Thursday, October 30, 2014

Market thieves who?

“In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial. I stress 'suspects.’” Noam Chomsky

By Alex P. Vidal

SINCE the news broke out early this year that several characters with "strong" connections in the city hall were behind the thievery or unauthorized collections of fees, among other anomalies in the Iloilo Central Market, no names of suspects have surfaced yet.
Officially no one has been identified or charged in any formal report.
Media also failed to zero in on the real identities of the culprits as they were waiting for Councilor Rodel Agado to spill the beans.
Although some names have surfaced in the gossip mill, nobody has owned up to the anomalies and bitterly deny any wrongdoing or culpability.
It boggles the mind why Agado was hard-pressed to mention their names since they were already allegedly identified by witnesses.
In fact, it appears that Agado, a public market habitue even before he became a public official, knows some of them. 
Agado, chair of the market committee, who blew the whistle on these unscrupulous city hall employees, have failed to name them in his recent privileged speech in the regular session of the city council.


Agado only exhorted the “suspects” to defend themselves from accusations hurled against them when his committee conducts a formal investigation starting November 13.
In other words, the people will only speculate about the identities of these suspects who will be known only once they are invited in the hearing.
What if none of those to be invited will show up during the committee investigation?
The law cannot compel them to appear and incriminate themselves.
How can they honor any invitation to appear in the committee hearing when there is no formal complaint lodged against them yet?
How can one defend himself if there are no formal charges filed against him?
“Except for one who has already been dismissed for tapping on city power lines to run his dormitory and water business, at least eight of these suspects will be invited to come to that hearing to defend themselves,” said Agado as quoted in a report by city hall beat reporter and columnist Wenceslao Mateo in the October 30 issue of The Daily Guardian.
Mateo’s report said one suspect “is a market official charged for allegedly usurping the power of the mayor to appropriate and approve stall occupancies.”


The guy, Mateo’s report added, “is also suspected of employing dummies at the market after witnesses claimed that he allegedly paid for the rentals of several delinquent stall occupants.”
“Another suspect is a regular employee who allegedly divested some P200,000 in market collections,” added the report.
According to the report, the Commission on Audit has already recommended to the City Legal Office the filing of a graft case against the regular employee.
“The rest of the suspects are job hires who either collected market fees without issuing tickets, failed to remit their collections, or tampered receipt entries to chip off some amount from their collections. Some of the suspects purportedly admitted their guilt to both the executive market committee and Agado,” concluded the report.


We were surprised why Agado had to hold his punches during the privileged speech when it was supposed to be the perfect opportunity for him to skin those rapscallions alive.
For his failure to name names after unloading the “tuklo” (colloquial word for thief) accusation, public criticism has boomeranged on Agado, a former crusading radioman.
No guilty party is stupid to honor any committee investigation if he knows that he will only be lynched and humiliated.
We hope Agado can have a little success in his efforts to lower the boom on these dishonest city hall employees.
The only consolation for him is that he is being reportedly backed up by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who is also hell-bent to eradicate his office with undesirable employees.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Feud between Drilon, Mejorada deepens

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
Alexander Hamilton

By Alex P. Vidal

The bridge has been burned.
Now that the recent graft and plunder charges filed by former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada against Senate President Franklin Drilon, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and other Department of Public Works and Highways officials have caught headlines nationwide, the feud between erstwhile friends Drilon and Mejorada is expected to escalate.
Mejorada filed the charges before the Office of the Ombudsman Wednesday in connection with the allegedly overpriced construction of the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) in Iloilo City.
Both Drilon and Mejorada have been swapping criminal charges these past months.
Mejorada, Drilon’s former Twitter account handler, had earlier sued Drilon, et al for alleged overpriced of improvement project of the Promenade in Iloilo City implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Drilon fired back by filing a libel case against his former media consultant in Iloilo after Mejorada exposed the alleged ICC overpriced in his blog.


Mejorada also filed charges of malversation of public funds, violation of procurement law, anti-graft and corrupt practices act and dishonesty and grave misconduct against the Ilonggo senate president and other officials.
Mejorada’s charges stemmed from the allegedly overpriced ICC, Drilon’s purported P700-million pet project being carried out by Hilmarc’s Construction Corp., the contractor of the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building.
Mejorada insisted Drilon was behind the allegedly overpriced convention center. He was quoted in an interview over Radyo Inquirer 990AM as saying
“Siya po ang namuno nito. Siya ang nag conceive nito at siya po ang lumakad para sa project” (He led this project. He conceived this, and he arranged this project.)
“Mayroon akong matibay na dokumento kung paano nilitson o nilutong Macau ang bidding ng Iloilo Convention ni Drilon,” Mejorada disclosed adding that he has documents to prove that the supposed public bidding was rigged.
(I have strong evidence as to how Drilon rigged the bidding for the Iloilo Convention Center.)
The senate president, who hails from Molo, Iloilo City, allegedly set aside P200 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), P200 million from the Department of Tourism and P100 million from MalacaƱang’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), parts of which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Mejorada claimed that an additional of P200 million was also funded by DAP.


