Monthly Archives: August 2012

Declining quality of senators more alarming than declining quality of Filipino envoys

“Pasensiya na po. Pasensiya na po. Pasensya na po. Ang hatol ko sa inyo, guilty.” SEN. LITO LAPID, in his speech during the Corona Impeachement Trial.

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California — The more that he insists he did not plagiarize his speech, the more that Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III buries himself in the quicksand. Apparently waiting for the hoopla on the death and state burial of DILG chief Jesse Robredo to simmer down, Sotto tried to master the art of timing by lashing at his critics and portraying himself as “a victim of cyber bullying” in a press statement he issued two days after Robredo was laid to rest.
Instead of grabbing the bull by the horns and sincerely apologizing to American blogger Sarah Pope, Sotto further stirred the hornet’s nest and added insult to injury by claiming the avalanche of negative feedbacks in social media had been waged “to kill the messenger” because his criticis purportedly “could not kill the message.”
I blame Sotto’s advisers for the senator’s recalcitrance which has only further ripped his reputation to shreds. The least they could have done to camouflage their boss’ mea culpa was to persuade him against further adding fire to conflagration. Everyone commits a mistake and to admit a mistake is an honorable act, an effective damage control. So many great men and women of antiquity continued to live an honorable life even after a maelstrom of scandals and controversies because they knew how to admit their faults and to express willingness to amend for their lapses and trespasses.


But not Tito Sotto. His haughtiness and arrogance only further exacerbated his shenanigan and his insistence that he violated no law when his speechwriter lifted some important facts from the blog of Ms. Pope and used it to deordorize his speech underscored the general perception that the once magnificent August Hall that produced some of the country’s greatest minds and statesmen has lost its luster and is now a sanctuary of rinky-dinks and tawdries calling themselves “honorable” members of the upper chamber.
Sotto had lamented: “I am probably the first senator of the Philippines to become a victim of cyber bullying. Through the blogs, Facebook and Twitter, I became the center of a smear campaign and malicious attacks by various people” even as he reiterated that he did not commit plagiarism as alleged by Pope and the other bloggers who subsequently joined her in condemning the senator. Pope had disclosed that parts of her blog entry about the use of the pill were copied by Sotto in his turno en contra speech on the RH bill. The senator and his researcher justified later that they only lifted the blog sections that referred to the study of Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, regarding the negative effects of the pill.
Sotto added further: “For those who are attacking me and judging me on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and even in the newspapers, I say this: even though I appear to be less educated compared to them and not as knowledgeable as they are, what is important is what I am fighting for. My intentions are clean and it is to fight for the sanctity of life.”


Interestingly, another blogger alleged that Sotto’s colleague, Sen. Pia Cayetano copied parts of her speech on “The Status of the Philippines in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals” and her privilege speech on the World Environment Day.
Cayetano had already denied the charges saying “I myself am a writer and a blogger. I believe that everyone is due the proper accreditation and the acknowledgment… nakalagay naman po yun sa ating Intellectual Property Code that from the moment of creation…your literary work is protected.”
What is happening to our senate? Two senators in a row accused of plagiarism is no longer a laughing matter. Something must be done to refurbish and rebuild its image. The senate is already becoming a laughing stock because of the way some of its members behave, not to mention their lackdaiscal performances and not-so-impressive achievements.
Senator Edgardo Angara was alarmed of the decline of quality of our diplomats arguing that Filipino diplomats who can’t be bothered to learn even a smidgen of the language of their host countries “have no place being in the foreign service.”


At the Senate hearing recently on the 2013 budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Angara proposed the creation of a Foreign Service Institute to train envoys in the intricacies of representing the country abroad. “We get dismayed that some people receive (foreign) postings not even knowing the language used in the post,” Angara said. “I think it’s really a shame like when I meet Thai diplomats and they speak the language of Madrid and elsewhere so fluently.”
I think the decline in quality of Filipino senators is more alarming than the decline of quality of our envoys. Our envoys can always be sanitized and recalled if proven to be unfit to represent our country. Our senators are tasked to create laws. And with our decrepit electoral system, even showbiz misfits, punks, troublemakers, homewreckers and human rights violators can be ushered into that prestigious public office and enjoy the pelfs and privileges that go with the position.

