March 2018
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The Absentee President

Habitual Absentee - NARA - 534650may have done Filipinos a favor – by showing that his office is not the solution to, nor the source of all problems. The war in Marawi is hopefully winding to a close thanks to a professional army, and the MRT still is running badly while Metro Manila traffic is horrible. Meanwhile, there is mostly solidarity and respect for the soldiers that fight it out in Mindanao – a far cry from decades ago. There are those who help the victims and refugees of war, and those who are colder to them. And there is mostly joy that the USA and Australia are helping with their reconnaissance capabilities.

Powers that be

The President still has enormous powers – the power to appoint thousands of positions, the power of the purse which was used for pork barrel, the control over the state monopoly of force via the PNP and AFP  – powers patterned after Spanish and American colonial governors, I have read. Quezon fired the governor of Albay once. Quirino appointed the governor of Davao, Vicente Duterte. The power to declare martial law was curtailed in 1986. The Local Government Code in the time of Aquino gave LGUs (local government units) substantial autonomy and subsidies.

Other things move on without the President. Whether it is Senator Gatchalian’s trip to Germany to learn more about energy policy (link) which was incorrectly called a junket and according to him was paid by the German counterparts. Whether it is the more doubtful trip of several Senators to France to allegedly look at the French political system which is a mix of Presidential and Parliamentary. Marcos had something similar but degraded the powers of his Prime Minister, making him a better helper to take care of details. Maybe this time – if ever – it should be different.

Powers to be?

Maybe something like the Swiss Federal Council instead of the Senate? With a rotating head of government while the President is a ceremonial Head of State only? But maybe, maybe without Federalism for now? Tito had a joint governing body to take care of Yugoslavia after his death. What happened due to semi-tribal and macho politics of provocation is now very painful history. Maybe improve regional representation, knowing that, or how many centuries it took for the Swiss to learn to manage their own quarrels? My examples of culturally diverse countries are intentional.

Maybe a Senate by regions – to give names and faces people can relate to, to weaken the personality cult of Presidency? Maybe a Congress by proportional seating based only on political parties? With campaign refunds based on seats won like in Germany to weaken major donor influence? Issues that are systemic in nature can never be solved by changing the President. Cultural weaknesses like impunity and corruption – or the lack of a technology mindset that causes trains to break down – take generations to fix even with perseverance. Maybe changing things now makes no sense yet.

What will be?

Absentee kings (the Hanover dynasty) made the British parliament stronger, yet the Philippine House is showing its very weakness now. The majority of House members is lost in traditional politics, politics in its old sense of power alone, not politics in terms of shaping the polity’s destiny. What will happen depends a lot on the people themselves – whether they will keep thinking in the concepts of patronage i.e. subservience in return for advantages, which will fully return old ways. Or whether a sense of shared destiny and responsibility finally arises, not just ‘blame then rescue’.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 24 June 2017

62 comments to The Absentee President


    ..It was already May 28 when Carly went to Camp Karingal, the headquarters of the Quezon City Police District. There she was told her husband was in the morgue. He had been dead, they said, since May 19, two days since he left home.

    They said Dennis was part of a “riding-in-tandem” involved in a holdup and who died in in a shootout with the police.

    At the morgue, Carly was shown only a photo of his corpse. One side Dennis’ face was disfigured, dark, and swollen, but she could make out their son’s name tattooed on his chest.

    The death certificate showed the cause of death to be bullet wounds in the temple and the back of the head. It didn’t say how many.

    Carly was only able to lay eyes on her husband when he was returned to them in a coffin.

    “Ayaw kasi sa amin ipakita nu’ng morgue (The people at the morgue didn’t want to show us his body),” Carly said.

    This was before the people at the morgue gave her a letter to submit to the Quezon City police requesting for an autopsy and a copy of the spot report. According to the spot report, a plastic bag containing “suspected shabu” was found on Dennis’ person.

    But Carly was sure her husband did not use drugs and dared them to test his body. Nor was he on any drug list.

    Dennis had been dead for a month before he was finally buried, with the help of donations from the church and the office of Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte.

    Asked if any of their four children, aged four to 12, understands what happened, Carly said the nine-year-old daughter does because she had learned of the incident from a report she saw on YouTube.

    “Kaya po ‘pag nakakakita ng pulis lalo na ‘yung mga anak ko, natatakot po sila (That’s why every time they see a policeman, they get scared),” Carly said. Police regularly come knocking at the doors of their community, ostensibly in search of drug users and pushers..


    The decision of the Supreme Court in Lagman vs Medialdea, upholding the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216, begins with the Court repudiating Fortun vs President Macapagal-Arroyo, its first-ever ruling on the use of martial law under the 1987 Constitution. In doing so, it reclaimed “clipped” powers it had “surrendered” to Congress. But the decision on President Duterte’s imposition of martial law on all of Mindanao ironically ends with a sweeping grant of extended powers to the President.