The cost of the construction ballooned from P192 million to P488 million, added Mejorada, a former president of the Iloilo Press Club.
The project was supposed to be concluded by March 2015, it was reported.
Aside from Drilon, Jimenez and Singson, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority board director Mark Lapid, Public Work Undersecretaries Jaime Pacanan and Romeo Momo, DPWH Regional Director Edilberto Tayao, DPWH Iloilo Engr. Marilyn Celiz, W.V Coscolluela and Associates and Hillmarcs Construction Corp. also face charges.
Even if former Iloilo Governor Neil D. Tupas will interfere between Drilon and Mejorada, it appears they have severed their friendship.
It was Tupas who bridged the friendship between Drilon and Mejorada.

Monday, October 27, 2014

‘Ajuy slowly rebounding from ashes of Yolanda’

“Necessity may well be called the mother of invention but calamity is the test of integrity.” Samuel Richardson

 By Alex P. Vidal

AJUY, Iloilo –- Like other coastal towns in northern Iloilo badly hit by the November 8, 2013 super-typhoon Yolanda, this municipality, with a population of 47,248, is slowly inching its way to recovery.
“We are slowly going back to normal,” Vice Mayor Jose C. Rojas IV told this writer October 27. “People in our municipality are starting to live a normal life once again (almost a year since the worst typhoon in history hit the province).
A total of 9,988 houses comprising 89 percent of the town’s 11,169 total households were smashed by the typhoon; 4,156 of them were partially damaged and 5,832 totally damaged.
Rojas confirmed that eight residents had died in the aftermath of the typhoon that wrecked their public gymnasium, their new municipal hall, market and schools.
Rojas said they were not actually neglected in the aftermath of the powerful storm even as he praised the Philippine National Red Cross, Adventist Development Relief Agency, and Caritas, among other private donors that sent personnel to assist the victims and distribute relief goods.


“We are almost OK here in as far as the normal life of the people of Ajuy is concerned although we still have some unfinished infrastructure projects,” Rojas disclosed.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has released a total of P7.9 million for the repair of their gymnasium (P6.5 million), municipal hall (P990, 000), and public markets (P450, 000).
The Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) had also pledged to give P10,000 worth of housing materials for partially damaged houses and P30,000 for totally damaged.
Typhoon-affected farmers received from the Department of Agriculture (DA) certified palay and corn seeds and 255,000 bangus fingerlings to fishpond operators.


Mayor Juancho Alvarez had lamented earlier that some of the relief goods they received from other countries sent through balikbayan boxes were damaged and expired.
Alvarez expects Ajuy to fully recover in terms of restoration of major infrastructures within two years.
Meanwhile, Rojas said peace and order is also back to normal here.

There were a few cases of violence recorded recently but they were not politically-motivated, he said.


By Leah Z Declaro

(Presented letter by letter by the pupils of the Borres-Canong Elementary School in Brgy. Batiti, Concepcion, Iloilo October 27)

R- Regalo mo sa amin ay napakaganda na di malilimutan kahit ninuman. Ikaw ay pinagpala at sa ami’y ibinahagi isang nilalang na may bukod tangi.

H- Hinaing naming ay iyong naramdaman sa kaarawan moy’s sa ami’y inilaan. Tanging may busilak na loob lamang ang makagawa. May pagmamalasakit at pagmamahal sa kapwa.

E- Espesyal na araw nang ika’y ipinanganak ng butihing ina na ang pusoy’s busilak. Kami’y iyong hinandugan ng masayang kaarawan. Sa tulad naming aba, pag-asa ng bayan.

A-Amo ng iyong mukha ay nakakahalina. Alindog ng iyong puso ay napakadakila. Hubog ng iyong isipan ay may magandang dahilan. Repleka ng isang diyosa ng kalangitan.

B-Bakat sa aming puso iyong kabutihan. Nawa’y di magbabago ugaling natutunan. Sa mga magulang na hinubog ng husto. Isan Rheang katulad mo may ginto ang puso.

O- Oktubre ngayon at napakaespesyal. Dinalo kami ng maganda at mukhang sosyal. Sa kanyang kaarawan kami ay hinandugan. Salamat po Panginoon at di mo kami pinabayaan.
R- Rubi na pulang batong kumikinang ang tulad mo. Kami’y nagagalak na bagay maibibigay sa iyo. Dasal sa Maykapal humaba pa ang buhay niyo.

R- Rekado ka na nagpapasaya sa aming buhay. Dahil sa pampalasa ng iyong pusong tunay. Sa init ng damdaming apoy ang taglay. Lumalagablab sa mg mat among mapupungay.

E- Expoxy na dumidikit sa aming mga puso. Kami’y nasisiyahan sa anunsiyo n gaming punong guro. Sa kaarawan mo’y paparito ka hahandog ng salu-salo. Wow! Sinukat pa paa naming may sapatos dawn a bago.

