Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A silent river doesn’t mean there are no crocodiles

“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”
--Franklin D. Roosevelt

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- Mayor Oscar “Oca” Garin Sr. of Guimbal, Iloilo in the Philippines did not want the people to further speculate why he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the same position targeted earlier by his daughter-in-law, Dr. Janette Loreto-Garin, and incumbent Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., thus he decided to withdraw.
Mayor Garin was aware the people weren’t convinced he really was interested to go back to congress when he has already found the oasis of happiness and satisfaction in his farm as a plain and simple “Oca Manguguma” when he is not in the municipal hall.
People who have been watching the clan’s political dynamics knew that as an astute political tactician, “Tatay Oca” would never allow anyone to read their plans, much less influence the course of their future as a vortex dynasty.
Until the eleventh hour, “Tatay Oca” will continue to keep the aces up his sleeves and won’t let other card players predict his game plan.
Let’s not count the political maestro out yet.

-o0o-

His move to withdraw, already expected by both his critics and admirers since day one, will pave the way for his son to run for reelection against the clan’s favorite election whipping boy, Gerardo “Gerry” Flores, a retired police general and former mayor of Miag-ao, Iloilo.
The clan, which has been politically dominant in the first district for more then 30 years now, is supporting Iloilo fourth district Rep. Ferjenel “Ferj” Biron, who is running for governor against Iloilo third district Rep. Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr.
Even if he has already gotten the patriarch’s imprimatur, Biron shouldn’t neglect the “Baywatch.”
Don’t think that there are no crocodiles just because the river is silent, sir.
While he is still alive and active in politics, the patriarch Garin is expected to find ways how to worm his way to become the next vice governor and eventually governor, the only two integral positions missing in his public service arsenal.

-o0o-

A candidate for Iloilo City councilor has reportedly agreed to settle his debt to a female former city hall casual employee in the amount of P30,000 for fear the casual employee might “spill the beans” during the campaign period.
The candidate, who badly needs a job because of his mounting financial obligations, did not want the issue to be used against him during the campaign period as it might cripple his chances to win.
“I already sent him several demand letters but he all ignored them,” protested the former casual employee from Brgy. Dulonan, Arevalo, Iloilo City.
She agreed to lend money to the candidate with a promise that he would pay it from September to December 2017.
The former casual employee described the candidate for city councilor as “sickly” and was once hired by the Mabilog administration as casual employee after he lost in the 2016 elections.
“Nagpakitlooy sia nga mahulam kuarta kay gina dialysis kuno sia, but when it was time for him to pay he gave me a lot of problems,” the former casual employee cried.
When the candidate for city councilor did not honor his obligations, she sought the help of barangay authorities in Dulonan, Arevalo.
The former casual employee said her decision to demand payment from the candidate for city councilor “has nothing to do” with the recent decision of Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III to fire her and several other fellow casual workers.
The candidate for city councilor will reportedly start paying her in November 2019.
“Kon indi gid man sia magbayad ipa sa Diyos ko na lang ini tanan,” she wrote to me.

-o0o-

0 SUPER SNEAKY WEIGHT-LOSS SECRETS: 1. Never food-shop without gum 2. Ditch your tupperware 3. Give your guy the first bite 4. Sip from only one type of glass 5. Dish it out 6. Eat after happy hour 7. End your workout with protein 8. Love pretzels 9. Lose the serving dishes 10. Drink after-dinner coffee. SOURCES: Cornwell University Food and Brand Lab; Nutrition and Metabolism Specialist Jana Klauer, M.D.
EIGHT THINGS GUYS NOTICE ABOUT LADIES INSTANTLY: 1. How thick their hair is 2. If their smile is genuine 3. The size of their group 4. The pitch of their voice 5. Their hip-to-waist ratio 6. Their glowiness 7. What's fake about them 8. Their eyes. SOURCE: Daniel Amen, MD, author of The Brain and Love

SIX WORST THINGS A LADY CAN SAY TO A GUY: 1. You're so much better than all the other jerks I've dated 2. Can you really afford that? 3. So we're running a little late. Relax 4. He's a great guy--you should be friends with him 5. She made me promise not to tell, but...6. Don't be silly--I haven't done that in ages (Cosmopolitan, November 2009 issue)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Law allows ‘jokers’ to run

“I'm looking for the best person irregardless of political party, of race or religion, or color of their skin. Those things don't matter to me. I want someone who's qualified, who has a qualification to character and the integrity to do the things that have to be done to save this world.”
--Edward Brooke

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- When we laugh at the list of “nuisance” candidates (only the Commission on Elections can determine whether they are nuisance or not) who have filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) for the May 2019 Philippine elections, we actually ridicule our own law.
No matter how we treat their COCs with derision, mock them, and call them names, these “nuisance” candidates will continue to persevere knowing fully well that “the law is also on our side.”
They have the right to assert, “Hey, this election process is not only for the scholarly, the mighty, and the omnipotent. This is for us, too, the undervalued, the spurned, and the tossed aside aspirants for a public office.”
In a democratic country like the Philippines, everyone is free to dream and fail and fail to dream.

-o0o-

Whether these “nuisance” bets are real-life insane or erudite punks is beside the point once the Comelec has accepted their COCs.
In the first place, “nuisance” candidates can be expunged only from the electoral race during the Comelec deliberation process for their inability to mount a serious campaign, or for lack of a registered political party, among other primordial reasons, not because they weren’t qualified to run.
Under the law or An Act Governing the Elections of Local Government Officials, these “nuisance” candidates are very much allowed to run as long as they meet the qualifications prescribed by law for public elective positions in the Philippines.
For local positions the qualifications are “mere” the following:
1. citizen of the Philippines;
2. on the day of election at least 23 years old for Governor, Vice-Governor, member of sangguniang panlalawigan, mayor, vice-mayor, sangguniang panglungsod in highly urbanized cities; while at least 21 years old for the said officials in component cities and municipalities; at least 18 years old for members of the sangguniang panglungsod, sangguniang bayan and sangguniang barangay and punong barangay; at least 15 years old and not more than 21 years of age for Sangguniang kabataan;
3. able to read and write Filipino or any other local language or dialect;
4. registered voter in the constituency in the locality;
5. resident thereof for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the election.

-o0o-

Since 2009 when I started posting my photos on social media, a lot of my friends have noticed and mentioned to me that in almost 90 percent of my photos, my ears were always covered with either earphones or headphones.
I noticed this, too, but most of those photos weren’t prearranged. They were natural.
I use the earphones or headphones now especially when I travel far via the New York City subway.
I suspect I have Claustrophobia, or the fear of having no escape, and being closed into a small space.
It is typically classified as an anxiety disorder and often times results in a rather severe panic attack.
It is also confused sometimes with Cleithrophobia (the fear of being trapped).
I learned that Claustrophobia could be related to dysfunction of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that controls how we process fear.
The phobia can also be caused by a traumatic event, such as: being stuck in a tight or crowded space for an extended period of time, experiencing turbulence when flying.
With the help of earphones or headphones, my attention is diverted into the music and “I won’t feel something” as I close my eyes when the fully packed train would sometimes be stuck in the tunnel (the Dekalb in Brooklyn to Canal in Manhattan area) for six to 10 minutes (the longest I have experienced, so far).

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Enemy)

When you assume negative intent, you're angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response.
--INDRA NOOYI :

It's tactical brilliancy when we conquer our enemies in the battlefield. To conquer our anger, irrational behavior and propensity to harbor grudges against those who have offended us, is wisdom. To forgive--but not necessarily forget--and let bygones be bygones, is divine.
--ALEX P. VIDAL

Monday, October 29, 2018

‘I don’t want to die that way’

“What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet. No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled or uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.”
-- Robert Kennedy

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- Twelve hours after the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre happened on October 27, 2018, I dropped by the house of Rabbi George, 83, and his wife Helene, 76, in Brooklyn.
“The Rabbi has been sluggish. He didn’t go to the synagogue today (Hebrew Sabbath day),” Helene, a school teacher, volunteered.
“It’s been an awful Sabbath day because of what happened in Pittsburgh. I can’t understand why there is so much hatred in the hearts of some people.”
Rabbi George was sitting in the swivel chair facing the computer in his office inside the house when I entered.
“Is it raining outside, Alex?” the Rabbi asked in hoarse voice.
“Yes, Rabbi George. It’s been raining all day,” I answered.
“I didn’t go to the synagogue today as scheduled and I don’t intend to go out,” the Rabbi sighed. “I have been monitoring the news in Pittsburgh and before you came, I listened to the testimonies of a lot of people interviewed by media about the massacre. I feel bad about what happened.”
The Rabbi suddenly bursts, “I don’t want to die that way, Alex.”
The Rabbi said: “The way to die should be sleeping at night and not being able to wake up the next morning, not being hit by a speeding automobile or being violently shot in the head.”
He apologized that he couldn’t face me “because I can’t easily move my feet.”
Rabbi George mourned the death of his fellow Jews in a bloody anti-Semitic carnage, the worst attack against the Jewish community in US history, according to reports.