    “Grant” is the word, because nowhere in the Constitution can we find the basis for the extension of powers that the Court so willingly creates for the President..


    MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte plans to hike state spending 12.4 percent next year to a record 3.77 trillion pesos ($74.6 billion), his spokesman said on Tuesday, in line with his aim to spend heavily on infrastructure to keep growth robust.

    Duterte, who has been in office one year, has vowed to usher in the “golden age of infrastructure” and spread wealth more evenly in the country of more than 100 million people.

    The anticipated 2018 budget compares with this year’s 3.35 trillion peso spending plan and would be equivalent to 21.6 percent of gross domestic product, spokesman Ernesto Abella told a briefing.

    Abella did not state a revenue target for 2018. The government has said it plans to keep the country’s budget deficit at 3 percent of GDP in the medium-term.
    The government has programmed a $180 billion spending spree on infrastructure during the president’s six-year term to create jobs, lift economic growth to as high as 8 percent, and attract foreign investors turned off by high power prices and transport bottlenecks.

    To fund the ambitious program, the government has asked Congress to approve a tax reform bill, which would raise excise taxes on fuel and automobiles, among others..


    ..Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to eat alive the Islamist militants behind the abduction and beheadings of two Vietnamese sailors in a furious reaction to the killings.

    The remains of the two hostages, who were kidnapped along with four other crew members of a Vietnamese cargo ship in November last year, were recovered off the southern region of Mindanao by Philippine troops on Wednesday…


    A tugboat pulls Philippine Navy’s BRP Ramon Alcaraz as it sails from Davao City on Thursday (July 6, 2017) en route to Celebes Sea for a joint coordinated border patrol with Indonesian Navy patrol boat KRI Kerapu. The coordinated patrol is part of the border security measures amid the terror threat in the region. MINDANEWS PHOTO


      ..According to a press release from the Head of Media and Information Press Bureau of the President Secretariat Bey Machmudin received by Antara in Jakarta on Friday (7/7), the first thing that President Joko Widodo expressed was an appeal to G20 member countries to increase supervision of the flow of funds to the networks of radical and terrorist groups.

      Indonesia, said the President, also appreciated the G20 country’s support for Indonesia’s membership process in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

      “The second is with the capabilities of information technology, the G20 should be a driving force in counter-narrative deployment with an emphasis on moderation movement and the spread of peaceful and tolerant values,” added the President.

      President Joko Widodo also called on the G20 countries to be a driving force in the search for a root cause solution to the problem of terrorism arising from inequality and injustice by strengthening inclusive economic empowerment.

      Meanwhile, the fourth thing that Jokowi conveys is an invitation to the G20 countries to develop cooperation in the field of intelligence exchange, the handling of foreign terrorist fighters or FTF and the development of capacity building.

      The Head of State also conveyed how Indonesia handles terrorism through deradicalization program..


        ..DW: It’s commonly said that there is a lot of scope for closer ties between Indonesia and European Union nations like Germany. What do you think should be done to achieve this?

        Sri Mulyani Indrawati: There is definitely a lot of potential. Indonesia is the largest economy in the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) and ASEAN is among the most dynamic regions in the world. Europe is struggling after the 2007-08 financial crisis, even if growth is starting to pick up. European countries are suffering from demographic problems like an aging population and migration.

        Indonesia definitely is a country that is opposite but complementary to Europe. Indonesia needs to learn quite a lot. For example, if you talk about technical productivity, Europe, especially Germany, has a high reputation for engineering capacity and technical competence.

        Cooperation can be very complementary between Indonesia and Europe. Vocational training, engineering and technical schools, for instance, are areas that I think Germany and Europe could offer their expertise to Indonesia.

        Indonesia offers a population that is young and vibrant alongside growth that is very strong. We can create a relationship based on trade, investment and capital flows that I think is very complementary..


    MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Despite the security risks, President Rodrigo Duterte again attempted to visit Marawi City in the middle of clashes between terrorists and government troops.

    Duterte tried to visit the besieged city on Friday, July 7 to talk to soldiers in a military camp there after his visit to the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Iligan City.

    But due to “bad weather,” the trip did not push through, according to Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.

    Palace photos show Duterte, seemingly ready for battle, wearing the Philippine Army’s new camouflage uniform, a cap, and rubber shoes.

    He was accompanied by Special Assistant Go and Presidential Security Group personnel led by its commander Lope Dagoy. The photos were taken around 4 pm.


    On Day 1, they barricaded all doors — piling furniture atop one another — fortifying a basement meant for a few so all 38 of them could be safe. Thirty adults, 7 children and a 2-month-old baby. All of them Christians, all of them targets of militants inspired by the Islamic State who were going door-to-door to kill anyone who did not share their beliefs.

    On Day 2, the group decided on rules to survive while in hiding: ration the available food supply, conserve mobile phone batteries, and run stealthily to a nearby rain gutter and stock up on potable water. But there was one rule the group could never break: stay quiet. If they could keep it, then they would have a good chance to stay alive…


    MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo again called on the Senate and the House of Representatives to perform their function to review the martial law declaration in Mindanao as the Supreme Court (SC) decided to favor it on Tuesday, July 4.

