Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bloody Mary, bloody Tweety?

Bloody Mary, bloody Tweety? 

"There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women."

By Alex P. Vidal

The Facebook grumblings of the Tupas clan's princess, Tweety Tupas-Balleza, these past days were more than a rant. It was a statement from the family.
Tweety, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) executive assistant III, became the family's unofficial spokesperson in social media in the heels of reports that Iloilo 5th district Rep. Niel "Jun-Jun" Tupas, Jr., eldest son of former governor Niel Sr. and former Barotac Viejo mayor Myrna Causing-Tupas, "endorsed" his wife, Yvonne Angeli Lee-Tupas, to succeed him in 2016 even if six other Tupas children are "on stand by" for the coveted post.
When Tweety unveiled her sentiments, nobody stopped her. They could not stop her. She was expressing her feelings in her own Facebook account and that's none of anybody's business. Like Pavlov's dog, Tweety knows and understands why she is salivating for something. Nobody begrudged it--except, perhaps, manong Jun-Jun, who instantly turned contrabida the moment the story spread in media like a prairie fire.


But could Tweety's Facebook diatribes and the media frenzy that followed were mere overreactions? After all, manong Jun-Jun has not yet made an official public declaration that he was rooting for sweetheart Yvonne over his younger brother, Iloilo Vice Governor Buboy, the sentimental favorite to be the next congressman in the fifth district of Iloilo.
And besides, manong Jun-Jun is not stupid to force down the throats of his "hurting" siblings--and perhaps parents (in political decisions, they actually always have the final say)--something that would shake the family's foundation. Blood is always thicker than water.
Atty. Yvonne Angeli Lee-Tupas, a lawyer of GMA TV Network, is also not stupid to short-cut her way to politics at the expense of a family Armageddon. 
She is aware that her sudden entry in the district's political landscape ahead of those waiting in line-- active members of the royal family--smacks of greed and opportunism, and would provoke insurrection and create turmoil and bad blood among the Tupas children. 


Law No. 1 in the 48 Laws of Power states: "Don't outshine the master!" Sweetheart Yvonne cannot and should not outshine the masters in the Tupas political family. She must fall in line, observe the law of succession, and, if possible, wait for the final verdict of the clan's political patriarch and matriarch. As an obedient son, manong Jun-Jun will listen to tatay Niel and nanay Myrna. Defying them would be tantamount to hubris. Whom the gods wish to destroy they make mad first.
Health Undersecretary Janette Garin had to wait for tatay Oca's and nanay Ninfa's imprimatur before she inherited the congressional post in Iloilo's first district from tatay Oca ahead of sweetheart Richard, tatay Oca's most favorite and only son. Sweetheart Janette finished three full terms without any rebellion from sweetheart Richard's sisters who are also active in politics. Politics is an integral part of family discussion. Everyone must be involved in the decision-making.
Sweethearts Jun-Jun and Yvonne are aware of the potential chaos and disturbance in the family's peace and tranquility they might create should they insist on their secessionist adventurism.


History tells us the fight for political turf and power always had macabre ending. Queen Elizabeth I ordered the execution of half sister, Mary Queen of Scots, after sending her to prison for life in England.
When the parliament petitioned Elizabeth I to have Mary executed, the Queen at length answered: "If I should say unto you that I mean not to grant your petition, by my faith I should say unto you more than perhaps I mean. And if I should say unto you I mean to grant your petition, I should then tell you more than is fit for you to know. And thus I must deliver you an answer answerless."
Mary's persecution from her own half sister and subsequent execution became known as the "Bloody Mary."
It can't be denied that, in one way or the other, the issue has driven a wedge between Queen Tweety and sister-in-law, Queen Yvonne. We are hoping for a happy ending. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

No 'sweet victory' for Tom Doyle even as HLURB orders a refund

No 'sweet victory' for Tom Doyle 
even as HLURB orders a refund

"Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory," MAHATMA GANDHI

By Alex P. Vidal

Victory appears to be "not sweet" for Thomas "Tom" Patrick Joseph Doyle and wife Mesalie even if the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) has ordered IVQ Landholdings, Inc. to refund them the amount of P348,285 they paid as downpayment for the subdivision lot sold by the realty developer in 2011.
"The order says the refund should be made within 30 days from receipt thereof. It's not yet 30 days, but I don't think they will refund me," boomed Doyle, who went to the IVQ Landholdings, Inc. office on Mabini St. February 25 to claim his money. "Despite my age and physical deformity (he can't walk without a cane) they gave me a run around."
Because of the way he was treated by IVQ Landholdings, Inc. Doyle said he was contemplating on hauling the developer firm to court for damages. He wanted HLURB to penalize IVQ Landholdings, Inc. with interest of his money.  
IVQ Landholdings, Inc. refused to make a comment when contacted by this writer yesterday (February 25). This writer also went to IVQ Landholdings, Inc. last February 21 but was told by the secretary to leave a contact number. No representative from the IVQ Landholdings contacted this writer since February 21. A second attempt to get the side of the IVQ Landholdings, Inc. proved futile as the staff, who asked anew for this writer's contact number, did not make a return call as promised yesterday (February 25) afternoon. 


