Saturday, February 29, 2020

‘Exorcism’: PECO’s body, MORE Power’s soul

“The general fact is that the most effective way of utilizing human energy is through an organized rivalry, which by specialization and social control is, at the same time, organized co-operation.”
Charles Horton Cooley

By Alex P. Vidal

MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) is like a soul without a body.
In order to exist and function normally in the material world, it needs a body.
Panay Electric Company (PECO), on the other hand, still has its body intact but the soul is now wandering.
A crisis of colossal proportion erupts when MORE Power wants and insists to inhabit inside PECO’s body.
Claiming “it has a soul of its own”, PECO defiantly and forcefully shows recalcitrance as it rejects MORE Power’s “consolidation” try. 
PECO, as the body, thinks it is more of an invasion and an attempt to “power grab” and totally take over someone’s body. 
If MORE Power, as the soul, wants to legitimize its own existence, it must find its rightful body and co-exist with me, demands the PECO. 

 -o0o-

The caveat is, once PECO, as the body, allows MORE Power, as the soul, to integrate, PECO will lose not only its body but its wandering soul will have no more chance to reunite with the body.
But to PECO’s chagrin, MORE Power sought the divine intervention and the latter decreed that MORE Power, as the soul, must not only integrate but occupy PECO’s body.
After a partial “invasion” of the body has commenced, PECO petitions the “higher gods” to reverse or stop the decree of the “lower gods.”
PECO views MORE Power’s presence in its internal system as an “exorcism” or the expulsion or attempted expulsion of a supposed evil spirit from a person or place.
Will the “higher gods” order to drive away the soul (MORE Power) from the newly acquired body?
Or they will sustain the decree and ask the “conquered” body (PECO) to accept “defeat” and pave the way for the total take over? 
 The “higher gods’” decision is more interesting.

 -o0o- 

SOME of my friends in Washington state and the neighboring Vancouver in Canada started to panic on Saturday when news broke out early on February 29 that a male coronavirus patient (wrongfully identified earlier as a female) has died, marking the first death in the U.S. from COVID-19, the illness associated with the virus.
Three of them work in a health center and in a nursing home. They are all females. They asked me to confirm the report even if they have already monitored the news in their local media sources.
It’s confirmed.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was sending out information that it was responding to "the first possible outbreak" of the respiratory illness in a long-term care center in Washington. 
The death was not associated with that facility.
Health officials in Washington said 27 patients and 25 staff members at the center have symptoms associated with COVID-19.
The Life Care Center of Kirkland said in a statement that new patients and visitors were being turned away, and patients and staff "with symptoms or who were potentially exposed are quarantined."

-o0o-

It was reported that the person who died was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions, and there was no evidence he contracted the virus through travel, health officials said. 
They suspect domestic "community spread" of the disease, a new phase for the United States that began this week on the West Coast.
U.S. diplomatic officials said a 60-year old U.S. citizen diagnosed with the disease died Feb. 6 at Jinyintian Hospital in Wuhan, China.
The number of Americans who have so far contracted the virus, most overseas, rose to 69 Saturday, according to an NBC News tally.
Shortly after the announcement of the Washington death, President Donald Trump held a White House news conference to announce that the United States is issuing more travel restrictions and warnings to help prevent spread of the virus. 
He also said he is meeting with pharmaceutical executives to discuss work toward a coronavirus vaccine.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)







Thursday, February 27, 2020

A difficult relationship

Martyr wracked with self pity

By Alex P. Vidal

"He that despairs degrades God." 
—OWEN FELTHAM
  
IF we are in a high-maintenance relationship, this subject matter may interest us. 
Dealing with martyrs was recently cited in the survey as the second most difficult relationship.
"We all have days when we feel a bit like a martyr, days when self-pity descends on us," wrote psychology professor, Dr. Les Parrot III of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University. "For most people, self-pity is fleeting, a reminder that life isn't always fair."
Parrot explained in his book, High-Maintenance Relationship, that for most people self-pity can be like an infection. If it's not caught early and treated aggressively, he said, "it can become chronic, leading to people to feel continually like victims."
Such is the case for martyrs, Parrot revealed. They can be knocked over by the tiniest difficulties--a burned dinner, a lonely weekend, a traffic jam--and show little interest in getting up. Like flowers flattened by a strong wind, martyrs stay down.

