Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Iloilo dads should get their hands off 'Bato' case

"There are three major social issues that this country is struggling with: education, poverty, and drugs. Two of them we talk about, and one of them we don't."
-- Steven Soderbergh

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- The night before the Iloilo City Council in the Philippines unanimously passed a resolution in its regular session on January 30 "urging" Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to stay put, President Rodrigo Duterte announced in a haste press conference in Manila that he had rejected Dela Rosa's resignation.
Had Duterte let Bato go and announced it in the press conference on January 29, the Iloilo City councilors would have nothing to "urge" from the top cop in as far as his stint in the PNP was concerned.
Either proponents would revise the resolution from "urging Bato not to resign" or to "urging President Duterte to reinstate Bato." 
Or they would forget about the Bato resolution and remove it from the regular session's agenda.

NECESSARY

Was the Bato resolution, penned by Councilor Joshua Alim, necessary?
It may be wise and symptomatic but not necessary, to say the least.
As a national figure, Bato has been the subject of intense discussions in the House of Representatives with some solons calling for his resignation in the light of the kidnapping and murder of a Korean businessman perpetrated by policemen inside the Camp Crame.
Newspapers, news websites, TV networks have been tackling issues about Bato. Even during the Miss Universe Pageant, Bato was among the "top grossers" in the news and social media.
Bato's fate is too broad for a local legislature like the Iloilo City Council.
Too many cooks will spoil the broth.
Instead of joining the fray in complicated national issues, the city council will look good and earn more pogi points if it will instead focus on local issues.

DINAGYANG

Like an "urgent" resolution commending government agencies, city and provincial officials, private individuals, participating schools,  sponsors, choreographers, among other unsung heroes responsible for the successful staging of the just-concluded 2017 Dinagyang Festival. 
There's a myriad of socio-economic, health, business, education, political and environmental issues that affect the life of local populace.
More pressing issues like the success or failure of smoking ban on public places, malnutrition and housing programs in villages, the reported increase in number of AIDS, murder, and rape cases.
The Department of Tourism's (DOT) efforts to push for chartered flights between Taiwan and the Iloilo International Airport in the town of Cabatuan, Paraw Regatta 2017 preparations, Iloilo City's aim to become "City of Excellence", real estate boom, investment and business expansion and opportunities, among other local issues.
Meanwhile, if there was one thing significant about the Gen. Bato Dela Rosa resolution, it was the city council's avowed display of solidarity behind the Duterte administration's "strong campaign against illegal drugs and criminalities."


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Generosity)

Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out.
 --FRANK A. CLARK : 

Generosity isn't goodness per se. Some generous people share because of their abundance in life. But there are those who are bitten by generosity bug mainly because they expect to be hoisted in the altar of flattery and applauded in the temple of demagoguery.
-- ALEX P. VIDAL

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Interview with 'Buang'

“If you're going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use two feet.” -- Keith Richards

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Sometime in 1996, a friend in Iloilo City requested us to interview Richard Prevendido alyas "Buang", who was then detained at the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center or the old provincial jail on Bonifacio Drive, City Proper.
Aside from this writer, five other Iloilo mediamen selected by our friend accompanied the group.
We had no idea who Prevendido was and why he would be accorded a privilege of facing a group of selected reporters while under detention.
We had no idea that he was also known as "Buang" (crazy), but the friend said he was a "victim of false charges."
"What were the charges?" we inquired.
Violation of Republic Act 6425 or the Dangerous Drugs Act 1972, we were told.

APPEAL

Pevendido, who had tattoos in the body, appealed in Hiligaynon that he should be released "as soon as possible because I am innocent and I never engaged in selling of illegal drugs."
Jail authorities allowed the 15-minute interview but Prevendido was not allowed to go out the jail. 
We don't know when was Prevendido released or what happened to the charges filed against him, but when he was out he became active in selling of illegal drugs, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
I read in the Philippine news that the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) headed by Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. has approved the recommendation of Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) Director Harold Tuzon to provide additional reward to those who can furnish information leading to the arrest of Prevendido and other drug personalities in Iloilo.
This was on top of the bounty offered by the Iloilo City Government through the Iloilo City Peace and Order Council (CPOC).
The reward has reached P1 million, as of this writing.

'DRUG LORD'

Prevendido, according to the PDEA, is now the No. 1 drug personality in Western Visayas.
He is now considered as "drug lord", according to reports.
Other drug personalities with rewards for their arrest included: Ariel Prevendido of Barangay Bakhaw, Mandurriao (P10,000); Troy John Prevendido of Barangay Bakhaw (P10,000); Ana Penecilla y Prevendido of Barangay Bakhaw (P10,000); Romeo Penecilla y Pudadera alias "Boyet" of Tanza Rizal Estanzuela, City Proper (P10,000); Rampart Gregori of Barangay Desamparados, Jaro (P10,000); Errol Barcebas of Iloilo City (P10,000); Jessica Mino of Molo, Iloilo City (P10,000); Ma. Beauty Dela Cruz of Barangay Bakhaw, Mandurriao (P10,000); and Niven Dejeron of Barangay Desamparados, Jaro (P10,000).

