Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Blackouts, earthquakes jolt Ilonggos

"When you wake up each morning, you can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. Unless some terrible catastrophe has occurred the night before, it is pretty much up to you. Tomorrow morning, when the sun shines through your window, choose to make it a happy day."
--Lynda Resnick

By Alex P. Vidal


ILONGGOS in Panay, Negros and Guimaras in Western Visayas and Kidapawan City in Mindanao experienced massive power outages and earthquake, respectively, days before the All Saints Day.
A "grid disturbance" caused the scary twin blackouts on October 29 and October 30, according to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
Ilonggos normally don't complain if there are power interruptions; they have been used to them.
But the recent blackouts were reportedly horrific as they affected consumers of the Panay Electric Company (PECO), Iloilo Electric Cooperatives (ILECO) I, II and III, Guimaras Electric Cooperative (GUIMELCO), Antique Electric Cooperative (ANTECO), Capiz Electric Cooperative (CAPELCO) and Aklan Electric Cooperation (AKELCO).
The earthquake, on the other hand, was reportedly recorded at Intensity VII in Tulunan, Cotabato; Kidapawan City; Bansalan, Davao del Sur and Intensity VI in Matanao, Davao del Sur.
Several people were killed in the strong Mindanao tremors.

-o0o-

A strong earthquake is one that registers between 6 and 6.0 on the Richter scale.
There are about 100 of these around the world every year and they usually cause some damage, it was reported.
In populated areas, the damage may be severe.
The Richter Scale is a measurement system developed in 1935 by Charles Richter to measure the size (or “magnitude”) of an earthquake.
This is in contrast with the Mercalli scale, which is used to measure the intensity of an earthquake.
The Richter scale is logarithmic, meaning that whole-number jumps indicate a tenfold increase.
In this case, the increase is in wave amplitude.
That is, the wave amplitude in a level 6 earthquake is 10 times greater than in a level 5 earthquake, and the amplitude increases 100 times between a level 7 earthquake and a level 9 earthquake.

-o0o-

The amount of energy released reportedly increases 31.7 times between whole number values.
Geography students of average intelligence or lower often get the two mixed up.
The earthquake in Kidapawan, the second in Mindanao in one week, was reportedly between 6.0 and 6.9, so the Richter scale considers it to be “strong,” as opposed to the “major” (7.0-7.9) or “great” (8.0 or higher), but “strong” is still to be feared.
Science writers Tom Harris and Patrick J. Kiger said most earthquakes are extremely small. A majority of quakes register less than 3 on the Richter scale; these tremors, called microquakes, aren't even felt by humans.
Only a tiny portion -- 15 or so of the 1.4 million quakes that register above 2.0 -- register at 7 or above, which the threshold for a quake being considered major.
The biggest quake in recorded history was reportedly the 9.5 quake that struck Chile in 1960.
It reportedly killed nearly 1,900 people and caused about $4 billion in damage in 2010 dollars.
Generally, we won't see much damage from earthquakes that register below 4 on the Richter scale, explained Harris and Kiger.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Why we die early

Man seeks to change the foods available in nature to suit his tastes, thereby putting an end to the very essence of life contained in them.
--Sai Baba

By Alex P. Vidal


As we age we become conscious of the food we eat primarily because of health reasons.
According to dieticians, we are the food that we eat.
A college student from Iloilo City once asked why people in ancient times lived longer than people in modern times.
My answer was a quick “probably because of the quality of food they ate.”
Biblical figures lived up to 800 years.
Today, at 60, many of us are already “bog bog sarado” from different ailments and complications; and we are frequent visitors in the doctors' clinics if we are not confined in the hospitals.
By 70, some of us are wheelchair-bound.
Those lucky to reach 80 stay in bed until the trip to the kingdom come beckons.

-o0o-

We have been warned that some foods give us diseases because they are contaminated by chemicals and preservatives.
To be healthy, according to health experts, our body needs fuel-foods, fats and carbohydrates (sugars starches) to provide energy; proteins, such as meat, to build new tissues for growth or to replace those worn out; calcium, in milk, for strong bones and teeth; and various minerals, including salt, that help the body to maintain its chemical balance and to carry on its functions.
We've been told that vitamins are not foods, but these “food-factors,” as they are called, are essential.
They help the body to make use of the food we eat, doctors say.
Vitamins already present in food are usually enough for a normal person if his diet is otherwise well-balanced, they add.

-o0o-

Every day we are advised to eat some foods from each of these groups:
(1) milk or milk products, including cheese--at least a pint of milk for an adult and more for a child;
(2) citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit), tomatoes, or raw cabbage or salad greens--at least one;
(3) green or yellow vegetables, some raw, some cooked--at least one big serving;
(4) other vegetables or fruits, including potatoes;
(5) bread and cereals;
(6) meat, poultry or fish;
(7) eggs--three or four a week at least;
(8) butter or another vitamin-rich spread.
We will all die anyway, so it's better to make an exit with grace.