UNFAIRNESS

"Hopelessly and helplessly they give in to real and imagined unfairness and refuse the helping hand of a friend: 'Oh, don't worry about me. I'm fine,' or 'You don't have time for my troubles. You just go ahead.' Martyrs feel spurned by the world. They often refuse help and are burned at their own stake," added the fellow in medical psychology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
According to Parrot, "it doesn't take much to become a Joan of Arc. Mothers can overburden themselves with household chores, then say, 'No one really cares about me. As far as my family is concerned, I'm just a slave.'" Fathers can use the same approach: "I work my fingers to the bone, and no one cares. Everyone uses me."
The ordained minister of the Church of the Nazarene cited the case of Vicky as a typical martyr. With her soft-spoken manner you barely notice she is in the room. She suffers from excruciating back pain, and at times she barely sit up for more than five minutes at a stretch. But she refuses a friend's offer to clean her apartment and cook dinner. "I've got to manage alone," Vicky says, "because I can't expect someone else to be here every minute of every day."

PERSECUTED

Vicky refuses help but feels all the more persecuted when her friends don't stop by. Like every other martyr, explained Parrot, Vicky wallows in self-pity. It has become so insidious to her soul that she is all but entrapped. Her friends fear she will never emerge to live a fun, contented life. And her woeful existence is becoming increasingly exhausting for even her family members and most dedicated companions.
"If you have martyrs in your life, you have seen firsthand how their wallowing can go on and on. Solutions to their problems, no matter how powerful, can't seem to penetrate their complaining," Parrot stressed. "Martyrs are locked tight in a victim chambers. But that doesn't mean you need to suffer too. You can use several effective strategies for living and working with confirmed martyrs, even when they refuse to be rescued."
Unfortunately, martyrs are all too prevalent in our society, warned Parrot. "Turn on any morning or afternoon talk show, and you will see people who are stuck in a bad marriage or who are too fat or too miserable to deal with life. You will also hear them blame their parents, their schooling, their income, their siblings, their friends, their church, their government, and, of course, themselves. What dynamics do martyrs have in common? They are defeated, passive, self-blaming, helpless, irrational, broody, and worrisome."

DEFEATED. "Everyone whines a little in response to life's small irritations: you have na acne outbreak at the worst time; you lose your keys; you get stood up for an appointment," continued Parrot. "Who wouldn't feel a little defeated? But most of us are able to stop feeling negative, recover our equilibrium, and get on with living. Not so for martyrs. They give up quickly and suffer long-lasting defeat."

PASSIVE. If one were to coin a battle cry for martyrs, the author said, it would be "I can't!" I can't lose weight. I can't get a promotion. I can't change. I can't meet new friends. Martyrs make little effort to rally against downbeat thoughts, Parrot observed. "And rarely do they ask for or accept help, even--or especially--when that help is freely and lovingly offered. Martyrs may desperately need help, but they will rebuff a gesture of caring."

SELF-BLAMING. In his book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner tells of paying condolence calls on the families of two women who died of natural causes. At the first home, the son of the deceased woman told the rabbi: "If only I had sent my mother to Florida and gotten her out of this cold, she would be alive today. It's my fault she died." At the second home, the son told the rabbi: "If only i hadn't insisted on my mother's going to Florida, she would be alive today. it's my fault that she's dead." Martyrs, like these sons, are often addicted to self-blame, according to Parrot.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Ex-Ilonggo radioman loves Kobe Bryant more than Pacquiao

“If I panic, everyone else panics.”
Kobe Bryant

By Alex P. Vidal

SOMETIME in the first week of March in 2008, I “abducted” my kumpare, Lynon Cortez, from his residence in downtown Los Angeles in California and brought him straight to the Hollywood.
“Maano ta di pare man? (What shall we do here, buddy?)” Cortez, a former radioman in Iloilo City in the Philippines, protested.
I asked pare Lynon to wait and relax inside the Nat’s Thai Food, a restaurant located on Vine Street and a stone throw away from the famous Wild Card Gym, where Sen. Manny Pacquiao was training.
When Pacquiao, who was then preparing for his rematch against Juan Manuel Marquez on March 15, 2008, entered the restaurant, I introduced pare Lynon. 
They shook hands and had photos taken together.
I noticed that unlike other US-based fans eager to get closer and shake the world boxing champion’s hands, pare Lynon was placid and unperturbed.
It was his first personal meeting with Pacquiao, he admitted, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t mesmerized by the boxer’s presence and didn’t give a damn that Pacquiao was a celebrity.
When pare Lynon did not flaunt his photos with Pacquiao to his friends and family, it gave me a hint he wasn’t interested with the eight-time world boxing titlist.
But, as a Filipino-American, he would root and place a bet for the popular Filipino boxer each time the latter fought the Mexican warriors like Oscar Larios, Marquez, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Jorge Solis, and Emmanuel Lucero.