-o0o-


The Rabbi slightly turned his head and shoulder on the right side and enthused, “When I was younger, people with no education were dangerous because of their lack of understanding and empathy on many cultural and religious issues. Today, it’s the educated who have become more dangerous because of the hate in their hearts.”
Rabbi George and Helene were referring to the 11 Jewish elderly massacred by a suspected white supremacist, Robert Bowers, 46.
Six others were seriously injured.
The victims have been identified as the following: Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland; Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township; Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood; Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill (brother of David Rosenthal); David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill (brother of Cecil Rosenthal); Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg (married to Sylvan Simon); Sylvan Simon, 87, of Wilkinsburg (married to Bernice Simon); Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill; Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill; and Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington.
A total of 29 charges, two of which are federal hate crime charges, have been filed against Bowers who could face a death penalty.

-o0o-

I got a lot of mixed reactions in the previous article I wrote about retired Philippine National Police (PNP) director general Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who is running for senator in the May 2019 elections.
Some of Bato’s supporters said I “vilified” the retired general when I attributed the deaths of thousands of victims of summary executions to the campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines which became known as extra-judicial killings (EJK) when he was the PNP big boss.
I reviewed my article several times.
I didn’t see any sentence there that vilified or maligned the senatorial candidate who is being supported by President Duterte.
I mentioned in that article that I only wanted to interview him in the US or in the Philippines because of so many questions in my mind like, yes, the upsurge of EJK cases, which has alarmed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) so much so that it has called the attention of the Duterte administration.
Doing interview or aspiring to interview any controversial personality in the Philippine government in the name of public interest, I think, isn’t a violation of any law or, to borrow the word of Bato’s supporters, a “vilification” campaign.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Questions for the man called ‘Bato’

“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” 
--Henri Nouwen

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -
- I saw on social media that retired Philippine National Police (PNP) director general Ronald Marapon “Bato” dela Rosa visited Iloilo City before the All Saints’ Day, and was interviewed by my media colleagues there.
I have long wanted to interview retired general Bato even when he was still the PNP chief.
Now that he has retired and is running for senator, I am more emboldened to interview him as a candidate Mr. Bato.
I hope we can meet soon--in the US, where he was once invited by his kumpare, Senator Manny Pacquiao, to watch the boxer’s fight in Las Vegas, or in the Philippines, where he is now busy “campaigning” for his senatorial bid--before, during, or after the May 2019 elections.
Since the possibility of this meeting, nay interview, remains hanging by a thread for the time being, I would like to pose here some of the possible questions I might throw at the bubbly 56-year-old senatorial candidate from Davao del Sur in the event I’ll be lucky to bump him anytime.

-o0o-

Here’s some of my questions for retired General Bato:
--When you assumed as PNP director general on July 1, 2016, you reechoed the promise made by President Duterte, your No. 1 endorser, that you would arrest or neutralize all the drug lords in the Philippines in the first six months.
Records show that you failed to deliver that promise. Can you comment on this, sir?
--In tears, you vowed to resign if you can’t fulfill your promise to the Filipino people. You did tender your resignation belatedly, but President Duterte rejected it. He even extended your term as the PNP big boss.
What did you do in the remaining months that your term was extended to redeem yourself after you failed to bag the biggest crooks or the “barracudas” in illegal drug trade, who remain at large as of this writing, in the Philippines?
--After you retired as PNP director general on April 19, 2018, your patron President Duterte “gifted” you with a position as director of the Bureau of Corrections from April 30, 2018 until October 12, 2018.
In the six months that you were the big boss of the country’s biggest jail, where some of the most prominent convicted criminals, including the top drug lords, are detained, what changes--if there are some--have you introduced to improve the jail and management system in the country’s premier corrections facility that houses hundreds of hardened criminals?
--You are pushing for the restoration of death penalty, you said in your media interviews. Is your stand on this subject matter influenced by what you discovered in the Bureau of Corrections during the six months of your directorship? Do you believe that the National Bilibid Prison is over crowded and incapable of accommodating more inmates, and the only solution to this “problem” is exterminate those who have been convicted of heinous crimes?

-o0o-

We already have an idea of your answer to this next question, but I must still ask this, nevertheless, in a hope that you can shed light on this very controversial issue especially now that you are “on your own” and seeking the blessings of the Filipino electorate for a very important position in the country’s highest legislature.
--Did the police engage in summary executions or extra-judicial killings (EJK) when you were the PNP director general? If your answer is NO, how do you explain the scandalous killings of thousands of suspected drug addicts in the slum areas and the murders of suspected illegal drug traffickers not yet charged formally in court?
If your answer is YES (which we know you won’t admit), will you pin the blame on the Commander in Chief, President Duterte and claim, as a defense, that you were only an underling and receiving orders as a “good soldier”? Or you will own the “command responsibility” and be open and willing to be subjected to any lawful and fair investigation?
And, if elected in the senate, are you willing to cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which investigates the cases of thousands of alleged EJK victims in the Philippines involving mostly “tambays” or poor suspected drug addicts and “small time” drug pushers?
Hoping to see you soon, General Bato.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Like Pinoys, American bets also use dirty tricks

“If you think you can slander a woman into loving you, or a man into voting for you, try it till you are satisfied.”
--Abraham Lincoln


By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- When opponents of the late Ilongga Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago circulated a story that she was mentally unstable calling her a “brenda” (brain damage) when she ran for president in 1992 without showing any proof, we thought elections in the Philippines were the most obnoxious and the murkiest in the world.
It turned out the use of dirty tricks like mudslinging and slanderous media campaign advertisements appeared to be nastier in the United States compared in the Philippines.
For several weeks now, I laughed each time I saw on TV the poll advertisement “approved by” Bob Hugin, a Republican challenger for the New Jersey Senate race, accusing reelectionist Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of having sex with minor prostitutes.
It reminded me of 1998 presidential candidate Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who won nevertheless even if his rivals accused him of being a womanizer and addicted to liquors.
Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive, has reportedly dug deep into his pocket to hammer Sen. Menendez, spending over $10 million on negative ads.
Media have reported that their tussle “has become unexpectedly close and increasingly nasty.”
Hugins’ most recent ad focuses on the most salacious details stemming from allegations against Sen. Menendez during his last re-election campaign: that he and his wealthy Florida doctor friend, Salomon Melgen, frequently hired underage prostitutes while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.
“What about the underage girls who accused you, according to the F.B.I.?” screams the TV ad that runs in the prime time.

-o0o-

The allegations were reportedly made by an anonymous tipster who called himself Pete Williams, a wry reference to a former senator from New Jersey, Harrison “Pete” Williams, who was convicted in 1981 of taking bribes.
The tipster reportedly first reached out to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a left-leaning legal watchdog group. The group eventually passed the allegations to the F.B.I.
The ad reportedly refers to an F.B.I. affidavit filed to show probable cause for a search warrant. In the affidavit, Special Agent Gregory J. Sheehy, recounts his attempts to investigate the tipster’s allegations.
True or not, the nasty TV campaign ad we are referring to only shows that below-the-belt attacks against political opponents are not the exclusive handiwork of Filipino politicians, who went as far as inventing stories and hiring “barkers” or radio block time anchors during the campaign period to destroy the reputation of their rivals.

-o0o-

Like in the presidential elections in 2016, we will again cover the United States elections on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 which will take place in the middle of President Donald Trump's first term.
To be contested are all the 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate.
At stake in the midterms elections is control of Congress, both houses of which are currently dominated by the Republicans (although the Grand Old Party holds only a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate).
Democrats are reportedly “on a roll” and are hoping to wrest enough new seats to at least regain control of the House.
They have not held both houses of the legislative branch since 2010.
The U.S. Senate has 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats (including two independents).

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

‘My money, my future, my life’

“You learn more from losing than winning. You learn how to keep going.”
--Morgan Wootten


By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- We see a lot of old and familiar faces gunning again for various positions in the May 2019 Philippine elections both in the local and national levels.
Some of them have now, at last, found major political parties to lean on when push comes to shove.
Without a decent or organized and recognized political party, any candidate in the Philippine elections will find himself shooting for the moon with his fingers.
Many of these names to be included in the official ballots of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) still don’t ring a bell for the hoi polloi even if they ran unsuccessfully at least four times in a row in the past elections.
And they are running anew; they aren’t losing hope.
Some of them behave and think like Sancho Panza, Don Quixote’s squire, who endlessly tilts at the imaginary windmills.

-o0o-

We know some past losing candidates who have been spurned by their families that are against their continued hallucinations for a political lucky break.
Family insurrections erupt and marriages breaking up because "hard-headed" perennial losers in the clans refuse to call it a day and insist on running in almost all the elections--past, present, future.
Family funds went awry; the cookie jar intended for the children’s education, food, shelter, among other important family priorities, has been dried up.
The logical argument put forward by these “uncooperative” families was that if they were unsuccessful in the their first three attempts even in the lower positions, their chances of hitting a jackpot in the succeeding elections in the major positions would be nil.
The families argue that instead of wasting precious money for the campaign funds, the perennial losers should save it for their future and their children’s future.
Money, after all, doesn’t grow on trees.

-o0o-

We have the most expensive elections in the world for a third world country.
A candidate for municipal councilor in a smallest town, for instance, will have to spend at least P200,000; a candidate for city councilor, even in a component city, will need to throw away at least P500,000, win or lose.
A candidate for vice mayor in a small municipality must have at least P5 million for his campaign expenses; a candidate for municipal mayor must shell out P10 to P15 million, win or lose.
A candidate for city mayor will have to bankroll at least P100 to P150 million for his campaign kitties, including the payola for corrupt village officials; a candidate for congressman must secure at least P300 million to tackle the election expenses in his district, win or lose.
The amount does not include moolas for vote buying (let’s not be hypocrites).
Not to mention expenses to be incurred by senatorial candidates which we all know could breach the P500 million mark in today’s “standard.”