In an order dated February 10, 2014 on the "manifestation and motion for the refund of downpayment" the Doyle couple filed last December 3, 2013, HLURB arbiter Melchor M. Calopez also declared as "cancelled or rescinded" the contract to sell signed between the Doyle couple and IVQ Landholdings, Inc., represented by its president, Ian Eric Pama and vice president Joel M. Nermal, dated November 27, 2012.
"Accordingly, the herein respondent is hereby ordered to refund to the complainant, within thirty (30) days from receipt thereof, the amount of P348,285.00 without interest. It is so ordered," stated Calopez's order.
The Dolye couple filed the manifestation and motion after HLURB earlier ordered them to apply for a loan to pay IVQ Landholdings, Inc. the total balance of P1,393,140 for the subdivision lot known as Block 4, Lot 7 of Princedale Residences located at Yulo St., Arevalo district, Iloilo City.


The couple argued Doyle's loan applications with three commercial banks: The Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI), Banco de Oro, and Metrobank have been denied because he is an alien and already 76 years old, and his wife is unemployed and has no means of income and lacks capacity to pay.
HLURB gave credence to the Doyle couple's assertion.
Calopez's order stated that IVQ Landholdings, Inc. "knew from the very start" that Doyle is an alien and already 76 years old at the time he was enticed to purchase the subdivision lot.
"That respondent IVQ also assured complainants that they could avail of a loan with Valiant Bank, a sister company of IVQ, however, their loan application was also turned down by the said bank;
"That had it not for the assurances of respondent's sales agents and its Vice President, Mr. Joel M. Nermal, complainants did not enter into contract to sell and paid a downpayment amounting to P348,285.00;


"That in view of the foregoing, respondent IVQ cannot therefore compel the complainants to continue with the contract to sell and pay the remaining balance of the purchase price considering that they could not avail of a loan from any bank or financial institution, hence the contract to sell should rather be rescinded and respondent be ordered to refund the total downpayments plus interest," read part of Calopez's order.
Calopez's order pointed out that the Doyle couple "have tried to comply with the decision of the (HLURB) Regional Office (to apply for a loan to cover the remaining amount of the subdivision lot), however, they were not able to do so because they are not qualified borrowers."
Calopez's order further explained: "This circumstance was made known only after the decision has been rendered. To rule that they are no longer entitled to refund of their downpayment will be unjustly depriving them of their money though no fault on their part.
"Based on equitable ground, and after determining that the complainants cannot possibly comply with the terms and conditions of the contract to sell, the contract to sell dated November 27, 2012 should be rescinded, and the respondent should return the amount of P348,285.00 without interest."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Faith in NBI probers of Gumban rape-slay case

Faith in NBI probers of 
Gumban rape-slay case

"Fear follows crime and is its punishment."

By Alex P. Vidal

We refused to believe from the start that the Pototan Police Precinct, headed by Chief Insp. Aron Palomo, could not crack the celebrated rape-slay of Mhe Ann Gumban, a 24-year-old Boracay hotel receptionist, who was found dead morning on September 26, 2013 in a banana plantation in Sitio Balod, Brgy. Cauayan, Pototan, Iloilo.
Police initially released three people seen near the crime scene after a brief interrogation "for lack of sufficient evidence," Palomo said. For several weeks, nothing was heard of any positive development in the case except rumors that some of the perpetrators may be known to the victim personally.
Several names of suspects from the town's prominent families had surfaced in initial investigation, but police could not pin them down for lack of witnesses prompting Gumban's relatives led by the victim's aunt, Jane Galla, to seek the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Friends and relatives of the victim feared the heinous crime would not be solved after police initially failed to convince witnesses to come out in the open. Police probers were facing a blank wall until a young witness agreed to narrate what had transpired when he went to a sari-sari store to buy something. 


Gumban failed to return home after leaving Galla's home morning on September 25 to visit her grandmother, Norma Gumban, who lives about a kilometer away. The victim worked as a hotel receptionist in Boracay and was taking a vacation at home.
After four months, the NBI regional office finally charged five suspects in the gristly crime that disturbed even the Manila-based Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
Unknown to most residents in Pototan, NBI agents closely coordinated with Palomo's office and were able to piece together several angles and circumstances that led to the identification and subsequent filing of rape with homicide cases against the following suspects: Edcel Pinuela, brothers Exequiel and Gaspar Asuero, Alan Giner, and Rodel Grande. 


NBI-6 special investigator John Katipunan said Pinuela is a son of the owner of Pinuela Funeral Homes while the rest are his friends. Pinuela is reportedly Gumban's jilted suitor.
"Gumban had been avoiding Pinuela because she did not want to be pursued by men who are hooked on vices," said a local trader who refused to be identified for fear of reprisal.
Paloma had confirmed earlier that autopsy results showed the victim was violated before being murdered. Gumban was waylaid while on her way home from a visit to her grandmother’s house past 5:30 p.m., according to NBI investigation.
A child witness claimed he heard Gumban shout for help and was calling for her father to no avail as she was allegedly being held by a group of men believed to be Gumban's rapists and killers.


Katipunan said the child also reportedly heard the suspects, who were drinking at a sari-sari store, telling someone, “Boss kami na bahala." 
Katiputan believed Gumban was still alive when the child overheard the suspects.
Police investigation showed Gumban was naked when found. Her shirt was used to strangle her neck and had bruises all over her body. Her breasts were exposed and her underwear and pair of shorts had been forcibly removed.