    “The Supreme Court decision on Proclamation No. 216 is an affirmation of the democratic process set in our Constitution. This is an important component of the mandated checks and balances to martial law,” Robredo said in a statement..


    MANILA – The European Commission (EC) is providing €850,000 (P49 million) in humanitarian aid funding to provide emergency assistance to civilians who have fled the ongoing violence in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.

    According to the EC, the aid will directly benefit over 50,000 people affected by the ongoing fighting between the armed forces and Islamist militants which have taken over parts of the city..


    A year on from Duterte coming to power, the Philippines sits in the grip of crisis. The gross underestimation of pro-IS groups in Marawi City has led to bloodshed and violence on the streets.

    Wasted resources were poured into a war on drugs which left the Philippines vulnerable to other threats. The working classes are still waiting for meaningful change. Wages remain low while prices continue to rise. A year on, there has been little to celebrate..


      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was preparing to make a deal with Islamic State-inspired militants in the days after they laid siege to a southern city, but aborted the plan without explanation, an intermediary involved in the process said.

      Agakhan Sharief, a prominent Muslim leader, told Reuters that after a band of Islamist fighters overran parts of Marawi City on May 23 and took hundreds of people hostage, he was approached by a senior Duterte aide to use his connections with the Maute militant group’s leaders to start back-channel talks..


      ..Insurgencies flourish because of weak governance. Duterte’s contempt for the rule of law and democratic norms, his authoritarian tendencies, his campaign of extrajudicial killings, jailing of political opponents, routine threats to extend martial law beyond Mindanao, will collectively weaken the hardwood rule of law, governance and system of checks and balances that the Philippines has achieved in the past 30 years…

    • started as German Chancellor at the age of 73.. (if one looks even closer at the leadership and politics of this man, it becomes clear how he was the ideal transition person from authoritarian to democratic rule – enough of a patriarch to get the old guard to respect him and enough of a liberal to open the country for new things like Franco-German alliance, the EC/EU and the alliance with the USA via NATO)

      Adenauer, who was Chancellor until age 87, was dubbed “Der Alte” (“the old man”). British historian Roy Jenkins says he was “the oldest statesman ever to function in elected office.”[4] He belied his age by his intense work habits and his uncanny political instinct..

      He was strongly interested in the use of medicinal herbs, according to famous French herbalist Maurice Mességué, whom he met and befriended. Adenauer credited his vigorous health in his later years to the use of an infusion of barley water taken at night, but also maize stigma, mallow, sage, and yellow roses, which he used for the coughs to which he was prone. These were his favorite medicinal plants according to Mességué, though he had extensive knowledge of a wide range of plants. He agreed with Mességué that plants had to be free of sprays and not grown too artificially. He told Mességué that he owed his good health to “the plants, to nature.”

      Adenauer found relaxation and great enjoyment in the Italian game of bocce and spent a great deal of his post political career playing this game. His favorite holiday place to do this was in Cadenabbia, Italy, in a rented villa overlooking Lake Como, which has since been acquired as a conference centre by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the political foundation established by Adenauer’s political party Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

      … two other aspects that allowed the old man to function… (1) it seems he played a major influence in locating the temporary West German capital in Bonn which is just across the Rhine river to his residence in Rhöndorf… I think for a man of that age, not having to travel too far is important for preserving energy

      (2) “iyong mauutusan”… Adenauer was a patriarch who was known for treating ministers as mere extensions of his power… the German tradition of “Chancellor Democracy” was founded by him.. seems he knew how to keep those who worked for him in line, I guess that saved him a lot of energy.


    The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) on Thursday began a fund drive for the rehabilitation of Marawi City, ground zero of ongoing clashes between government troops and members of the Islamic State-backed Maute group. Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, LCP president, kicked off the campaign with a P500,000 donation handed to Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra. Pamintuan said Gandamra could tap funds from the conditional matching grand program for road repair, rehabilitation and improvement under the Department of the Interior and Local Government. In Bulacan province, the local Muslim community also initiated a relief campaign for victims of the Marawi attack..


    The peso could slide further against the dollar after hitting its lowest level in a decade due to robust imports and as rising borrowing costs weaken emerging market currencies, analysts said Thursday.

    The peso closed at P50.53 to the dollar today, from P50.50 on Wednesday.

    A slowdown remittances could put additional pressure on the peso, which could hit P51.50 by the end of the year, said AB Capital securities analyst Migs Lopez.

    In the next 12 months, the peso could weaken to P52.50 if the country’s current account surplus continues to decline, said Divya Devesh, currency analyst at Standard Chartered.

    The current account is the Philippines’ “Achilles heel,” Devesh told ANC’s Market Edge with Cathy Yang. It has deteriorated “quite meaningfully” due to strong imports, he said.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico

      Absolutely FAKE NEWS !!!