S- Sapat na sa amin na ikaw ay aming nakasama. Sa espesyal na araw puso mo’y nasa amin na.
Kahit anong abala ng oras kami’y naisipan pa. Salamat po Madam Rhea talagang ika’y pinagpala.

C- Charisma mo ay ipinamalas sa tulad naming. Bukod tangi na mumulaklak sa hardin. Paru-paro ma’y lilipad at muling dadagsa mula sa talulot papunta sa iyong puso.

A- Agam-agam naming ay biglang napawi nang makita ang matatamis mong ngiti. Sa ganda mong iyan tulad mo’y isang bituin. Taglay mo’y kislap, liwanag sa amin.

N- Ningning ng iyong mga mata ay kumikislap sa mga babatna’y ika’y isang pangarap. Handog sa ami’y ngayo’y nalalasap. Sa kaligayahan kami ay parang nasa ulap.

O- Orkid ka nakaygandang pagmasdan. Pagmamalasakit sa ami’y ipinaramdam tulad ng diyosang nasa kagubatan.

N- Nais naminna sa iyong kaarawan malakas at makisin sa pangangatawan. Sana’y mananatili ang iyong kabutihan na nakatatak sa aming puso’t isipan.

G- God bless you po mahal naming Binibining Rhea nawa’y ikaw pagpapalain pa. Buhay mo ay hahaba at maging masaya. Magingat po kayo hanggang sa muling pagkita.

193 kids in Yolanda-ravaged Iloilo town get school supplies

“Charity is just writing checks and not being engaged. Philanthropy, to me, is being engaged, not only with your resources but getting people and yourself really involved and doing things that haven't been done before.” Eli Broad

By Alex P. Vidal

CONCEPCION, Iloilo –- Almost a year after the super-typhoon Yolanda devastation, elementary pupils at the Borres-Canong Elementary School in Brgy. Batiti here received early Christmas gifts from a balikbayan member of the Borres-Canong clan October 27.
School principal Ruviespiere Tupas said his pupils, from pre-school to grade 6, received more than 200 sets of school bags containing school supplies and hamburgers from a popular burger store in Iloilo City, from Chicago-based philanthropist Rhea Borres-Canong, who was assisted by Ulanie Salinas Lataquin, Nic Lataquin, and Cathy Borres.
Tupas, eight school teachers led by Leah Z. Declaro and village chief Melvin Obillos witnessed the distribution in a brief program inside the seven-classroom elementary school.


Borres-Canong Elementary School lost its main building during the November 8, 2013 super typhoon known internationally as Haiyan.
“We were inside the school when we saw the ceiling of the building fly away,” Obillos said.
Since November 8, 2013, people in Barangay Batiti, with a population of 950 as of 2013, have recovered eighty percent, Obillos averred.
Tupas, meanwhile, thanked some of the non-government organizations (NGOs) that extended help to the school led by Save the Children, GMA Kapuso Foundation, OSM Shipping Company, and Iloilo Central Elementary School.
Leopoldo Borres, older brother of Rhea’s mother, Aurea, said the lot where the school stands, was donated by his parents Rosendo Borres and Consejo Posadas.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ilonggos avail IPV as world battles Ebola

“At no time in history have we succeeded in making, in a timely fashion, a specific vaccine for more than 260 million people.” Laurie Garrett

By Alex P. Vidal

While the whole world is in mad scramble to avail doses of experimental Ebola vaccines, Ilonggos can now avail of the inactivated injectable polio vaccine (IPV).
Also known as the Salk vaccine, IPV contains inactivated strains of polioviruses 1-3.
Department of Health (DOH) officials assured IPV has no risk of vaccine-related polio.
The introduction of the use of IPV in Western Visayas came as drugmakers around the world plan to work together to speed up the development of an Ebola vaccine and hope to produce millions of doses for use in 2015.
IPV does not stimulate antibody in the gut, so less effective against wild poliovirus, Dr. Alain Bouckenooghe, Sanofi Pasteur associate vice president for clinical research and development and medical affairs told Iloilo reporters in a press conference at Bantayan Resort in Guimbal, Iloilo October 24.
IPV protects only the immunized person and there are no community benefits, he added.
“We are almost near (in our campaign to eliminate polio),” assured DOH Undersecretary Janette Garin, who spearheaded the celebration of World Polio Day in Guimbal, Iloilo.
The Sanofi Pasteur official explained that IPV is given as the diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis/polio vaccine (using a lower diphtheria dose, and without the haemophilus component, in this age group).
The primary course (for those not previously immunised) comprises three doses given one month apart.


