“Illegality will never solve the problem of political lawlessness.” Emanuel Celler

By Alex P. Vidal

EFFORTS to clear the sidewalks of Calle Real in downtown, City Proper with vendors almost succeeded in 1989 and in the early 90’s when no less than then Mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon led the campaign to eradicate the “eye sores” that blocked the way and occupied almost 80 percent of the space intended for shoppers and pedestrians.
Ganzon created a city hall task force to deal with the problem, but when the task force failed to totally drive away the vendors, the mayor personally settled the matters by his own self by literally kicking the fruits and other items displayed in the sidewalks by recalcitrant vendors.
He was like Hercules cleaning the Augean stables. The only difference was the king of Elis did not retaliate against Hercules, while the vendors hauled Ganzon, touted as the “prince of the Timawa”, to court for “harassment and abuse of authority.”
Ganzon was so decisive and ruthless that even in the sidewalks of Iloilo central market and Iloilo terminal market, he kicked the obstacles and fruit stands like a FIFA World Cup ball and toppled the grapes, oranges, apples and mangoes to the ground.


For awhile, defiant vendors, who had earlier tried to resist by firing diatribes against Ganzon in radio interviews, decided to cool down and stayed away from Calle Real sidewalks for fear of another wrath from the city hall soccer player.
“The law must be applied to everyone—rich or poor,” boomed Ganzon, then the No. 1 enemy of the late President Cory Aquino.
Ganzon, whose favorite quote was Abraham Lincoln’s “God must love the poor, He created many of them,” justified his gung-ho approach on the problems with illegal vendors by insisting that they destructed the flow of business in Calle Real because aside from blocking the sidewalks, they also paralyzed businesses in nearby and adjacent shops that paid taxes and operated with valid business permits.
Ganzon had neither fear nor hesitation to deal with illegal vendors with iron hands because “I wanted to be fair with everyone, including the Filipino-Chinese traders who operated legitimate businesses in Calle Real.”


His number one radio critic, the late former city councilor Melchor Nava, called him “Iloilo City’s Hitler.”
Ganzon, with all pun intended, replied by ribbing Nava: “Akig lang ining si Melchor Nava sa akon kay pati ang baligya sang kirida ya sa sidewalk gin pakakas ko man (Melchor Nava is just mad at me because I removed from the sidewalks the items sold by his mistress).”
Nava said he had no mistress who was an illegal vendor. Irked, he challenged Ganzon to a fistfight in his blocktime program over the defunct DYRP Radio Tagring.
When Ganzon and Nava accidentally met in the demolition area of squatters at Brgy. Rizal Estanzuela, City Proper several weeks later, Ganzon, surrounded by bodyguards that included his tough son, Freeman, loudly confronted Nava about his braggadocio: “Oh, ano?” (What now?)
“Wala na to meyor ah. Politika lang ni ang aton ya hehe (Forget about it, mayor. This is only politics),” Nava quickly replied smiling.
When Ganzon was suspended from office for 60 days, Vice Mayor Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor, took over the reigns of the city hall and pampered the sidewalk vendors.


Egged by then Cory’s executive secretary and now Senate President Frank Drilon to “stay put” during a tense city hall standoff after Ganzon refused to step down and defied the suspension order meted out by then Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Luis T. Santos, Malabor was supported by vendors with ax to grind against Ganzon, tagged during his heydays as senator as “the stormy petrel of the south.”
In Malabor’s three full terms as city mayor after Ganzon, sidewalk vendors were back with a vengeance! They mushroomed with alacrity in every nook and cranny in downtown, City Proper; many of them built shanties and wooden stalls to store their unsold items. They became unstoppable.
When the Filipino-Chinese community called his attention to the “growing” number of illegal sidewalk vendors in Calle Real, Malabor refused to touch the vendors, a powerhouse sector of voters, with a ten-foot pole.
In others words, he pampered and tolerated them. They were mostly “poor” and they delivered votes that gave him overwhelming mandates in every mayoral contest.
Pro-sidewalk vendor Malabor massacred the “elitists” Nene Consing and Victor Facultad in two successive mayoral jousts. Malabor’s populist stand on the sidewalk vendors issue bore fruits.
The “victorious” sidewalks vendors remain to be the kings and queens of Calle Real until today under Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tell us who are your friends