As of this writing, the suspects could not be located and were believed to have monitored the police and NBI investigations. 
It is always better to have faith in our police and NBI investigators rather than doubt their capabilities to solve any crime that happens in the neighborhood.
The Gumban rape-slay case is only one of the many celebrated crime cases that were considered "solved" upon the filing of appropriate charges against the culprits after families of the victims as well as witnesses cooperated with our authorities.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

'All I want is my money back'

'All I want is my money back'

"A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money." JOHN RUSKIN

By Alex P. Vidal

Australian national Thomas Patrick Joseph Doyle is hoping that the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) regional office will rule in his favor when he filed a "manifestation with motion for the refund of downpayment" against IVQ Landholdings Inc., developer and seller of subdivision lots and housing units in Iloilo City.
HLURB arbiter, Atty. Melchor M. Calopiz, told this writer in an exclusive interview February 18 that he has rendered a decision on Doyle's motion "and both parties are expected to receive their copies (of the decision) anytime this month (of February 2014)."
If the decision is not favorable to anyone of them, Doyle or the IVQ Landholdings, represented by its president Ian Eric Pama and vice president Joel M. Nermal, can a file a motion for consideration within 15 days, Calopiz explained.
Doyle filed the manifestation with motion to refund last December 3, 2013 after failing to obtain a favorable decision from HLURB which ruled on September 16, 2013 that he must apply for a loan to pay IVQ Landholdings the total remaining balance of P1,393,140 for the land he purchased from the firm.


HLURB also ordered IVQ Landholdings to accept Doyle's payment "through bank of any financial institution."
Doyle's co-complaintant in the case is his Filipino wife, Mesalie. They both live in Calumpang, Molo district.
The case stemmed from the Doyle couple's complaint that IVQ Landholdings sales agents allegedly befriended and duped them into buying a residential lot at Princedale Residence in Arevalo district sometime in 2011.
They paid P10,000 as reservation fee on October 10, 2011 when they executed a reservation agreement together with the computation sheet of the contract price.
The couple said they paid a total downpayment of P348,285 based on the reservation agreement and computation sheet.


The couple alleged they agreed to purchase the lot after Nermal assured them they could avail of a loan from Valiant Bank, IVQ Landholdings' sister company, to cover the remaining balance of the purchase price amounting to P1,393,140.
However, upon completion of the P348,285 downpayment, Doyle and his wife were allegedly told they were not qualified to avail of a housing loan from Valiant Bank and that they should make direct payment to IVQ Landholdings of the remaining P1,393,140.
Also after they made the initial payment, the couple alleged that they were made to sign a contract to sell prepared by IVQ Landholdings that they should pay the remaining amount "within 120 months without interest."
But when the Doyle couple made the initial monthly amortization of P11,000 for the lot on December 5, 2012, IVQ Landholdings allegedly refused to receive the payment. 


Instead, it sent the Doyle couple a letter dated January 17, 2013 reminding them to settle their account within one week from receipt of the letter. IVQ Holdings also attached a letter wherein Doyle had supposedly agreed to pay the balance of the purchase price "within three years through in-house financing at P50,365.35 per month."
The letter, Doyle insisted, "is not in essence a contract and does not by itself establish that respondent has accepted such proposal."
The Doyle couple said they could not afford the P50,365.35 monthly amortization saying they were made to believe in the contract they had signed that they would only pay P11,000 within 120 months with no interest. 
In his complaint to the HLURB, Doyle claimed "he has been duped into signing the letter prepared by IVQ Landholdings representatives after Valiant Bank has denied his loan application."


When Doyle applied for housing loan in other commercial banks, his application was denied he said because he was already 76 years old and is not a Filipino citizen. His wife is a plain housewife and did not have a steady income.
Dolye wanted to continue amortizing the lot but only under the terms and conditions embodied in the contract to sell, that is 120 months without interest.
Doyle accused IVQ Landholdings of "breach of contractual obligation" when it refused to receive the P11,000 representing the initial monthly amortization.
Doyle demanded from IVQ Landholdings a moral damages of P200,000 and compliance of its contractual obligation to accept the P11,000 monthly amortization for 120 months without interest.
IVQ Landholdings insisted the Doyles "have no cause of action" against them. It argued that the document which the Doyle couple purport to be a contract is "unfounded."
They pointed out that the obligation of the contract is premised on a contract they signed dated November 27, 2012 not the one signed on October 10, 2011. "The complainants reliance on a document not entered into by the parties do not give rise to any obligation on the part of the respondent," IVQ Landholdings argued.


IVQ Landholdings swore "there was no act of omission" on their part which violated the Doyle couple's rights "nor was there any breach of the obligation of the respondents to the complainants to which the latter may maintain an action for recovery of damages or other appropriate relief. If any right was violated therein, it is the right of the respondent."
IVQ Landholdings said they and the Doyle couple "voluntarily agreed into a contract to sell dated November 27, 2012.
"That a contract to sell may thus be defined as a bilateral contract whereby the prospective seller, while expressly reserving the ownership of the subject property exclusively to the prospective buyer upon fulfillment of the condition agreed upon, that is, full payment of the purchase price," it explained.
IVQ Landholdings, as real estate developer, claimed as a result of the complaints by the Doyle couple, they suffered "besmirched reputation and social humiliation and demanded from the Doyle couple P500,000 in moral damages. 
HLURB threw out IVQ Landholdings' counterclaims "for lack of merit."