A booster dose is given three years after the primary course (the three-year interval can be reduced to one year if the primary course was delayed).
A second booster dose is given 10 years after the first booster (usually given during the teenage years).
The 10-year interval can be reduced to five years if previous doses were delayed.
The DOH and its private partners, Sanofi Pasteur and Rotary Club, jointly announced the introduction of the use of the IPV in Iloilo province.
Oscar De Venecia of the Rotary Club said they will help sustain the campaign to eradicate polio and the clubs’ 24,000 members nationwide are committed to assist the DOH.
The use of IPV will cover the entire Western Visayas and the National Capital Region this year.
The rest of the country will follow suit next year, De Venecia disclosed.
The DOH said the country became the first developing country in Eastern Asia to introduce IPV in routine immunization, following the universal recommendation issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier in 2014.
It is also the biggest developing country in the world to introduce IPV and is expected to be watched closely by many countries which have already announced their intention to introduce IPV, it added.


The universal introduction of IPV, a vaccine that has been used in the majority of the developed world for years, is a necessary step toward achieving a polio-free world by 2018, said Garin.
In her video presentation inside the jampacked gymnasium, Garin explained the Filipinos have an emotional attachment to zero polio that stretches back to the start of mass polio epidemics in the world in the last 19th century.
The first prime minister of the Philippines and a hero of the country’s anti-colonial struggles, Apolinario Mabini, was a polio survivor who lived with lifelong disabilities caused by the disease, she emphasized.
According to the DOH, the last polio case in the Philippines was recorded in 1993.
With the DOH’s sustained effort on the polio eradication initiative, in October 2000 the Western Visayas region of the WHO and all member countries have been certified polio-free.
For a region to be certified as polio-free, there should be no reported cases of indigenous polio three years preceding the certification.   

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ilonggos fear poverty more than Ebola

“Given the scale of issues like global warming and epidemic disease, we shouldn't underestimate the importance of a can-do attitude to science rather than a can't-afford-it attitude.” Martin Rees

By Alex P. Vidal

Amid reports that 4,877 of 9,936 patients have died of Ebola worldwide and there is a possibility that the deadly disease might spread in Asia, Ilonggos are unfazed.
“Poverty is more to be feared than Ebola,” thundered sidewalk vendor Ricardo Jerez of La Paz Public Market in Iloilo City.
Jerez, 52, is a father of three kids aged 16, 14 and 9.
He sells fruits and vegetables outside the public market.
Jerez’s 39-year-old wife is seven months pregnant to their fourth child.
“We don’t fear Ebola even if it will spread in the Philippines,” said Jerez while watching a “flash” report about Ebola on a small television.
“We worry about our foods every day, where to enroll our children and how to feed them on a day to day basis.”
Jerez, a former fishing vessel crew member, said his sister, a health worker in Saudi Arabia, was adamant to come home for the Halloween and Christmas vacations for fear of Ebola contamination.


“She must have received a false report about Ebola,” Jerez surmised. “There is no Ebola in the Philippines yet. Only poverty and graft and corruption committed by our politicians.”
Siomai and fruit juice stall attendant Jennifer Amigable, 27, of Tubungan, Iloilo said if given the chance, she is willing to work abroad even in Africa “to make both ends meet.”
“Ebola does not scare me. What scares me most is my bleak future here,” sobbed Amigable, a single parent and commerce graduate.
Money remittance security guard Rodolfo Junco of Tibiao, Antique said the threat that Ebola might spread in the Philippine if health authorities are not alert and don’t have the expertise to prevent it, does not alarm him.
Like Jerez, Junco watched the Ebola news on TV inside the money remittance center.
“I am more alarmed by the threat of our landlady (in a boarding house in La Paz district, Iloilo City) that she would evict us if we can’t pay our monthly rental fees for August, September and October,” Junco said in jest.


Newly-wed Junco, a former karate instructor, admits his salary as a security guard is not enough to sustain a baby and a housewife.  
“Poverty remains to be the number source of our depression and anxiety,” Junco said in a Karay-a dialect. “Ebola is nothing compared to poverty which is like a slow death.”
According to the United Nation’s public health body, 9,936 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone--the three countries at the epicenter of the world’s worst-ever Ebola epidemic--have contracted the disease.
Reports said 4,877 people have so far died in total.
Researchers around the world are scrambling to beat the tropical fever, for which there is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine, with experts warning the rate of infections could reach 10,000 a week by early December.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Capitol identifies checks scam artists

“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.” James Lee Burke

By Alex P. Vidal

BY signifying interest to pay a partial amount of P5 million to the Panay Electric Company (PECO) out of the total P80 million arrears, Iloilo City Hall has restored the faith of other private utilities with pending collectibles from the city government.
The partial amount appropriated for payment of electric bills consumed since the time of former mayors Mansueto Malabor and now Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Trenas may be peanuts, but P5 million is P5 million in whatever dialect.
The biggest power consumption was recorded by the city public markets with bills reaching P30 million, including the P26 million in unpaid bills that mounted last year.
Although there was no available date mentioned for the next payment, at least city hall can now be given assurance that PECO will not disrupt its power lines this Yuletide season.
So many programs and activities in public plazas and other venues (gymnasiums, auditoriums, etc.) maintained by the city government have been lined up this Christmas.