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What Mabilog needs to hear from Drilon

"Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much."
--Blaise Pascal

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- When President Duterte called Iloilo City as the "most shabulized" city in the Philippines and named Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog as among the 159 local government executives in the entire country allegedly linked to narcotics trade in August 2016, Senator Frank Drilon expressed "hurt" and "sadness" that the City of Love has been "tarnished."
Drilon never exonerated his second cousin Mabilog.
“Let me state that I am saddened and hurt that the perception that Iloilo local officials are involved in the drug trade became the basis of such a sweeping description of Iloilo," Drilon sharply reacted.
"All the efforts of the Ilongos for the past five years to make Iloilo an attractive and progressive investment destination and a livable city is negated by a sweeping judgment of the city and province of Iloilo."
Ilonggos have been waiting for Drilon to at least vouch for Mabilog, who had to agonize once again when he and fellow mayors faced his tormentor in Malacanang for another round of admonition on January 12, 2017.
The former senate president has been mum over Mabilog's predicament.

DINAGYANG

Last January 22, 2017 before the start of the ati-ati tribes contest of the Dinagyang Festival at the Freedom Grandstand in Iloilo City, Drilon reiterated his concern and love for the city, but never mentioned anything that could buoy Mabilog's spirit in as far as the mayor's dilemma with President Duterte is concerned.
Drilon announced: “We made a vow that in five years time, we will change the face of Iloilo. Today we are proud. Iloilo is the most progressive city in the whole country."
“We made this change possible because of everyone’s support, because of a united leadership. This is why we’re able to move forward.” 
Although the Liga ng Barangay (League of Barangays) headed by  Reyland Hervias as well as Hervias' colleagues in the Iloilo City Council have rallied behind the embattled Mabilog, it cannot be denied that he is still hurting from President Duterte's tirades.

HIGHER

If there is any public official who holds a higher office in the country today who knows Mabilog so well, it's Drilon.
Any statement from a highly-regarded politician like Drilon that would at least contradict or belie the accusation made by President Duterte against the No. 5 World Mayor, can more or less mitigate the burden Mabilog has been carrying inside his heart.
It can also help disabuse the minds of those who swallowed President Duterte's allegations against Mabilog hook, line, and sinker.
For many Ilonggos who follow the issues on narco mayors in the country, only Drilon's sympathetic words can help assuage Mabilog's frazzled emotion; and, perhaps, influence the thinking of some of those who have written off Mabilog politically as a result of that negative tag.

Saving Our Planet

Let's be responsible. When fishing, let's make an effort not to disturb small animals. 
Let's remember not to use lead weights for angling as lead is a toxic metal. 
Let's make sure we discard hooks and nets responsibly or take them home with us as they are a potential threat to wildlife.

Friday, January 20, 2017

President Donald J. Trump Inaugural Speech

Washington, D.C., January 20, 2017, 

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/trump-inaugural-address/index.html

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: Thank you.
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.
We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.
Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.
Today's ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another -- but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.
Words from the past: Inauguration speech library
For too long, a small group in our nation's Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished -- but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered -- but the jobs left, and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes -- starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.
It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.
What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.
Everyone is listening to you now.
You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.
Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
We are one nation -- and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.
The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.
For many decades, we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we've defended other nation's borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America's infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We've made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.
One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.
The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.
But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.
From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
From this moment on, it's going to be America First.
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.
I will fight for you with every breath in my body -- and I will never, ever let you down.
America will start winning again, winning like never before.
We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.
We will get our people off of welfare and back to work -- rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.
We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world -- but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones -- and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity."
We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.
When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
There should be no fear -- we are protected, and we will always be protected.
We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.
In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.
We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action -- constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.
The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.
Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.
We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.
It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.
And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.
So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:
You will never be ignored again.
Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
Together, We will make America strong again.
We will make wealthy again.
We will make America proud again.
We will make America safe again.
And yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

'World champions'

"Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them." 
--Joseph Heller

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- If he did not quarrel with a fellow spoiled brat, many Filipinos wouldn't know that Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri is a "former world champion in arnis."
Incensed that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV accused him and Senator Dick Gordon of "trying to whitewash the investigation of  corruption in the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID)", Zubiri "accepted" Trillanes' challenge for a "war" boasting that "I did not become a world champion in arnis for nothing..."
True or not, who are we to doubt Zubiri's claim that he is a former world champion in arnis? (Although I personally haven't read any press release or news item that extolled the Bukidnon lawmaker's exploits in the combat sport otherwise known as "Eskrima" and "Kali".)
Aside from Zubiri, they also have Senator Manny Pacquiao as world boxing champion. 

