Monday, November 29, 2010

OPM-Canada

Hindi po Original Pilipino Music. 
Ito po ay Organisasyon ng Pilipinong  Mamahayag sa Canada or OPM-Canada, a new, breakaway organization of media practitioners dito sa Ontario from the Philipppine Press Club Ontario (PPCO). Actually, puro taga-Toronto lang po ang mga members. Wait... since Malou Tiro lives in Niagara, Ontario na nga. Former PPCO president Tenny Soriano is putting up this new group. Napakalalim ng pangalan ano po? Tagalog po kasi ang ginamit na pangalan. Kung sa akin kayo sumali, masaya pa. I already put up my own press organization - ten years ago pa - called Filipino United Correspondents of Toronto or FUCT and we have a mandate that will try to live up to it's name...nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  None of this mandate to "uphold the practice of journalism, yada, yada, yada." Or any constitution that only lawyers would love to debate.  Or bylaws even Einstein will give up trying to figure out. 


There are no members yet of FUCT.


So, do not ask me why there is a new group OPM-Canada from PPC-Ontario. Just join my group, FUCT. We do not meet at all. Just show me the money as your membership fee and I promise not to bother you again.


I will try to make my first recruit Aida D'Orazio of the Filipino Centre Toronto.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Philippines is as lawless as Somalia

With a President who runs the country based on saying good lines without really doing anything, there is no hope for the country. All he has done so far are create another commission to dig past issues involving other politicians which we all know will only to conclusions that will never be acted upon. Ironically, these investigations have been done before and came up nowhere. PNOY is creating issues about other people to divert attention from the Hacienda Luisita case. 


Asian rights group calls PHL 'broken and lawless nation'

In one of the harsher foreign assessments of the Philippines in recent times, a Hong Kong-based human rights group has called the Philippines a "broken and lawless nation."

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) drew this conclusion after two more recent murders in Mindanao, where the victims were executed in front of family members, one of them in the presence of three young daughters.

But the non-government body also made an apparent reference to the eight Hong Kong tourists who died in the Manila hostage crisis last August 23 after botched police negotiations and a rescue attempt, describing the Philippines as a place where citizens "cannot hope to protect the foreigners on its soil."

'A broken and lawless nation'

In an article on its web site, the AHRC stated:

"In a country where an individual can no longer protect himself, he cannot protect his family; a family that cannot protect its members, cannot protect the community where they belong; and a person, a family and a community that cannot protect itself cannot protect a Nation. A Nation that cannot protect its own citizens, their families and the community where they live cannot hope to protect the foreigners on its soil. It is a broken and lawless nation."

AHRC said it has become an "illusion" and "absurdity" for anyone to claim that there is protection and security for people in the Philippines.

The Philippine National Police and government spokesmen have a habit of assuring the foreign community that the country is safe, in the face of travel advisories to the contrary issued by foreign governments.

The human rights body said it has become ordinary for killings to be carried out by policemen, the military and the paramilitary forces working for them, and for killings to be perpetrated in broad daylight in crowded public places and in front of the victims' families in their own homes.

Unreported cases

"Hundreds if not thousands" of stories go unreported and this has been taking place in the country for many years now, the AHRC lamented.

"A system of justice can still continue to exist on paper, structure and appearance, but its existence is meaningless once it departs from its original role of being a protector, it becomes the very opposite of what it was supposed to be; that is the protector of those within the system, protecting those who are already protected; securing those who are already secured. This is the type system that each Filipino lives in daily in their own country. Unless there is a discussion and organic realization by those who are part of the system of the need for reform to reexamine their purpose, its existence remains an object of contempt," it said.

Mindanao murders

The AHRC cited the murders of Reynaldo Labrador of Davao City and Vicente Felisilda of Mawab, Compostela Valley, who were executed in front of their families.

Labrador, 39, was shot at 7:30 p.m. last Sept. 3 in front of wife Leonisa and daughters Reylon, 10; Raquel, 8; and Jennifer, 4, at their home in Paquibato District in Davao City.

He was a member of the Paquibato District Farmers Association (PADIFA), a local chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

The gunmen escaped after the shooting. They left a note at the victim's house that read: "Demonyo ka! Hiposon ka!" (You're evil! You must be killed!)

Felisilda, 38, a farmer with four children and a member of Bayan Muna, was shot dead last September 9 at 7 p.m.