-o0o-

SAVING OUR PLANET:
Don't dispose. Whenever we can, let's swap our throw-away, disposable items for reusable versions. We won't have to pay out over and over again plus we will avoid contributing to landfill.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Duterte will never interfere in Iloilo City Hall row

"One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician's objective. Election and power are."
--Cal Thomas

By Alex P. Vidal


WE sympathize with Iloilo City Hall regular employee Rosita Camacho and other alleged victims of persecution under the Treñas administration.
We don't agree that underlings should be zeroed in and severely punished for supporting a rival candidate who has been vanquished in the recent elections.
But we also don't agree that Camacho or any tormented city hall employees for that matter, should bring the hullabaloo to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who is facing truckloads of domestic problems.
While it is Camacho, et al's right to seek the help of any official in the higher ups, including Mr. Duterte, the act of seeking a presidential interference for a local issue will only do more harm than good to their case.
If Camacho, et al have referred the matter to the court, or in any quasi judicial chamber like the Office of the Ombudsman, seeking solace in the executive branch or the Office of the President could be tantamount to a forum shopping.
Or political saber-rattling.

-o0o-

Camacho had earlier sent a letter-complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman in Cebu City accusing Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo "Jerry" Treñas and four other City Hall officials--City Administrator Melchor Tan, Assistant Iloilo City Administrator Noel Panaguiton, Assistant Department Head II Josephine Agudo of allegedly conspiring, confederating, and aiding one another in the commission of grave coercion and violations of Section 3 (e) and (a) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for grave misconduct, oppression, and/or conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Camacho, et al are now asking President Duterte to join the fray.
If Treñas, et al, based on Camacho's recent appeal to President Duterte through the "Digong 8888 Hotline" TV show hosted by Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, will be rapped on the knuckles by the President through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), what will happen if the Office of the Ombudsman exonerates them based on evidence?
Or vice versa.
Malacañang and the DILG might not jump into action haphazardly while the case is being studied and reviewed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Whether President Duterte will dip his fingers into the row, the Office of the Ombudsman will have to go on with its independent investigation without prejudice to what the President will do.

-o0o-

We doubt, however, if President Duterte, a former city mayor of Davao City himself who is familiar with the local civil service intramural, will prioritize the Iloilo City Hall case on top of the tons of other urgent cases stockpiling in the Office of the President.
President Duterte is aware of local politics.
As a former long-time Davao City mayor, he is familiar with internal wrangling in the city government involving employees caught in the quagmire of warring political parties.
Meanwhile, Panelo reportedly asked Camacho and other affected City Hall employees to write him a letter regarding the brouhaha.
The spokesperson knows his script.
Panelo's gesture can be akin to an employer telling a job applicant after an interview to "just wait for our call (if we are ready to hire you)."
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bridge of deceit, nightmares and frustrations

"There comes a time when deceit and defiance must be seen for what they are. At that point, a gathering danger must be directly confronted. At that point, we must show that beyond our resolutions is actual resolve."
--Dick Cheney

By Alex P. Vidal


IF the Duterte administration will cancel the much-ballyhooed Iloilo-Guimaras-Negros Bridge Project estimated to be worth US $1 billion, it will be tantamount to canceling the dreams and aspirations of the entire Western Visayas altogether.
It will fiercely whip up mixed feelings of hatred, deceit, nightmares and frustrations for the entire Ilonggo populace.
Hatred at those who promised people in Western Visayas the moon and the stars.
Especially at politicians who used the project to prop up and deodorize their public image and candidacy in the recent elections to boot.
Nightmares and frustrations for those who had doggedly and passionately pinned their hopes on the dream bridge for a better future in terms of smooth and easy access from one island province to another, and to other regions thereafter.
The Ilonggos will never forgive the Duterte administration.

-o0o-

Ilonggos will think they have been conned, deceived, and taken for a ride for more than three years since the building of the mega project was first dangled to them by this administration.
For three years now, the bridge that would help expedite travel time and solve all major issues relating to transportation of goods and passengers to and fro the aforementioned regional islands, has been in their imagination and fantasy.
For three years now, Ilonggos tolerated and allowed politicians led by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar to loudly and proudly brag about the project and bring their minds in the world of ecstasy and fantasy.
When they were now nearing the climax of their hallucinations, the project would be scrapped in a snap of a finger?
Incredible. Unimaginable. Unacceptable. Horrendous.
Sinverguenza!

-o0o-

Let's hope that when Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia announced recently they won't push through with at least 75 major infrastructure projects "due to huge expenses and engineering issues", the Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge Project was not one of them.
The mammoth bridge project had been advertised as part of the Duterte administration's "Build, Build, Build" program and the bridge network is supposed to provide increased inter-connectivity in the provinces of Western Visayas and Cebu in Central Visayas.
If realized, it can stimulate economic activity in the two regions and help, in one way or another, in the decongest of Metro Manila in the process.
Let's hope it would not become a case of from "build, build, build" to tears, outrage and antipathy.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The era has ended

"The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively."
--Bob Marley

By Alex P. Vidal


WE don't have anymore a Nene Pimentel in today's age.
In fact, we haven't produced the likes of Nene Pimentel in our government in recent memory.
What we have is a bunch of third-rate comedians and circus jokers masquerading as "nationalists" and "statesmen" who enrich themselves like they own the entire archipelago,
What we have been electing in our national offices are thieves, drug lords, illiterates, morally bankrupt punks, showbiz has-been, hooligans, ass-lickers; you name them our congress (Lower and Upper Chambers) have them.
With no more Nene Pimentel Jr. Jose Diokno, Joker Arroyo, Arturo Tolentino, Lorenzo Tanada, the era has ended.