ABUNDANCE

The Philippine senate actually has abundance if not packed with "world champions."
In fact, the upper house, as an institution, has also been reputed as a "world champion" -- in producing plunderers, clowns and mediocre legislators.
If amassing unexplained wealth via "pork barrel" is a world championship, who can beat our Janet Napoles-inspired Filipino legislators? 
They could even wrap up the "team championship" or dominate the medal tally.  
And if there is a "world championship" in their respective talents, styles, and categories, Senators Leila De Lima, Vicente "Tito" Sotto, Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Frank Drilon, Gringo Honasan II, Alan Peter Cayetano, Ralph Recto, Nancy Binay; and Trillanes IV might win handily and be considered also as "world champions."
De Lima in love affair; Sotto in plagiarism; Honasan in coup d'tat; Drilon in balimbing game; Lacson in Houdini-like escape; Cayetano in sip-sip game; Recto in playing safe attitude; Binay in underdog effect, Trillanes in quarreling, to mention only a few.     

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Love, Friends)

Love is temporary...but friends are forever. 
-- KELLY WHEELER : 

There is no forever. Both romantic love and friendship can instantly collapse and drop dead once betrayal rears its ugly head. Irrational jealousy may deliver a mortal blow on any romance, but infidelity will murder it. Envy may pollute any friendship, but a Judas kiss will kill it. 
--ALEX P. VIDAL 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Our first Miss Universe's 'Sword of Damocles'

"It's almost not safe to be an artist, the way everybody is randomly picking people to feud with." -- Busta Rhymes

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- How many Filipino beauties have won the Miss Universe title in the past? Are they still alive? How are they doing now? 
Because the Philippines is currently hosting the 2017 Miss Universe, people in other parts of the world might be asking some of these questions in random when they meet a Filipino in their countries.
MISS UNIVERSE 1969 GLORIA DIAZ
If they happen to be in the Philippines as tourists or members of the pageant entourage, they must have already started asking some of these questions.
If Americans, for instance, will ask me all the three questions, I will answer them this: 1. Three, so far. They are Gloria Diaz (1969), Margarita Moran (1973), and Pia Wurtzbach (2016); 2. Yes, they are all still alive--and shining; 3. They are all doing fine; Miss Diaz is still active as movie and TV actress; Miss Moran, who is now Mrs. Moran-Floirendo, is a peace advocate and ballet executive; and Miss Wurtzbach will crown the 65th edition winner on January 30, 2017 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. 

RESOLUTION

Of course I won't tell them that Miss Diaz, 65, had been declared as persona non grata through a resolution by the Vice Mayors' League of the Philippines-Cebu six years ago.
I will tell my readers.
The organization has failed to rescind the resolution it passed on September 1, 2010 supposed to be in deference to the country's hosting of the world famous pageant, which is ongoing, this year.
Apparently she wasn't accorded the benefit of the doubt or the privilege of "immunity from humiliation" due an international celebrity and former beauty queen who gave honors to the country. 
Or they must have overlooked the gaffe. 
Isn't it weird that the first Miss Universe crown holder in the host country has a pending enmity with a group of elected public officials in her own country; and no effort has been made to cross out the ruckus so that Miss Diaz would be shielded from embarrassment?

COMMENT

Miss Diaz's nightmare with the vice mayors league started when she made a "constructive" comment after Miss Universe 2010 fourth runner-up Venus Raj belted the controversial and now famous "major major" pidgin during the Q and A. 
Miss Diaz suggested that Raj and other Filipino contestants perhaps would have strong chances if they utilized the services of an interpreter instead of answering in English.
"Because when you think about a Cebuana can hardly speak English, and, of course, Tagalog. Maybe she should answer in Bisaya," she told ABS-CBN.
Many Cebuanos took umbrage at her statement and accused the beauty queen-turn-actress of insulting their English proficiency.  Cebu politicians joined the outrage and demanded from her an apology. 

SORRY

Miss Diaz, who stood her ground and refused to say sorry, shot back: "Let me clarify it once and for all. People should have the right to say or to answer (questions) in whatever language they want to say it in. If they're Cebuanos, they can say it in Cebuano."
She added: "I did not say that they did not speak English. If you're Ilocano, say it in Ilocano. But if you're Ilocano who speaks good English, say it in English. If you're Cebuano who can speak Spanish, if you're comfortable with Spanish, say it in Spanish. That's what I said and that's what I meant."
When visiting dignitaries, fans and spectators start to think and talk about the Miss Universe winners in the host country, Miss Diaz's name definitely will always occupy the presidential table.
They will talk about how good she has become as a soap opera actress, her awards and honors reaped in her stint in the entertainment and showbiz industry, her love life, her children and family, her health, and, your guess is as good as mine, her involvement in controversies--if there are some.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

No terrorist will commit a hara-kiri in Dinagyang

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." --  George Bernard Shaw

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- I grew up in Iloilo City in the Philippines and witnessed how Dinagyang Festival started as a ramshackle religious and cultural activity until it blossomed into a behemoth international attraction.
Since the actual street dancing Dinagyang festivities romped off in the 70's, the real problem was peace and order--drunken revelries, ill-behaved drug addicts and gangs composed of skinny but tattooed teenagers.
No invasion of the third kind. No rebellion. No earth-shaking tumult.
There were incidents of mugging, snatching, vandalism, acts of lasciviousness, street rumble, stabbing, among other street-level crimes. The police handled the situation and nipped the troublemakers in the bud.
It's the proliferation of illegal drugs, especially shabu, and the sales of liquor in the streets that should be regulated if not stopped during the week-long festival in the month of January.
Not the "jamming" of cellular phone signals.