“Neutral men are the devil’s allies.”
Edwin Hubbel Chapin

By Alex P. Vidal

The front pages of all the newspapers, headline news of all TV and radio networks yesterday said it all!
The judiciary is hell-bent not to genuflect before the executive branch, its co-equal in government, as manifested by the gallant stand of the majority of the judges, prosecutors, and other hall of justice employees all over the country who wore black last Monday to assert judicial independence.
The move was precipitated by President Benigno Aquino III’s astonishing brickbats against the Supreme Court, which had torpedoed the Palace’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) or pork barrel.
Mr. Aquino’s unprecedented tirades against the higher court initially failed to catch fire among lawmakers and local government executives.
They, too, were caught by surprise by the President’s boldness and, to some extent, stubbornness. Many mayors and governors were made to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea.


But lately, some tong-gressmen, city and municipal mayors and governors started to voice their support for their embattled chief executive in Malacanang.
They were even undaunted and willing to engage in a slugfest the church’s top prelates who denounced the DAP in the pulpits.
These tong-gressmen and some local chief executives must have realized they would be accused by Malacanang as “ingrates” for abandoning the cause that benefited their districts, cities, municipalities and provinces if they did not take a stand and come to the President’s defense at this crucial moment.
A common cause that benefited their favorite contractors and, what else, their own pockets!
DAP funded most local infrastructure and public works projects through the tong-gressmen and sin-nators bribed by Malacanang to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.


In unity there is strength. United we stand, united we fall.
This must be the battlecry of the local chief executives, tong-gressmen and sin-nators who are now singing hallelujah to President Aquino.
In Negros and Iloilo, many mayors and governors have started to show their true colors by joining the Palace in justifying why DAP should not have been shot down by the Supreme Court like the Malaysian Airlines jet.
They knew that if they abandoned the king, they would be isolated politically and made to face the Commission on Audit’s wrath like condemned and captured enemies facing the firing squad.
The Supreme Court has ordered those who had feasted on the P137.3 billion worth of DAP to return the people’s money. Unable to do so would be tantamount to stealing and the act is punishable by law.
Hence, local chief executives, tong-gressmen and sin-nators are frantically moving heaven and earth in the propaganda and publicity department to reverse the storm by coming out in public and risk their reelection to defend the “good side” of DAP.


The court’s black Monday onslaught was a curt message to the executive branch: we are co-equal and, therefore, will not succumb to any dictatorial fulmination and display of absolute power and attempt to force us on our knees.
We will know if President Aquino’s rah-rah boys and girls in the local government units are really determined to swim and sink with their king if the League of Provinces and League of Cities and Municipalities will pass resolutions defending the president and the DAP.
Tell us who your friends are and we will tell you who you are!

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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tax increase zugzwang

“The people are hungry: It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes.” Lao Tzu

By Alex P. Vidal

When people are hungry and desperate, they steal foods, commit crimes like robbery and holdup, and vandalize government offices.
Poverty breeds lawlessness. A hungry stomach fears no authority.
Survival instinct means food is a hungry man’s only god; which explains why during calamities, victims resort to lawlessness, storm and empty padlocked supermarkets and grocery stores despite the presence of cops.
But why vandalize or destroy government properties? There are two reasons for this: 1.The hungry are outraged and blame the government for their woes; and 2.They think the government is rich and awash with cash, thus they target the treasurer’s offices like what happened recently in Escalante City, Negros Occidental and Concepcion, Iloilo.


Thieves carted away some P2 million cash from the vault of the Escalante city hall last July 11 when the janitor reportedly failed to lock the office, police said.
Police also reported that robbers ransacked the vault of the Concepcion municipal treasurer’s office and ran away with P490,000 cash by forcibly opening the office’s sliding window last July 19.
Probers led by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are eyeing an inside job in both heists, but are not ruling out the involvement of other civilians not connected in the two offices.
Although the two robberies occurred in a span of only one week, police found no reason to connect them as the offices were located miles away separately in two islands.


But the twin robbery incidents could be used as patterns for those intending to rob government offices like the capitol, city hall and municipal hall.
Thieves now have an idea that some treasurer’s offices, just like some of the pawnshops, money lending corporations and money transfer outlets, do not actually deposit all their cash in the bank after office hours.
The burglaries in Escalante and Concepcion should send alarm signals to other treasurer’s offices in Western Visayas.