-o0o-

Life is extremely hard nowadays in the Philippines, which is being battered by an unprecedented inflation rate.
If you are a candidate in the May 2019 elections and you feel that your chances are like a dream in the Boogie Wonderland, it’s better to withdraw from the race or stay away from politics.
There’s no substitute for frugality in times of economic doldrums.
If we save our money, we can move around confidently and stress-free.
We can walk straight and smile knowing that we won’t be a burden to our family.
If we waste our “hard-earned” money in politics with no hope of recovering it (unless we commit graft and corruption once we are in power) immediately, it is tantamount to violations of our own human rights-- the fundamental right to live with dignity and self preservation.
We lose our self respect and become anti-social if we throw away something we earned through honest-to-goodness means and hard work only because of our misplaced ambition that is far from reality.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Rep. Gorriceta’s interest in Pacman vs Floyd Jr brawl

“Boxing is not about your feelings. It's about performance.”
--Manny Pacquiao

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- We have not heard from Iloilo second district Rep. Arcadio “Cadio” H. Gorriceta for a long time now.
What we learned from sources is that he has been under strict medical treatment and has not been active in congressional works for a while.
His colleagues in the House of Representatives and local supporters reportedly missed him.
This must be the primary reason why the congressman, responsible for ousting the hitherto imperishable Syjuco couple in an election six years ago, would no longer seek reelection next year.
It will be his son, Pavia mayor Michael “Mike” Gorriceta, who will run for congressman in the second district of Iloilo against Sta. Barbara mayor Dennis Superficial.
We are not familiar with Rep. Gorriceta’s ailment and the nature of treatment he has been going through, but because he has decided to back out silently, it’s now improbable if he can still make a political comeback in the future especially if Mayor Gorriceta will win next year, with due respect to the good Mayor Superficial.


-o0o-

The last time I saw Rep. Gorriceta was sometime in April 2015 in Iloilo City weeks before I flew back to the United States to cover the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 2, 2015 in Las Vegas.
He invited me for a chat over a cup of coffee in the morning at the Smallville to get my opinion about the mega duel.
“I believe in your predictions and analysis, Alex; I have been reading your articles and listening to you (on radio). I am not a gambler and I never placed a bet, but just for fun, who do you think will win?” the congressman asked.
“Mayweather will win by decision,” I replied to Rep. Gorriceta without hesitation.
I explained that the American black ring superstar was then aiming to erase Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record, thus he or his handlers would not risk his date with history if they weren’t sure of out-duking the hard-hitting Filipino boxer-cum-politician.
Furthermore, from the technical aspect of analysis, I told Rep. Gorriceta that Mayweather was a scientific fighter, while Pacquiao was a street fighter and a brawler rolled into one.

-o0o-

I added: “Mayweather is a slick puncher and someone who brings a bicycle inside the ring, while Pacquiao is a never-say-die fighter who moves forward like a hungry wolf ready to devour his foe for a disposal and might expose himself for a target shooting to lure Mayweather.
“The problem is, lanky Mayweather will never slug it out; he will fight from a distance and backpedal to escape Pacquiao’s bombs, pile up points, confuse the Filipino customer, and safely coast to a points victory after 12 boring rounds.”
I cited to the congressman, who had also served as Pavia mayor before conquering former Rep. Augusto “Buboy” Syjuco in the 2013 congressional elections, the following mega fights in the past: Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier (the “Thrilla in Manila” or third fight), Alexis Arguello vs Rolando Navarette, Thomas Hearns vs Roberto Duran, Frankie Genaro vs Pancho Villa, among other epic ring battles involving scientific boxers and brawlers as the basis for my analysis.
I also mentioned Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco Jr.’s ill-fated light-flyweight gold medal bout versus Bulgaria’s Ivailo Hristov in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Onyok wasn’t cheated contrary to the false protests of biased and angry fanatics, I intoned. He was beaten by a taller and scientific fighter in a five-man jury.

-o0o-

“Well, I will not question your opinion although I like Pacquiao not only because he is a Filipino but because he made us all proud by his impressive boxing skills. Good luck on your coverage and I will monitor your reports,” Rep. Gorriceta said.
In Las Vegas, when Mayweather defeated Pacquiao by a 12-round unanimous decision, I immediately recalled my conversation with Rep. Gorriceta.
I was sure he monitored my “live” reports as well as my pre and post fight analysis in the Philippine newspapers and radio networks.
Get well soon. Rep. Gorriceta.
By the way, they are saying there will be a Mayweather vs Pacquiao rematch.
Ignore and forget this crap or a piece of joke.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Massacre in age of forensic science

“As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other.”
--Pythagoras

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- Did the perpetrators of the macabre Sagay massacre in the Philippines think we still live in the Neanderthal Age where a crime can be committed against any living creature and the assailant can easily get away unpunished?
In this age of forensic science where the Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a double-stranded molecule held together by weak hydrogen bonds between base pairs of nucleotides, plays a major role, among other scientific means of gathering pieces of evidence, even a crime committed years ago or those with no eye-witness account, can be solved.
Thus we are confident those who mercilessly gunned down members of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers (NFSW) who occupied the farm at Hacienda Nene in Purok Firetree in Sagay City, Negros Occidental on October 20, 2018, will be identified and arrested soon--depending on the determination of the Regional Police Office-6 (RPO-6) headed by Director John Bulalacao, who has ordered a no non-sense probe on the shocking massacre.
I first heard of the word “massacre” when I was a kid during the Martial Law years in the Philippines.
I heard of the Jabidah massacre or the killing of Moro soldiers by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on March 18, 1968.
It was also known as the Corregidor massacre as the killing reportedly took place on Corregidor Island.

-o0o-

Even in the 70’s people were endlessly talking about it behind the curtain as the press was not free to discuss its details.
I also learned about the Escalante massacre in Escalante, Negros Occidental that claimed the lives of 20 people and wounded 24 others on my birthday, September 18, 1985.
The Escalante massacre jolted me as a young man.
Earlier that year, I was riding on a bicycle around the area where the massacre took place and I could vividly recall seeing nameless faces of farmers, vendors, and other ordinary folks doing their normal chores in that laid back municipality which became a fourth class city in 2001.
Four years earlier prior to the Escalante massacre, I heard about the Pata Island massacre in Pata, Sulu, Mindanao on February 12, 1981, which killed 119 Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers perpetrated by their supposed Moro National Liberation Front (MILF) allies.
After a couple of days in Pata Island, the Headquarters Service Company of the Philippine Army’s 31st Infantry Battalion were about to leave the island when a group of MNLF rebels and erstwhile ally Unad Masillam, a commander of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF) surrounded them and opened fire.

-o0o-

To name only a few of the famous massacres in the Philippines, there were the 1985 Inopacan massacre in Leyte (67 killed); 1987 Mendiola massacre in Manila (13 killed); 1989 Digos massacre (39 killed); 1995 Ipil massacre in Zamboanga del Sur (53 killed); 1998 Sara massacre in Iloilo (10 killed); 2009 Maguindanao massacre (58 killed including more than 40 journalists); 2014 Talipao massacre in Sulu (21 killed).
The recent massacre that killed nine people including children and women in the farm at Hacienda Nene in Purok Firetree in Sagay City, was still being investigated by a team led by Chief Insp. Roberto Mansueto, head of Sagay City Police Station, and personnel of 62nd Special Action Force.

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Unlike in some of the aforementioned massacres, the Sagay massacre occurred in the age of forensic science, or the application of science to criminal and civil laws, mainly--on the criminal side--during criminal investigation, as governed by the legal standards of admissible evidence and criminal procedure.
Which means probers will not find it hard to identify the culprits who, initial police investigation claimed, could be mercenaries or armed bandits hired to kill the corn farmers.
We will continue to monitor the progress of this case and hope that justice will soon be served on the innocent civilians horrifically murdered without a valid cause and justification.

Friday, October 19, 2018

‘Tell it to the marines, Tatay Oca!’

"My comeback was not about winning or losing; it was about the feeling of being able to compete at top level again."
-- Thomas Muster

By Alex P. Vidal


NEW YORK CITY -- Ilonggos in the Philippines have known Guimbal, Iloilo Mayor Oscar “Oca” Garin Sr. to be a master of political surprises.
We are actually familiar with his style or what they incandescently call in the first district of Iloilo as “Oca’s strategy.”
We know that if he says he wants to tandem with Pinocchio today, he will tap Bugs Bunny for his partner tomorrow. Or vice versa.
That’s why many of us laughed when he claimed “I didn’t know” that his daughter-in-law, former health secretary, Dr. Janette Loreto-Garin, was also filing her certificate of candidacy (COC) for congressman.
Mayor Garin told reporters he was “surprised” to see Dr. Loreto-Garin outside the Commission on Elections (Comelec), when he filed his COC for congressman in the first district of Iloilo.
He reportedly asked her, “ma file ka man? Nag file man ako (You want to file your COC for the same position? I already filed mine)?”
Whoa.
Tell it to the marines, Tatay Oca!
And if Dr. Loreto-Garin will also declare “I didn’t know Tatay Oca would file his COC for congressman”, we will tell her, “indeed, it takes two to tango.”