JEOPARDIZE

When communication lines are shut down during important events, we jeopardize the comfort and safety of visiting tourists and the residents who update their relatives abroad on what's going on in their locality.
Drug addicts and drunken dolts don't use high-tech communication gadgets to create trouble. Police deployed in performance areas can manually overpower any amok in the crowd.
No real terrorists from other regions--or even outside the country-- will commit a hara-kiri or kamikaze attack by sneaking inside the well-guarded Iloilo City, surrounded by treacherous rivers, just to sabotage the Dinagyang. 
If they intend to extort, bringing an explosive device in Iloilo City is like holding a microphone in public and announcing that they would pee at Plazoleta Gay.
If they intend to send a political message, they will not only be barking at the wrong tree, they will be in the wrong place of the planet. Malacanang and Imperial Manila are several islands and regions away. 
Good that the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) is reportedly not keen on recommending the jamming of mobile signals in the metropolis during the two-day Dinagyang highlights on January 21-22, 2017.

NECESSARY

Signal jamming or shutting down cellular phone signals is necessary and effective in events where the visiting VIPs in the country are considered as "security risks."
Especially when the occasion attracts a large number of crowd like the recent Black Nazarene procession, which drew 1.5 million devotees in the streets.
Like when Pope Francis visited the Philippines on January 15-19, 2015. And when state leaders gathered for the APEC Meeting. 
Or even during the 2017 Miss Universe coronation night where foreign dignitaries and high government and military officials would be in attendance.
Mobile phone signals may also be jammed if there are special police operations like the raids conducted in the shabu-infested National Bilibid Prison.
The purpose is to prevent terrorists and criminals from sabotaging the events or operations by knocking out their communication.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Poverty)

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.  
-- MOTHER TERESA :

Aside from poverty of common sense, some of us have been suffering from poverty of etiquette or the GMRC (Good Manners and Right Conduct). Yes, we must start in our homes. Education, as in charity, begins at home.
--ALEX P. VIDAL

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mr. Poverty meets Miss Universe

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." 
-- Frederick Douglass

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- It is only the third time in history that the Philippines is hosting the Miss Universe. 
The country also hosted the world's most prestigious pageant in 1974 and 1994. As a host country in today's modern age, we can showcase to the global village our culture, history, tourism, people, way of life, economic pulse through the power of high-tech media. 
Unknown to many people around the world, the Philippines has been "hosting" Mr. Poverty since time immemorial.
In playing host to gigantic international events, the question that has been always badgering the Filipinos is: "Are we a rich country pretending to be poor, or a poor country pretending to be rich?"
Official government statistics showed that more than 26 million Filipinos remain poor with almost half, or a little more than 12 million, living in extreme poverty and lacking the means to feed themselves.
The Filipino poor have families of six or more members, with greater numbers of younger and older dependents, statistics showed.

EDUCATION

In the majority of poor families, the head of household has only an elementary education or below. These families have few or no assets and minimal access to electricity, water sources and toilet facilities. They also have limited access to health and education services,  according to Gil Dy-Liacco, Development Assistance Specialist in USAID/Philippines’ Office of Program Resources Management.
About 26.3 percent of Filipinos were found to be living below the poverty line, a measure of the minimum income required to meet basic food and nonfood needs in the first three months in 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
This translates to about 26.48 million Filipinos, based on the Philippine population in 2015 of 100.7 million.

INCIDENCE

The PSA said national poverty incidence stood at 27.9 percent of the population in 2012. It was at 28.6 percent, practically unchanged from the 2006 figure three years before, of 28.8 percent in 2009.
The 2015 survey also found that 12.1 percent of the population--roughly 12.18 million Filipinos--are living in subsistence or extreme poverty, meaning their earnings are not enough for them to eat three square meals a day.
This, too, the reports added, indicates marginal declines from the three previous years the survey had been taken. In 2006, 14.2 percent of Filipinos lived in extreme poverty; in 2009, the number stood at 13.3 percent, and at 13.4 percent in 2012.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

You want peace in Bacolod? Kick out Bing and Monico

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." -- Mark Twain

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- As long as Monico "Nyok" Puentevella and Evelio "Bing" Leonardia are active in Bacolod City politics, the City of Smile can never have a political peace of mind.
The two archenemies are Bacolod's version of Cromwell vs Charles I, Stalin vs Trotsky, Pompey vs Caesar, and Pizarro vs Atahualpa. 
They will stop at nothing until they have totally obliterated one another.
The bad blood between the two Ilonggo leaders has escalated in epic proportions.
Whoever sits as city mayor will always be at the receiving end of tidal waves of graft and corruption cases, including their proteges who happen to take over while they are either under suspension or have been sacked.
Whoever between the two is the representative in the city's lone congressional district will surely wipe his face with graft and corruption charges--real or imagined.
Graft charges have been their most abused weaponry to rock the boat whoever between them is in the helm or the sitting mayor and congressman, respectively.

