food service hygiene.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Will Garin's admission save his ass?

"Though silence is not necessarily an admission, it is not a denial, either."  MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO 

By Alex P. Vidal

Lawyer Ernie Dayot said that former Iloilo first district Rep. Oscar "Oca" Garin Sr. did the right thing when he recently confessed that most solons in the present and past congresses may have misused their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or "pork barrel" allocations.
Lawmakers who maliciously partook the infamous budget insertions needed extra funds to finance their poor constituents who regularly formed a queue in their district offices, said Garin. These needs include funeral, school, and hospital expenses.   
If we believe Garin, no one walked a saint in congress and no legislator would admit that he is Mr. Clean.
"At least he has the guts to admit something that his peers would never admit," quipped the 80-year-old Dayot who now resides in Brgy. Nanga, Guimbal.


Garin's confession was a big favor to himself because no one would accuse him now of being hypocrite. It's better than keeping his mouth shut while the whole country is up in arms against the abuse of pork barrel funds, added Dayot, who writes a regular column in the Visayan Tribune.
After serving for three terms, Garin passed the district's congressional baton to his daughter-in-law, Janette, who also served for three terms during the Arroyo administration.  
Janette, an advocate of Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, is now undersecretary of Department of Health. She was replaced in congress by her husband, Oscar "Richard" Jr., who has been mum about the PDAF brouhaha.
The Commission on Audit (COA), which uncovered an estimated loss of P10-billion from PDAF misused by some senators and congressmen through bogus NGOs run by Janet Napoles, is expected to submit a comprehensive audit report that covers 10 years of PDAF releases stretching in the past administrations. 


If Garin was among those who didn't spend their "pork barrel" funds for intended beneficiaries (except for school, funeral, and hospital expenses of his "poor" constituents in Guimbal, Igbaras, Oton, Miag-ao, San Joaquin, Tubungan and Tigbauan) in the past congresses,  he, too, could be liable for graft under the law -- if the COA report discovers his culpability.
Will his admission of "dishonesty" save him from the guillotine? Will that make him a lesser evil? We doubt. The mob is in lynching mood in the "pork barrel" tumult, and those who will set the guilty party free will equally feel the wrath of angry citizens. 
COA has asked fake NGOs and lawmakers who abused their "pork barrel" allocations to refund the government without prejudice to the plunder cases the Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed against some of them.
We all know that the COA demand is like wishing for the stars. No erring lawmaker is dumb enough to shell out a gargantuan amount from his own savings just to mollify the COA.  


Garin, et al are not stupid to sacrifice their own "hard-earned" money to refund the government. After all, a refund is not a modus vivendi or guarantee that those who pocketed the taxpayers' money will be spared from prosecution. 
Garin's statement, if executed in a formal affidavit, may be used by the Office of the Ombudsman as a weighing scale to determine the degree of crime committed by the respondents against the government. It may also help strengthen the cases against the accused. Based on his confession, Garin is not just an eye witness. He is part of the main cast.
When "pork barrel" was first introduced in the budget during the time of the late President Cory Aquino, it was known then as Countrywide Development Fund (CDF). Then PDAF, and now Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP). 
We are only talking about the rape of PDAF before DAP was unearthed belatedly. CDF could be the mother of all "pork barrel" scams.


IPC and city hall

"The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation." BERTRAND RUSSELL 

By Alex P. Vidal

The meeting between Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and officials of the Iloilo Press Club (IPC) led by Daily Guardian editor-in-chief Francis Allan Angelo in city hall last September 19, was symbolic.  It brought back the cordial ties between Mabilog and the club after a stormy relationship during the election period ignited by the candidacy for city mayor of a rich businessman who financed the construction of the building in Brgy. San Pedro, Molo, Iloilo City.  
The IPC under Angelo is on its way to renaissance after a long hiatus. Angelo vowed to prioritize the construction project saying the building can be used as training center for members. 
The IPC building has not been fully constructed since the groundbreaking in 1996 attended by then Iloilo city mayor Mansueto Malabor and Iloilo governor Art Defensor during the term of Panay New publisher Danny Fajardo. It was mothballed during the term of former mayor and now Iloilo City congressman Jerry P. Trenas.


The cold war between Mabilog and IPC escalated during the election period when the donor faced Mabilog in a one-on-one slugfest for mayoral contest in the May 13 polls. Relationship between IPC and Mabilog started to roll back to normalcy when Angelo was elected as president in September.
After IPC officials presented to Mabilog the deed of donation of the building during the city hall powwow, the mayor vowed to help them settle in their own home without any legal impediment.
The lot on which the IPC building stands is covered by a “mother title” which also includes lots of the Technological Institute of Iloilo City and other organizations, Mabilog said.  "We will have the lots subdivided so we can have a separate land title for the IPC building. Then we can work on an agreement to allow the press club to use the lot,” he added. 