      1. They say raw material rising import means robust manufacturing economy …
      Filipinos import raw materials BECAUSE PHILIPPINES IS NOT RICH IN NATURAL RESOURCES as claimed by Philippine News Media and U.P.-authored textbooks, therefore, IT IS FAKE NEWS
      2. rising consumer import means strong consumer economy …
      Filipinos import consumer products BECAUSE PHILIPPINES cannot produce socks to underwears to t-shirts BECAUSE PHILIPPINES IS NOT A MANUFACTURING COUNTRY only in fake narratives from Philippine Fake News
      3. Strong consumer economy hints rising employment …
      Two Things: 1. Consumer economy is driven by strong remittances from abroad contrary to what ABS-CBN reported; 2. It is also driven by UNDERGROUND padala remittances not thru NORMAL remittance channels

      The only home-grown manufacturing products of Philippines are human resources. Philippines produce and manufacture babies at a fast clip once mature they are exported abroad. According to CIA statistics, 10% of the Philippine population are abroad. They remit enough money to float Philippine economy. Fleecing these exported Filipino workers of terminal fees, POEA fees, Passport Fees, Departure Fees, Taxi Fees, Embassy Fees, Pag-Ibig Fees, SSS Fees and all fleeced fees supports Government economy, too.

      These foreign workers buys loans to build houses at exorbitant interest rates from government Home Development Mutual Fund that also saddles foreignworkers with fees … No U.P.-economists ever study these veils of fees on so-called Philippine Heroes.

      Yes, they are Heroes. They are fleeced of fees to make the country float. And all they get is a badge of hero-ship. Since these exported human resources are not the best of minds and financially poor they accept fees as living expenses THEY ARE NOT REALLY THE CAUSE OF BRAIN DRAIN because if they are the cause of BRAIN DRAIN just imagine those Filipinos who never left Philippines THEIR BRAIN MUST HAVE BEEN DRAINED ALREADY.

      It is always the poor get the brunt of it all. Poor jeepney drivers are also forced to GIVE senior discounts, student discounts, pregnant discounts as mandated by laws legislated by corrupt congresssmen and senators. Poor jeepney drivers are also the blame-to people of traffic gridlock. They just do not get it the planners are the cause of it all not the jeepney drivers. These planners are graduates from U.P., of course!


    ..In keeping with her advocacy for programs that focus on those in the “laylayan,” or fringes of society, Robredo’s accomplishment report, released Friday, highlighted her flagship program, “Angat Buhay: Partnerships Against Poverty,” crafted after visits to more than 80 communities around the country to consult with residents on what programs would help them best.

    The Angat Buhay program has reached 36,046 individuals, or 22,775 families and, providing through donor partners almost P52.72 million worth of resources for rural development, feeding programs, medical and dental missions, and educational infrastructure.

    Her anti-poverty program aims to connect local government units with private sector partners, civil society organizations, and non-government organizations to address the needs of poor families on education, food security, rural development, women empowerment, universal healthcare, and housing.

    Starting from 50 LGUs, the Office of the Vice President said they have secured partnerships with organizations from the public and private sector for 134 LGUs, providing access to livelihood and employment, market linkages, and infrastructure on health and education, among others.

    Among the more notable projects was the installation of solar panels in 25 households of the Tadyawan tribe of Pola in Oriental Mindoro, feeding programs for daycare children in Bukidnon, Bohol, and Iloilo, and medical missions in the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur..


    One year into President Duterte’s term, the Philippines’s populist moment has also been a bloody one.
    By Sheila S. Coronel from June 29, 2017..

    On a rainy Tuesday afternoon in late June, Rosa Justo, a barangay (village) captain in one of Manila’s many shantytowns, buried yet another of her constituents killed in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Joel Marasigan, a 39-year-old father of four who made ends meet by peddling goods from house to house, was gunned down on June 14 by two men who walked up to him while he was fixing his bicycle in front of his home. By the time Justo arrived at the scene mere minutes later, Marasigan was already lying dead on the street, held in a tight embrace by his wife who had rushed to his side. “This was after 5 p.m. but it was still light,” the village captain recalled, “and he and his wife were both bathed in blood.”

    On June 30, Duterte marks the end of his first year as Philippine president fighting a war on two fronts: one against drugs, waged in the shantytowns of Manila and other big cities, and the other against ISIS-inspired rebels battling the army in the streets of Marawi City on the southern island of Mindanao.

    The casualties are rising on both fronts. The drug war, which Duterte officially launched on his first day in office, has claimed the lives of as many as 9,000 suspected drug dealers and users like Marasigan who have been gunned down by the police or by masked men linked to them. In Marawi, over 400 civilians and combatants on both sides have died since soldiers began pitched street battles against Islamist militants on May 23. On both battlefronts, the end is not in sight.