In his decision, Calopiz wrote: "In view of the forgoing, this Regional Office has no option but to enforce the provisions of the contract to sell dated November 27, 2012. What is clearly stated in the said contract to sell is that the balance of the purchase price shall be paid thru bank or financial institution.
"Considering that there is no showing that the complainants' application for loan to pay the balance of the purchase price is rejected or not approved, and no period of time is stated in the contract to sell within which the complainants shall secure a loan, the respondent should give the complainant an opportunity to look for a bank or financial institution that will finance the payment of the remaining balance.
"The issue on damages is answered in the negative. No party in this case is entitled to claim damages," stated Calopiz order.
Doyle wants his money refunded and is not anymore interested to buy the property. "All I want is my money back. I'm already 76 years old and can hardly walk. This case has given me a lot of stress and it has affected my health," sobbed Doyle, who brings to elementary school everyday his only daughter with Mesalie. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Eye-witness account of firefighters', SOCO's impressive performances

Eye-witness account of firefighters', 
SOCO's impressive performances

"We can no longer tolerate losing one more innocent child or putting one more firefighter at risk in a fire that could have been prevented at the cost of pennies by making a couple simple changes to the construction of a cigarette." ED MARKEY

 By Alex P. Vidal

We were so impressed while personally witnessing how our firefighters from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Iloilo City, assisted by the Iloilo Mountain Tigers, and Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) from the Regional Police Office 6 in Camp Delgado responded to the fire scene last February 15 in Brgy. Rizal Pala-Pala Zone 1, at around seven o'clock in the morning. 
We never left the place we occupied since we arrived as it was the best location to have a panoramic view of what was going on for those intending to shoot with their camera. True enough, the photos taken from our digital camera proved us right. 
We were able to capture some of the best scenes as firefighters and rescue teams put off the conflagration that razed seven residential areas.


Our camera also captured some elements of human drama and morbid scenes--hysterical residents and grieving family members--especially when SOCO men lifted the charred body of nine-year-old John Rey "John-John" Pacardo, the lone fatality in the three-hour fire located a stone throw away from the city's busiest public market.
The fire failed to spread to other areas as firefighters performed superbly with alacrity and dispatch. They were sharp, alert, skillful, quick and very professional. The weather condition--and the fact that it happened at daytime--also tilted on the firebusters' favor.
Contrary to reports, the place was not a slum area. Most of the houses were made of concrete materials thus fire failed to spread rapidly. The place used to be a squatters' colony before the National Housing Authority (NHA) subdivided it.


SOCO men wrapped Pacardo's body with a blanket and removed it with clinical precision from the gutted house without hampering the firefighters' clearing operations. They arrived equipped with complete tools and medical kits just in time to bring down Pacardo's body before the debris would collapse. 
No one was panicky. No one was injured from among the firefighters and rescuers. Everyone knew what to do and how to do their assigned tasks and responsibilities. It was one of the most orderly and efficient fire response actions we've ever seen from our authorities in recent years. Even the residents applauded the firefighters' job well-done!
Village chief Allen Rey Depatillo and his barangay council members and tanods also helped cordon the area thus preventing bystanders and thieves from entering the area where firefighters were conducting their operations.
Fire trucks from other municipalities and the Iloilo Citizens Action Group (ICAG) also responded quickly and helped avert a big disaster similar to the 1993 "super-fire" that devoured seven barangays, including the same the barangay. It was the second major fire that hit the metropolis. Several business establishments in the Chinatown area in downtown, City Proper district were also razed by fire on the eve of Dinagyang festival highlights last month.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Skater's mom should emulate parents of chessers So, Paragua

Skater's mom should emulate 
parents of chessers So, Paragua

"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny." ALBERT ELLIS

By Alex P. Vidal

If the alleged "no government support" issue has been blown out of proportions, Teresa, the mother of Sochi Winter Olympics skater Michael Martinez, is partly to blame.
News that she mortgaged her house in Mandaluyong City for the trip of her son came out two days after the opening ceremonies in Sochi, Russia, the sporting event witnessed "live" by millions of TV audience all over the world last Sunday morning in Manila.
Teresa's sob story plus the other telenovela-type articles about 17-year-old Michael's struggle to qualify for the biennial Games spread like wild fire in mass and social media. Followed by the bashing of President Noynoy Aquino's "corrupt" government.
While fans from other snowy countries were cheering for their athletes and monitoring the medal tally, Filipinos, "touched" by the "shabby" treatment of Michael, were up in arms against the government. 


It turned out Michael was never neglected contrary to allegations. Both the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC)  did their parts to ensure that Michael makes it to the Sochi Games.  The stipend released by the PSC for Michael was the same amount given to other national athletes who compete abroad. No special treatment. Everyone is treated equally under the policy. Even if figure skating is no grassroots event.
But Teresa apparently wanted more. She probably wanted the government to also fund her trip to Sochi thus when the PSC failed or refused to give more, she went to media. If she had mental honesty, she would have revealed to media that her son also received financial windfall from corporate sponsors led by the Sy family who owns Asia's biggest malls in and outside the Philippines. Plus the financial bonanza Michael will get after the Olympics.