One sure way to sabotage these programs and activities is to cut off the power lines in these areas due to non-payment of the gargantuan PECO bills.
The P5 million check is expected to protect all the Christmas-related programs and activities.
The move to pay PECO with the initial amount emanated from the City Council committee on appropriations chaired by Councilor Eduardo Penaredondo.
The windfall could be timely since Iloilo City is also scheduled to host segments of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in 2015.
By the end of 2014, city hall’s power bills are expected to increase now that the city government has installed several street lights and lampposts in the Diversion Road where some of the recently inaugurated state-of-the-art infra and road-widening projects are located.
Both city hall and PECO are studying some mechanisms on how to further reduce the bills without the need to slice a big chunk of the city budget intended for the employees’ benefits and the people’s basic needs.


We are glad that Roxas City Hall has released the business permit of Kapis Mansions owned by businessman Joaquin “Toto” Diaz Dumagpi, a Capiz-based friend of Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay Sr.
Mayor Alan Celino may have interfered and did not want anymore to further inflame the issue after the delay was linked to Dumagpi’s friendship with the vice president.
Dumagpi had fought tooth and nail since early this year to compel city hall to release his hotel's business permit, insisting his papers were complete and properly documented.
In a press conference last month, Dumagpi scored the repeated refusal of the city licensing division to release the business permit, lamenting that the delay had cost Kapis Mansions millions of pesos of losses since the hotel was supposed to host the Department of Health (DOH) national convention.
Lawyer Leobeth Deslate-Delicana confirmed recently her client did not pay any penalty or surcharge to the city government.
There was no immediate explanation on the part of the city hall why it suddenly released Kapis Mansions’ business permit, which happened after the media extensively tackled the issue.


Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor is ready to lower the boom on Capitol checks scammers upon his return from a three-day trip in South Korea.
Fact finding committee chief, Atty. Suzette Mamon, has completed the investigation and Defensor was already informed about it.
The Iloilo provincial government had been defrauded with P170,345.21.
This was after Provincial Accounting Office found alterations in 17 disbursement vouchers and checks for the payment of medicines, drugs and medical apparatus.
The Provincial Treasurer’s Office issued P1,652,379.48 check to Diomar, more than the amount due which is only P1,482,034.27.
The transaction was made through Diomar Trading, a longtime supplier of the Capitol, it was learned.

Monday, October 20, 2014

No ‘movement’ for cold Frank Drilon

“Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.” Mao Zedong

By Alex P. Vidal

THE LAUNCHING of several “for president movement” slogans in and outside the social media has become a fad among political organizers from various regions nowadays.
The Ilocanos have launched the “Bongbong Marcos for President Movement”; “Jojo Binay for President Movement” for the people of Makati; “Rudy Duterte for President Movement” from Davao; and “Mar Roxas for President Movement” for the people of Capiz, and so on and so forth.
But we have yet to hear the Ilonggos mount the “Frank Drilon for President Movement” battle cry.
Some remnants of the People’s Reform Party (PRP), however, have started to inch their way to various universities and colleges and re-echo the “Miriam Defensor-Santiago for President Movement”.
Defensor-Santiago and Drilon are two of the most battle-scarred and prominent politicians from Iloilo touted by experts as “presidentiables” or potential candidates for the highest office of the country.
Only Drilon, however, does not have a known “movement” or group of supporters pushing for his presidential candidacy in 2016.


We remember a mysterious “movement” that emerged several years ago when Drilon was still the labor secretary and subsequently the justice secretary under the Cory government.
This was the “Movement Against Drilon” or MAD.
Whatever its objective, how it all started and who were its organizers, it failed to derail the senate big man’s meteoric political rise.
Drilon is supposed to be the most senior among politicians queuing for the presidency.
The senate president is supposed to be among the closest to President Benigno “Nonoy” Aquino III.
Long before DILG boss Mar Roxas earned President Noynoy’s trust and confidence, Drilon was already working with the Aquino clan during the post-EDSA Revolution.
On July 28, 2005, Drilon’s fellow “Hyatt 10” mutineers were already prepared to hand him the vice presidency on a silver platter and install then Vice President Noli De Castro as president.
This was when they called for then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation in the heels of the “Hello Garci” scandal.
Drilon has served as cabinet official for five presidents in a row, and must have also been salivating for the presidency ahead of Roxas and Binay.
Only Drilon himself can confirm if he is really interested to run for president or vice president.