-o0o-

A week ago, pare Lynon and I talked about the “celebration of life” event at the Staple Center held on February 24 where Los Angeles came to a stop to publicly memorialize Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
“I will definitely be there,” pare Lynon quipped. “I will report the event on RMN (Iloilo).  I’m a big Kobe Bryant fan. I really cried when I learned that he died.”
Pare Lynon loved Kobe Bryant not only because he was an NBA star, “but because he was a family man.”
Kobe Bryant was a model husband and father, according to pare Lynon, who watched Kobe in action at the Staple Center in the past several times. 
“He lived a clean life and loved his family so much,” stressed the former Ilonggo broadcaster, who once reprimanded a colleague for being a womanizer.
Pare Lynon was so excited to attend the memorial. “It’s a big event and I will do my best to be there,” he said.
Vanessa Bryant announced the public service on Instagram earlier this month and pointed out the symbolism in the date: 2/24/20.
Two for the number Gianna, aka “Mambacita,” wore.  Twenty-four for the number Kobe wore during the second half of his career. And twenty, for the years Kobe and Vanessa spent together.
According to records, Kobe and Gianna were buried in a private ceremony on Feb. 7.

-o0o-

Pare Lynon shared to me what happened during the memorial at the Staple Center where another NBA legend Michael Jordan revealed he loved Kobe Bryant "like a little brother" and had tears streaming down his face, pulling back the curtain on the relationship between the greatest players of their respective generations.
Jordan said: “When Kobe died, a little piece of me died. Looking around the room, a piece of you died too, or else you wouldn't be here."
Shaquille O'Neal, another NBA star who views Kobe Bryant as a little brother, mirrored Jordan's blend of comedy and seriousness. He also compared their relationship to The Beatles' John Lennon-Paul McCartney dynamic.
Pare Lynon said it was late-night host Jimmy Kimmel who first spoke at the podium after a Bryant highlight reel before introducing Vanessa who chortled, "Thank you all so much for being here. It means so much to us." 
Vanessa began by talking about Gianna and how she always showed her love with a morning and nightly kiss.
"Gianna never tried to conform," Vanessa said. "She was always herself." 
She also lamented on what "Gigi" will not experience in this life: her wedding day, never driving a car or attending high school, the chance to become the best player in WNBA history.
"I miss you every day. I love you," Vanessa said. 
She then turned her eulogy toward Kobe, who she'd been with since she was 17 years old.
"He was my everything," she said. "Kobe loved more than I could express or put into words ... we balanced each other out. He would do anything for me.
"Kobe was the MVP of girl dads," added Vanessa, before telling stories about Kobe being a father to Gianna and his three other girls: Natalia, 17; Bianca, 3; and Capri, 8 months.
“God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other," Vanessa said. "He had to bring them home together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nati, Bibi and Coco. ... May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day." 
As she descended the stage, Michael Jordan helped her down the steps.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)




Monday, February 24, 2020

PNP reg’l directors aren’t supermen

“Without gambling, I would not exist.”
Hunter S. Thompson

By Alex P. Vidal

NO Philippine National Police (PNP) chief in the history has succeeded in totally eliminating illegal gambling operations in the country.
But almost every PNP chief who served the country had made a loud public outcry against illegal gambling and vowed to wipe it out during their stewardship.
And we know they all failed.
Thus PNP chief Police General Archie Franciso Gamboa’s latest agitation against illegal gambling operations wasn’t news anymore.
It won’t even be a news if he will also fail.
What’s news is his threat to lower the boom on PNP regional directors who can’t stop the numbers game operations in their respective jurisdictions for one week.
It’s a news because the task of totally stamping out illegal gambling operations has always been a tall order; it’s almost incredible, unachievable, and downright impossible.
For one week?
Only Superman can do that.
Gamboa’s regional directors aren’t even superheroes.