Under the law, the PSC cannot shell out millions of pesos requested by an individual athlete. The NSA or national sports association accredited by PSC is tasked to facilitate the request for funding if it is more than P50,000. It's the job of the Philippine Skating Union as NSA to make a formal request, not the parent of an athlete.
Teresa should emulate the parents of chess grand masters Mark Paragua and Wesley So. Instead of bellyaching and slandering the government, they initiated their own initiatives and tapped corporate sponsors to build the chess career of their sons. They didn't condemn the government. They did not go to media to cry foul and sensationalize their sons' predicament. The parents of these chess players are aware that the rise of their sons to the pinnacle of chess will be derailed if they will rely everything to the cash-strapped government thus they paddled their own canoes and cultivated their gardens. 


And these chess players are no peanuts. So is currently ranked No. 1 in the Philippines, No. 2 among juniors and No. 28 in the world. He was previously the strongest Under-16 player in the world and, in October 2008, was rated 2610. So became the youngest player ever in the history of the game to break the 2600 ELO barrier, breaking the record previously held by Magnus Carlsen.
The youngest Filipino master ever, at nine years of age, Paragua also became the youngest Filipino GM ever at 20 (until Wesley So surpassed it), beating out Eugenio Torre's record by about two years.
Paragua qualified for the 2004 World Championship in Tripoli, Libya, where he was eliminated by Viktor Bologan of Moldova in the first round 1-3. He also qualified for World Cup Chess 2005 (qualifying tournament for world championship) and upset Armenian GM Sergei Movsesian in the first round before narrowly losing in the tie breaker against Alexey Dreev of Russia in the second round.
Paragua became the first Filipino to reach 2600 FIDE after he placed second in the Asian Zonal 3.3 Chess Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Aside from Paragua and So, there were other athletes who competed in other world events like the Paralympics and World Cup who never received substantial financial support but, motivated by deep patriotism and love for sports, opted to keep quite and just show their talents on world stage. They made their countrymen proud with their performances and their parents didn't raise any whimper to sensationalize their predicament. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Much ado about Michael Martinez

Much ado about Michael Martinez

"When you blame others, you give up your power to change." ROBERT ANTHONY

By Alex P. Vidal

There they go again. Because of too much excitement upon seeing a lone Pinoy entry carrying the national flag in the opening ceremonies and performing in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, some fans have embarked on usual buck-passing and blaming game, hitting the government for its "failure" to support the 17-year-old figure skater Michael Martinez.
To paraphrase JFK's famous quote, why can't we just think of what we can do for our country instead of always thinking of what our country can do for us?
It seems we are the only sports fans around the globe that have this temerity to always blame our government and swallow hook, line and sinker any cinderalla-type story attached to the life of any athlete who performs internationally.
We can always celebrate the achievement of any Filipino athlete and win the admiration of people around the world without necessarily taking potshots at our government -- unless necessary.


Big or small contingent, we must view Martinez's presence in the Winter Olympics with much pride and dignity. Other countries also send small delegations even in major sporting competitions like the World Cup and Summer Olympic Games, and their governments get popular support from their citizens, not brickbats and tirades. 
When we attack our government in media in relation to the Sochi Games, the whole world is watching and listening. When we embarrass our government, we embarrass our own athletes. And they get demoralized. We just hope Martinez, our lone hero in the Sochi Games, was unfazed by the noise of do-gooders back home.
Instead of focusing on the greatness of a Filipino athlete who made it to the Sochi Olympics despite an uphill climb in the pre-qualifying round, we gave highlight to the gripes of his mother, Teresa, who reportedly mortgaged their house just to ensure that her son makes it to the quadrennial games. She may be telling the truth in a hope to generate support from public.


After the story was out, netizens and fans in social media started to act as spokespersons for the Martinez family going ballistics and hitting the "corrupt" government from pillar to post. Shallow.
Were they blaming the government that Martinez failed to make the cut for the bronze medal or because Team Philippines sent only a lone delegate?
The accusations that the Philippines did not support Martinez were incredible if not irresponsible. In the first place, Martinez would not have made it to the qualifying round and eventually to the Olympics proper if his entry was not endorsed by the Philippines Olympics Committee (POC).
Before a Filipino athlete can get a financial support from the Philippine government, he must be a qualified member of  the national sports association (NSA) in his event. Philippine Skating Union, where Martinez supposedly belongs, should be officially recognized by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in order to avail financial support for the skaters' training and food allowances. One of the requirements is a registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and submission of set of officers and board of directors.