-o0o-

Mayor Garin, Dr. Loreto-Garin, and Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr. actually filed their COCs for the same position during the deadline on October 17, 2018.
Rep. Garin filed his COC ahead of the two on Oct 11, along with gubernatorial candidate and Iloilo fourth district Rep. Ferjenel Biron.
The congressman Garin joined his sister, Vice Governor Christine “Ting-Ting” Garin, who also filed her re-election bid in tandem with Biron.
Rep. Garin clarified later that his father and wife might withdraw so he can run for reelection against the clan’s perennial whipping boy, Gerardo “Gerry” Flores, a retired police general and former mayor of Miag-ao, Iloilo.
Rep. Garin vowed the family would come up with a final decision “on or before Nov. 29”, the Comelec deadline on the changing and dropping of candidates.

-o0o-

We believe that the Garin clan will pave the way for Rep. Garin to face Flores.
It’s almost a crystal-clear scenario given Rep. Garin’s body language, pronouncements, and activities in the past weeks.
Another possible scenario is for the Garin patriarch--Tatay Oca--substituting for Vice Governor Garin, who might run for the House party-list.
It’s still unclear how will the clan complete the partition and what position are they preparing for the former health secretary who is being distracted by the energy-sapping Dengvaxia imbroglio.
Will Dr. Loreto-Garin end up as Guimbal mayoral candidate?

-o0o-

Going back to Tatay Oca.
All eyes and ears are on this season political swashbuckler.
In all his more than 30 years in public service, Tatay Oca had already served as congressman, mayor, and appointed official (with a cabinet portfolio) under five presidents--Cory, FVR, Erap, Gloria, Duterte.
Except as vice governor and governor.
He had announced on several occasions he was retiring in politics “for good” or doing a busman’s holiday; and that he wanted to be known thereafter as “Oca Manguguma” or Oscar the Farmer.
Only fools don’t change their minds, as the saying goes.
Tatay Oca sprang back to power as mayor of Guimbal after years of political hiatus and became adviser only to all of the Garins active in public service.
Now, Tatay Oca is back. He is once again involved as a candidate himself at the end of his tether.
Let’s watch him; like Lazarus, he might knock the spots off and worm his way to the Capitol first as vice governor, and as governor next when many of us thought he has already fallen back to retirement.



Thursday, October 18, 2018

‘Jed and I are winners,’ says Marivic Mabilog

“Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive.”
--Donald Trump

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- Even before Mrs. Victoria “Marivic” Griengo-Mabilog declared on her Facebook account on October 17, 2018 that “we have not and will not be endorsing any candidate for mayor in the City of Iloilo” in the Philippines, I already had an inkling about it as early as in May 2018 or five months ago.
I didn’t want to push the cart ahead of the horse and to be mistaken as a merchant of a cock and bull story, so I waited until after all the candidates for the city mayor have filed their certificates of candidacy (COC); and, more importantly, after Mrs. Mabilog herself has let the cat out of the bag.
And the wife of former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, no longer mealy-mouthed on election matters, has doused cold water on expectations for any endorsement from the camps of incumbent Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III of Nacionalista Party (NP) and Iloilo City lone district Rep. Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas of the National Unity Party (NUP).

-o0o-

The furor about a possible endorsement from the self-exiled former city mayor Mabilog isn’t actually something that’s batting on a sticky wicket in as far as the feuding brothers-in-law--Joe III and Jerry--is concerned.
Espinosa and Treñas, in the first place, are only accidental adversaries.
If President Duterte didn’t harass Mabilog, who was forced to fly the coop for security reasons, the three of them would be facing the opposition under one bandwagon marching together against the Team Dr. Pacita Gonzalez in the May 2019 polls.
I got this “first-hand” information that the Mabilog family won’t choose between the two leading mayoral candidates when I reported, quoting sources, in May that Joe III and Mabilog “might meet” in New York City during the Philippine Independence Day parade on June 4, 2018.
Mrs. Mabilog denied this.

-o0o-

“He (Jed) said No, he does not have any plans of going to New York nor has he spoken to anybody about going to New York,” Mrs. Mabilog told me in a message.
Mrs. Mabilog wasn’t lurking around when she informed me she and her husband are “winners.”
She wrote to me in May 2018: “I am grateful of this episode sa life namon. Some may find it tragic but if we think about it, we are winners in every aspect: The kids have their Dad 24/7, quality time, all the time. Win.
“I have the old Jed back, funny, caring, sans the glitter of the power he used to have. Win.
“Jed goes to Church everyday, regained a deeper faith. Win. Jed does not have to pander to the devil, Duterte, to remain alive and in power. Win.
“I having said that, I truly believe that it was a Divine Intervention that brought us out of the Philippines.”

She admitted that "I am speaking from my heart and that puts me in trouble most of the time."

-o0o-

This was Mrs. Mabilog’s Facebook declaration on October 17, 2018: “There had been too many claims of purported endorsements for several local candidates in the City of Iloilo. Categorically and under our current circumstances, we have not and will not be endorsing any candidate for mayor in the City of Iloilo. We will continue to pray that the good people of Iloilo City will once again, seek in prayer, for an enlightened decision on who is best to lead our beloved city.
“Several good friends had been trying to get our endorsements for either Jerry or Joe. Both are good friends of Jed, but I have my personal take on the two of them too. Jed Patrick E. Mabilog may disagree with me, as he usually does anyway, but I’ll have to say my piece.
“When Jed was under siege from the president, Jerry and Joe knew that Jed was wrongly and unjustly accused and crucified. As someone who is not too adept on the nuances of politics, I was aghast and personally offended of their silence and inability to come to his aid. One friend explained to me that Jerry and Joe also feared that the president may turn his guns on them, hence, their silence and non-involvement. That’s a reasonable fear. I was ok with that. But this was not what I was not ok with: neither one of them bothered to reach out and personally assured Jed that they are one with him in this fight and will work and pray with him so that truth and justice will prevail. Their deafening silence, and nonchalant attitude when Duterte issued a death warrant against Jed by his plan of deploying Jovy Espenido to Iloilo was both painful, offensive and disgusting. Their silence and apparent lack of empathy speak volumes about their character, particularly the advancement of their own personal interests. This was how I felt through my heart.
“Putting my brain to work and using some objectivity, I cannot side with either one because I have not personally witnessed any of them in action as mayors. During Jerry’s full 9-year term, I was in Canada and now on Joe’s more than a year tenure, we are on exile. I leave it to the intelligent voters of Iloilo City to determine whom of the two can best serve the city.
“These are some of my personal reasons why I cannot allow our family to endorse neither candidate. With or without our endorsement, one candidate will win, anyway. In the next three years, Iloilo City will survive well under Jerry or Joe. The City and the people are resilient and are least concerned with the power play at the Mayor’s Office inside the City Hall. The more important issue in my opinion is how the legislative branch can be a major partner in ensuring good governance.
“For this reason, I will be campaigning for the victory of RLeone Boots Gerochi as Vice-Mayor. He has the intellectual acuity, the moral strength, integrity, honesty, determination, fortitude, independence, love for his city, professionalism and dedication to his vocation that none of his opponents have, or at best, very little. I dream that one day, in the future, the likes of him will take up bigger leadership roles in the City.
"Good luck, Iloilo City and may God Bless everyone. Iloilo City. My City My Pride. I am Filipino and Proud to be an Ilonggo.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Don’t rely on social media

“The more social media we have, the more we think we're connecting, yet we are really disconnecting from each other.”
--JOHN ARTHUR

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- Social media like Facebook appears to be the most favorite platform of many candidates gunning for major seats in the Philippine elections on May 2019.
Just like in the 2016 elections, many candidates then relied heavily on the social media to propagate their programs and further tell their “friends” who they are and what are they capable of doing more once they are elected or reelected.
Some of those with edge in name recall didn’t find it hard to win with or without campaigning in the social media.
Some relatively unknown bets or newcomers, even if they spent a bulk of their free time advertising themselves as worthy candidates in the social media, ended by the wayside.
We also know of several prominent reelectionists who didn’t make it in the 2016 elections after giving their full time, trust and reliance on the social media
Reason?
They thought the social media is the end-all and be-all of the winning formula in the elections.
Wrong.
Not all of our (limited to only 5,000) “friends” in the social media can vote; not all are registered voters; not all of them will vote for us even if they belong in our provinces, districts, cities, or municipalities.
Not all of them are truly our "fans" with fanaticism or blind loyalty to us.

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Moral of the story: go out, move your butts, shake the hands of the people and visit places with rich voting population like public markets, churches, villages, terminal stations.
Participate in debates and media fora and actively speak in communities with large gatherings.
Go to the people directly, make eye-to-eye contact with them, touch their hearts and connect in their minds.
Social media can’t help elect any candidate.
We can’t convince the voters that we are genuine public servants, that we are good leaders and sincere aspirants for a public office by merely posting “selfie” photos, pictures of the food we eat in a popular restaurant and exotic vacation spots and countries we recently visited.
Social media is only good for pa-cute and pa-porma effect and doesn’t have the hard-wired power and influence to amaze or tantalize a true-blue and dyed-in-the-wool voter who genuinely cares for his province, district, city, and country as a whole.