-o0o-

On Saturday (February 22), Gamboa boomed: "I have forwarded to you list of operators in your different regions. I’m giving you a week.”
Meaning that after one week, heads will roll; or regional directors who can’t curb illegal gambling operations in their areas of responsibility would be relieved.
Another problem for Gamboa is his reminder to all police officers “not to accept bribes from operators of illegal gambling.”
It’s like telling off-duty sailors not to enter inside the nightclubs in a port where their ships had docked.
We all know that many cops are in the payroll of illegal gambling operators since time immemorial. 
Some cops have even ended up as bodyguards of gambling lords when they went AWOL (absent without official leave) and after their retirement.

-o0o-

Not all of the PNP’s 191,000 personnel are immaculate.
We still believe though that the majority are dedicated and honest.  
If they weren’t protectors of illegal drugs, some cops were in cahoots with illegal gambling lords, and this reality has been a public knowledge even before the integration of the Philippine Constabulary (August 18, 1901-January 29, 1991) and the Integrated National Police (August 7, 1975-January 29, 1991).
Pressuring the regional directors to stop illegal gambling operations will never yield positive results in as far as the government’s campaign against illegal gambling is concerned.
Gambling operators who don’t want corrupt PNP regional directors to be axed might “cooperate” for the time being and stop their operations temporarily in order to please Gamboa and to protect these corrupt regional directors, but after several weeks or months, it will be “business as usual” or “back to business.”

-o0o-


Even Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) chief, Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan has acknowledge the presence of bookies or illegal numbers game operations in many parts of Western Visayas.
He lamented that “apparently, there are really individuals who keep on insisting on doing something illegal.”
But even Pamuspusan probably feels that stopping these bookies operations isn’t a joke. 
These operators, who have been organized clandestinely for a long period of time, also operate like syndicates. 
They also have their own intelligence network and they are well-entrenched, well-oiled, and well-protected.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Quality of senators in ABS-CBN hearing

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” 
Benjamin Franklin

By Alex P. Vidal

I’m ashamed of the quality of senators participating in the Senate hearing on ABS-CBN compliance with franchise terms and conditions.
They lacked reliability and profundity and couldn’t accurately hit the nail right.
It’s so frustrating and irritating to think how these morons were able to become senators. 
They are clearly nincompoops and their views are obviously subservient only to the interest of the president.
We missed the likes of the late senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, and Raul Roco, among other brilliant legislators we can always be proud of.
The ABS-CBN Senate hearing is a very important subject matter where there is a gathering of the best and sharpest minds from all the stakeholders to tackle a myriad of technical, legal, economic issues on top of the debate whether there is a need to extend the giant media firm’s franchise, which will expire on March 30, for another 25 years.
These issues should have been best addressed and tackled intelligently if we have quality senators who don’t read and recite their prepared speeches which actually have no substance and accuracy.

-o0o-
  
As a media practitioner, I am basically against any form of censorship or attempt to stifle the freedom of the press and expression.
“Stopping” the operation of any media entity—newspaper and magazine, radio station, TV —in whatever form is a clear act of assault against the rights of free press and expression.
Especially if the act of attrition comes from the government.
It becomes uglier, strikes a big blow, and sends a chilling effect in the heart and soul of democracy.
We have the Constitution that prevents congress to make any laws that limit the freedom of the press. 
The charter’s primary goal for the press is to prevent the government from censoring it. 
Under these circumstances, censorship often means preventing the press from publishing information in the first place, though this can also mean punishing news organizations after they have published or broadcast (or even failed to broadcast a political advertisement) a story. 
Censorship of the press before a story is published in print, broadcast on television, radio or the internet is called “prior restraint,” and the Supreme Court has ruled that it was unconstitutional.

-o0o-

Let's not forget these two substances: Resveratrol and rapamycin. Scientists have recently discovered that these two compounds are anti-aging drugs. Resveratrol is found in grapes, red wine and peanuts.