If the Philippine Skating Union is a PSC-recognized NSA, it's most likely that Martinez availed financial assistance from the government for his training and exposure in international competitions prior to the Sochi Winter Olympics.
We're not speaking on behalf of the government here; the job of explaining this matter falls within the ambit of Philippine sports officials. They are duty-bound to clarify and explain this matter so that fire-brand and gullible fans, who took turns in lambasting the "corrupt" Philippine government only because Martinez's parents were "hard up", would be enlightened and educated.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

PDEA should put to shame drug lords, not village chiefs

PDEA should put to shame 
drug lords, not village chiefs 

"Let me see if I've got this Santa business straight. You say he wears a beard, has no discernible source of income and flies to cities all over the world under cover of darkness? You sure this guy isn't laundering illegal drug money?" TOM ARMSTRONG 

By Alex P. Vidal

We have a situation where it's impossible to win against drug syndicates today. But it's still possible to beat them tomorrow. But not soon.
Although some of them have already been identified -- their addresses and types of businesses put up as fronts for their illegal trade -- the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is still adamant to name who these drug lords are.
But PDEA-6 regional director Paul Ledesma thinks "shaming" the punong barangay or village chiefs who refuse to cooperate with PDEA and seriously activate their Barangay anti-drug abuse councils (BADACs) will minimize if not paralyze the operations of drug syndicates.
We don't think this strategy will snowball. No village chief will be intimidated by a threat of a public censure from PDEA, or any state agency that deals with narcotics problem in the country for that matter.


Most village chiefs don't give a hoot if their names are mentioned in the air lanes or published in the newspapers as "punishment" for failure to convene their BADACs. They can always offer as convenient excuse that their hands are full and they also need to attend to other matters, not just about illegal drugs.
For them, this kind of negligence is an intra-barangay issue, not a major offense; a simple lapse that can always be remedied and corrected. 
Putting village chiefs to "shame" does not make them outright villains in the eyes of their constituents. They won't tremble in their shirts and grab their walkie-talkies to indiscriminately report to police the presence of drug traffickers just for compliance.
Village chiefs are PDEA's partners in crime, not kindergarten pupils who need to be given the dressing down for mischievous acts. Two heads -- PDEA plus village chiefs -- are always better than one. In the battle against illegal drugs, they also risk their lives and the safety of their families. 


BADAC isn't an assurance that drug traffickers will be rounded up and wiped out in quick succession. Many dealers of shabu and other illegal substance are also barangay officials and, perhaps, members of BADAC. Drug syndicates have mushroomed in barangays and have maintained a Robin Hood-pauper type relationship with some residents who sometimes act as moles and runners.
What the PDEA should do is focus its canon on the drug lords themselves. In a punitive measure, PDEA should grab the bulls by the horns and deal with the drug lords directly, not threaten with shame campaign the village chiefs. 
If PDEA thinks "shaming" the drug lords can help, they must have the guts to name them in public. A tit for a tat since drug lords have already shamed and scandalized PDEA. By having successfully penetrated many slum areas and subdivisions; and by bribing barangay officials, cops and even the media, these drug lords think they now have the upper hand in the psychological warfare vis-a-vis the PDEA.


We laud the PDEA, City Hall, and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for holding the Barangay Drug Clearing Operation Orientation Seminar last February 5 in Iloilo City attended by 174 village chiefs (only six were absent).
Some village leaders involved in drug trafficking who were present may have tipped off their partners in illegal drug trade about the PDEA's strategy.
"Clearing operation", as a theme of the orientation, was good in objectives and battlecry. Once the barangay is cleared of the presence of drug traffickers, there is nothing to be sold anymore. If there are no sellers, there will be no buyers and users. 
A drug-free barangay is a dream of everyone who wants peace, harmony and tranquility in his community.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Drug syndicates putting PDEA to shame

Drug syndicates putting PDEA to shame

"Cocaine is God's way of saying you're making too much money." ROBIN WILLIAMS

By Alex P. Vidal

It appears that the drug syndicates are the ones putting the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to shame, not the other way around.
PDEA can't nail down a drug lord. Small fries yes, but not big fishes. Not in this generation where trafficking of prohibited substance has become high level with the aid of technology and gargantuan bribe money. 
Tentacles of drug syndicates have reached alarming heights and lengths that they can afford to elect senators and even presidents. It happened in Central America, it can happen in Asia. God forbid.
With or without the much-touted "shame campaign" (or PDEA regional director Paul Ledesma's threat to reveal the names of village chiefs who give their barangay anti-drug abuse councils or BADACs cold shoulder treatment), drug syndicates have become bold and unstoppable.


The drug lords here believe they have captured the metropolis and it's only a matter of time before they will transform public edifices into dance floors and venues of their bacchanalia. Not even the Philippine National Police (PNP) can send shivers down the spines of these drug lords. If they can't lick them, join them.
They have sent a strong signal when they were able to not only successfully penetrate the barangays, they also were able to ensure the win of their own village chiefs and councilmen in the most recent barangay elections.
Drug syndicates have become powerful Goliaths that it is almost impossible for PDEA or any state agency for that matter to slay those behemoths with one sling.


PDEA may have successfully lured majority of the village chiefs to attend the Barangay Drug Clearing Operation Orientation Seminar last February 5 in Iloilo City (only six of the village chiefs in 180 barangays were absent), but shabu and other illegal drugs continue to proliferate in barangays Tanza-Esperanza, Rizal Pala-Pala, Monica, Bakhaw, North Baluarte, Calumpang, Calaparan, San Jose, Desamparados, among other drugs "hot spots" in Iloilo City. 
We are only talking here of Iloilo City. We all know that drug syndicates are also very much active in the province and in other cities and provinces in Western Visayas, including Boracay.
Some of those who attended the PDEA seminar backed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and City Hall, were themselves directly involved if not in cahoots with drug lords in the trafficking of illegal drugs. And Director Ledesma knows who they are. 