-o0o-

Like many fellow journalists in the Philippines and in other countries, we are closely monitoring the developments in the no-holds barred investigations being undertaken in the mysterious disappearance of our colleague, the brave Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was believed to be murdered and chopped to pieces when he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018.
Here’s what we have gathered as of this writing (noontime, October 17, 2019 US Eastern time):
-There appeared to be a possible tie to the crown prince: Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a Saudi diplomat and intelligence officer, is among the men under investigation by the Turkish authorities as part of the probe of the disappearance and suspected death of Khashoggi. Mutreb is closely connected to Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, a Saudi source told CNN.
-US-Turkey meetings: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and, separately, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara. Each meeting lasted about 40 minutes. Pompeo did not make remarks after the meetings and has now left Turkey for Brussels.
-The Turkish investigation: Turkish investigators collected a large number of DNA samples from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul when they searched it Monday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported Wednesday, without saying where the information came from.
-What hasn't been searched: Turkish officials have not yet searched the Saudi consul’s residence in Istanbul and it is not clear when they will. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Wednesday the search would happen “once a joint consensus is reached.”
We monitor this shocking news regularly and are very much interested on what will happen to the probe because like Khashoggi, we also write critical stories in a hope to help our government and not to topple it.
We maintain that journalists are partners of our government officials in public service, not enemies.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Biron vs Defensor: Icy rivalry like Carlsen vs Caruana, McEnroe vs Lendl

“The rivalry is with ourselves. I try to be better than is possible. I fight against myself, not against the other.”
-- Luciano Pavarotti

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- This is the first time in recent memory that two aspirants for governor of Iloilo Province in the Philippines haven’t used a mud, so far, to pull each other down in order to pull themselves up.
Although Dr. Ferjenel “Ferj” G. Biron and lawyer Arthur “Toto” R. Defensor Jr. belong to two clans with emerging tentacles for political dynasty, they appeared to have defined the local politics in a higher level and their brand of introducing themselves in public is just fair to middling.
Familiarity and camaraderie could be another factor why the gentlemen have maintained cordiality and restraint toward each other as colleagues in the House of Representatives: Biron (4th District) and Defensor (3rd District).
To the delight of Ilonggo voters, they haven’t used violent or bedraggled tactics to get someone’s goat, and are just focusing their forces on their platforms and what they are capable of doing once elected to the highest office in the province.

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Their balmy rivalry can be compared to the tranquility that attended the pre-match comportment of the forthcoming World Chess Championship rivalry between champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway) and challenger Fabiano Caruana (USA) which will be held in The College in Holborn, London on November 8-28, 2018.
Unlike the Fischer vs Spassky (1972), Karpov vs Korchnoi (1978), and Karpov vs Kasparov (1984) FIDE matches, there are no verbal fireworks, so far, between Carlsen, 27, and Caruana, 26.
This is a match between the top two players in the world in terms of FIDE Elo rating: Carlsen is world number one, and Caruana world number two.
This is quite unique in fact; the last time the world championship was a battle between the highest ranked chess players was in 1990 between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov.
Carlsen dethroned Viswanathan Anand in 2013 in Chennai, and successfully defended his title against the same Indian grandmaster in 2014, and against Sergey Karjakin in 2016. Caruana will be his third match opponent next month.

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We also vividly recall the rivalry between tennis greats John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl in the 1980s.
There was no love lost between McEnroe and Lendl, who faced each other countless times in key matches.
Radio Praha’s Jan Velinger said the two have contrasting styles: McEnroe was unbridled emotion while Lendl kept a grim poker-face.
Their most famous match-up was in 1984 at the French Open where Lendl came back from two sets down to win his first grand slam title.
That particular match came down the wire: “Ivan Lendl has finally won a grand slam championship! He showed great courage in rallying from two sets down to accomplish it. For John McEnroe… an American once again leaves empty from Paris.”
While Lendl smiled when it was over, McEnroe did not wait for the mic to congratulate his opponent but instead walked off the court. The rivalry was nothing if not bitter.
But the two tennis legends have long since put mutual differences behind them.
Before their exhibition match in Bratislava, Slovakia in 2014, McEnroe addressed the story of a less than charitable comment once attributed to him.
“Ivan and I certainly had our moments where we weren’t the best of friends or getting along very well. But to me he is one of the very best players in the history of our sport, so… that comment that he was the ‘worst No.1’ definitely didn’t come from me. I played him too many times and lost to him too many times for that to be true.”

Monday, October 15, 2018

I hope I won’t ‘disappear’ like Jamal Khashoggi

“If we believe that murder is wrong and not admissible in our society, then it has to be wrong for everyone, not just individuals but governments as well.”
--HELEN PREJEAN, Dead Man Walking

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- I hope I won’t “disappear” if I write critical stories against the Philippine Government even if I am in the United States.
Journalists around the world are probably expressing the same concern after brave Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared and believed to have been murdered when he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018.
The journalist’s mysterious disappearance has spawned an international diplomatic crisis and is currently the “talk of the town” in the global media.
Khashoggi has written extensively for the Washington Post about Saudi Arabia, criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women's rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.
Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the billionaire Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Like Khashoggi, we also visit our Philippine Consulate from time to time to interview Consulate officials and cover art, cultural, musical, and political events even if in the stories we write, we critically call the attention of government officials concerned over some reported malpractices and suspected acts of graft and corruption.
Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who wrote critically of the crown prince.
The kingdom has called such allegations "baseless," but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

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I have written several critical articles against the extra-judicial killings (EJK) in the Philippines, but not against the person of Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who has been known to be sensitive to media criticism especially those who broadcast and write about the EJK involving suspected drug pushers and users mostly in the slum areas.
Based on the figure released by a joint report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), 85 cases of attacks against journalists have been recorded since Mr. Duterte assumed office in June 2016.
This includes the killing of 9 journalists, 16 libel cases, 14 cases of online harassment, 11 death threats, 6 slay attempts, 6 cases of harassment, 5 cases of intimidation, 4 cases of website attack, revoked registration or denied franchise renewal, verbal abuse, strafing, and police surveillance of journalists and media agencies.
Malous Mangahas, executive director of the PCIJ, said in a forum during the World Press Freedom Day in May early this year, the number “far exceeds those recorded under four presidents before him. Separately and together, these 85 cases have made the practice of journalism an even more dangerous endeavor under Duterte.”

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The nine media killings under Duterte's administration is higher compared to the numbers of slays during the first 22 months of other presidents: five during President Benigno “Noy-Noy”Aquino III's time, five under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, five cases under President Fidel Ramos and three cases under President Joseph Estrada.
Even if Mr. Duterte is known to be notoriously allergic to media criticism and does not mince words when issuing threats against reporters, we are confident he won’t go to the extent of violently muzzling journalists like me who want only to help the Philippine government and not to destroy the president’s reputation.
We reiterate that journalists are partners of Mr. Duterte and other officials in government in nation building, not enemies that agitate to topple the administration through subversive means.
We support the ongoing international efforts to investigate Khashoggi’s case and bring to court the perpetrators.
May his family recover his body dead or alive.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Be ready for the debate

“I love argument, I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that's not their job.”
-- Margaret Thatcher

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- Unknown to many people, Mel Carreon, the object of ridicule and laughter from characters who didn’t take his candidacy in the past elections seriously, is a good speaker.
“Therefore he is a good debater,” insisted the late Bob Bacaling, Carreon’s erstwhile campaign manager.
Bacaling said Carreon can lecture not only about car insurance, health and mortgage life insurance and homeowner's insurance, but also about stocks, bonds and cash equivalent investments that are vital for the nation’s economic growth and survival.
“Mel is no pushover in debates,” Bacaling stressed. “He can discuss topics about history and religion; and he believes he has the formula that can help solve poverty in the country and lower the rate in unemployment. All he needs is a big break and a chance to serve the public as an elected official.”
Carreon failed prove to all and sundry he could orate like Demosthenes and argue like Cicero because he was always not included in formal debates in the past elections among candidates for mayor and congressman in Iloilo City.
Reason?
He was always dismissed as a “nuisance” candidate because no serious political party has carried or accredited him; he always ran as independent.
Now that he has filed his candidacy for mayor, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should give him the benefit of the doubt and let him participate in media debates.

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It is not enough that after filing their certificates of candidacy (COC) for the May 2019 Philippine general elections, candidates will rely everything heavily to their respective political parties as far as winning is concerned.
They need to cultivate their own gardens and must first prove their worth in the debate.
Candidates can’t be saved by their political parties or party mates if they go to the debate unprepared and are not updated on the latest local, national, and international issues.
Debate can be a game changer.
It is one effective barometer in selecting quality public officials and unmasking the charlatans.
Candidates who lack preparations or avoid the debate are usually interested only to win and collect their salary, pelf and privileges once they are in power, not to prove to their constituents that they are mentally fit and prepared for the job as public servants.

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Debates during the election campaign should be encouraged because they will show if the candidates, at least, possess the basic intellectual apparatus that can help them chart the future of their constituents and help alleviate their economic well-being.
Debate, as a force for social change, develops skills and knowledge that will help the debater become an elite and will also help him to develop a civic and political identity.
They will develop a sense of ownership of the world and a sense of empowerment, as they will know specific global and domestic issues, and the ways in which the government can solve our generation’s problems.






Holy Mary, pray for us!