Both the KMP and Bayan Muna are leftist groups that the military has tagged as being communist front organizations. The Philippines has seen a spate of extrajudicial killings of activists committed by what international observers say are agents acting on behalf of the military, or by soldiers themselves.

What happened to Felisilda illustrates the brazenness exhibited by killers in the prevailing culture of impunity, the groups claimed.

The victim and and his elder brother Allan were resting inside a small hut in Mawab town, Compostela Valley after extracting meat from coconut shells on their farm.

While the brothers were resting, two gunmen arrived. They were wearing civilian clothes and armed with cal-.45 pistols.

"At first the two greeted the brothers and tried to make conversation with them by asking what they were doing. However, suddenly one of them shot Vicente at close range. Startled by what he saw, Allan ran for safety to a cliff nearby," the AHRC said. - HS/TJD, GMANews.TV

NoyNoy Government cannot be trusted - Belgian firm

Doesn't anybody in the Philippines know the meaning of a contract? Does anybody still abide by it? In a functioning government, the incoming government abides by contracts that were signed by the outgoing government. This gives the impression of stability and continuity and makes it appealing to investors to do business in the country and with the government itself. Apparently, the Philippine government believes contracts were made to be broken only to sign a new one only with their friends and relatives. Even private companies and people are not immune to this contract ignorance. Just look at the Willie Revillame case. Even the courts sided with Willie when he signed a new contract while his "exclusive" contract was still in force. What was the contract for? Why did the court not uphold the contract between Revillame and ABS and allow Willie to work at another company? 