Ledesma, with all his sincerity and dedication, is a square peg in a round hole. He may be the bravest and most honest anti-drug czar in the region, but his agency is ill-equipped and under-manned to match the machinery and tactics of drug syndicates. Even children and women sell drugs and it's not easy to separate the chaffs from the grains in this battlefield.  
We fear that instead of producing "hopes of the fatherland" like what Jose Rizal had said, we are producing a generation of drug addicts, walking dead or "zombies", home wreckers, criminals and potential terrorists.
A drug addict fears no law. Once high on drugs, he is not afraid to commit a crime. He will destroy properties. He will rape women and children. He will terrorize. He will kill. And he doesn't feel any remorse. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mayor Locsin's embarrassing graft case waiting to explode

Mayor Locsin's embarrassing 
graft case waiting to explode

"If vice and corruption prevail, liberty cannot subsist; but if virtue have the advantage, arbitrary power cannot be established." ALGERNON SIDNEY  

By Alex P. Vidal

When the furor over the "medicine scam" erupted in 2001, Janiuay, Iloilo Mayor Frankie Locsin, then president of the League of Municipalities--Iloilo Chapter, shrugged off the issue and insisted that his role was only "ministerial" even if he was the one who approved the contract of the P15-million worth of medicine purchases.
No less than former Iloilo Vice Governor Obet Armada, a former vice mayor of Janiuay, had expressed concern over the issue because it involved a gargantuan amount for the first-class municipality with a population of 63,031.
The vice governor did not say that Locsin was guilty, but he believed there was a need for Locsin and other parties concerned to address the issue squarely. "If everything is above board, they have nothing to fear," hissed Armada, who has never been linked to any anomaly during his entire years in public service.
Many Janiuaynons found the issue embarrassing and wanted Locsin to put an exclamation point on it.


While media critics and political enemies ribbed Locsin over the issue in blocktime radio programs, the mayor maintained his cool and did not run away from the topic even in coffee shop discussions.
"The papers are there. They are always welcome to scrutinize them," assured Locsin, one of the most loyal allies of Gov. Art Defensor Sr. in the third district of Iloilo.
Former mayor, Dr. Bienvenido Margarico, Locsin's perennial rival in the mayoral contest, revived the issue on the controversial medicine purchase deal, which was funded by the countrywide development fund (CDF) of Sen. Vicente "Tito" Sotto, when he toppled Locsin during the 2007 elections. 
The Commission on Audit (COA) disallowed the deal even if Janiuay served as conduit of the medicine purchases. 


When the Office of the Ombudsman conducted an investigation, it found out that there was supposedly a bidding for the medicines on January 15, 2001 participanted by  AM Europharma Corp., Mallix Drug Center and Philpharmawealth Corp.
The hullabaloo worsened when Philpharmawealth denied any participation in any bidding related to the deal.
The Ombudsman noticed an apparent haste in the process after a P1.7-million purchase contract was awarded to Mallix Drug Center while AM Europharma was awarded with a P13.1-million contract. Records showed Locsin approved the contracts and the medicines were immediately delivered the following day, January 16, 2001.
The Ombudsman noted that on January 17, 2001, the purchases were fully paid after inspection by Supply Officer II Gabriel Billena.
The heads of the AM Europharma Corp. and Mallix Drug Center were one and the same -- Rod D. Villanueva, further raising questions on the propriety of the transaction, it was further discovered by the Ombudsman.


The Ombudsman confirmed that Villanueva was the sole proprietor of Mallix Drug Center and also the general manager and president of AM-Europharma.
The order of the Office of the Ombudsman in 2011 handing a six-month preventive suspension against Locsin and four officials of Janiuay: Executive Assistant Ricardo Minurtio, Municipal Budget Officer Ramon Tirador, Municipal Accountant Carlos Moreno Jr. and Municipal Treasurer Luzviminda Figueroa came 10 years after the complaint was filed against the respondents. Locsin was spared the ax under the Aguinaldo Doctrine, where a public official facing administrative raps gets a wipe-your-slate clean ledger if he gets re-elected, the same doctrine that saved Mandaue City Mayor Thadeo Ouano.
Thirteen years after the imbroglio, the Sandiganbayan 1st Division finally handed a 90-day preventive suspension order against Locsin.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Region 6 office Iloilo Provincial Director Teodora Sumagaysay confirmed that the order was served by her office on February 3. Vice Mayor Joseph Anthony Lutero immediately assumed as acting mayor.
Locsin deserves to be given his day in court despite the suspension order.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Rasputin, Andrew Golota next in line?