“What a joy to remember that she is our Mother! Since she loves us and knows our weakness, what have we to fear?”
-- Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- “HAIL Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
These words of the Ave Maria, spoken daily by millions of Roman Catholics, summarize one of the most perplexing elements in the riddle of Roman Catholicism, the cult of prayers and veneration addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The late Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan, who wrote The Riddle of Roman Catholicism on the eve of the Second Vatican Council and in the early phase of the Cold War, explained that other elements in that riddle may seem strange or even fascinating, “but the cult of the Blessed Virgin is downright repugnant to many non-Roman Christians.”
Non-Catholics look upon it as “a species or vestigial remnant of pre-Christian paganism,” Pelikan explained.
He noted that “they smile intolerantly” when they see or hear the invocation of the saints by the Roman Catholics, or read notices in the “Personal” column of a metropolitan newspaper that say: “Thanks to St. Jude and the Blessed Virgin for obtaining an apartment for us.”
Pelikan observed that even those Protestants who look at the mass with respect rather than suspicion are caught short by the veneration of Mary.

OBNOXIOUS


“In the eyes of many Protestant lay people this is surely the most obnoxious feature of Roman Catholicism,” Pelikan stressed. “Here, they say, you have to draw the line beyond which Christianity dare not go.”
Protestant theology, too, sees in the cult of Mary, as it has climaxed now in the dogma of the Assumption, one of the chief barriers between Roman Catholics and Protestants.
Pelikan said even sympathetic Protestant theologians felt constrained to warn in 1950:
While today the majority of the churches with tears of penitence confess before God that they share in the guilt of a divided Body of Christ, and in common prayer and serious scholarly effort seek to diminish the area of disagreement and increase the area of agreement…the Roman Church would increase the area of disagreement by a dogma of the Assumption. Creation of a dogma of the Assumption would be interpreted today in the midst of the efforts at closer relationships between the churches as a fundamental veto on the part of the Roman Church.
“Thus there is little sympathy for Roman Catholic Mariology outside the borders of the Roman communion,” stressed Pelikan, who died on May 13, 2006 after a battle with cancer at age 82.

HOLY MARY


Calling Mary “holy” was originally a way of speaking not about Mary herself at all, but about Jesus Christ, suggested the one-time Lutheran professor of church history at Yale Divinity School.
Almost every reference to her in the earliest Christian literature is, in point, a reference to her son.
When Paul says that Christ was “born of woman,” he is saying nothing about Mary, but is asserting that our Lord was truly human. (See Gal. 4:4.)
Pelikan pointed out that even the narratives of Matthew and Luke, which tell of her conceiving without a man, are aimed at the glorification of Christ, not of Mary.
“Whatever else may be said about the idea of the virgin birth, it is a declaration about Jesus Christ,” wrote Pelikan. “It means that even in the circumstances of his humble birth Jesus manifested God’s power and freedom over the created world and its laws.”
He added: “To that power and freedom it points as a sign. Even without the sign of the virgin birth, the gospels of Mark and John and the epistles of Paul are able to speak of the power and the freedom of God in Christ.”
Pelikan explained that the sign loses its powers as a sign, its “significance,” when it is interpreted as merely an incredible happening or when it is taken as a key to the holiness of Mary.
“Mary and Pontius Pilate are the only two ordinary people mentioned in the Apostles’ Creed,” disclosed Pelikan. “Both are there as signs pointing to Jesus Christ—one to show his lordship even in infancy, the other to show his lordship even in death.”
Pelikan believed that “neither Mary nor Pilate is important as a figure in history except for the role each of them played in the career of our Lord.”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Giving up is never a choice

“It's so important to realize that every time you get upset, it drains your emotional energy. Losing your cool makes you tired. Getting angry a lot messes with your health.”
--Joyce Meyer

By Alex P. Vidal



NEW YORK CITY -- The excuse that “nabutang kami sa tunga ” (we are caught in the middle of things) won’t hold water in politics.
Some friends of the Defensor, Biron, Garin, Tupas, Zulueta, Espinosa, Treñas, Gerochi, Nava, Ganzon, Alim, among other big political families, claim they can’t decide which political group or candidates to support “because they are all our friends; they are all close to us; they are all good.”
Baloney.
Choose the lesser evil.
Anyway, they’re not all Lucifer’s relatives--and they aren’t all angels, as well.
Once we start to peel off the onions, we can separate the chaffs from the grains; we can identify the charlatans from the real epitomes of public service.
In the “Divine Comedy”, Dante warned that “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

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Now that several politicians have started filing their certificates of candidacy (COC) for the May 2019 general elections in the Philippines, speculations about who will face certain candidates in the top and lower positions are also starting to unravel.
Because most local candidates move around and will campaign in close-knit communities, expect many friendships and relationships by affinity and consanguinity to shatter.
It’s a barefaced reality in Philippine politics that not all our friends--bosom or acquaintance--will vote for us.
It’s not even an assurance that a seatmate or a high school sweetheart will automatically vote for us.
It’s been tested and proven that some candidates can’t even collect all the votes in a family; a sister or a brother--or even the parents--would horrifically vote for another candidates.
Politics has always been the No. 1 destroyer of camaraderie, kinship, and fraternal ties.
Our advice to candidates: keep your cool.

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When a friend or a relative gives our candidacy a cold shoulder treatment, don’t retaliate by aggression; don’t be vindictive.
Don’t use the social media to confront someone about past affairs or favors we gave them.
It won’t help deodorize our public image if we resort to “kiss and tell” tactic and sour-grape like a waif.
As much as possible, avoid the words “I thought you are my friend”,”Your true color has surfaced now that I need you most”, etcetera.
It’s a kid’s rant.
Don’t be a cry baby if somebody disapproves our candidacy and supports, of all people, our rivals. Painful but life goes on; let's move on.

Life is an ocean of mystery. 

-o0o-

We can’t pocket all the balls in the billiards table; we can’t win everything.
Somewhere along the way, relationships turn sour; “utang na loob” or debt of gratitude diminishes and forgotten easily during moments of tests and challenges. 

Jesus lost Judas when the Lord needed him most; Caesar lost Brutus; Bonifacio lost Aguinaldo; and Marcos lost Ramos and Enrile, to name only a few.
When we are in the pigsty, don’t expect a fellow pig to kiss our lips.

Politics has always been a dirty, nasty, and heart-rending game.
If we can’t take the heat, let’s immediately get out the kitchen.

-o0o-


Strong people are given much trials and heartaches because it is believed that they can overcome such pain.
That they are brave. 

But sometimes we get so tired that we just want to scream and give up.
When that certain time comes that we can no longer walk on our own, God helps us carry our pain.
For as long as God is here, giving up is never a choice.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

No sympathy for Conor McGregor

“I want to stay humble, but I have to talk because the other guys talk too much, and... I understand the crazy power the UFC PR machine has.”
--Khabib Nurmagomedov

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- It isn’t difficult to like Khabib Nurmagomedov as an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) choker, but it’s difficult to accept his manners and unrestrained tantrums.
Even Mike Tyson admitted in a “twit” his notoriety as a ring monster paled in comparison to what Nurmagomedov displayed minutes after humiliating Conor McGregor via submission (neck crank) at 3:03 of Round 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on October 6, 2018.
Perhaps wanting to explode owing to his pent-up rage against McGregor’s pre-fight misdemeanors and abuses, Nurmagomedov, an undefeated Dagestani champion who wrestled bears as a child and has never lost so much as a round in the UFC in 27 brawls, couldn’t control himself as he leaped out of the cage and attacked McGregor’s cornermen that erupted into an ugly melee.
Nurmagomedov may have decisively defeated and exposed the “dimwit” McGregor and made a good account of himself as a champion, but fans will remember not his impressive performance that night, but how he destroyed the image of UFC with his cheap stunt and abrasive behavior.

-o0o-

Flashback on August 26, 2017 in the same Octagon, we had but a little sympathy for McGregor when Floyd Mayweather reduced him to a slick-moving punching bag before stopping him by 10th round technical knockout (TKO).
It was a mismatch of epic proportions and I have been insisting before the fight there was no way for any UFC bully to roll past a scientific boxer in a match governed by boxing rules and regulations.
We were all taken for a ride when the duel was hyped successfully as "The Money Fight" and "The Biggest Fight in Combat Sports History" and fans went gaga over the lopsided rumble.
In losing to Mayweather, McGregor showed some restraint and professionalism before and after the fight which made many of his fans love and adore him more.
But in his brawl against Nurmagomedov, even some of his countrymen living in the United States were embarrassed with his unsportsmanlike behavior when he showed up at Barclays Center in Brooklyn just after the conclusion of a UFC 223 media day on April 5, looking to confront one of that weekend's main event fighters and threw a steel dolly through the window of a bus carrying the fighter he was targeting, lightweight champion Nurmagomedov, as well as several other fighters and UFC staff--some of whom were injured in the attack.
This was McGregor’s lowest point and we offer no sympathy for his destruction in his bout against Nurmagomedov.

-o0o-

The genesis of the notorious drama came when Artem Lobov, a friend and training partner of McGregor's, spoke to reporters in his native Russia and was critical of Nurmagomedov. "Khabib pulled out six times already. He always pulls out of fights," Lobov said in Russian, according to a translation on MMAimports.com. "If something hurts a little bit, his a-- or whatever, he pulls out. He can't even make weight. He doesn't give a s--- about his fans, that everyone flew from Russia--even getting a visa is a pain, and travel expenses--all in order to see him, and he doesn't show up. And it's not once, not two, three or four times.
Latest news said McGregor and Nurmagomedov were both facing being banned from UFC after the brawls erupted at the end of their Lightweight Championship.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) was reportedly preparing to file complaints against the pair after ugly scenes which marred Nurmagomedov’s fourth-round victory.
Commission chairman Anthony Marnell and his colleagues have initiated a full investigation and will be looking at film footage and interviews with all those involved.
Nurmagomedov issued an apology in his post-fight press conference but scorned McGregor’s behavior in the build-up to the fight.