Noynoy government can’t be trusted — Belgian firm

By Charlie V. Manalo
11/28/2010
All of President Aquino’s assurances to foreign and local investors he is trying to woo for his Public-Private Partnership projects, which are said to be composed of big ticket items, may have gone to naught, as he and his government have done a Gloria Arroyo, which is to cancel a clean contract.
With no categorical explanation and no formal notification on its decision to cancel the multibillion-peso Laguna Lake dredging project, a counsel for the project’s Belgian contractor yesterday accused the Aquino administration of being highly untrustworthy, calling the Noynoy administration a government that can never be trusted.
“A government that runs away from its contract is a government that cannot be trusted,” Abraham Espejo, legal counsel for Baggerwerken Decloedt en Zoon (BDC), charged during the weekly Kapihan sa Sulo yesterday, referring to the Aquino administration.
Espejo stressed that with the P18.7-billion project in perfect order as attested to by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the Aquino administration is legally bound by law to adhere to all its provisions, thus the need to execute the project.
However, in his meeting with BDC director and general manager, Dimitry Dutilleux last Friday, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima confirmed that the project had been cancelled months ago, shortly after President Aquino marked his first 100 days in office.
Dutilleux said that while Purisima told him of the cancellation of the project, there was still no formal notification from the government.
“I only learned the project was being cancelled a week ago through the news. But Secretary Purisima told me it had already been cancelled months ago,” Dutilleux told media men covering the forum, adding that he had
engaged the Finance Secretary in an emotional debate on the issue during their meeting.
He however refused to divulge what had transpired during the meeting saying he does not want to issue any statement at this point that would affect the project.
“All we want is to be given the opportunity to present to this administration the feasibility of this project,” said Dutilleux.
But with rumors ongoing that the reason for the cancellation of the project were allegations it is tainted with graft, Belgian Ambassador Christian Meerschman, who was also present during the meeting said there was no mention of corruption or bribery during their talks with Purisima.
“All he discussed were technicalities,” said Meerschman.
“But what more can they ask for?” said Dutilleux. “We have contracted this project for P18.7 billion of which 12 percent is VAT which means it would go back to government coffers. Thirty seven percent of the project cost is grant and that means you will be getting P18.7 billion worth of project but would only cost you around P9 billion.”
BDC is also committed to reclaim portions of the Laguna Lake, particularly in San Pedro, Laguna and Taytay, Rizal using the dredge materials, rehabilitate mangrove areas and leave its state-of-the-art dredging equipment to the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) for the lake’s maintenance.
“We gave this government an offer it cannot refuse,” said Dutilleux adding that their competitors refused to participate in the lake’s dredging as they cannot guarantee fish pens that have mushroomed all over the 900 square-kilometer lake would not be removed.
“If we are to wait until all the fish pens in Laguna Lake are removed, dredging would never commence. But with our state-of-the-art equipment, we have assured this government that we could proceed with the dredging without dismantling a single fish pen,” he stressed.
The Laguna Lake rehabilitation project was initiated in compliance with Executive Order No. 815 issued by former President Gloria Arroyo on July 6, 2009.
After a series of meetings and consultations with concerned agencies and affected sectors, the final version of the supply contract was finally signed on April 26 this year.
The project involves the dredging of the Napindan Channel, the partial deepening of Laguna Lake from its present 2.5 meter average depth (down from an average of 6.5 meter depth a century ago), the development of nautical channel within the lake, the development of two large ecological areas alongside Laguna Lake and the construction of infrastructure for relocation areas of lakeside-based informal settlers.
The funding for the project was acquired through a loan approved by Fortis Bank, a subsidiary of the BNO-Paribas Group. The contractor, BDC, reputed to be the second largest dredging company in the world, was the same contractor which dredged the Pasig River, finishing the project one year ahead of schedule.
Questioned for lack of bidding, the project was temporarily suspended. Last June, Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra issued an opinion saying the loan agreement is wholly guaranteed by the Belgian government and considered an Official Development Assistance (ODA) in an executive agreement which automatically exempts it from public bidding.
In September this year, Justice chief De Lima upheld the statement of her predecessor declaring the contract to be valid.
At the House of Representatives, the Committee on Ecology, in a hearing last September, key officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Finance (DoF) and Department of Justice (DoJ), all declared there is no reason for the project to be discontinued.
Expressing sympathy for the Belgian contractor, former Sen. Francisco “Kit” Tatad said that with the hullaballoo involving the project, the Filipinos would have a bigger problem than the Belgians.
“This is completely unacceptable. The proponent says they have a valid contract. And the DoJ says there is a valid contract. This is not the way a government should behave,” said Tatad. “The government should have notified the proponent why the project is being cancelled.
“While there is a constitutional provision on midnight appointments, there is no such thing in the Constitution regarding midnight contracts,” he added implying the government should honor its obligations to BDC.
“We need a government that should act responsibly.” Tatad added.
The former senator stressed that with the cancellation of the project, the Aquino government would now have to deal with its repercussion including possible strained relationships not only with the Belgian government but the whole European community as well.
“Your company may have some problems,” Tatad told Dutilleux, “but we Filipinos face a bigger problem.”
“This government needs all the help that it can get. It hasn’t yet discovered the ABCs of governance,” Tatad said.
Asked for their possible move, BDC however discounted the possibility of immediately resorting to international arbitration.
“We want to exhaust all possible means first for the implementation of this project,” said Dutilleux.
But with or without international arbitration, the government faces a fine of 5.5 million euros for cancelling the project.
If found guilty in the international arbitration, the fine could go as high as 20 to 30 percent of the total project cost.
This will be no different from the Piatco contract, which was aready a perfected contract and with the new airport terminal already 90 percent finished when the contract was rescinded and the terminal expropriated. German and Philippine relations remain strained to this day.
And to this day, neither the Arroyo government nor the Aquino government has shelled out money to Piatco and Fraport, the German partner in Piatco, for “just compensation” in exchange of the expropriated property.
Obnly P3 billion was given to Piatco by the Arroyo government as downpayment.”
Aquino had earlier bragged that the Philippine government had won the case against Piatco in the international arbitration arena, and praised one of the Philippine lawyers for having won the case for the Philippines, to the extent of appointing her to the Supreme Court as associate SC justice.
What was not stated, however was the fact that the arbitration panel ordered the Philippine government to pay Piatco just compensation.
To date, the Philippine government, while it has opened the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal lll, it cannot exercise ownership, which is the reason the international airlines still cannot relocate their airport offices from NAIA Terminal l to NAIA Terminal lll.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Comdom mania hits the Philippines

The issue is not the only thing stirring. Men's loins are probably stirring more than the debate. I can just imagine the pick-up lines men are using now. Let's have sex , the Pope says it's ok as long as we have condoms. 

Construction of more motels are expected anew. City governments of Pasay and Pasig expect a flood of new motel developments. 