    When he was elected last year on a wave of popular dissatisfaction with the country’s entrenched political elites, Duterte proposed a new social contract. He promised to bring order, security, and prosperity, albeit at a high price: human rights, the rule of law, and all pretensions of political correctness. He would rule with an iron hand and his men would kill with impunity—“slaughter” was the word he used—but he would purge the country of drugs and criminality.

    One year later, that message still resonates with many Filipinos. Duterte’s popularity remains at a high 75 percent. His exhortations to soldiers and police, urging them to kill and assuring them they had his support even if they committed excesses, including rape—whether in the alleyways of the drug war or in fierce combat with Islamists—have been met not with anger but applause..


      The residents of Old Balara hid in their homes when gunfire erupted in their Manila district last September. They didn’t see the police operation that killed seven drug suspects that night.

      But they witnessed the gory aftermath and it haunts them still.

      That night, Herlina Alim said she watched police haul away the men’s bodies, leaving trails of blood. “They were dragged down the alley like pigs,” she said. Her neighbor Lenlen Magano said she saw three bodies, face down and motionless, piled at the end of the alley while police stood calmly by.

      It was at least an hour, according to residents, before the victims were thrown into a truck and taken to hospital in what a police report said was a bid to save their lives. Old Balara’s chief, the elected head of the district, told Reuters he was perplexed. They were already dead, Allan Franza said, so why take them to hospital?

      An analysis of crime data from two of Metro Manila’s five police districts and interviews with doctors, law enforcement officials and victims’ families point to one answer: Police were sending corpses to hospitals to destroy evidence at crime scenes and hide the fact that they were executing drug suspects..

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico

      Filipinos have spoken. 75% agrees with Duterte’s violent evidence-less method. If they were to elect a president now, they still vote for Duterte. The Filipinos are tired. Tired of their turo-turo justice. Tired of affidavit-based justice system. Tired of guilt-by-jealousy.

      Filipinos are also tired of two-tiered justice system: One for the rich and One for the poor.

      Philippines is a democracy, 75% of Filipinos have spoken. THEY SUPPORT DUTERTE.

      • The trouble is, they will get the same nonsense as before, only much worse. They might only notice when it hits close to home, unfortunately this lesson might be a really hard one.

        I might be wrong – but unfortunately as we know Filipinos seem to have a learning disability, and I may very well be right.


    ++ Secretary Cusi, Senator Gatchalian and delegation in Germany to get a deeper insight into German “Energiewende” ++

    By invitation of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi led a delegation to Germany, 18-23 June, 2017, to get a deeper insight into the German Energiewende (energy transition). The Energiewende aims to significantly increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix and reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency measures. The delegation also included other high-level policy makers such as Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Congressman Lord Allan Velasco, and Jose Layug, Chairman of the National Renewable Energy Board. Following high-level meetings with BMUB State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth and Mr. Johann Saathoff of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy of the German Bundestag (parliament), the delegation met with different stakeholders of the German energy transition including the Federal Network Agency, the transmission system operator 50Hertz, and innovative power utility Lichtblick. During a trip to the German island of Pellworm, the opportunities of renewable energy and storage systems for the electrification of remote islands in the Philippines were also discussed. The delegation visit was organized through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of BMUB.


    MANILA – A proud Maranao, University of the Philippines Diliman summa cum laude Arman Ali Ghodsinia stood in front of his fellow “iskolar ng bayan” hoping to inspire them as they embark on their separate journeys outside the academe.

    Ghodsinia, who has roots in Marawi City, lamented that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remains mired in poverty despite the region’s rich natural resources.

    In his valedictory speech, he said that he also grew up to stories of poverty in his homeland. He shared that his mother lost a brother to sickness because they had no money for treatment.

    “How painful it is to live in a society where people are left behind and forgotten simply because they do not have enough money,” he said.

    But Ghodsinia said he is a living proof that even a minority like him, a Maranao from Mindanao, can achieve much when granted the same opportunities that other more privileged Filipinos enjoy.

    “We members of the Filipino minority, or your brothers and sisters, too, on an equal platform based on mutual respect, we can all work together towards a stronger and more united Philippines,” he said..

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico

      I never knew Maranaws or Muslims were minorities … I am TOTALLY SHOCKED to hear this so-called “valedictory speech”. “Minority” as a word describing Maranaws was never used ever to this day. Maybe some U.P. professors trying to emulate American use of ethnicity as “minority”. HAS ANYONE HERE EVER USE MINORITY AGAINST MARANAWS? If so, therefore, I AM A MINORITY because I am white fair-skin English-snob and highly intelligent, logical and rational.

      I guess I need to see these U.P. professors because I need to seek protection from majority of the Filipinos who are racist and have tendency for discriminatory practices. I mean, they do not mock me. They adore me. Because I am white.

  • Mariano Renato Pacifico

    The USA has absentee President, Donald Trump. The house and cabinet runs the country while Donald Trump busy parrying accusation he sold America to the Russians. He is so busy running his businesses while the country is rolled back to pre-Obama.