-o0o-

I remember in 1989 the first news item I wrote for News Express that "impressed" our managing editor Agnes Españo was about the eminent Senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., Tita Cory's former secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
"Impressed" because that article about Senator Pimentel's solid rebuke of the surging "lotto" landed in the front page.
Senator Pimentel was in Iloilo City holding a press conference at the Amigo Terrace Hotel while we were in the City Hall preparing to hear then Mayor Roding Ganzon's latest tirade against "lotto" which was being "promoted" by Pimentel's successor, Luis T. Santos, Ganzon's fierce critic at that time.
It was the first time that I came close to the man considered as one of the pre-martial law political icons; a native of Cagayan de Oro City who spoke fluent Hiligaynon (he answered all our questions in Hiligaynon and he preferred to be called as "Nene").

-o0o-

The second time I was on the same table with the famed former human rights lawyer and assemblyman was when he ran for reelection as senator in 1998 (he previously served in the senate under the Cory Aquino administration from 1987 until 1992).
It was campaign period and Senator Pimentel was with his then daughter-in-law Jewel May Lobaton, the 1998 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe and Miss MassKara Queen.
Iloilo City Rep. Julienne "Jamjam" Baronda, then a city councilor, introduced me to Ms Lobaton, a Bacolodnon who came in Iloilo City to campaign for her father-in-law.
Senator Pimentel, again, spoke in Hiligaynon and made everyone comfortable with his humility and grace.
I found Senator Pimentel to be brilliant and tactful; he seemed to have a knack for saying the right thing at the right time.
He was appropriate and sensitive, never careless or rude compared to another politicians running for the same office I met at that time.
But he had to criticize what he deemed was incorrect and unpalatable, the kind of criticism that the other persons don't get offended.
We missed quality and truly magnificent public servants like Nene Pimentel Jr. Rest in Peace, Tatay Nene.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Promotion of Ilonggo values

"With the right people, culture, and values, you can accomplish great things."
--Tricia Griffith

By Alex P. Vidal


THERE are many ways to advertise to the world the tradition and greatness of Ilonggos.
One of them is to showcase in whatever means our culture and festivals that reveal who we are and what we are as a people.
For instance, there is a festival in Iloilo that promotes the values of Ilonggos.
Celebrated by the Municipality of San Rafael every October of the year, it is called Tawili Festival.
According to Capitol executive assistant Ruel Von D. Superio, “Tawili” is the local counterpart of Bayanihan or volunteerism, involvement, concern and sharing.
"Tawili was prominent in the way of life of the Ilonggos. In many instances, people in the neighborhood would gather to work for their neighbor," Superio explained in his recent Facebook post.
"It could be a work in the farm or in his household. As a result, no one would be lacking of helping hands in times of need and in times of sorrow."
Superio, who accompanied Iloilo Gov. Arthur "Toto" Defensor Jr. during the festival's opening ceremony in San Rafael October 21, said "the festival reminds everyone of the importance of unity and cooperation as an essential ingredient for peace, development and progress."

-o0o-

Iloilo Airport terminal supervisor Art Parreño should initiate a move to donate to Guimaras Province some of the more than 100 umbrellas the Iloilo Airport management seized from departing passengers in August this year.
The airport umbrellas can help the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas which will be staging for the first time the Guimaras Umbrella Festival on November 9, 2019.
It was reported that during the festival, the Department of Tourism (DOT-6) will provide 1,000 umbrellas to pumpboats ferrying passengers to and from the island province of Guimaras.

-o0o-

There is good reasons for Ilonggos to continue to be supportive to our Chinese community.
The tsinoys are known to enormously help pump up the local economies of areas where they are located.
Business is always good in local communities with strong presence of Chinese economic activities.
In fact, a new report from Credit Suisse (CS) shows that wealth in China is ticking up, and the country now accounts for 100 million of the richest 10% of people in the world.
There are 99 million Americans in the same category, it was reported.
The United States still has many more millionaires--18.6 million, or 40% of the world's total, versus 4.4 million in China, it was further learned.
It's also adding to the millionaire count at a faster clip.
The report credits low interest rates and Republican tax cuts for the country's 11th consecutive year of rising wealth.
The average American is also still much richer than their Chinese counterparts, with US wealth per adult at $432,365 compared with $58,544 in China.
A most recent report said China holds claim to a growing piece of the pie, replacing Europe as the principal engine of global wealth growth. That's in spite of the trade war that's weighing on the nation's economy.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Don't touch the Ilonggos with a ten-foot pole

"In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so."
--Immanuel Kant

By Alex P. Vidal


ILONGGOS have the right to protect themselves from law enforcers who apparently aren't afraid to kill in the name of an "all-out campaign against illegal drugs".
The Bill of Rights is the Bill of Life.
In case Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) deputy chief Jovie Espenido will literally implement the illegal and immoral order from the President to "kill anybody", we must remind the Philippine National Police (PNP) the following:
-No suspected criminal should die from lawmen;
-A person accused of having committed a certain crime must be given his day in court;
-Life should be preserved.
-The State should ensure that he will undergo a fair trial, a litigation that will not last in eternity; a justice delayed is a justice denied.
Extra-Judicial Killings (EJK), therefore, have no place in a civilized society.
In the Philippine Constitution, the Bill of Rights under Article III establishes our relationship to the State and defines our rights by limiting the lawful powers of the State.
This is one of our most important political achievements.
The concept of the Bill of Rights is essentially an occidental product; there has grown the conviction that our rights must be preserved and safeguarded, not through the authority of an individual, not through membership in a particular group or party, not through reliance upon force of arms, but rather through the accepted process of declared constitutional law.