OMBUDSMAN

When Puentevella was the city mayor, then congressman Leonardia peppered Puentevella with graft cases in the Office of the Ombudsman, one of which was related to the anomalous purchase of P26-million worth of computer sets that resulted in Puentevella's preventive suspension for 90 days in 2015.
Leonardia, who ousted Puentevella in their epic match in the May 2016 mayoral election, was himself recently ordered ousted by the Office of the Ombudsman for neligence in the procurement of P50-million worth of furniture and fixtures. 
Leonardia's camp pointed an accusing finger at, who else, Puentevella, to be behind the "harassment." Puentevella, as usual, feigned innocence as Leonardia wont to do.
Their counter accusations have become akin to a pot calling the kettle black. 
Their long-drawn-out quarrel, although political in nature, has demoralized their respective followers in particular, and the Bacolodnons in and outside the country in general.

POWER

As long as they continue to wield power and influence, even if they are temporarily out as elected mayor or congressman vice versa, their bitter rivalry will hamper the basic services and operations in the metropolis' seat of political power, in one way or the other.
If Bacolodnons want to bring back stability, harmony, and even sanity in city hall, they should stop treating the selection process of their mayor and congressman as like that of a game of Trip to Jerusalem between two angry slow-mo dancers.
They should stop limiting the positions of city mayor and congressman only between two harpooned and recycled gladiators.
They should elect fresh faces, new leaders with a reinvigorated vision and mission; leaders that possess humility and emotional intelligence; and modern political philosophy sans any shade of petty intramural and infantile bickering.
Bacolod has to move on; move forward even without Puentevella and Leonardia.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Success, Value)

Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
-- ALBERT EINSTEIN :

Success can lift up our self-pride and galvanize our inner satisfaction, but the bliss we experience doesn't have staying power as life goes on. Honors are toppled; contracts expire; big profits decline; titles melt away; health deteriorates; wealth dissipates. A man of value is like a candle in the wind: tenacious, solid, placid, ethical, principled. 
-- ALEX P. VIDAL

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Double standard in war vs illegal drugs

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” 
― Voltaire

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Here's another case of "double standard" when it comes to dealing with characters involved in illegal drug trafficking in the Philippines.
If the suspect is a street-level drug peddler or drug addict, he is killed in a "shootout" with lawmen "after resisting arrest."
If the suspect is a drug lord, he is accorded a "special treatment" by allowing him to face the media and destroy the reputations of authorities allegedly receiving protection money from the syndicate.
To add insult, the drug lord could escape prosecution if his revelations on the payola scandal would be proven based on the reports below.
Reports from Negros Occidental in the Philippines referred to one Ricky Serenio, 34, of Barangay Singcang-Airport, Bacolod City as "a drug lord under the target list of Negros Island Police Regional Office (PRO)."
Serenio, who has been placed under PRO's witness protection program after he named several members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), court employees, and media personalities as among those who received regular "payola" from the "boss" he refused to name.

DISMISS

Being placed under the program could reportedly help dismiss the cases against Serenio, "if he can prove that his revelations are true."
Chief Superintendent Renato Gumban, PRO acting regional director, said Serenio, who is under the custody of the Regional Special Operations Task Group, is facing charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives after police recovered from him a .45 caliber pistol with magazine containing five live ammunition and a fragmentation grenade when he was served with an arrest warrant for grave coercion at Rizal Street, Barangay Zone 9 in Talisay City on January 8, 2017.
Why place Serenio under the witness protection program if the evidence is sufficient to convict him in a fair trial? 
If the cases filed against him will eventually be dismissed only because his revelations were proven, the public trust and confidence on our law enforcers will definitely be eroded.
When small fries are trampled like grasses and the big fishes get away with murder, it will defeat the "all-out war" campaign of President Duterte against illegal drug trafficking.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Intelligent, Emotion)

The sign of an intelligent people is their ability to control their emotions by the application of reason.
-- MARYA MANNES :

Reason is what separates us from animals. Like humans, animals also have emotions but they can't think logically, thus they can't behave like us. Reason teaches us to co-exist with the lowest mammals and be kind to one another.
-- ALEX P. VIDAL

Friday, January 13, 2017

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Revenge)

Revenge converts a little right into a great wrong.
 -- GERMAN PROVERB : 

No victim of assault, harassment, discrimination, persecution and bullying has the right to act as spoiled brat just because the law tilts on his side, and because the wheels of justice appear to grind in his favor. His tormentors have to be dealt with accordingly, but the punishment must be commensurate to the offense committed under the hate crime statute. Ergo vengeance is a misnomer in the search for redress of grievances.
-- ALEX P. VIDAL  

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Mistake)

A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it is committing another mistake.
 -- CONFUCIUS : 