The city government has the master plan for the entire city-owned lot at San Pedro village, specifically to put up a government center and sports complex, disclosed Mabilog.
Angelo wrote the mayor’s office requesting that the city government allow the club to use the lot. For his part, Mabilog said he will also instruct pertinent agencies to assess the IPC building if it complies with basic engineering and electrical requirements then issue the needed business and occupancy permits.
The IPC plans to use the press club building as a training center and venue for press conferences. The club also aims to rent part of the building to interested businesses as a source of revenue of the oldest press organization in the country.
Meanwhile, the purported "honeymoon" between IPC and Mabilog has alarmed former club president Manuel "Boy M' Mejorada, a city hall critic, who quipped in his Facebook comment: "That means the IPC will behave until 2016." Members have vowed to remain vigilant and expose anomalies in the city government with or without the building project.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

My foreigner friends who hate Pinoy politicians

"The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends." FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE 

By Alex P. Vidal

WE always find it hard to defend our politicians each time our foreigner friends rib and call them names. 
In the first place, they have no right to besmirch the reputation of our compatriots right here in our own territory. 
Our politicians may look like SOBs to them, but they are still our own SOBs. 
In the name of free speech, we will allow the chips to fall where they may. 
Because we value and respect the majesty of the constitution that guarantees the freedom of expression in this country, the most that we can do is to let them unload their tantrums however vexatious they may sound sometimes; and, if necessary, parry their offensive soundbites if they veer south of the border.
Some of these Pinoy politician bashers who happen to be my friends are Danny Leigh of Australia, Jack Hall of USA, Tom Doyle of Ireland, Henning Blegvad of Denmark, Martin Stummer of Germany, and Yukio Katsumata of Japan.


Leigh's displeasure for Filipino politicians started when he personally saw for the first time what a slum area looks like in Paranaque City while we were on a passenger jeep in the mid-90's. 
"Oh my. What is that?" Leigh blurted, pointing his finger at several shaggy tots walking with bloated tummies and no underwear. 
Leigh, a trader from Sydney, said he heard a lot about squatter colonies in the Philippines and what he saw mystified him. 
Leigh, 45, blamed the politicians for the impoverished community. He fumed: "Some of them (politicians) live in gated subdivisions and give speeches wearing expensive attires yet their people live like rats."
Katsumata, speaking in broken English, lamented a personal experience where a Manila politician he failed to identify tried to extort money from him in exchange for legal recognition of his illegitimate son born out of wedlock to a Filipino mother. 
"Korrrap politisyan," Tokyo-based Katsumata hissed. He left for Japan and refused to negotiate for his son saying some Pinoy politicians "are worse than corrupt policemen." 


Hall, 83, a retired contractor from Ohio, hesitated when I asked him to pose with then Vice President Noli de Castro for a souvenir photo in a beach resort in Iloilo City. 
"If not for you (referring to me), I won't pose with that guy. I heard he is also corrupt. I don't trust (Filipino) politicians," remarked Hall, who smiled while de Castro did not. 
Hall is married to a Cebuana nurse.   
Stummer, who used to own a beach resort in Guimaras island, always sought my assistance each time his wife, Helen, would allegedly assault him. "I was the one who was shot and nearly killed by my own wife, yet I was the one who landed in jail? What a life!" Stummer loudly protested while locked inside the Jaro police station in the early 90's.
He was arrested after a violent domestic quarrel with Helen inside their resto bar. 
Helen insisted it was Stummer who provoked and insulted her. "He is too much!" boomed Helen, who denied shooting her husband but admitted she was willing to square off with the heavyweight German "to defend my dignity as a woman." 
Stummer blamed "influential" and "corrupt" politicians closed to Helen behind her "lackdaisical attitude" since she allegedly became a socialite. 
Helen denied Stummer's accusation saying she is a friend both of politicians and non-politicians.


The sharpest indignation came from Blegvad, 84, a marvelous pianist who entertained some of the generals under Adolf Hitler during the World War II in Berlin.
Blegvad, an atheist, said he doesn't believe politicians can save the Philippines from moral, spiritual, and economic meltdown. 
"In the first place, they are a bunch of dishonest criminals and the number one reason why the Philippines is mired in poverty and why superstition and fanaticism have eaten up the moral and spiritual fibers of Filipinos is because there is a breakdown in discipline and lack of respect for the laws. (Because) the politicians are not role models."
"I agree," retorted 79-year-old Doyle, a victim of physical abuse by Ireland Jesuit priests who were never prosecuted "because they were supported by politicians". 
He avoids Filipino politicians "because I don't want gossips and corruption." 
Gossipers act like politicians and some politicians also gossip, he lamented.