    La Vina should have understood by now Filipinos are hard-wired for politics. 99% of Filipino Media OP-EDs are about Political Analysis. Becaue this is the only “science” the Philippine Media can understand while 4thworld country North Korea launched home-grown missiles with nuclear tip bomb.

    The 1% OP-EDs are telling Filipinos where they traveled and what university they went to.

    • Politics in the old sense of power and patronage, yes many Filipinos are hard-wired for it. It is part of the air we all breathe when we are there.

      Politics in the modern sense of what is good for the polity (=barangay, city, province, region, nation) is something only a few like La Vina fully get.


    ..First on La Viña’s list of good points was Duterte’s appointment of Bangko Sentral Governor Espenilla whom the former dean described as the “perfect man for the job.” Mangahas also said Duterte made a “very, very good choice.”

    Given the BSP governor’s critical role in the country’s economy, La Viña gladly noted how Duterte chose Espenilla despite not knowing him well and having no political connections to him.

    Next on his list was the Duterte administration’s decision to abandon government-to-government (G2G) rice importation. This particular policy shift was the battle cry of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr who heads the NFA Council..

    La Viña also pointed to several policies that show “inclusive development is the mantra” of this administration.

    These include the “pro-poor departments” of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agrarian Reform, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Department of Labor and Employment, Office of the Cabinet Secretary, and the National Economic Development Authority.

    Five of these agencies are led by Leftist Cabinet members whose performance in the last year proves “the Left can govern,” said La Viña..

    Topping La Viña’s list of bad aspects of Duterte’s first year is the Marawi siege. While he pointed out that the government is not entirely to blame for the siege, he cautioned Duterte against conflating terrorism and the drug problem and to recognize that “the real opium of terrorism is martyrdom’s rewards.”

    The month-long siege has killed almost 100 civilians and government personnel and has displaced thousands of people.

    La Viña also called out Duterte for declaring martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao. He said martial law is only legally justified in Marawi City, ground zero of the clashes with terrorist groups since Duterte did not present any documentary evidence of ISIS threats in other parts of Mindanao. La Viña also criticized Congress for not convening to review Duterte’s martial law proclamation.

    Third on the political analyst’s list is Duterte’s drug war and its focus on poor communities. While it’s good that Duterte recognizes the spread of illegal drugs as a problem, he has cited inaccurate figures to support his bloody campaign and encouraged killings.

    “It is not right and just. Impunity will haunt us for decades,” said La Viña..

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico

      La Vina should look into Benigno Aquino’s declaration of Martial Law to run after Ampatuan goons. Why was there a need of Martial Law? There never was analysis about it. To exercise police action against Ampatuan required Martial Law? Don’t think so. Police had the right to raid Ampatuan’s compound.

      La Vina should also look into comic reporting by English-speaking U.P.-graduates:
      1. They reported the military found millions of pesos left behind by scamparing Mautes. They claimed without documentary evidence that they brought millions to buy guns. LOL !
      2. They invade Marawi, brought with them millions of pesos to buy guns?
      3. Mautes must be very honest rebellious Muslims because they buy guns from the invaded

      Again, it reminds me of Filipino General Emilio Aguinaldo who sold the Philippines to Spanish colonist for measly Mexican gold in Pact of Broken Stones.

      One of the requirements for Gen Aguinaldo to receive Mexican gold is to have his rebels surrender their guns and canons. Which they did. Gen Aguinaldo got the gold. Flew to Hong-Kong.

      Then some U.P. historians found out there is no hero left for them to make Filipino pupils feel good. So they made up story that the intent of Pact of Broken Stone so Gen Aguinaldo receives the gold so he can buy his fellow rebels guns after they have surrendered.

      Gen Aguinaldo had his rebels surrender their guns so he receives money so he can go to Hong-Kong to buy them guns. I AM NOT TOTALLY SOLD. Fortunately, these history textbooks are meant for toddlers, pupils, elementary school kids, high schoolers, university students and most of all Filipinos. They totally accepted such lame take on Philippine History.

      And here we are again, history repeated itself in Marawi. Maybe those U.P.-journalists must have read the bio of Gen Aguinaldo and Pact of Broken Stones.

      • Arroyo declared Martial Law because of the Ampatuans, not Aquino.

        As for Biak-na-Bato, that was the usual turncoatism and opportunism of a Filipino politician.

        A lot of the stuff being “found” in Marawi is to be seen skeptically, I am sure, but who is watching that close?




      1) The traffic is still as bad, if not worse, than it was a year ago, and the MRT still breaks down as frequently as it did a year ago…

      a) Radio commentators would bash Roxas daily (and not necessarily the DOTR Secretary)

      b) Netizens would flood social media with pictures of EDSA at a standstill and long queues at the MRT

      2) If he ignored the hard-won Hague arbitral ruling on the West Philippines Sea, and gives in to China without a howl of protest, and even says “What can we do? We can’t possibly win a war with China”, we’d call him stupid, a coward, or even a traitor.