Mistake should not be a source of shame or frustration. Committing it once doesn't make us sinners. Committing it twice or more with malicious, atrocious, and scandalous intent makes us not only  sinners but sycophants of Lucifer.
--ALEX P. VIDAL

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Fear)

The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.
-- NAPOLEON BONAPARTE :

Those who agree with us all the time--even if we are convinced we are always wrong--and are so proud and loud to announce it in order to get our attention, are more to be feared than those who keep their mouth shut. In times of moral crisis, the silent one goes to the hottest place in hell. The talkative and sip-sip hypocrite is himself the hell.
--ALEX P. VIDAL

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Success, Hate)

Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it wasn't that way. It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you. 
-- MARILYN MONROE : 

Hating a successful person is one of life's most mind-boggling peculiarity and man's most bizarre frame of mind. Even geniuses of antiquity and modern times social and behavioral scientists have been cringing in disbelief and tottering to find the right answer.
--ALEX P. VIDAL

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Simplicity, Humility)

I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind.
 -- ALBERT EINSTEIN : 

If we live a simple and humble life, our ego and pride won't be wounded if a friend or neighbor outshines us in popularity, achievement, intelligence, wealth, number of "likes" in Facebook, and opportunities in life. In fact, if we aren't irrational and eccentric, our hearts will be filled with joy if we see our friend or neighbor reaping these blessings.  
--ALEX P. VIDAL

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Iloilo City Councilor Ganzon 'usurps' functions of mayor, cops

“To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.”
―Tacitus

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY -- It's the job of the police to warn gangsters and their leaders not to create mayhem in public. Or round them up.
They are paid to run after hooligans and other troublemakers in society.
To maintain peace and order, police are tasked to neutralize any group engaged in criminal and terroristic activities.
If peace and order worsens, the city mayor may order the police to safeguard the civilians and protect government properties.
Police are mandated to use force (but not excessively) if the situation warrants. 
Although they are also trained for physical confrontation, police may negotiate for peace to avert a spill over of violence and bloodshed.
Under the Local Government Code, the executive department, or the city mayor and provincial governor, with law enforcement at their disposal, wield awesome power.

FEUD

In Iloilo City in the Philippines, a city councilor, "worried" by the increasing dangers posed by feuding gangsters in the metropolis, wanted to act both as city mayor and police.
As chair of the city council committee on police matters, Councilor Jeffrey Ganzon has asked Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) acting director, Senior Supt. Remus  Zacharias Canieso, to provide him with police escorts as he planned to meet leaders of the 25 to 32 gangs operating in Iloilo City. 
Ganzon wanted to personally "appeal" to the rowdy teenagers to stop creating trouble. He also wanted to talk to their parents. Nice.
In hindsight, Ganzon's gesture deserves an accolade. He did not ask to be paid for the heroic act. What's wrong if he wants to volunteer for the field work?
We were surprised though that nobody from among Ganzon's colleagues reminded him during their regular session last January 9 that dealing with problems on street gangs was the job of Senior Supt. Canieso and his cops.  

RISK

Members of the legislative branch gobble up their time in debates to hammer out quality resolutions and ordinances. 
They aren't elected to risk their lives marching on lairs of street ruffians and strike a deal with minions of the underworld.
Only in Iloilo City where a member of the local legislative body appointed himself as "peace emissary", bypassing the executive office or city mayor. 
He also "demoted" himself to act as foot patrol cop (with escorts to boot) for a tete-a-tete with bedraggled youngsters.
Because Ganzon reportedly plans to run for city mayor in 2019 (his supporters believe he will win if his opponent is his one-time tormentor, Vice Mayor Joe Espinosa III), Ilonggos should expect to see him perform more extra jobs that would boost his public image and unwittingly "usurp" the functions of police and city mayor "in aid of legislation."






Monday, January 9, 2017

Death sentence for Iloilo mayors in 'narco' list?

"Do I favor the death penalty? Theoretically, I do, but when you realize that there's a four percent error rate, you end up putting guilty people to death." -- Gary Johnson

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY -- I bumped off two stories over the weekend to pave the way for an article I deemed to be more urgent and relevant in the heels of President Duterte's speech during the swearing in of several newly-appointed cabinet officials on January 9 in Malacanang.
President Duterte called "narco-politicians" as "dead men walking."
He vowed to kill big time "shabu" dealers, and the next batch, reports quoted him as saying, would be the city and municipal mayors engaged in illegal drugs and whose names he mentioned weeks after he assumed office in July 2016.
I was so alarmed because some of the mayors President Duterte had linked to illegal drugs based on the list provided by his intelligence men were from my place in Western Visayas.  
They were Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City, Alex Centena of Calinog, Iloilo; Siegfredo Betita of Carles, Iloilo; and Mariano Malones of Maasin, Iloilo.
Except for Betita, the three are known to me personally. Malones was our former business manager in the News Express; Centena is a friend way back in the 80's when he was not yet a public official; and Mabilog is our mayor in Iloilo City.