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

City Council's game of musical chairs

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.”
--Malcolm Forbes


By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- The recent game of musical chairs in the Iloilo City Council, where several councilors allied with Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III lost major committee chairmanships, shouldn’t be considered as an earth-shaking event.
With the advent of election campaign for the May 2019 polls, the discord among Iloilo City aldermen was but natural, and, to some extent, necessary.
When two elephants are feuding their underlings will have to take sides and call for arms.
It’s a Hobson’s Choice.
When the art of political survival is at play, no one is allowed to remain as kibitzers.
This is how democracy works.
It will also dispel the widespread belief or misconception that the City Council is a rubber stamp.
When there’s insurrection in the house, that means freedom of expression and freedom of choice are alive and kicking.
Warring factions indicate diverse viewpoints on various issues, orientations, sentiments, advocacy, and affiliations.

-o0o-

Whoever will argue that the stripping of important committee chairmanships from key political personalities, otherwise known as “reorganization”, wasn’t tainted with politics, tell him straight in the eyes “it’s baloney.”
Of course politics was heavily involved and the entire brouhaha had prior notices, or at least knowledge, from the major political players.
When someone insists Rep. Jerry P. Treñas and Mayor Joe III had no hand, or had nothing to do with the recent scrimmage in the City Council, let’s retort “tell it to the marines!”
In relinquishing the dimpled positions of majority floor leader and assistant majority floor leader, respectively, Councilors Eduardo Peñaredondo and R Leoni Gerochi should have nothing to worry about.
Elections are seven months away.
When election time comes, people will remember (and will decide whether to vote for them anew based on) their deeds and contributions that helped benefit their constituents, not whether they were ousted or given additional committee chairmanships.

-o0o-

THE REAL McCOY. Although frequently associated with Darwinism, the phrase "survival of the fittest" was coined by Herbert Spencer, an English sociologist.
It is the process by which organisms that are less well-adapted to their environment tend to perish and better-adapted organisms tend to survive.
In political combat, only those who are fit mentally and emotionally will survive.
Onion-skinned characters aspiring for public office can never survive if they win, for they will self-destruct when members of the press, the Fourth Estate, will start to scrutunize them and they begin to feel uncomfortable and, as a result, plant animosity toward the critical press deep inside their hearts.
The press and characters in public office should work hand in hand for the nation building, not as adversaries and mortal enemies.

-o0o-

INCREDIBLE, AWFUL.
There are more bacteria and other harmful microorganisms in the kitchen than in the toilet room, according to health authorities.

-o0o-

LET’S BE WARY.
A child who was sexually and emotionally abused will develop eating disorders like bulimia, minus the countervailing purging behavior, and compulsive overeating, according to David M. Dunkley, a psychiatric researcher and clinical psychologist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Joshua Alim, a modern day Julius Caesar

“Cowards die many times before their actual deaths.”
--Julius Caesar


By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- “I have crossed the Rubicon…it’s congressman for 2019. Ilonggos, I will fight for you.”
Thus was the Caesarean declaration made by Councilor Joshua Alim in his Facebook account on October 8, 2018.
By using Rubicon, a shallow river in northeastern Italy south of Ravenna, as the focal point of his battle cry, Alim has imitated Julius Caesar’s crossing of the stream in 49 B.C. which was tantamount to a declaration of war against Rome as represented by Pompey and the Senate.
The historic importance of this event gave rise to the phrase "crossing the Rubicon" for a step which definitely commits a person to a given course of action.
Now that Alim, a lawyer and law instructor, has “crossed” the river, he must decisively defeat Pompey to complete the heroic saga.
Alim will tangle against his former colleagues in the city council, Dr. Perla Zulueta and Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda, in the shootout for Iloilo City’s lone congressional district in May 2019.
Two “Pompeys” backed by two powerhouse establishments: the Treñas Cavalry and the Joe III Squadron.
Alim’s incursion is buttressed by the combined Gonzalez and Ynion Armada.

-o0o-

The real Caesar and real Pompey fought to the bitter end at Pharsalus on August 9, 48 B.C.
Pompey had 48,000 infantry, 7,000 horses; Caesar had 22,000 and 1,000.
“Some few of the noblest Romans,” says Plutarch, “standing as spectators outside the battle…could not but reflect to what a pass private ambition had brought the Empire…The whole flower and strength of the same city, meeting here in collision with itself, offered plain proof how blind and mad a thing human nature is when passion is aroused.”
In Caesar and Christ: The Story of Civilization, Will Durant narrated: “Near relatives, even brothers, fought in the opposite armies. Caesar bade his men spare all Romans who should surrender; as to the young aristocrat Marcus Brutus, he said, they were to capture him without injuring him, or, if this proved impossible, they were to let him escape.”
The Pompeians were overwhelmed by superior leadership, training, and morale: 15,000 of them were killed or wounded, 20,000 surrendered, the remainder fled.
Pompey tore the insignia of command from his clothing and took flight like the rest.
Cesar tells us that he lost but 200 men--which cast doubt upon all his books.

-o0o-

Caesar’s army was amused to see the tents of the defeated so elegantly adorned, and their tables laden with the feast that was to celebrate their victory.
Caesar ate Pompey’s supper in Pompey’s tent.
Pompey rode all night to Larissa, thence to the sea, and took ship to Alexandria.
At Mytilene, where his wife joined him, the citizens wished him to stay; he refused courteously, and advised them to submit to the conqueror without fear, for, he said, “Caesar was a man of great goodness and clemency.”
Brutus also escaped to Larissa, but there he dallied and wrote to Caesar.
The victor expressed joy on hearing that he was safe, readily forgave him, and at his request forgave Cassius.
-o0o-

To the nations of the East, which--controlled by the upper classes--had supported Pompey, he was likewise lenient.
He distributed Pompey’s hoards of grain among the starving population of Greece, and to the Athenians asking pardon he replied with a smile of reproof: “How often will the glory of your ancestors save you from self-destruction?”
When Pompey hoped to resume the battle versus Caesar (with the news army and resources of Egypt, and the forces that Cato, Labienus, and Metellus Scipio were organizing at Utica), he was murdered while his wife looked on in helpless terror from the ship in which they had come, by servants of Pothinus, eunich vizer of Ptolemy XII, as he reached Alexanderia, in expectation of reward from Caesar.
When Caesar arrived, Pothinus’ men presented him with Pompey’s severed head.
Caesar turned away and wept.
By riding on the epic of the “crossing in the Rubicon” which bears a striking semblance of his struggle in Iloilo City politics, will Atty. Joshua Alim weep like Julius Caesar and loudly declare “Veni, vidi, vici. (I came, I saw, I conquered)” after the May 2019 elections?

Friday, October 5, 2018

‘Sky’ subscribers get rosary in ‘One Rosary, One Family’

The first 100 subscribers of SKY in SKY Zone Business Center in Iloilo City in the Philippines will get a Rosary as a spiritual gift in a project called “One Rosary, One Family” starting October 7 as the world celebrates the month of the Holy Rosary.

The date happened to be the day of our Blessed Mother, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.
The advocacy, which started in 2016, is about the giving of rosaries to SKY employees not just as an artifact but to be used in praying the devotion.
This is one of the greatest aids in the pursuit of a fruitful spiritual life.
Keeping trust in Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sky management was hoping to reach and widen this advocacy for prayer hoping that through this they will deepen the feeling of being “Family.”
Sky management said: “As we continue to pray, our relationship with God grows, and we are transformed more into the people we are meant to be.”
It’s way of saying “Thank You for the Love…”

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Ilonggos must bring back the Gonzalezes

“I can assure you, public service is a stimulating, proud and lively enterprise. It is not just a way of life, it is a way to live fully.”
--Lee H. Hamilton

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- It’s not good for the memory of the late former Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez Sr. that nobody from his offspring is being considered by leading political parties today for a higher elective position in the May 2019 elections.
Although the official filing of the certificates of candidacy (COC) for all candidates in next year’s polls hasn’t commenced yet, the Ilonggos have yet to hear some major political parties or groups of political impresarios cajoling or endorsing a Gonzalez daughter, son, or his wife, Dr. Pacita, to run either for city mayor, vice mayor or House representative.
Since Gonzalez Sr., a true-blue Nacionalista Party (NP) stalwart, absorbed a heart-rending defeat to neophyte Jed Patrick Mabilog for city mayor on May 10, 2010 and his son, Rep. Raul Jr., relinquishing his post to Jerry Treñas in the May 10, 2010 elections, the effervescent Gonzalez clan hasn’t won a major election in Iloilo City in the Philippines.
Does anybody, from among those who have reaped favors in whatever means from the Gonzalez patriarch, still care?