-o0o-

According to LabReport, many of the babies born in 2000 might live until 150! Danish scientist Kaare Christensen and his colleagues have circulated a projection that assumes longevity improvements will continue at their current pace. 
In that model, more than half the children in the developed world will be around for their 100th birthday.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Col. Tayaba is a big loss to the PNP

“Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.”
Theodore Roosevelt

By Alex P. Vidal

I FIRST met then 30-year-old Police Maj. Marlon Tayaba in 1998 when he was the chief of the Iloilo City Mobile Group, where I saw him frisk suspected lawbreakers even in the La Paz bridge during the night operations.
He was close to our Sun Star Iloilo police beat reporters Ednalyn Belonio-Diamante, Ruby Silubrico, and other lady reporters from the radio and TV.
Tayaba was tough and swashbuckling when dealing with law violators and criminals, but meek and mild-mannered when in the company of Iloilo reporters, who admired his low key personality.
He raised his voice only on the ruffians and rascals while on duty, but spoke to anyone he met like a school teacher when he’s off duty.
Tayaba was one of the most courteous and soft-spoken police officials who served in the city and province of Iloilo.
If he wasn’t wearing a police uniform, Tayaba could be mistaken for a college student or a Mormon who knocks on the door to give free copies of Bible and prayer literatures.

-o0o-

Tayaba wasn’t publicity hungry. He was a silent type and seldom opened his mouth in conversations but attentive and always alert.
His accomplishments became known only because he had lots of friends in the media who reported them even if some these stories weren’t front page materials.
He was a darling of the press because he treated them like his friends and classmates. 
While other PNP officials hankered for publicity in order to expedite their promotion, Tayaba never kowtowed to anyone in the press in order to get a special attention.
The more he earned positive remarks in the press for a good accomplishment as a cop, the more he would recluse himself so that the friendly press wouldn’t do a follow up and prolong the well-deserved plaudits.

-o0o-

I lost track of Tayaba when he and other selected PNP officials went to the United States for a “schooling” in the early part of year 2000.
We were connected again when he sent a “friend request” on Facebook seven years ago. He used another name.
All that I heard and read about him thereafter was his sterling exploits as “Col. Marlon Tayaba” and as director of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO), where he earned the trust and confidence of then Iloilo Governor Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr., father of incumbent Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Jr. 
I only learned that he passed away on February 16 at the Iloilo Mission Hospital after a long bout with colon cancer, the second most deadly form of cancer after lung cancer.
He was 52.    
Based on his accomplishments and performance, his death should be considered as a big loss to the Philippine National Police.
Rest in Peace, Colonel!
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)








Saturday, February 15, 2020

Espenido: A dead man walking?

“No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.”
Niccolo Machiavelli

By Alex P. Vidal

WE won’t be surprised if controversial Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido will soon be the next target of the extra-judicial killing (EJK), a bloody method of executing criminals and which has tainted the image of the Philippines.
Let’s hope he won’t suffer the fates of Police Majors Joe Pring and Timoteo Zarcal, who were both gunned down at the height of their popularity as “trigger-happy” Manila cops in the early 90’s.
There is more than meets the eye in the recent move of the Philippine National Police (PNP) hierarchy to relieve the rock star of his post as deputy chief of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) after serving only for more or less four months.
Either there was truth to the report that Espenido was included in President Duterte’s list of police officials linked to illegal drugs, or he had to be axed for being someone “who knows too much.”
Four years since the Duterte administration uncorked the deadly war against illegal drugs, no one really knows the real score.
Nobody can tell how many street-level drug pushers have been neutralized and how many big time drug traffickers have been arrested.
Are they really being seriously pursued? 
Or everything in as far as the campaign against illegal drugs is just a charade?

-o0o-

What most people know is that we are losing the battle against illegal drugs.
That there is a disturbing trend of some prominent characters all over the country being abducted surreptitiously not for ransom but to be “silenced” (sometimes their bodies or skeletons were recovered in a drum underneath the river or in the deep water; and in most cases their whereabouts have remained unknown).  
More small fries and even bystanders are maimed and killed via EJK than the real traffickers of illegal substance. 
More arrests have been made against small time drug pushers than the drug lords, who still control the multi-billion business; and who still apparently enjoy the protection of those whose who are supposed to arrest and lock them in jail.
In his brief stint in Bacolod, Espenido must have become too big for his britches because of the gargantuan media attention he has been raking in.
Sent to Bacolod to do a man’s job, he failed to nail down a single drug lord and submitted an egg.
There were allegations that some big names in the higher echelon and the powers that be were not only involved in the protection racket of the syndicates but are members of the syndicates themselves.
If the syndicates have successfully hammered out their arm-twisting and influence-peddling tactics to sully Espenido’s reputation in Malacanang, he is finished.  
From hero to villain.