-o0o-

Partners in crimes nabbed separately are mostly forced to rat against each other. This is a fundamental police technique in custodial investigation.
Self-interest can be consistent with acting cooperatively.
This can be proven in David Gauthier's version of the Prisoner's Dilemma.
According to the story of the Prisoner's Dilemma, two people have been brought in for questioning, conducted separately, about a crime they are suspected to have committed.
The police have solid evidence of a lesser crime that they committed, but need confessions in order to convict them on more serious charges.
Each prisoner is told that if she cooperates with the police by informing on the other prisoner, then she will be rewarded by receiving a relatively light sentence of one year in prison, whereas her cohort will go to prison for ten years.
If they both remain silent, then there will be no such rewards, and they can each expect to receive moderate sentences of two years.

-o0o-

And if they both cooperate with police by informing on each other, then the police will have enough to send each to prison for five years.
The dilemma then is this: in order to serve her own interests as well as possible, each prisoner reasons that no matter what the other does she is better off cooperating with the police by confessing.
Each reasons: "If she confesses, then I should confess, thereby being sentenced to five years instead of ten. And if she does not confess, then I should confess, thereby being sentenced to one year instead of two. So, no matter what she does, I should confess." The problem is that when each reason this way, they each confess, and each goes to prison for five years.
However, had they each remained silent, thereby cooperating with each other rather than with the police, they would have spent only two years in prison.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Rodrigo Duterte no respect for Ilonggos in Bacolod

"There is no life to be found in violence. Every act of violence brings us closer to death. Whether it's the mundane violence we do to our bodies by overeating toxic food or drink or the extreme violence of child abuse, domestic warfare, life-threatening poverty, addiction, or state terrorism."
--Bell Hooks

By Alex P. Vidal


RODRIGO Roa Duterte may have abused his presidency for ordering his police "berdugo", Jovie Espenido, to "kill everybody" in Bacolod City.
If you are a parent, a wife, a husband, a priest, a journalist, a tambay, a teacher, an activist, a vendor and you live in Bacolod City, you will surely shake in your shirts.
Any civilian can be killed either on suspicion of involvement in illegal drugs, or as a "collateral damage" when the Duterte-inspired lawmen hunt down their "persons of interest."
Any Juan, Pedro, Toto and Inday can be murdered because they are "nanlaban" or "nag bato" (resisted and fought the police) when "arrested".
We all know what happened to the more than 5,000 alleged victims of the extra-judicial killings (EJK) ever since the Duterte administration waged a bloody rampage versus illegal drugs.

-o0o-

With his statement, a pre-Halloween dagger, Duterte probably thinks people in the "City of Smile" are worse than animals.
He is promoting and sponsoring violence by egging an excited and over-rated chief law enforcer to disregard the due process, the basic essence of democracy, and blatantly commit a human rights violation.
The president has no regard for the human life.
He has no respect for the Ilonggos in Bacolod City who had accorded him a warm welcome on several occasions.
Duterte's sweeping and irresponsible order on Espenido may be misinterpreted by trigger-happy maniacs who wear police uniforms.
He thinks the only solution to the problem on illegal drugs is to kill both the pusher and the user, to brutally wage terror in a civilian community.
Duterte has assigned Espenido, a police lieutenant colonel, to the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) as deputy with a main purpose of running after illegal drug traffickers in the city which he described as "badly hit" by illegal drugs.
"Bacolod City is badly hit now and I placed Espenido there because he is the only police official feared the most," Duterte said recently.
"And I told him to go there and you are free to kill everybody. 'Go, start killing them."

-o0o-

We are puzzled why until now no public official or organization in Bacolod City has criticized Mr. Duterte's dangerous statement.
No one from the City Council has stood up in the rostrum to at least remind the president that Bacolod is a peaceful city and any violent enforcement of the law will not be tolerated by peace-loving Bacolodnons.
If Mayor Bing Leonardia can't criticize his friend, President Duterte, for his unpalatable remarks, the opposition or anyone in the local government who believes in decency and the rule of law should initiate a discourse or debate that the President should rectify his mistake soon and tell the public he had no intention of sowing terror in Bacolod City.
Bacolodnons should unite and chide the President, and demand from him to remind Espenido or any police personnel for that matter to respect the rule of law and value the fundamental human rights of any civilian.
There should be no more bloodbaths. No more hubris when implementing the law. No ifs. No buts.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Paragua son tops New York Columbus chessfest

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY
-- The son of Filipino Grandmaster Mark Paragua became the latest chess celebrity here when he topped the K-5 under 1000 division of the CIS Columbus Day Tournament October 14 at 11M here.
Dominic Nathan Paragua emerged No. 1 out of more than a hundred students mostly grade three and five in the tournament participated by 40 schools.
Dominic Nathan scored a perfect four points in four games in. 
DOMINIC NATHAN

He bested Gabriel Balmaseda, Roberto Hernandez, Miles Soichet-Mason, and Chenran Zhao.