Ideally, the interest to run should come first from Drilon himself, not from any “movement”, in the event there is one.
But Drilon has been incoherently passive.
Even his body movements are formless in as far as the presidential derby is concerned.
Although both Marcos and Duterte have not yet confirmed they were interested to eye the presidency in 2016, their respective ”movements” have already started juxtaposing and combing the entire archipelago at fever-pitch these past months.
The Ilonggo votes are a force to reckon with in the national elections.
We are the third biggest voting population next to Luzon and Cebu.
There is an age-old political wisdom that says if you want to win a national office–for president, vice president and senator—you must win first in Western Visayas.
With all the support of political bigwigs in Western Visayas allied with the ruling Liberal Party, we are puzzled why until now no “movement” has snowballed to endorse Drilon’s bid in 2016.
If he is not really interested to run, no “movement” is necessary to push him.
Politics is not a game of coercion.
We can bring the horse to the river, but we can't force it to drink.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Uncle Bob ‘did not protect’ Donaire

“I saw a lot of people have success handed to them that then exploited it. They didn't protect it or cherish it.” Aaron Paul

By Alex P. Vidal

Was Nonito Donaire Jr. fed to the lion?
It appears now that Manny Pacquiao is the only fighter in the world who enjoys “protection” from Bob Arum.
Since 2003, the wily but genius American promoter pampered Pacquiao with an assorted list of “falling stars” to ensure his dominance in prizefighting.
These “falling stars” that included Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya, used to be the biggest marquee names when Pacquiao was only a skinny flyweight oriental champion in the early 90s, and had no idea that in the future, he would invade the Land of Milk and Honey and cement his greatness at their expense.
No doubt Pacquiao is the best in the world, but it would have been a different scenario in the glitzy Las Vegas if Arum arranged Pacquiao’s showdowns with these hard-hitting gladiators during their prime.
With Uncle Bob’s protection, Pacquiao, now a congressman and a PBA playing coach to boot, walked his way to astonishing multi-million dollar contracts interrupted only in 2012 by a pair of back to back losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez.


As the co-promoter of the Nicholas Walters vs Nonito Donaire Jr. battle for the WBA super-featherweight championship in Carson, California on October 18 (October 19 in the Philippines), Arum knew Donaire was facing a younger, hungrier and deadlier undefeated foe with a 115 KO percentage.
But Arum did not oppose Walters.
At 28, Walters, known as “The Axe Man”, is at the prime of his career.
With a quickness of Sugar Ray Leonard, a stance of Thomas Hearns and a force of Marvin Hagler, Walters (25-0, 21 KOs) could smash into pieces opponents with iron Halloween masks.
Donaire, who made waves in the 118-lb during his 20s, is three years older and is a visitor in the 128-lb division despite his win against featherweight Simpiwe Vetyeka in Macao, China on May 31 this year.
Like junior lightweight terror Flash Elorde, who capitulated twice in as many encounters versus lightweight monarch Carlos Ortiz in the 60s, Donaire looked like a police trainee swapping feathers against a military platoon leader in the heavier weight class.


Arum would never allow Pacquiao to face Mosley and De La Hoya when the two hard-hitting American ring titans weren’t yet semi-retired or over the hill.
Except for senior citizens Jorge Arce, Vic Darchinyan, and Guillermo Rigondeaux, most of Donaire’s rivals in his last 10 fights were below 30s and were active ring tacticians and executioners: Fernando Montiel, Volodymyr Sydorenko, Omar Andres Narvaez, Wilfredo Vasquez Jr., Jeffrey Mathebula, Vetyeka, and Toshiaki Nishioka.
Either Arum, CEO of Top Rank, wanted to “punish” the prodigal son Donaire for abandoning America’s most influential promoter in 2011 for rival Golden Boy Promotion, or Arum wanted to give Donaire a “graceful exit” since 10 fights ago?
Although Donaire (33-3, 21 KOs) managed to clobber those high caliber pugilists one after another, his efforts were Pyrrhic.


The culmination of Donaire’s hard struggle to walk past those dangerous opponents was the 6th round destruction from the hands of the flamboyant Walters.
Donaire did nothing wrong in the ring. He was superb, brimming with confidence and throwing punches effectively.
But he was simply outclassed, out-muscled and out-dueled by a superior fighter from Jamaica.
One thing’s for sure. Arum did not “protect” Donaire the way he protected Pacquiao.  
Let’s see how will Arum reinvent Donaire after the Walters debacle.
Let’s see how will Arum revive The Filipino Flash’s career from the ashes of The Axe Man annihilation.
Only then can we conclude if indeed Donaire was fed to the lion.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Donaire vs Walters, a repeat of Duran vs Leonard Part I?

“Boxing's a poor man's sport. We can't afford to play golf or tennis. It is what it is. It's kept so many kids off the street. It kept me off the street.” Sugar Ray Leonard

By Alex P. Vidal

EXPERTS were divided and could not predict accurately who would win between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran in the 15-round battle for the WBC welterweight championship in Montreal, Quebec on June 20, 1980.
Both Leonard, a 1976 Montreal Olympics gold medalist, and Duran, known as “manos de piedra” or hands of stone, were unbeaten and the most popular welterweights in the world in that era.
Leonard, Duran, Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, and Marvelous Marvin Hagler were known at that time as “The Fabulous Four” of boxing.
Before the bout, Leonard had an impressive record of 27 wins.
Only nine of his opponents survived the distance.
Duran paraded a menacing 28-0 record with 18 stoppages.
Owing to Leonard’s Olympics reputation, Duran was installed a slight underdog.
But Duran (103-16, 70 KOs final record) shocked the world when he dethroned defending champion Leonard (36-3, 25 KOs final record) by unanimous decision.
In a rematch on Nov. 25, 1980 in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Panamian visitor registered one of the most mysterious twists in fight history with his “no mas, no mas” or no more no more surrender in the 8th canto.