Condom Issue stir Debate
RProponents of the Reproductive Health  say that the Pope’s comment will make it easier to pass the bill 

MANILA, Philippines—A staunch advocate of the reproductive health (RH) bill welcomed Pope Benedict XVI’s pronouncement that HIV-infected male prostitutes could use condom, saying this would undermine the Church’s hardline stand against the measure.
House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, the author of House Bill No. 96, observed that this was a “departure from the strictly very conservative approach of the papacy and the Catholic Church” on contraception.
“That is a welcome development because the papacy is opening up to the eventual contraceptive use,” Lagman said in an interview by phone.
“Once you have opened up and made an exception, the liberalization of the Church outlook has started. And we’d expect further liberalization. He has made an exception, then more exception would be forthcoming,” he added.
But Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez, the author of House Bill No. 13 seeking to protect the rights of the unborn child, said that the Pope’s pronouncement was irrelevant to the RH measure.
“The Pope’s comment is more of a health matter because it’s talking about preventing infection. Whereas the RH bill is about population,” Golez said by phone.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III also said that the Pope’s stand would not affect the RH bill. He said he was against the “myths” being peddled by population control groups.
“I still believe we have no problem on population and that our statistics are bloated,” Sotto said.

Church adamant
Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said that the rare cases where condoms could be used should be spelled out by Church leaders.
“If a condom is used as a contraceptive, certainly it will be condemned by the Church,” Yñiguez said. “But to use it to avoid a disease in specific circumstances, the church can take another mind-set.”
Fr. Shay Cullen, a Columban missionary who has helped sexually abused children in the Philippines, praised what he said was a crucial change in the Pope’s stand.
“We welcome the Pope’s change of opinion because it is meant to save life and to protect people,” Cullen said. 
“We see here an enlightened Pope putting his concern over human life as a priority first.”

More practical
Housewife Benita Vitualla, 72, said: “The Pope has become more practical; he knows what’s happening to the world,” said Vitualla, who wore rosaries around her neck.
“There are contagious diseases and very high population growth that need to be controlled,” she added.
Public debate over condom use has simmered in the predominantly Catholic Philippines since President Benigno Aquino III recently expressed support for the right to contraception. A Church official has threatened to launch civil disobedience protests.
Aiming to avoid a head-on collision with the Roman Catholic Church, Mr. Aquino met Catholic bishops last month and explained that he was leaving it to Filipino couples to choose family planning options, including artificial birth control.
Positive step
In Geneva, the UN agency leading the international campaign against HIV/AIDS on Sunday welcomed Benedict’s statement.
“This is a significant and positive step forward taken by the Vatican today,” UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe said in a statement.
“This move recognizes that responsible sexual behavior and the use of condoms have important roles in HIV prevention,” he added.
Sidibe said he had held far reaching discussions with the Vatican on HIV prevention issues in 2009.

Not a birth control endorsement—CBCP
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said Pope Benedict XVI’s latest teaching on condom use does not change the stand of the Church against artificial contraception. 

To open debate
Pope Benedict XVI sought to “kick-start a debate” when he said some condom use may be justified, Vatican insiders say, raising hopes the church may be starting to back away from a complete ban that would allow condoms to play a role in the battle against AIDS.
The pope did not suggest using condoms as birth control, which is banned by the church, or mention the use of condoms by married couples where one partner is infected.
Still, some saw the pope’s comments as an attempt to move the church forward on the issue of condoms and health risks. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We will miss you Margaret Sia

We just bought a 2006 Grand Caravan to  replace our aging 1994 Caravan that seems to be gasping it’s last breath of life. The new van has 237,000 kilometers on it already but seems to run well.  On the back of my mind, I worry about the newer van  breaking down. 
What if it breaks down? 
Was buying it a mistake? 
Then, we have to spend to replace it again. 
Then, it’s more money spent than if we kept the old van...etc, etc...

As they say, I was over-thinking it. 

Then, I received an email about Margaret Sia, 22, passing away.

I was shocked.

Margaret? It couldn’t be.

I knew Margaret personally. She joined a beauty pageant. She helped her parents when they still owned Golden Valley Grocery. Her parents, Henry and Alice, even gave me food to bring home to my parents when there is an event at the store. One time, I ate there and they even gave me one whole roasted chicken to bring home to my parents also 

I remember what priests have always preached. We worry about losing material things because of the inconvenience it will cause us.  Or the money that went down the drain. 

But if we lose a loved one, a human being, no amount of money can compensate for the loss. 

If your car breaks down, you can work two jobs to buy a cheap replacement or have it repaired. It is an inconvenience. It will cramp your lifestyle because of the financial burden, that’s all.

With Margaret, there is no replacing her. Her loss is not an inconvenience but a tragedy. Her loss will stay with you forever. She was somebody’s daughter, sister, niece, friend.

There are no words that can console for the death of loved ones. 

Please accept my sincere condolences to the whole family. 

I will miss you Margaret Sia.

Tito Joey