Rasputin, Andrew Golota next in line?  
"No crime is so great as daring to excel." WINSTON CHURCHILL 

The controversial SPO2 Rex de los Reyes. (Photo courtesy of Visayan Daily Star)

By Alex P. Vidal

(I wrote this article several days after Batman, who was shot on November 22, 2013 at the Quirino Lopez Bridge, Iloilo City, died from gunshot wounds at the Iloilo St. Paul's Hospital and two weeks before SP02 Rex de los Reyes was gunned down last January 5, 2014 at a beach resort in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental--APV)

Now that Batman and Robin have been eliminated, drug syndicates are venting their ire on "Andrew Golota" (not the Polish heavyweight boxer) and the notorious police officer "Rasputin."
Before the twin murders of Batman and Robin, the syndicates also managed to permanently silence the dreaded duo of "Dirty Harry" and "Ronnie Rickets."
Dirty Harry, known for his insatiable desires for female criminology students and bar girls, was mowed down after accosting a male civilian inside a passenger jeep in Pavia, Iloilo while Ronnie Rickets, a lowly cop, was waylaid in Jaro several years ago.
Both Batman and Robin, when they were alive, knew who killed Dirty Harry and Ronnie Rickets. "Mga p_t_ng ina nila. May araw rin sila (They're SOB. Their time will come," Batman vowed in front of a group of "friendly" reporters in a public market coffee shop. Police reporter "Nida Blanca" picked up Batman's snide remarks and the report reached "Bogart", who apparently felt alluded to.


Even before Batman and his sidekick, Robin, could "avenge" the killings of Dirty Harry and Ronnie Rickets, they themselves were filled with assassins' bullets one after another. Robin was ambushed in E. B. Magalona, Negros Occidental on August 22, 2011 while Batman died November 28, 2013, six days after being shot on the neck on Quirino Bridge in Lapuz, Iloilo City. Both their assailants were riding in tandem on motorbike.
Next on the syndicates' death list are reportedly police officer Rasputin and civilian top brass Andrew Golota.
Rasputin, formerly assigned in the investigation section of the Iloilo City Police Office (now Achilles Plagata Camp), has a shady background as a law enforcer. When they shot dead a holdup man from Balasan, Iloilo inside a forex shop on J.M. Basa St., they seized his knapsack and found several shabu paraphernalia inside. Instead of turning over the illegal drugs for safekeeping, Rasputin and his fellow rascals in police uniform, pocketed them. Either they sold the drugs or kept them for personal consumption.


Rasputin also became the bodyguard of a former Iloilo City mayor. His nose was nearly busted by an enraged civilian spy after cavorting with the spy's wife, who worked as ago-go dancer in a nightclub located on the third floor of Sariling Sikap restaurant.
Rasputin's health reportedly deteriorated because of wine, women, song--and shabu. The civilian spy, who failed to recover his ago-go dancer wife, told Batman about Rasputin's "treachery" but Batman just smiled, tapped the spy's shoulder, and told him to just avoid Rasputin "and find another wife."
Rasputin is in collusion with another police scalawag who mulcted P300,000 from an Indian national accused of raping a 16-year-old housemaid. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Our heart goes out to Frances Lei's two kids

Our heart goes out to 
Frances Lei's two kids

"Murder’s out of tune, And sweet revenge grows harsh." WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

By Alex P. Vidal

When I heard that mall shooting victim Frances Lei Reyes, 22, had left behind two kids -- a three-year-old boy and two-year-old girl -- my heart was broken. Any parent would feel the same.  
Frances Lei was apparently a victim of love triangle -- a crime of passion.
Now that their mother, a single parent, is dead, the kids, fathered by two different men, will grow up without a home. They already "lost" their respective fathers; and now they have lost their mother in a violent manner. We normally encounter this kind of story only in the movies, but the incident happened in real life.
The kids are too young to understand the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of their mother. Frances Lei's killer or killers (to include the mastermind or masterminds) are also answerable to these kids who will grow up without a complete family. 


As of this writing, suspected gunman Enrico "Jun Jun" Robles Jr., 37, has not yet surrendered. Since Chief Insp. Alexander Rosales, City Proper police chief, released his identity to media over the weekend, Robles' whereabouts were not yet known. His family has expressed fears for his life amid reports that Robles was only allegedly hired to liquidate Frances Lei of Brgy. Sta. Rita, Oton, Iloilo.
Police probers said Robles is a casual employee of the Iloilo city government and assigned as "market enforcer" under City Hall Local Economic Enterprise Office chief Vincent de la Cruz. Several eyewitnesses have positively identified Robles. The murder was also caught on CCTV, police said.
Initial reports said De la Cruz is allegedly the father of one of the victim's kids. He, however, refused to issue a statement and has hired a lawyer to speak on his behalf.


Sources said Frances Lei was always seen visiting the office of De la Cruz "to ask for alimony" when she was alive. De la Cruz's wife reportedly begrudged Frances Lei's presence in De la Cruz's office. "She has been embarrassed and hurt because of the ugly gossips in city hall," a source from the Iloilo Central Market, who requested anonymity, told me last Saturday.
The father of her first child is reportedly now in the United States with another family. Frances Lei's mother works in Singapore. The victim's parents are separated, it was reported.
Police were still trying to piece together the circumstances that led to Frances Lei's cold-blooded murder and wanted De la Cruz to cooperate with the investigation. 


Police have recovered the victim's cellphone and digital tablet where photos of her alleged lover were reportedly stored. She was shot in the head at close range last January 27 evening outside the Robinsons Mall on Quezon St., City Proper. 
John Paul Reyes, the victim's younger brother, said they want justice for his sister who was reportedly "secretive" and did not reveal to them her love life. "We are enraged!" he hollered. 
Murder charges are expected to be filed against Robles and his accomplices by the Police Precinct I this week.