Different schools sent their best players in the category.
"My son started only playing in two months prior to the tournament," said Dominic Nathan's mother, Mary Christine Joyce Paragua, who is also a former champion.
The event was organized by the Chess in the Schools (CIS) and supervised by Shaun Smith.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Espenido is not Hercules

"I do know one thing about me: I don't measure myself by others' expectations or let others define my worth."
--Sonia Sotomayor

By Alex P. Vidal


THOSE who expect newly designated Baclod City Police Office (BCPO) deputy city director for operations, Lieutenant Colonel Jovie Espenido to single-handedly erase all the drug traffickers in Bacolod City from the face of earth must either be high on drugs or just simply foolish and naive.
Espenido is not Hercules.
He is not even a Dirty Harry-type of law enforcer like what we all saw in the Clint Eastwood-starred Hollywood films in the 70's and 80's.
Espenido is a media creation.
His sensational stints as top cop in Leyte and Ozamis City where he led bloody crackdowns against prominent members of clans engaged in illegal drug made newspaper headlines yes, but they were all done with direct supervision and order from the higher ups that adhered to the iron-fist policy of the Duterte administration against illegal drugs.

-o0o-

Espenido did not become instant star by killing the bad guys on the spot in a chance encounter or random act of crime like Charles Bronson in The Death Wish.
Any wily and determined cop "assigned" to perform President Duterte's wishes will also hog newspaper headlines like Espenido for a "job well done."
Espenido was "placed there" for a special task; he was not an accidental hero, or an off-duty cop who bravely chased five hooligans in broad daylight and walked away over their dead bodies with a smoking gun like Wyatt Earp.
It's funny that fans of Extra-Judicial Killings (EJK) treated Espenido like he won the gold medal in the world gymnastics championship when he was recently officially introduced as the new BCPO deputy.
He was presented in the media like a folk hero who just crossed the River Styx after rescuing the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys.

-o0o-

It's funnier when Espenido invoked the name of God when asked by reporters if his campaign against illegal drugs in the City of Smile would be bloody.
He reportedly declared: “If it’s God’s will, hindi man tayo makasiguro nyan kasi ang sa atin trabaho lang. ‘Yung sa atin lang is the rule of law. ‘Yun man ang pinangarap ng Presidente natin na mandate ng batas sa PNP."
It's not God's will to kill crime suspects, much less those who have not been properly arrested and convicted in court.
It's not God's will to execute unarmed civilians on suspicion they have links to illegal drugs.
God's law is just. Man's law is banal and imprecise.
In parading Espenido and disclosing the nature of his assignment in the BCPO, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has telegraphed its punches.
Drug lords and other outlaws in Bacold City and other cities and provinces can now prepare how to handle the PNP's latest move.

-o0o-

Aside from donating sports equipment to the Iloilo City Government, we request the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to allow finance the training of Ilonggo athletes with potentials to win gold medals in international competitions.
Carlos Edriel Yulo, 19, the first-ever Filipino to win a gold medal at the world championships in Stuttgart on October 12, came from the grassroots.
Aside from the world-class facilities where Yulo and his fellow gymnasts trained, they were given the opportunities to hone their skills abroad from financial assistance given by the PSC, among other sources of training funds.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Common sense wins

"I'm the kind of person who would have liked to have lived at the Plaza. I love crystal chandeliers and gold leaf, velvets and mirrors, Oriental rugs and marble."
--Candace Bushnell

By Alex P. Vidal


WE laud the Treñas administration for its recent decision to free Iloilo City's public plazas from "eye sores" that branch out during annual fiestas and other religious and cultural festivities.
There should be no need actually for any law to prevent "ukay "ukay" and "trade fairs" from destroying the aesthetics of our plazas
Common sense tells us that these spaces aren't for commercial use but act as a focal point for the civic and social life of a city, a place where impromptu gatherings, people watching and even, political discourse all naturally intersect.
Also, we laud the Treñas administration's attempt to collaborate with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the rehabiliation of the public plazas.
It's about time.
-o0o-

Our public plazas--from the City Proper's Plaza Libertad to the districts of Bo. Obrero, Arevalo, Mandurriao, Jaro, and La Paz-- have been neglected and abused since time immemorial, and no local government administration has initiated a dramatic move to even free and protect them from vandals and commercial activities that defeat the purpose why they were built.
Central plazas and squares play a crucial role in successful urban areas.
When neglected or designed poorly, they can act as a black hole, sucking the life out of a city center.
Most colonial cities in Spanish America and the Philippines were planned around a square plaza de armas, where troops could be mustered, as the name implies, surrounded by the governor's palace and the main church.
A plaza de toros is a bullring.

-o0o-

The term plaza is a Spanish word, cognate to Italian piazza, Portuguese praça, Galician praza, Catalan plaça, Romanian piața, German Platz and French place (which has also been borrowed into English).
The origin of all these words is, via Latin platea, from Greek plateia (hodos), meaning "broad (way or street)" thus even the creation of Presidential Decree 1216, which provides that parks are for public use and therefore “beyond the commerce of men”, was no longer necessary if we only use common sense.
Rob Dyrdek once reminded us that "The evolution of the plaza always came from the idea of just a really good place to ride a skateboard that you could ride at anytime, and that's what the foundation always stands for - being a place that's free, open and legal... for those that are technical, to do really hard stuff, and for those who are learning, to just have fun."
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

‘Juan Dela Cruz’ knows where the bodies are buried

“When I saw corruption, I was forced to find truth on my own. I couldn't swallow the hypocrisy.”
--Barry White

By Alex P. Vidal


NOW it can be told: “Juan Dela Cruz” isn’t just a suspected merchant of chaos and intrigues.
He is both a sniper and one who operates a remote-controlled land mine in the Iloilo City Hall.
“Juan Dela Cruz” is a city hall insider with a Google-like information about just any transaction the city government had undertaken, and about just any personality involved in the transaction.
And he still apparently holds a lot of keys that can help unlock more Pandora boxes.
As long as he remains anonymous and has unlimited access to the mainstream media, he can detonate a land mine that will make life miserable for many corrupt characters, including those who may be--and may have been--falsely accused of committing a wrongdoing.
But because “Juan Dela Cruz” is a fictitious name, many scoundrels zapped by his sniper won’t be formally charged in court, but will just merely be exposed to shame and embarrassment.