-o0o-

REENERGIZE WITH EXERCISE EARLY EVENING. Even though we're tired, forcing ourselves to do aerobic exercise will energize us for a couple of hours and make it easier to fall asleep at night. 
Our body temperature naturally falls at night, shortly before bedtime, so the natural dip in temperature that happens about 2 hours after a workout can help us get to bed at a decent hour and wake up refreshed the next morning.
AVOID CHEMICALS IN OUR CANS. Canned food alert: Consumer Reports found bisphenol A-a chemical linked to reproductive problems, diabetes, and heart disease--in all 19 brandname canned foods it tested, including those labeled BPA free. 
Because levels vary so widely, even among cans of the same product, there's no way to predict how much we're getting.
LET'S TIME OUR NAP AFTER LUNCH. Research shows that naps, especially "power naps" of 20 to 30 minutes, help ward off fatigue. To maximize the benefits, let's try taking a siesta after lunch, when our energy levels are particularly low. 
Let us limit rest to less  than 30 minutes, or stretch it out to 60 to 90 minutes to avoid grogginess that results from waking up in the middle of deep sleep. (Source: Prevention)
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

ABS-CBN and global assault vs critical press

“When the public's right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.”
—Christopher Dodd

By Alex P. Vidal

RAPPLER and ABS-CBN aren’t alone.
Apparently there is a downward spiral of freedom and the media not only in the Philippines but also around the world.
The quo warranto petition Solicitor General Jose Calida had filed in the Supreme Court against the ABS-CBN and its sister company, ABS-CBN Convergence, was probably one of the many attempts by authoritarian rulers around the world today to snuff out critical journalism.
Sarah Repucci, Freedom House senior director for research and analysis, has sounded an alarm that “the fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent press is under attack, and part of the assault has come from an unexpected source.”
It’s been reported that elected leaders in many democracies, who should be press freedom’s staunchest defenders, have made explicit attempts to silence critical media voices and strengthen outlets that serve up favorable coverage. 
The trend is supposedly linked to a global decline in democracy itself: The erosion of press freedom is both a symptom of and a contributor to the breakdown of other democratic institutions and principles, a fact that makes it especially alarming.

-o0o-

In some of the most influential democracies in the world, Repucci noticed that large segments of the population are no longer receiving unbiased news and information. 
“This is not because journalists are being thrown in jail, as might occur in authoritarian settings. Instead, the media have fallen prey to more nuanced efforts to throttle their independence,” she explained. “Common methods include government-backed ownership changes, regulatory and financial pressure, and public denunciations of honest journalists. Governments have also offered proactive support to friendly outlets through measures such as lucrative state contracts, favorable regulatory decisions, and preferential access to state information.” 
The goal is reportedly to make the press serve those in power rather than the public.

-o0o-

The breakdown of global press freedom is closely related to the broader decline of democracy that Freedom House has tracked for the past 13 years, Repucci stressed.  
She said although the press is not always the first institution to be attacked when a country’s leadership takes an antidemocratic turn, repression of free media is a strong indication that other political rights and civil liberties are in danger. 
“Assaults on media independence are frequently associated with power grabs by new or incumbent leaders, or with entrenched regimes’ attempts to crush perceived threats to their control.”
The following recommendations by Repucci for policymakers in democratic nations is expected to help ensure the sustainability of independent media worldwide:
—Ensure that their actions do not excuse or inspire violations of press freedom. Democratic nations have a particularly important role to play in maintaining media freedom. Words matter, and when US officials verbally attack the press or fail to swiftly and vigorously condemn acts of repression such as Khashoggi’s murder, it sends a signal to undemocratic leaders around the world that assaults on the press and crimes against journalists are permissible.
—Take strong and immediate action against any violations of media freedom globally through press statements, phone calls, meetings, letters, and the imposition of targeted sanctions on perpetrators. This includes speaking out against violence against journalists and authorities’ failure to identify and prosecute attackers, restrictions on media access, blocking of websites, and censorship on particular topics.
—Stand up publicly for the value of a free press, and support civic education that will inform the next generation. Press freedom is one of the most fundamental pillars of American democracy, and constitutional protections in the United States are stronger than in any other country in the world. Citizens could easily forget this amid media mudslinging and incendiary commentary. Political leaders and teachers should reiterate the extent to which we all benefit from professional journalists who hold those in power to account.
—Ensure that foreign policy and assistance prioritizes support for democratic principles, including media freedom, as the foundation of national security and economic prosperity. The goal of foreign assistance is to bring recipient countries to the point that they no longer need it. In that sense, it is shortsighted for donor governments to invest funding overseas without shoring up press freedom. National security and economic prosperity are strongest in nations where democratic rights are protected, and a free press is a key watchdog of democracy. Foreign aid specifically focused on bolstering independent media by providing technical training and emergency assistance is especially needed given the threats journalists currently face. Countries that have experienced recent expansions in press freedom, such as Angola, Ethiopia, Malaysia, and Ecuador, are particularly vulnerable to backsliding and require special focus.
—Support social media as an alternative outlet for free expression in repressive environments. Innovative alternatives to state-controlled media regularly spring up on social media, including recently in Venezuela, Armenia, and Sudan. Related technology can be used to circumvent censorship and keep reporters anonymous where needed. Donor agencies should provide funding for technology that increases journalistic freedom.
 (The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