The fight between Nonito Donaire Jr and Nicholas Walters for WBA super-featherweight tiara in Carson, California on October 18, has the making of the first Duran vs Leonard showdown.
Like Duran, Donaire (33-2, 21 KOs), being the challenger, is slightly the underdog in betting.  
Flamboyant defending champion Walters (24-0, 20 KOs), born and based in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is being regarded as the new Sugar Ray Leonard.
Walters stands five feet and seven inches and is fresh from a 5th round one-punch disposal win against Vic Darchinyan on May 31, 2014 in Macau, China.
Walters’ win over Darchinyan (39-7, 28 KOs) was his fourth straight knockout victory since winning by unanimous decision against Hector Javier Marquez in Colon City, Panama on March 31, 2012, and third title defense.
It is Ring Magazine’s candidate for knockout of the year.
Darchinyan bravely engaged the taller Walters in a torrid slugfest from the opening round until he was zapped by a tomahawk right that turned his legs into spaghetti.
Walters finished him off with a wicked straight to the chin in a clinical precision that impressed boxing scholars watching at ringside.
Darchinyan’s final fall did not need the referee’s mandatory count.  


Donaire, incidentally inflicted Darchinyan’s two other KO losses, but it was Walter’s destruction of Darchinyan that made headlines.
So bad was Darchinyan’s fall that supporters and experts called for his immediate retirement.
Thus Darchinyan became the common denominator between “The Filipino Flash” and “The Axe Man.”
Walters, 28, earned “The Axe Man” moniker because all his KO victims collapsed like they were pummeled by a forest ax like what happened to Darchinyan.
The Jamaican terror is expected to use his height advantage and lateral movement ala Sugar Ray to befuddle Donaire, born in Bohol, Philippines and raised in San Leandro, California.
Thirty four-year-old Guillermo Rigondeaux (14-0, 9 KOs) soundly defeated Donaire for WBO super-bantamweight and WBA super-bantamweight crowns in New York on April 13, 2014.
Donaire could not catch the fast-moving and slick-punching Cuban, who used his vast experience as a former Olympics champion, to humiliate the Philippines’ most popular ring heartthrob next to Manny Pacquiao.


If Donaire, 31, can’t nail Walters with the same combination he used when he tortured abrasive Mexican Jorce Arce en route to a 3rd round KO for WBO super-bantamweight belt in Houston, Texas on December 15, 2012, the Fil-Am fighter might blow away a chance to pocket the WBA super-world featherweight jewels.
Walters, however, has not met a world champion in Donaire’s caliber despite his unblemished record.
Donaire, an orthodox like Walters, is a deadly counter puncher.
He attacks with both fists over his head exposing his body, which he actually uses as bait.
Once the enemy diverts his attention from head to the body and targets the breadbasket, Donaire uncorks a flash counter punch to the face followed by a left cross.
The same tactic he used when he brutally drilled former world champion Fernando Montiel in the second round for the WBO and WBC bantamweight titles in Las Vegas on February 19, 2011.

Iloilo mayors for Roxas; councilors for Binay

“When people show loyalty to you, you take care of those who are with you. It's how it goes with everything. If you have a small circle of friends, and one of those friends doesn't stay loyal to you, they don't stay your friend for very long.” John Cena

By Alex P. Vidal

LOYALTY to the party over a personal choice.
This must be the stand adopted by most city and municipal mayors in Iloilo who are supposedly backing the presidential bid of DILG chief Mar Roxas in 2016.
Most of these mayors attributed their victory in the last local elections to the ruling Liberal Party (LP), thus they can’t just discard Roxas, who is President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III's personal choice.
Even if some of them dislike Roxas’ temerity to show off in “epal” gimmickry, these local chief executives have to toe the line or else.
In the 2013 elections, LP’s machinery was too much for those identified with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose bets from national down to the municipal levels suffered unprecedented massacre.
Because of their victories as LP-anointed bets, these city and municipal mayors owe LP and the President a debt of gratitude.