-o0o-

But, look, he isn’t a pushover.
Many of the names and designations (including their mode of shenanigans) “Juan Dela Cruz” mentioned in the second wave of his terror attack really exist (we aren’t saying though the allegations against them were true).
His motive in sowing a massive bedlam is still unclear.
In his opening salvo, “Juan Dela Cruz” wobbled (but failed to bundle out) the Manikan couple-- Local Civil Registrar’s Office (LCRO) chief Romeo Caesar “Juncae” Manikan and wife, City tourism assistant chief Eireen Rita.
In his latest blitzkrieg, “Juan Dela Cruz” ripped through the territorial waters of mostly Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas’ own acolytes, accusing them of conflict of interest and other monkey business.
He showed to all and sundry he isn’t Treñas’ bogeyman, after all!
One thing we can be certain of is “Juan Dela Cruz”, being familiar with the terrain, must’ve hobnobbed with some of the characters he had mentioned in some other time and clime or even regularly.
He is apparently familiar with the extent of their participation in the crime, including the murder weapons.
“Juan Dela Cruz” knows where the bodies are buried.

-o0o-

A recent video that circulated in the social media showed several armed young men and women walking in an identified place believed to be a mountainous area somewhere in the Visayas or Mindanao.
Most of them looked healthy and strong and were only in their 20s and 30s.
They were like ROTC cadets and appeared to be new recruits of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-New People’s Army (NPA).
In the 70’s and 80’s some of the NPA cadres who participated in gun battles versus the government forces looked skinny and malnourished.
Now they look like Olympic athletes and are brimming with pride and confidence as they march wearing Nike baseball caps and large backpacks.
So the CPP-NPA is still very much active and continues to attract young warriors?
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Why Ilonggos won't oppose redistricting bill

"Good things happen when you get your priorities straight."
--Scott Caan

By Alex P. Vidal


THE proposed House bill dividing Iloilo City into two legislative districts re-filed recently by Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne "Jamjam" Baronda will never encounter any drastic opposition from the Ilonggos.
We predict that it will even be passed smoothly in the Lower House and eventually signed into law by the President.
The proposed bill is harmless and its intention, according to the proponents, is to bring more benefits and progress for the Ilonggo populace.
As long as it is not a controversial bill that will have a negative impact on the people's economic well-being, Ilonggos will not complain; they will not stand in the way to stymie what can't hurt them.

-o0o-

Many Ilonggos, in fact, don't even give too much attention to the news about the redistricting bill. They leave the matter to the politicians.
Most of them believe the issue isn't really earthshaking that would warrant their full scrutiny.
In the back of their minds, they have elected their public officials and they shall be the ones to worry whether the proposed bill is beneficial to the electorate.
Amid the economic hardships, Ilonggos worry first for their families before anything else.
They are busy making both ends meet; they care most for their next meal on the table; they are focused on the welfare of their children and livelihood, and how to eke out a living to ensure their monthly bills and other financial obligations are settled on time.

-o0o-

It will be the local politicians, not the common tao, who are head-over-heels over the proposed redistricting bill.
At least their will be a light at the end of the tunnel for their political future after they have been sledge-hammered and ousted in the previous elections.
Local politicians with burning desires to win a seat in the House of Representatives will definitely back the proposed redistricting bill.
They are aware that once a dominant political group has taken over like the Trenas-Baronda-Ganzon triumvirate, it will be very hard for them to squeeze in when the next election beckons if it remains a lone congressional district.
With two legislative districts, their hopes of going to Congress without swimming into the deep blue sea for a head-on collision with the Titanic, will be avoided.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Tourism to the rescue

"The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it."
--Martin Parr

By Alex P. Vidal


POLITICS and all other depressing news should now take a backseat for a positive event.
The best way to promote the assets, world-class facilities, and infrastructure and highlight the potentials of Iloilo City and Province is to listen to what the Department of Tourism (DOT) will say on this subject matter.
The best way coax investors and pump lifeblood in Iloilo's economy is to support the DOT programs especially if they will benefit the entire region and create a myriad of opportunities for the Ilonggos.
We can always count on the DOT to sprinkle dynamism and fresh air and change the tune of local discussions from political muckraking to tourism and economic breakthroughs.
Thus we laud the DOT Western Visayas headed by Director Helen J. Catalbas and the Tourism Board for the launching October 9 of the Iloilo City Meetings, Incentive Travels, Conferences/Conventions, Exhibitions/Events (MICE) Campaign with the tagline “Meet you in Iloilo" at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo Business Park, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

-o0o-

The event reportedly aims to position Iloilo as MICE destination and will gather top associations and corporations in the Philippines, travel managers and event organizers to see for themselves what Iloilo has to offer.
As quoted in a recent report, Catalbas explained: “The Iloilo City MICE Campaign will not be possible without the support from the Tourism Promotions Board, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), MICE Alliance members and other partners. The unity of tourism stakeholders in positioning Iloilo City as MICE destination is an overwhelming factor to promote inclusive growth."
The report added: "In sync with the promotion of Iloilo as MICE destination, DOT VI strongly encourages tourism enterprises to be DOT-Accredited MICE organizer or facility/venue to ensure quality services are being offered to clients and visitors."