      3) If he allowed the burial of Marcos at LNMB and tells us “Let’s just move on”, we’d tell him, “Move on? Really? Why don’t you move out first!” and we’d join the chorus to impeach him.

      4) If prices of basic commodities continue to spiral, the exchange rate reaching record high, and a looming new wave of taxes threatening to make even the prices of noodles and sardines out of reach of the poor, we’d see daily protest rallies led by the Reds, and we’d tell Roxas, “fix the economy first, before anything else!”

      5) If he announced that massive infrastructure projects will be financed mostly by loans from China, we’d ask him “Why? What’s wrong with PPP?” And we’d worry that it will bring us back to the Marcos-era debt-ridden economy, and crony-led corruption. Of course, big business doesn’t really care as long as there are projects they can make money from.

      6) If he handled the Marawi crisis like what we see today – Martial Law in the whole of Mindanao, unrelenting daily air strikes, high body count of civilians and security forces, and massive devastation of properties, we’d tell him that already this is turning to be far worse than the Mamasapano incident and the Zamboanga siege. We’d also remind him that an all-out war in Mindanao is not the answer.

      But Digong is our President. And…

      a) When he said there are 4M Filipino drug addicts and pushers, you believed him, and were convinced that the drug problem in our country has reached crisis proportion. And when he said, “I will not allow you to destroy my people”… you admired him, believing that he will protect you and your family.

      b) And when the killings started, you said to yourself – “that’s okay, they deserve to die anyway. At least my family is safe.” And when he promised he will make the country drug-free and even said, “I am willing to lose my honor, my life, and even the presidency for this”, you not only admired him – you adored him.

      c) Faced with other real-life day-to-day problems like traffic, rising prices, and increased taxes, you tell yourself, “Di bale… konting tiis lang. At least, safe ang family ko from drug addicts.”

      d) When he gave in to China on the West Philippines Sea conflict, and when he announced the massive loans from China to fund his ambitious infrastructure projects, you convinced yourself “he must know what he’s doing. After all, he knows how to solve the drug menace.” You even call him a genius.

      e) And when he threatened to carpet-bomb Marawi, if necessary, without due regard to possible civilian casualty – you kept silent, and even cheered him on. After all, Digong said these terrorists are funded by drug money, and he already said he’s sorry and will take full responsibility. That’s good enough for you.

      Do you see the failure in logic here? If it were any other President, we’d blame him and demand immediate relief from all the problems we face today. But with Digong, we give him a free pass simply because he promised to solve what he made us believe to be the biggest, and the one and only problem of our country – DRUGS.

      Sorry to disappoint you, but solving the drug problem will not necessarily solve our other problems.

      IF MAR ROXAS WERE PRESIDENT TODAY, surely we’d still have problems. But not on the same magnitude as we see today, or where Digong is leading us to.



        Rebuilding lives and communities is immediately synonymous to providing houses for the displaced families. For a time, the NHA was the government agency that had the highest budget but was farthest from meeting its target. (IN NUMBERS: 3 years after Super Typhoon Yolanda)

        It has since made a huge progress: from the 19,330 houses built under the previous administration, the total went up to 59,679 during Duterte’s first year, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showed in its Yolanda report.

        According to Elsie Trinidad, manager of the NHA Resettlement and Development Services Department, the President’s order for various agencies to provide permits promptly hastened the completion of building projects.

        “This is an inter-agency effort. The NHA’s mandate is the housing component, but we have to depend on other external actors for water, electricity, and that is beyond our control,” Trinidad told Rappler.

        In November 2016, the NHA took part in a deal that also fast-tracked the documentation of granting beneficiaries’ houses. Under the deal, the Bureau of Internal Revenue pledged to remove the documentary requirements needed to issue a Certificate of Tax Exemption to NHA.

        Duterte also ordered the Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR) to speed up its land conversion process that has delayed the NHA in building houses.

        According to Wendel Avisado, presidential assistant tasked by Duterte to oversee Yolanda recovery efforts, “Kailangan talaga magkakalapit ang mga ahensya para makakatapos nang magkakaakibat ang projects,” Avisado told Rappler. (We really need the agencies to coordinate closely, so the various companents of the projects are finished together.)

        In the 2016 election debates, Roxas countered Duterte’s criticism of slow work in Eastern Visayas. He said Yolanda rehabilitation was already 93% completed.

        He, however, only pertained to the first phase, which covered buildings owned by city and municipal governments, such as city and municipal halls, public markets, and evacuation centers.

        The second and third phases of the rehabilitation program were inherited by the Duterte administration. They cover barangay government-owned facilities and the “pahabol projects,” which were not included in the first two phases.

        By the time Duterte assumed the presidency in mid-2016, the DILG had recorded that 303 out of 309 municipal facilities, and 1,286 out of 3,619 barangay facilities, had been rehabilitated.

        As of June 15, 2017, a year into his administration, only one municipal facility is under construction, while 3,133 of barangay facilities – almost double from before – have been restored.