We expected a zugzwang in the public hearing conducted by the Iloilo city council’s committee on ways and means headed by Councilor Plaridel Nava on the proposed increase in real property taxes (RPT) at the City Hall penthouse area last July 18.
The Iloilo Business Club and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Iloilo opposed the measure put forward by Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog who dangled a proposed 50 percent to 100 percent RPT increase.
It’s good that both sides have agreed to confer with City Hall’s local finance committee to address the concerns aired by the private sector groups determined to protect the interests of their members as well as those of the incoming investors.


Any discussion about proposed increases in taxes—real property and otherwise–is always chaotic and bloody, to say the least.
The cons, or those against it, will always outnumber the pros, or those who support it which includes the proponents.
Since the time of the Roman Empire, residents have struggled against all forms of taxation; opposition has been vigorous and passionate.
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” Jesus was quoted by historians as saying.

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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


2 Passi men also arrested like Vargas in Texas border

“The word nobody wants to use, but you see if you are here illegally, that’s the punishment, deportation.” Tom Tancredo

By Alex P. Vidal

What happened to immigrant activist Jose Antonio Vargas last July 15 (July 16 in Iloilo) also happened to two residents of Passi City, Iloilo, who were deported to the Philippines sometime in 2009.
While trying to board a flight to Los Angeles, California after reporting on the rising numbers of unaccompanied Central American children crossing the US-Mexico border, Vargas, 33, was arrested by Texas Border Patrol and detained at the McAllen-Miller International Airport in southern Texas for being an undocumented alien.
But unlike Vargas, who was released the same day after being processed by Border Patrol agents and provided with a notice to appear in immigration court, the two Passi residents were reportedly deported back to the Philippines as they lacked the proper papers to be in the United States.


The information was relayed to me personally when I went to Dallas in 2011 by some of their companions who remained in Texas until today.
They and several others had been working in the U.S. without legal documents for several years before their arrest in the Texas-Mexico border, it was learned.
The batch of Passi visitors were reportedly recruited by a prominent US-based Passi City politician after the 2004 elections in the Philippines.
“We helped him (the politician) during the elections and, in return, he brought us to the US as he had promised,” said Biboy (not his real name), the deportees’ US companion who refused to be named for security reasons. “It was a mistake (for the two) to try to board an LA-bound flight using their Philippine passports with expired tourist visas. We had warned them (against taking that flight).”
Biboy said when the duration of their tourist visa had expired, they decided not to return to the Philippines and went TNT (Tago Ng Tago), a term for Filipinos in the US without legal papers.


The two deportees, both males, wanted to visit relatives at La Mirada and Anaheim, California, Biboy revealed.
Biboy and the remaining Ilonggo TNTs said they transferred from one city to another in Texas and never attempted to travel and cross the state.
They are scattered in San Antonio, Arlington, Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, Galveston and Corpus Christi.
“We have plenty of relatives in California, especially in San Diego, but the problem is most of us are afraid to travel there because of what happened to (names of the deportees),” he lamented.
We learned that when they arrived together with other Filipino deportees in a special flight via Clark International Airport in Pampanga, they were handcuffed like criminals, Biboy narrated.
Trained as a journalist and worked for The Washington Post, where he was part of the team that won a 2008 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings, Vargas was not deported immediately.
Fellow immigrant activists staged a rally outside the detention facility to demand for his immediate release.


Vargas found himself in the national spotlight in 2011, when he narrated about his undocumented status in the New York Times Magazine which became a hit among all the TNTs including those from Latin countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.
Vargas was able to Tweet that “the only IDs I have for security: Philippine passport and my pocketbook US Constitution.”
Vargas is a prominent figure in the crusade for comprehensive US immigration reform. They are hoping that the Obama administration will legalize the status of more than 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the US.
White House deputy press secretary, Shawn Turner, said Vargas’ arrest was a “law enforcement issue involving a specific case, so it would not be appropriate for the White House to comment.”