-o0o-

Dr. Pacita and their daughter, Dr. Marigold, tried their luck in the succeeding elections but were both pulverized one after another by the same rising political stars who pummeled the Gonzalez patriarch in the previous elections.
They were aware how much Justice Secretary loved the Ilonggos the reason why they have bandied about time and again the decision to resurrect the good Gonzalez father’s patriotic duty.
Clan members normally “preserved” the political memories and continue the legacies of their fathers by securing higher elective positions thereafter, when the patriarchs have retired or died.
But how can they do that if they are not elected, or if they perpetually lose in the regular elections?
If the Ilonggos think they have something to pay back for the late Justice Gonzalez as an “utang na loob” (debt of gratitude) for his lofty public service, they must support and elect a Gonzalez family member in the May 2019 elections.

-o0o-

I have covered several reports about “bomb threats” in Western Visayas and other parts of the country in the past.
None of them was authentic, so far.
The threats, delivered via phone calls in colleges and universities or even in the Hall of Justice, are normally done by pranksters and those with hanky panky motives.
They don’t normally come from serious terrorists, jihadists or extremist groups with intention to create confusion and mayhem.
If a recalcitrant student is in trouble in the dean’s office or is being investigated for an internal misdemeanor, he or she may resort to a phony bomb threat to divert the issue and delay the imminent disciplinary action to be meted against that student.
Or, in the case of the Hall of Justice, the prank call is normally masterminded by relatives or supporters of accused in criminal cases with intention to delay the trial or to scare prosecutors and witnesses. 

Whatever the idiots can't get, they avenge by making hoax bomb threats.
Just the same.
Over the years, bogus bomb threats make school authorities and judges postpone the day’s important activities and suspend classes and trials.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The ‘Iron Lady’ Zulueta I know

“Win or lose, we go shopping after the election.”
--Imelda Marcos

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- The reported “surprise” entry of Dr. Perla S. Zulueta in Iloilo City’s congressional race must have saddened Councilor Joshua Alim and former councilor Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda.
Alim and Baronda are aware they will be facing a serious contender with an almost impeccable record and a long experience in public service.
If there are still active Iloilo beat reporters today who have covered Zulueta starting when she won a seat in the Iloilo provincial board in 1988, I am one of them.
In the period between 1989 until 1992, Zulueta was a runaway newsmaker (from an IBC-TV 12 newscaster before she entered politics) as the No. 1 tormentor of then Iloilo Governor Simplicio “Sim” Griño.
Now Councilor Armand Parcon was Bombo Radyo Iloilo’s capitol beat reporter but fellow Bombo Radyo reporter and then law student Alim (he passed the bar in 1991) and another former Bombo Radyo star reporter Francis Hinayhinay would join us from time to time when we interviewed then Board Member Zulueta, who first earned the moniker “The Iron Lady” because of her series of jaw-dropping expose and Philippic speeches in the provincial board.

-o0o-
A tense moment occurred sometime in 1992 before Zulueta ran and lost to former Assemblyman and Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Commissioner Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. for governor in the May 1992 elections.
We, in the Iloilo Capitol Press Corps, had been tipped off that an “indignant” son of Governor Griño was in the capitol premises “planning to disrupt” the provincial board’s regular session to prevent Zulueta from making another scathing privilege speech that would embarrass the governor.
Everyone waited anxiously and our attention was divided--we leered from time to time inside and outside the session hall like we were watching a ping pong match.
The son indeed appeared but a phalanx of capitol henchmen, alerted by the potential chaos, boxed him out peacefully thus preventing a melee as the late virtuoso and watchful former Oton mayor Lazaro “Nene” Zulueta silently stood nearby like Kevin Costner in the Bodyguard film.
Board Member Zulueta managed to sledgehammer anew the Griño administration in her sharp speech unmolested.
-o0o-

Griño, a religious and good man, lost to Defensor. Zulueta, who wound up second, garnered more votes than the defrocked governor. Fifth district independent bet, the late Azur Salcedo finished last.
When Zulueta became Iloilo city councilor in 1995, she strapped around her waist the opposition holster anew and became the No. 1 source of Mayor Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor’s headache.
In every cookie jar that minions of Malabor had dipped their fingers into, there the firebrand Councilor Zulueta was running the gauntlet and firing the cylinders.
In every anomaly that she had stumbled upon, Zulueta saw to it that there were Dickens to pay for the thieves and the taxpayers would heave a sigh of relief.
In the 1998 elections, Zulueta sided with then fellow city councilor and now Iloilo City Rep. Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas in a foiled attempt to defeat the reelectionist Malabor, the “man of the masa” who rolled past all his moneyed rivals to complete the three terms as city mayor.
Zulueta became Treñas’ ally when the latter reigned as city mayor from 2001 to 2010.

-o0o-

It was during those years that Zulueta’s political relationship with fellow city councilor and eventually vice mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III was buttressed (although they had been closely working together in the local legislature in the opposition during the Malabor administration). When Joe III became city mayor in October 2017 after Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog’s “forced departure”, he retained the “Iron Lady” (a Mabilog appointee) as one of his advisers.
Zulueta has reportedly accepted Mayor Joe III’s invitation for her to run for congress in May 2019 after former councilor Nielex “Lex” Tupas said “no mas” to politics.
Her entry will place her in a collision course versus Baronda, who is being backed by Treñas; and Alim, who is reportedly being supported by the group of Dr. Pacita Gonzalez.
   

Let's avoid mental laziness

"The seat of knowledge is in the head, of wisdom,
in the heart."

-- WILLIAM HAZLITT

NEW YORK CITY --
From the chin down no man is worth much more than a dollar or two a day.
Even what we do with our hands depends for its value on the amount of sense we use.
We can train and improve our mind as well as our fingers. Mental laziness is the most common disease.
Let's put in a certain amount of time every day at making our brain more efficient.
Let’s read.
Let’s study.
Let’s think.
Let’s not fritter away all our spare time.
It’s all habit. We can get used to hard study as well as to hard work. And it pays.
Let’s improve ourselves from the chin up.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Judel Romero’s link with ‘Dragon’

“Even in killing men, observe the rules of propriety.”
--CONFUCIUS

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- The group behind the grisly murder of our friend, Atty. Edeljulio Romero, 50, probably won’t stop at nothing until all remaining tentacles of the disintegrating Odicta drug group in Western Visayas in the Philippines are wiped out.
Judel (this was how I called Atty. Romero) actually knew he was being targeted for murder the reason why he wore a bulletproof vest outside his residence or when he traveled anywhere in the country.
He wanted to travel incognito for security reasons and was always in the company of his partner, Irish Tan.
Although he was already lawyering for several accused in illegal drug cases even before he met slain suspected drug lord Melvin “Boyet” Odicta Sr. alyas “Dragon” in the late 90’s, Judel’s name was “tainted” when he was identified not only as Odicta’s lawyer but also reportedly as an “associate”.
Nobody has confirmed Judel’s other modes of “association” with Odicta aside from their lawyer-client relationship, but he was always reportedly spotted in Odicta’s residence and restaurant in Smallville frequently and attended in some important occasions “representing” Dragon.

-o0o-


I met the young Atty. Romero sometime in the early 90’s when he wasn’t yet Odicta’s lawyer.
He was then the lawyer of controversial Ajuy, Iloilo businessman Vicente “Etik” Espinosa, who was having some problem with the several firearms confiscated in his farm by elements of the Regional Police Office-6 (RPO-6).
It was Judel’s friendship with Etik Espinosa where he probably met Jesus “Jing-Jing” Espinosa, Etik’s nephew who lived at Barangay Monica Blumentritt, Iloilo City.
Jing-Jing is now detained at the Iloilo provincial jail in Pototan, Iloilo and was tagged by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as “Odicta’s partner.”
Jing-Jing, whose wife, Keith “Dabing”, is the Barangay Monica Blumentritt village chief, is in jail for frustrated murder.
In one of our light conversations, Judel admitted to me he was using marijuana even when he was in high school but did not mention anything about shabu (crystal meth).
“I can’t understand why they prohibit marijuana when it is a plant and therefore created by God,” Judel, who attended mass at the Santa Teresita Parish in De Leon-Quezon St., Iloilo City every Sunday afternoon before he met Odicta, once said in jest.
Before his killing, Judel’s name had been eternally attached to Odicta in many ways and there was no mention of Odicta’s name without some authorities doubting he was taking advice directly from the bejeweled lawyer from Brgy. San Jose, Molo, Iloilo City.


-o0o-

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) National President Abdiel Fajardo, who denounced Judel’s killing, said lawyers should not be identified with the alleged crimes of their clients as stated by the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
In a statement, Fajardo said: “Romero’s murder must be denounced by all lawyers who adhere to the rule of law and who continue to uphold the primacy of the Constitution.”
When Judel and Irish decided to transfer residence from Iloilo City to Quezon City last year, the controversial lawyer would travel back in Western Visayas to attend the court hearings.
When he was killed in a street carinderia, shot on the temple by a lone walking gunman with cohorts waiting in a vehicle nearby, in Brgy. Culasi, Roxas City on September 28, Judel just came from the Roxas City Hall of Justice to attend the hearing of client, Stephen Teves, who was facing a case for illegal drugs.
We agree with Atty. Fajardo that the killing of Atty. Romero must be denounced by all those who adhere to the rule of law and not lex taliones.
We call on Capiz police provincial director, Senior Superintendent Canilo Fuentes, and Superintendent Dante Tayco, Roxas City police chief, to expedite the arrest of Judel’s murderers and file cases against them soon.
May you rest in peace, Judel.