Monday, February 10, 2020

Relief of PNP officials no big deal

“The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
Robert Peel

By Alex P. Vidal

THE leadership of the Police Regional Office-6 (PRO-6) led by Police Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan should stop worrying that two of their top officials–Police Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido and Lt. Col. Mannan Muarip are now “outside the kulambo.”
Meaning they have been relieved and reassigned, along with 13 other police officials, to the Office of the Chief PNP (OCPNP).
According to reports, the relief is based on Special Order No. 2020-1079 issued by Police Major General Cesar Hawthorne Binag, acting chief of PNP Directorial Staff; and signed by Police Major General Reynaldo Biay, director for Personnel and Records Management of PNP.
If the relief order came from the PNP hierarchy it’s official and legal.
The OCPNP’s prerogative to reassign and reshuffle all PNP personnel should not be a big deal.
It must be obeyed and followed without much ado and blunderbuss unless it will endanger the national security. 

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It has been practiced since the PNP was formed on January 29, 1991 when the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police were merged pursuant to Republic Act 6975 of 1990.
The PNP is a professional organization and all officials must adhere to its rules and regulations.
Thus Director Pamusmusan should not belabor himself “waiting for the reason of their (Espenido and Muarip) relief.”
What’s the use?
The OCPNP can’t be compelled to explain to all and sundry all its plans and purposes for reassignment of PNP officials.
The PNP, as an organization, can’t be influenced by any Tom, Dick, and Harry on its prerogative to designate its officials.
Nothing is special about Espenido and Muarip, as well as the 13 other PNP officials who have been also reassigned.
Some of the celebrated PNP officials may be media creation and celebrities, but they are still professional soldiers who must follow the chain of command and serve the community without purpose of evasion. They can’t choose their assignment.

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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE. The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced it would convene a global research and innovation forum to mobilize international action in response to the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). 
"Harnessing the power of science is critical for bringing this outbreak under control," said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “There are questions we need answers to, and tools we need developed as quickly as possible. WHO is playing an important coordinating role by bringing the scientific community together to identify research priorities and accelerate progress.”
The forum, to be held 11-12 February in Geneva, is organized in collaboration with the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness.
The forum will bring together key players including leading scientists as well as public health agencies, ministries of health and research funders pursuing 2019-nCoV critical animal health and public health research and the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, among other innovations. 
Participants will discuss several areas of research, including identifying the source of the virus as well as sharing of biological samples and genetic sequences.
 Experts will build on existing SARS and MERS coronavirus research and identify knowledge gaps and research priorities in order to accelerate scientific information and medical products most needed to minimize the impact of the 2019-nCoV outbreak. 

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The meeting is expected to produce a global research agenda for the new coronavirus, setting priorities and frameworks that can guide which projects are undertaken first. “Understanding the disease, its reservoirs, transmission and clinical severity and then developing effective counter-measures is critical for the control of the outbreak, to reduce deaths and minimize the economic impact,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist.
This will also fast-track the development and evaluation of effective diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines, while establishing mechanisms for affordable access to vulnerable populations and facilitating community engagement.
“The WHO R&D Blueprint is a global strategy and preparedness platform that drives coordinated development of drugs and vaccines before epidemics, and allows the rapid activation of R&D activities during epidemics. It speeds up the availability of the diagnostics, vaccines and treatments and technologies that ultimately save lives,” added Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.  
Setting clear global research priorities for the novel coronavirus should lead to more efficient investments, high-quality research and synergies among global researchers.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)