Because they are beholden to Malacanang, they have no choice but to publicly endorse Roxas.
But many of these city and municipal mayors have developed a personal friendship with Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay Sr., opposition’s strongest bet for the top post in Malacanang.
Binay has been patiently paying them a visit one after another, but don’t talk about politics so as not to send panic alarms to the eyes and ears of Malacanang.
Binay, however, is very popular among city and municipal councilors.
Some members of the Iloilo provincial board are also pro-Binay but don’t display their preference at this early in respect to Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr.
Many Iloilo City councilors are also all-out for Binay but remain loyal to Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and, of course, to President Aquino.
Mabilog does not interfere with the choice of his allies in the city council, but assures President Aquino of his “unwavering” support and loyalty.
Mabilog is democratic when it comes to individual political stand of his city council allies.
As long as they support the programs and projects of President Aquino in the metropolis, Mabilog doesn’t give a hoot about the political preference of city councilors for national office.


The city councilors and Mabilog, however, agree on one unwritten but golden political rule: spare President Aquino and Senate President Franklin Drilon of any unfavorable harangue.
In fact, Joshua Alim, one of the most senior members of the city council, has become Binay’s virtual campaign manager and spokesman in this part of the country.
Alim has been passionately defending Binay in media interviews and even called the ongoing Senate investigation on Binay’s alleged anomalies in Makati city hall as “political persecution and harassment from the elite who wanted to topple down the vice president.”
Alim also does not hide his impatience when he sees negative comments on Facebook against the vice president and makes it a point to defend Binay by hook or by crook.
When Roxas visited Iloilo most recently, some of the streamers Alim’s group put up in various intersections supporting and endorsing Binay disappeared one after another.
Alim cried foul and accused Binay’s detractors to be behind the “sabotage.”
Many village chiefs have also signified their support for the diminutive second highest position of the land despite the almost daily bombshells being unloaded against him on national and local media.
It’s still a long way to go in as far as wooing the support of grass roots leadership is concerned.
The ballgame is still open, fluid and unpredictable.
Many sips-sips (sycophants) in the local level are still expected to jump ship and betray their partymates.
This early no one can claim he has the majority of local leaders in the bag.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Binay’s Capiz friend at loggerheads vs city hall

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” George Washington

By Alex P. Vidal

IS it unsafe to do business or run for public office in Roxas City or in Capiz Province if one is associated or identified with the country’s most controversial politician, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay Jr.?
Or is it a scourge for any Capiznon to be a friend of Binay?
Roxas City and Capiz Province are known bailiwicks of DILG boss Mar Roxas, who was bundled out by Binay in the previous vice presidential contest.
It appears the two political behemoths are heading for a rematch in 2016, this time for the presidency of the land.
Thus Roxas and his subalterns probably become increasingly jealous politically each time Binay, otherwise known as “Rambotete” (a calumny for the diminutive former Makati mayor who carried an Uzi machine gun ala “Ramboo” with a protruding tummy at the height of coup d'etat during the administration of the late President Cory Aquino), is seen hobnobbing with Capiz businessmen and political leaders.


With the national elections fast approaching, Binay’s Capiz friends, even in the business sector, are starting to feel the heat.
We missed by the skin of the teeth the press conference called by businessman Joaquin ”Toto” Dumagpi at the Kapis Mansions last September 25 in Roxas City, Capiz.
We were with visiting Chicago-based balikbayan couple Rufino and Aurea Canong, retired Army Maj. Lyel Tugbang and wife Baby, and Roberto “Bob” De la Cruz.
The Canong husband and wife are friends of
Dumagpi, president and chief executive officer of the Roxas City-based Kapis Development Corp. (KDC), from way back in the 90’s in the United States.
Dumagpi was protesting the apparent “delaying tactics” employed by the City Hall’s licensing division in the processing of Kapis Mansions’ business permit.


The businessman lamented that his establishment’s business permit has not been released since they first applied for renewal in January this year.
The delay has incurred Kapis Mansions millions of pesos in losses as the hotel was supposed to host the national convention of the Department of Health (DOH).
Without a business permit, the hotel cannot make a transaction with government agencies like the DOH.
Dumagpi said Carmen Andrade, city government consultant on economic affairs, wanted them to “add 15 percent” to their 2013 gross sales.
Dumagpi insisted his papers were in order and complete.
After a meeting with Dumagpi’s representative last Oct. 3, Andrade gave Kapis Mansions one week to fully declare its income or pay the city government in lieu of audit.
Dumagpi suspected that the pressure his establishment has been enduring from the city government could have something to do with his ties with Binay.


He admitted that Binay has been a regular guest at Kapis Mansions. This must have inconvenienced some characters allied with Secretary Roxas, he surmised.
Incidentally, Binay has a not-so-pleasant relationship with Roxas City Mayor Alan Celino.
There was already a bad blood between the two even before Sec. Roxas became Binay’s political adversary.
During the presidential campaign in 2004, then Vice Mayor Celino had a violent verbal spat with Binay, who was campaigning for the late Fernando Poe Jr. against Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Binay protested the alleged shabby treatment Celino gave Susan Roces when she campaigned for FPJ in Roxas City.
Binay and Celino called each other names on national TV and their feud worsened when Celino challenged Binay to a fistfight after Binay allegedly called Celino “amo” (ape).
Was Dumagpi caught in the middle of all these political hullabaloos?