-o0o-

We hope Iloilo City lone district Representative Julienne "Jamjam" Baronda was able to hold a public consultation before she reportedly filed House Bill 3074 or An Act Reapportioning the Lone Legislative District and the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Iloilo.
Under the bill, which was co-authored by two other Iloilo solons, Rep. Raul Tupas (5th district, Iloilo) and Rep. Michael Gorriceta (2nd district, Iloilo), the First Legislative Distrist will be composed of Jaro, La Paz, and Mandurriao while the Second Legislative District will be composed of City Proper, Molo, Arevalo and Lapuz.
In any major legislation involving the district and the welfare of the people, a public hearing is necessary; all the stakeholders must have an active participation and voice in the pre-filing level before a bill of such importance and magnitude is introduced in congress.
In the public consultation, the people will have to hear the pros and cons and the opportunity to further study and strengthen the proposed legislation will be guaranteed.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

'Rock star' treatment could endanger cop's life

"I try not to be influenced by success or popularity."
--Suga

By Alex P. Vidal


POLICE Major Jovie Espenido is just an ordinary police officer, but fans of extra-judicial killings (EJK) made him a bigger-than-life hero.
Every time Espenido's name and his next assignment are mentioned in the press, EJK fans, including the media, burst in excitement as if they are about to see the Halley's Comet.
Espenido himself could be surprised that he has been accorded the "rock star" treatment by those who advocate for immediate annihilation of drug dealers, so that the government will no longer waste the taxpayers' money for the litigation of these criminals.
He earned the "berdugo" (executioner) reputation after being assigned in Ozamis City where he led the raid on the resident of the dangerous Parojinog family in 2017 that resulted in many deaths and arrest of suspected drug traffickers who were previously untouchables.

-o0o-

In the Philippines, those who talk tough and act with iron fists--even if some of them are dimwits--are admired and hailed as heroes.
Then they are elected in the senate.
Espenido also became a media sensation when President Duterte wanted to assign him in Iloilo City two years ago in a bid to scare former mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who was believed to have flown to Canada earlier.
Duterte fanatics, especially Mabilog's enemies, welcomed the news of Espenido's scheduled transfer in Iloilo City; some even flooded the social media with veiled threats and mockery aimed directly at the crestfallen former city mayor.
Espenido's transfer was called off after the intelligence reportedly intercepted reports that Espenido's life was in danger; some members of drug syndicates and Ilonggo sympathizers of Mabilog and other personalities offended by the current administration were reportedly waiting to "waylay" the popular police officer whatever that means.
Which reminds us of Joe Pring and Timoteo Zarcal, two charismatic and sensational Manila cops killed by suspected leftist rebels one after another in 1994.
They were at the height of their popularity and, like Espenido today, they also were accorded the "rock star" treatment by their fans.

-o0o-

IT isn't mandatory for people outside Metro Manila to have a knee-jerk reaction each time there are controversies and scandals involving misbehaving politicians and policemen in the Imperial Manila.
It is not also necessary that those living outside Metro Manila will "adopt" the fears and panic felt by the victims of these Metro Manila-based politicians and rogue cops.
Like when the Senate tackled the "ninja cops" controversy involving some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Metro Manila.
Since the senate hearings were aired "live" on the Internet and broadcast media, they had chilling effects on people, who have fears for these types of law enforcers, all over the archipelago.
Many of these people, the so-called "promdi", think the threats and activities of the "ninja cops" have stretched and are also happening in their regions.
Thus the good cops, who have nothing to do whatsoever with the bad behaviors of their counterparts in the Imperial Manila, are also being sideswiped by the negative publicity.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Sunday, October 6, 2019

But Joe III isn’t the one hurting

“Peace does not include a vendetta; there will be neither winners nor losers.”
--Ahmed Ben Bella

By Alex P. Vidal


IF the Treñas administration thinks persecuting city hall employees who may have supported former city mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III in the recent elections is one way of getting back at Joe III, it’s dead wrong.
Joe III, now a private citizen, doesn’t give a hoot what will happen to his former employees now fighting for their lives after being orphaned by Joe III’s unfortunate defeat.
Joe III is not the type who will bend for his underlings.
The man does not understand the words empathy and sympathy.
Many observers think Joe III considers his employees to be his servants.
Thus he can’t recognize his former employees even if he bumps them in the coffee shops.
He can’t probably feel what they’re feeling today amid the avalanche of administrative raps and “investigations” launched against them.
There is a popular joke that when Joe III once went to a barangay in Jaro district, his driver, Mike, mixed himself with the crowd. Joe III, who shook hands with people in the crowd, didn’t notice he shook Mike’s hand.

-o0o-

It’s been weeks since news erupted that the Treñas administration has been savagely lowering the boom on city hall employees, including some department heads suspected of supporting Joe III, yet the former city mayor has not come out in the open to issue a statement or show his support for the embattled city hall workers now being bludgeoned by administrative raps from the vindictive Treñas administration.
A true leader, even if he had been vanquished, will always look back and rescue his fallen soldiers.
A good leader does not abandon his allies even if they have been captured and threatened with annihilation.
A public show of moral support from Joe III would have been enough to assuage the frazzled emotions of city hall workers whose only sin was to be tagged as Joe III’s political supporters.
Or, he can appeal straight to Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas, who is his brother-in-law, to “please leave the city hall employees alone; this is our rivalry, not you against them. They have nothing to do with our cold war. We can resolve this conflict without trampling on the small grasses and offending the wrong people. This feud is political and only temporary.”