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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Uncategorized


Mario, Glenda, Benigno

“Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” John F. Kennedy

By Alex P. Vidal

During moments of euphoria, sadness, tragedy, defeat and victory, we remember not only events but names.
We remember three names that are currently synonymous to heroism, destruction and stubbornness: Mario, Glenda, and Benigno.
Mario is now the toast of the soccer community when he sank that lone goal for Germany’s fourth FIFA World Cup in the recent championship match against Argentina at the Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last July 14.
Because of that come-from-behind date with fame in Rio, a mere mention of Mario Gotze’s name evokes sweet moments of heroism and victory.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup produced not only a soccer hero, but also a new inspiration for Filipinos who are pinning their football hopes only on the overfed and over fancied Azkals XI, a team not even rated among the top 100 in the world and can never represent the Philippines in the next FIFA World Cup in 2018.
If he were a Filipino, Mario would be a shoo-in for senator under the pork barrel’s Liberal Party.
Filipinos love sports superstars like they love their childhood super heroes. And they won’t hesitate to elect them into public office like what they did to former senators Ambrosio Padilla, Freddie Webb, and Robert Jaworski. Two years from now, a boxing champion will also be called as “Senator Manny Pacquiao.”
Glenda, the name of a mysterious college student who borrowed from me P3,000 cash and disappeared like a comet several years ago, is now remembered as a storm that terrorized Luzon last July 15 and 16.


Glenda’s murderous rampage left scores of deaths and sent some 200,000 families packing to evacuation centers.
Glenda lashed at Metro Manila and flooded the main highways and avenues. She brought only monsoon rains in Iloilo, but most parts of the region were also affected in one way or the other.
Hell hath no fury like a typhoon named after a woman. Glenda came, saw and conquered.
Like Yolanda, Glenda represented sadness, mayhem and death. Weather forecasters coined the names of incoming typhoons based on alphabetical order, so let’s not feel bad if Glenda happens to be the name of our mother, sister, wife, girlfriend, or debtor.
Benigno is the leader of the 90 million Filipinos now up in arms against the “pork barrel” fund deodorized as Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The Supreme Court has declared DAP as unconstitutional and asked Benigno’s lawmaker allies who have availed of the controversial appropriations, to return the taxpayers money worth P137.3 billion to the national treasury.
But the funds are reportedly nowhere to be found now. All of a sudden, no one has come forward to defend Bengino except himself. No one has volunteered to make a gallant sacrifice for the king. When the going gets tough, it’s only Benigno now by his lonesome self defending the port in the attic.
Lawmakers and their local government partners claimed they spent the money “wisely” to finance infrastructure and public works projects in their respective cities and provinces.


But people were suspicious that a bulk of the funds may have gone to the pockets of corrupt politicians allied with Benigno in the form of kickbacks via fake nongovernment organizations, the same trick that sent P10-billion pork barrel scam accused Janet Lim-Napoles to the calaboose.
Benigno’s popularity suffered a sharp decline since 2010 according to the recent Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia surveys.
The negative impact on Benigno’s popularity must have something to do with his refusal to let go of Harvard-educated budget secretary Butch Abad, DAP’s chief collaborator, and for defending the DAP and engaging the Supreme Court in a power play that could provoke a constitutional crisis.
Because of this, the once supremely popular president and son of the late former President Cory and the late brave Marcos opposition leader Ninoy, has earned the reputation as a “stubborn” president.

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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Uncategorized


Minors in cyber sex dens

“Humans are the only animal who can have sex over the phone.” Dave Letterman

By Alex P. Vidal

A 16-year-old minor was among those “arrested” by police in a raid on a suspected cyber sex den in Brgy. Sinikway, La Paz in Iloilo City last July 10.
She was with three other adult on-line sex performers, including house owner Helen Delotavo, 57, when members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDG)-Iloilo swooped down on the unit.
Instead of being “arrested” the girl should have been “rescued” and turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The law exempts minors from culpability in crimes committed by adults especially if they turned out to be the victims themselves.
The girl had no business in that cyber sex den, in the first place. And she was not supposed to be in the police station trying to hide herself from photographers and TV crew who had no idea how old she is.
In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration, as stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The use of minors is rampant not only in dangerous workplaces but also in prostitution houses and commission of crimes.
Sometimes they are used as fronts and decoys to confuse authorities, thus they are exposed to extreme danger especially if they are asked to act as couriers of illegal drugs.
Minors have become the favorite sacrificial lambs of syndicates and the veritable scapegoats of abusive adults.