DEATH LIST

Are they among those included in President Duterte's so-called death list? 
We want to know. We need to know especially because there has been no solid evidence linking them to illegal drugs.
They could only be victims of political black propaganda or vendetta. They were never convicted by any competent court. 
In fact, no formal charges have been filed against them yet. They were vilified, along probably with several others who could be innocent in the Duterte list, without any formal trial. 
What if the president erred or the list he was reading was a sham and contained falsehood? Since July 2016 when their names were disclosed as alleged drug protectors, the government has failed to substantiate the allegations.
Therefore it's premature to condemn them; it's not fair to punish them with a harsh "death sentence" which could become only another case of extra-judicial killing, God forbid.

LAW

While most Filipinos who elected President Duterte in the May 2016 polls support his campaign to stamp out criminality in the country especially the president's "all-out" war policy against illegal drugs, pressures from human rights advocates, including the United Nations and other international organizations, continued to hound the president as dead bodies piled up in the streets.
Most of those killed in "shootouts" with police were drug addicts and small-time peddlers of illegal substance. Their families claimed the dead were victims of summary execution.
The Philippines doesn't have any law on death penalty. Convicted criminals spend time in jail and are not killed. 
If these mayors are executed when their guilt was not yet proven beyond reasonable doubt--and in the absence of any law that supports the death penalty--the president becomes an executioner and violator of the law, not the dead mayors.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Conscience, Reputation)

It is easier to cope with a bad conscience than with a bad reputation. 
-- FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE :

Bad conscience is internal psychological issue, thus remorse and act of contribution can altogether squash it. Bad reputation is a result of bad habits and a series of public indiscretions. The battlegrounds to erase it are in the minds of people, their viewpoints of who we are and what we are.
--ALEX P. VIDAL

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Love, God)

Love is the only future God offers.
— VICTOR HUGO :

God has already offered love in the past and in the present, but man responded with hate and greed--hatred to his fellowmen, hatred to environment, hatred to animals and other living things; greed in material wealth, greed in title and recognition, greed in desire and extravagance. But because God is Omnipotent and Omniscient, He absorbs, He tolerates; He forgives; He sustains; and reserves His best for last!
-- ALEX P. VIDAL

Premises for a scientific age

“There is nothing that will cure the senses but the soul, and nothing that will cure the soul but the senses.”  -- OSCAR WILDE

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY -- From Willis Harman's Global Mind Change, the promise of the 21st century, we learned that there is a set of 10 premises, which, if encountered in a textbook a few decades ago, would hardly have aroused a question.
It is humbling to the educated Westerner to realize that to an indeterminable extent, science, like the traditional belief systems of "primitive" cultures, describes a world that is shaped by its built-in assumptions, observes Harman.
The rational set of premises for a scientific age, according to Harman, are the following:
1. The only conceivable ways in which we can acquire knowledge are through our physical senses, and perhaps by some sort of information transmission through the genes. The sole way in which we extend our understanding of the nature of the universe is through empirical science--that is, the exploration of the measurable world through instrumentation that augments our physical senses.
2. All qualitative properties (at least the ones we can talk about scientifically) are ultimately reducible to quantitative ones (for example, color is reduced to wavelength, thought to measurable brain waves, hate and love to the chemical composition of glandular secretions).
3. There is a clear demarcation between the objective world, which can be perceived by anyone, and subjective experience, which is perceived by the individual alone, in the privacy of his/her own mind. Scientific knowledge deals with the former; the latter may be important to the individual, but its exploration does not lead to the same kind of publicly verifiable knowledge.

FREE WILL

4. The concept of free will is a pre-scientific attempt to explain behavior that scientific analysis reveals is due to a combination of forces impinging on the individual from the outside, together with pressures and tensions internal to the organism.
5. What we know as consciousness or awareness of our thoughts and feelings is a secondary phenomenon arising from physical and biochemical processes in the brain.
6. What we know as memory is strictly a matter of stored data in the central nervous system, somewhat analogous to the storage of information in a digital computer.
7. The nature of time being what it is, there is obviously no way in which we can obtain knowledge of future events, other than by rational prediction from known causes and past regularities.
8. Since mental activity is simply a matter of dynamically varying states in the physical organism (primarily in the brain), it is completely impossible for this mental activity to exert any effect directly on the physical world outside the organism.
9. The evolution of the universe and of man has come about through physical causes (such as random mutation, natural selection), and there is no justification for any concept of universal purpose in the evolution, or in the development of consciousness, or in the strivings of the individual.
10. Individual consciousness does not survive the death of the organism; or if there is any meaningful sense in which the individual consciousness persists after the death of the physical body we can neither comprehend it in this life or in any way obtain knowledge about it.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Friend)

An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind. 
-- BUDDHA :

A false friend is worse than the devil. The devil is a known enemy who will lure us to hell.  A false friend is an enemy who falsifies a friendship in order to give us hell.
-- ALEX P. VIDAL 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Miss Universe and sex tourism

"I think the pageant system is about empowering women. I think that aspect of it is great, but when you take parents who are forcing their children to do anything, I don't think it's healthy."
--Olivia Culpo

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY -- When the Philippines first hosted the Miss Universe in 1974, the pageant not only showcased the country's "warm" hospitality and "greatness" before an international audience, it also deodorized the human rights violation-tainted Marcos administration which placed the country under Martial Law on September 21, 1972.
Most of all, it reportedly promoted sex tourism, or so it seemed.
In fact, that year's winner, Ms. Amparo Muñoz of Spain, who became an actress, was implicated in a sex scandal. 
It's not the kind of sex scandal though that has bedeviled some politicians and showbiz stars today like the Hayden Kho sex video or the alleged Senator Leila De Lima-driver taped tryst.
It's the slapping incident involving Muñoz and a prominent socialite accused of pimping the Spanish beauty.