-o0o-

I reiterate that it is not healthy, much less not good in the eyes of the world that the Treñas administration started on the wrong and unnecessary battle: the corrosive purging of “disloyal” employees, especially those who had purportedly committed an “electioneering” offense in the recent May elections.
It can’t help prop up the image of the Ilonggos in general if people in other regions and countries read in the Internet and major broadcast networks and newspapers the news about their local chief executive swapping charges in court against ordinary city hall employees.
Taxpayers’ money is wasted and used to run after members of the city hall family.
A city hall trying to create killing fields for its own flesh and blood.
The meat of the matter is too niggardly and counterproductive for a big metropolis that has already breached the threshold of economic boom.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Juncae Manikan isn’t crook

“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”
– ERIC HOFFER

By Alex P. Vidal


MANY thieves have served in the Iloilo City Hall when I covered the beat in the late 80’s and in the 90’s.
These dishonest public servants made a pile either by directly stealing the tax payers’ money, or by using their power and influence to gain favors from private contractors and business establishments.
But there were public officials who served wholeheartedly, those who were contented only with their salary, and who never dipped their fingers in the cookie jars.
Romeo Caesar “Juncae” Manikan Jr., the ex-oficio member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod representing the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation in the early 90’s, was one of them.
Coy and always smiling, Manikan would rather engage in sports activities with friends than taking advantage of his position as city councilor.

-o0o-

I can’t remember having written a controversial story or expose where Manikan’s name was included.
But I have written critical stories that angered some of Manikan’s senior colleagues, especially the corrupt and the egomaniacs.
Manikan, currently the head of the Office of the Local Civil Registrar, wanted to preserve the legacy of his late father, the indefatigable Treasurer Romeo “Roming” Manikan Sr.
He and his older sister, Ma. Concordia “Diday”, also a former city councilor and a former village chief in Brgy. Concepcion, City Proper, never abused their “privileges” as “Treasurer Roming’s children.”
They remained humble even if they were in power.
Those who share my observations about Juncae Manikan are also probably shocked that he is now being linked to a ridiculous fake marriage scandal.

-o0o-

The fake marriage brouhaha could be a sham and is probably being used only by Manikan’s critics as a political vendetta.
It’s inconceivable that Manikan, who is holding a permanent position as a department head, will risk his good track record in public service to commit a very cheap malfeasance that can’t be kept under wraps.
If Manikan is a bad guy or someone who throws his weight around, he could have made a lot of money through nefarious means during his heydays as city councilor, and when his father was at the helm of power.
City hall will only make Manikan and his wife, Tourism Assistant department chief Eireen Rita, martyrs if it won’t stop persecuting them.
The Manikan couple and other rank-and-file employees now at the center of storm from City Hall’s wrath, are not enemies but members of the City Hall family.
They aren’t adversaries “from within.”
If politics is addition, what is going on is not only subtraction but self-destruction.
A family can’t devour its own children.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Iloilo suicide and Internet connectivity

"To run away from trouble is a form of cowardice and, while it is true that the suicide braves death, he does it not for some noble object but to escape some ill."
--Aristotle

By Alex P. Vidal


ILOILO Board Member Matt Palabrica suspected that the most common reasons why young people in Iloilo committed suicide were likely problems in the family, love life, school, and money.
The upsurge of suicide cases involving Iloilo youngsters has alarmed Palabrica that he made an appeal for collective action from the provincial government, school and health authorities, and the police, among other sectors.
Palabrica based his concerns on the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) report where of the 179 cases of suicide recorded from 2016 to June 2019, 35 involved young adults or those who are between nine to 21 years old.
Could it be also because of the rising Internet connectivity which, aside from the potential to transforming children’s lives for the better, also makes them vulnerable to sexual abuse, online harassment and bullying, recruitment by extremist groups, and other risks?

-o0o-

A new United Nations (UN)-backed report published on October 1, 2019 cited a study by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development which underlines the need for everyone to ensure children remain safe as they explore “the digital world”.
The study was produced by the Commission’s working group on Child Online Safety, comprising senior representatives from the UN, non-governmental organizations, law-enforcement agencies, regulators, and private companies.
The report lays out staggering statistics showing the extent and scale of the problem.
In just one year, for instance, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found more than 105,000 websites hosting child sexual abuse material.
“It takes a village to keep children safe both online and offline. Therefore, all the stakeholders need to prioritize children, collaborate and generate collective actions to prevent and address all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation of children online,” members said in press release.
The report recommends that countries take immediate action, as no Government has developed fully effective protection systems.

-o0o-

Steps that protect children online include establishing a single national authority with ultimate responsibility for child online safety, as well as ensuring robust legislation is in place, among other measures.
The report also highlights the differences in Internet access depending on where young people live. Globally, there are more than two million people under the age of 18. Around 71 per cent of youth are already online, according to UNICEF research, cited in the report.
However, millions are still waiting to log on. Currently, 60 per cent of young Africans are not online but the number of users on the continent is growing by 20 per cent a year.
“In Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America, connectivity has not yet reached all children. With the expansion of affordable broadband to these parts of the developing world, there is an urgent need to put in place measures to minimize the risks and threats to these children, while also allowing them to capitalize on all the benefits the digital world can bring to our societies,” the report said.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)