If they are not forced to sell their bodies, they are used as tools or performers in on-line sex chats with foreigners for a fee or what is now known as cyber sex.
The payment is done via Western Union money transfer through middlemen who act as agents for the den.
The agents are the ones who look for clients mostly in the US, Canada and Europe.
Since cyber sex is illegal, there is no guarantee that the minor performers get their fair share of the amount paid by on-line clients.
In most cases, these minor performers are exploited and hoodwinked. The cyber sex den operators and their agents are the ones getting the lion’s share and laughing their way to the banks.
Sometimes they end up settling for a penny or pocketing only 10 to 20 percent of the actual amount paid by on-line clients.
There were reports that some minors also suffered from maltreatment and other forms of abuse by some cyber sex den operators.
Aside from being shortchanged of their income, they were also subjected to humiliation by being forced to perform lewd acts in front of male clients salivating for their bodies on-line.
Police should work closely with the DSWD or invite their representatives in future raids because there are strong possibilities that they would again stumble into more minors in clandestine cyber sex or whore houses in the cities and provinces in Western Visayas.
Meanwhile, a source from Guanco St., City Proper who requested strict anonymity informed us that there are more cyber sex dens in the City Proper, Jaro, Molo, and Mandurriao maintained by pimps who also operate boarding house or room for rent business.


“It’s easy to locate these cyber sex dens,” said our female informant who lives in Bo. Obrero, Lapuz district. ”If you are a woman and you know a pimp in one barangay and you want to apply as on-line sex performer, you know who to approach.”
Some barangay officials are reportedly aware of the existence of cyber sex dens in their areas, “but like in the campaign against drugs, some of them become deaf and mute when it comes to giving of tips to authorities.”
Many losing internet cafes have reportedly closed shop and dabbled in cyber sex business which is thriving in other places of the country.
“Cyber sex den is easy to operate because all you need are computer sets or laptops and women who are willing to undress and perform sexual acts in front of on-line customers,” added our informant.

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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


World Cup of corruption

“Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.”
Thomas Jefferson

By Alex P. Vidal

The next World Cup after the FIFA soccer conclave in Brazil that Filipinos should seriously get involved with is the dismantling of the triangle of graft and corruption in the country.
It’s no longer a Germany versus Argentina finale. It’s the People of the Philippines against the Kingdom of Pork Barrel.
If the reported P137.3 billion worth of taxpayers money released for the doomed Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of lawmakers and cabinet officials can’t be accounted for; and, worse, can’t be returned to the national treasury as ordered by the Supreme Court, we really need a Mario Gotze to nail our own World Cup goal against the mammoth plunderers led by President Benigno Aquino III and his ilk who control our government today.
The amount is disturbing and sickening: a whooping P137.3 billion!
If its release is unconstitutional, therefore it’s illegal.


In our country, a small-time thief who steals a penny will rot in jail if he can’t afford a top-notch lawyer to defend him in court.
If the thief who steals hundreds of millions of pesos is an elected public official, he can dilly dally his case and gets away if he or she is an administration ally. A clear case of double standard of justice.
Since the Supreme Court ruling, we haven’t heard our local officials – city and town mayors, provincial governors and other elected officials down to the barangay level—demand from our corrupt legislators to refund the DAP or pork barrel share they had siphoned from the national treasury. Some of them claimed that DAP funds were spent by lawmakers to finance public works and infrastructure projects in their cities and provinces, thus the money benefited their constituents. Birds of the same feather.
If the funds were sourced from a poisonous tree, they don’t have the moral grounds to stand on. The end does not justify the means.


We are in a situation where at stake is our national pride, reputation and future as a nation. Election by election or year by year, we are being taken for a ride by politicians who promised to end our miseries and give us a good life.
Once they are in power, they connive to plunder the nation and further impoverish the people. Stealing continues to be the favorite passion of our government officials.
We have not graduated from this moral malady ever since we kicked out Marcos in the EDSA revolution. Corruption has eaten up our vast resources and demoralized the people who continue to wallow in abject poverty and live miserably below the survival level.
We badly need a World Cup finale against massive graft and corruption and exorcise this country of demonic and rapacious leaders before they could permanently spell our doomsday.

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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


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