MOVIE

When Muñoz slapped the alleged pimp of big time Manila businessmen, the episode was not part of the Hayop sa Ganda movie that also starred 1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz.
"It was a real skirmish that shocked the entertainment world," the late Joe Quirino once remarked in Seeing Stars with Joe Quirino.
Since it was a Martial Law, the press could not report in complete details what really had transpired. 
Muñoz was reportedly declared as persona non grata as a result of that tumult and left the Philippines in a huff. She died in Malaga, Spain on February 27, 2011 at age 56 due to Parkinson's disease. 
Although nobody came forward to confirm that other Miss Universe contestants had also been pimped at that time, the reported slapping brouhaha underscored fears that sex tourism could have reportedly penetrated the prestigious international beauty contest.

CIRCULAR

Meanwhile, one thing good about the Philippines' hosting of the 2017 Miss Universe, is the Malacanang memorandum circular dated December 28, 2016 which ordered that no public funds shall be expended for the international event which will unfold on January 30, 2017.
“The DOT (Department of Tourism) may call upon any such department…. for assistance as the circumstances and exigencies may require, read the circular signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“Officials concerned shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to ensure that there will be no disruption of work and services in their respective offices by reason thereof,” the circular says.
“Except for such reasonable resources required in providing support for the hosting of the Pageant, no public funds shall be expended for the hosting of the 2016 Miss Universe Pageant,” it adds.
When the Philippines hosted the pageant for only the second time in 1994, the organizers suffered a shortfall and the Ramos administration reportedly covered some of the expenses in the $5.3 million-event.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Character)

No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character. 
-- RALPH WALDO EMERSON :

If our character has a factory defect, it can be traced to our family and environment. We can't use the time zone or history machine though to reconstruct it backward, but we can apply common sense and education-inspired values formation to correct it forward.
--ALEX P. VIDAL

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Failures)

Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.
-- RICHARD BRANSON :

Some of our failures are really embarrassing if not humiliating. But only our pride and ego are actually "wounded" and "devastated." Not our skin. Not our soul. So let's pick up the pieces and move forward. Life must go on.
-- ALEX P. VIDAL

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The greatest thinker of all time

"Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance." -- Will Durant

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY -- He was a pride of Asia. 
Before being adjudged as the No. 1 "greatest thinker of all time" by Dr. Will Durant, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Medal of Freedom, the great American historian-philosopher acknowledged that the choice of Confucius had sparked doubts and quarrels.
"By what canon shall we include Confucius and omit Buddha and Christ?" Durant inquires in The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time.  
"By this alone: that he was a moral philosopher rather than a preacher of religious faith; that his call to the noble life was based upon secular motives rather then upon supernatural considerations; that he far more resembles Socrates than Jesus."
Born (552 B.C.) in an age of confusion, in which the old power and glory of China had passed into feudal disintegration and factional strife, Kung-fu-tse undertook to restore health and order to his country.
In the book compiled and edited by John Little, Durant describes Kung-fu-tse's speech as "a sound moral and political philosophy within the compass of a paragraph. It was a highly conservative system; it exalted manners and etiquette, and scorned democracy; despite its clear enunciation of the Golden Rule it was nearer to Stoicism than to Christianity."

GOOD FOR EVIL

A pupil having asked him should one return good for evil, Confucius replied: "With what then will you recompense kindness? Return good for good, and for evil, justice."
He did not believe that all men were equal; it seemed to him that intelligence was not a universal gift. 
As his pupil Mencius put it: "That whereby man differs from the lower animals is little. Most people throw it away." The greatest fortune of a people would be to keep ignorant persons from public office, and secure their wisest men to rule them.

MAGISTRATE

A great city, Chung-tu, took him at his word and made him magistrate. "A marvelous reformation," we are told, "ensued in the manners of the people...There was an end of crime...Dishonesty and dissoluteness hid their heads. Loyalty and good faith became the characteristic of the men, chastity and docility of the women."
It is too good to be true, and probably it did not last very long. 
But even if his lifetime Confucius' followers understood his greatness and foresaw the timeless influence he was to have in molding the courtesy and poise and placid wisdom of the Chinese.
"His disciples buried him with great pomp. A multitude of them built huts near his grave and remained there, mourning as for a father, for nearly three years. When all the others were gone, Tse-Kung," who had loved him beyond the rest, "continued by the grave for three years more, alone."