        Assistant Secretary Wendel Avisado acknowledged that the systems were already in place during the Aquino administration, but the problem was these were not followed “effectively.” That’s what the Duterte administration addressed.

        “Credit him (Duterte) for the follow-through. He was more determined to really force, compel agencies to do their tasks. NHA alone couldn’t make the provision of housing possible,” NHA’s Trinidad said.

        DILG’s Zambales said the delineation of roles was made clear under the current administration. Before, people did not know where to go to, so they immediately just turned to LGUs for help, consequently blaming the DILG if the LGUs could not provide what they asked for.

        Still, it’s not possible to complete the rehabilitation of communities damaged by Yolanda by the end of 2017, Avisado said.

        “We cannot do it… Maybe next year, because the efforts are continuing and we cannot simultaneously tend to all areas, which are scattered,” he said.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico

        If Mar Roxas were President …
        1. Drugs would proliferate … and irresponsible Philippine Media run by fake journalists wouldn’t report on it
        2. Korina Sanchez would be happy … extremely happy … she’d be the fairy lady born in Hong-Kong
        3. Leni Robredo would be holding office in Malacanang with cabinet position
        4. Rickety MRT would still be packed like sardines
        5. Traffic would still be gridlocked
        6. There wouldn’t be massive infrastructure projects in Cebu. Currently, in the pipeline are multimillion projects:
        6a. BRT – Bus Rapid Transit that covers 7 towns
        6b. New Cebu International Container Port
        6c. Road widening
        6d. 3rd bridge to nowhere (right now Mactan Island is connected by two bridges)
        6e. A bridge to Bohol Island. INCREDIBLE. It is still in the drawingboard
        EXCEPT for 6e the rest are already funded and to be finished before Duterte’s term
        7. There will be corruption. Plenty of corruption. Big time corruption. Bad. Bad. Bad.
        8. Because Mar Roxas would appoint graduates from U.P. as his cabinets. Duterte’s cabinet are not graduates from U.P. that is why there is no corruption
        9. If Mar Roxas were president, I bet Korina Sanchez will have her hands busy coming up with French menus and Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée wines
        10. Everybody will have to eat with fork, spoon and knives

        Wait … Mar Roxas was gradute from Wharton but remained as assistant Vice President which is dime-a-dozen in the world of economics. Mar Roxas worked in boutique investment house that caters only to high-asset high-value clientele with Mar’s stuttering English and bad diction how could he sell an investment package? that is why Mar Roxas remained assistant Vice President a glamorize exotic position that in my world is just a dead-end clerical job.


          Libu-libong pinatay nang walang due process. Karamihan mga mahihirap na walang laban. Digmaan sa Mindanao na tila walang katapusan, winawasak ang isang magandang syudad sa timog.

          Presidenteng bara-bara kung magsalita, kahit walang saysay, kahit malinaw na maaaring mag-udyok sa mga masasamang loob na manakit, pumatay, manggahasa.

          ‘Pag may alam kayong adik, patayin ninyo.’ ‘Gusto ninyong mang-rape, sige lang, sagot ko kayo.’..

          Si Mocha Uson, presidential assistant communications secretary, ang pinaka matingkad na simbolismo ng kawalanghiyaan sa ilalim ni Rodrigo Duterte. “I did not say that was Philippine army. I did not say that picture was taken from Marawi. It’s a symbol of army praying.”

          Sa kabataang nasabak sa mundo ni Duterte, mas matindi ang kinakaharap ninyong paghamon. May mga nangyayari ngayon na hindi namin kinaharap noong panahon ni Marcos. Bunga na rin ito ng epekto ng social media at kawalan ng malinaw at matinong alternatibo sa pwersang ang istilo ng pamumuno dinadaan sa pagmumura at pag-aastang siga..


      Three differences between being mayor and local political boss and being president are particularly important for Philippine domestic politics. In all three cases the required transition has been absent or limited.

      Executive-legislative Relations

      The first is effectively managing executive-legislative relations to turn policy into law.

      On the minus side for Mr Duterte, the legislative process in the Philippines is slow and cumbersome, with key reform Bills often languishing in legislative purgatory for decades.

      And, Mr Duterte came to office with a very ambitious reform agenda.

      On the plus side, executive-legislative cooperation under Mr Duterte should benefit from a loyal super-majority in the House of Representatives (out of the 291 sitting members, only seven are part of the official opposition minority) and a strong majority in the Senate (only six of 24 sitting senators are in the minority bloc).

      Presidential Statements

      The second learning curve component is the acceptance that presidential public statements are treated as official policy statements.

      Mr Duterte’s colloquial, shoot-from-the-hip style of communication, which is central to his broad and deep popularity, poses a particular challenge here, and one that has not been overcome.

      Limits of Power

      The third component — the acceptance that the presidency is one of three co-equal branches of government — is the most important, both for the conduct of the Duterte administration and for its likely legacy.

      Philippine mayors, particularly those who are the scions of a local political dynasty, have few local checks on their power.

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