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


Bell tolls too soon for a true patriot; nation is amputated

By Alex P. Vidal

“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” JOHN DONNE

LOS ANGELES, California — As Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, eldest daughter of the late former President Corazon Aquino and the late former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquno Jr. and sister of President Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino succinctly sighed, “Matagal na kaming beleb sa kanya (We have been impressed with him for a long time already).”
I have interviewed Senator Franklin Drilon several times since he was labor secretary under the Cory administration and he always put up an intrepid face even amid blitzkrieg from MAD (Movement Against Drilon) provocateurs; but when he was interviewed by Manila reporters shortly after DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s body was retrieved from the private plane at the depth of around 180 feet resting upside down in the waters off Masbate August 21, the senator from Iloilo burst in tears like he lost his own brother.
DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas as well as the other cabinet officials of President Aquino also grieved the loss of a “very sincere, honest and hard-working colleague” who, despite his busy schedule, always had time to tutor his children and be with his family during weekends.
So well-loved was the man who became the Philippines’ youngest city mayor at 29 in 1988 that the whole Naga city or the entire Camarines Sur for that matter grieved like a nation that wept when President Ramon Magsaysay, the best ever Philippine president, was killed in aircraft disaster on March 17, 1957.


There indeed was parallelism between Magsaysay and Robredo as public servants. Both were active stalwarts of the Liberal Party; they were highly touted and much admired by both their peers and supporters owing to their extraordinary methods in governance and their Spartan-like lifestyles that is difficult to emulate in today’s hodgepodge of modern leaders.
Those who chronicled Robredo’s eye-catching styles as mayor of a hitherto mediocre city that turned into bustling economic hub described him as a pragmatic go-getter who buckled down to work and torpedoed inefficient bureaucracy and illegal gambling as among his fast-tracked accomplishments that catapulted him into stardom when he was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2000, the first Filipino mayor so honored.
So colorful was Robredo’s life that he was fancied as the perfect epitome of President Aquino’s “Tuwid Na Daan” slogan in public service. For his constituents in Naga, he was a simple guy who walked in slippers and plain shirt with no bodyguard. For his subordinates in the DILG, “he was like one of us ordinary employees,” they chorused. Robreo studied at Naga Parochial School, a private Catholic school in Naga City, for his elementary education. Robredo began to hone his talent and love for the game of chess while in elementary. Naga Parochial School was known and had established a record for winning Bicol’s annual province-wide chess tournament and Robredo’s brother had been among its champion competitors.
Robredo studied at Ateneo de Naga in 1970. In September 1972, when Robredo was in the middle of high school, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law. Ateneo de Naga and its administration immediately called for an assembly and warned its students against getting involved in anti-government activities and efforts that this may result to the school’s exposure to the risk of closure.


Robredo obtained his undergraduate degrees in Industrial Management Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at De La Salle University. Robredo was an Edward Mason Fellow and a graduate of Masters of Public Administration at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1999. In 1985, Robredo finished his Masters in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, as a scholar and was named the Graduate School and Faculty Organization awardee for scholarly excellence.
Like Magsaysay, Robredo came from a speaking engagement in Cebu representing the President and was in a hurry to fly back to Naga to attend his daughter’s swimming competition, when the Piper PA-34-200 Seneca I aircraft (registered RP-C4431) crashed on August 18 at around 4:30 in the afternoon.
Magsaysay left Manila for Cebu City on March 16, 1957 where he spoke at three educational institutions. That same night, at about one o’clock in the morning, he boarded the presidential plane “Mt. Pinatubo”, a C-47, heading back to Manila. In the early morning hours of 17 March, the plane was reported missing. By late afternoon, newspapers had reported the airplane had crashed on Mt. Manunggal in Cebu, and that 36 of the 56 aboard were killed (the actual number on board was 25, including Magsaysay). Vice-President Carlos García, who was on official visit to Australia at the time, assumed the presidency to serve out the last eight months of Magsaysay’s term.
An estimated five million people attended Magsaysay’s burial on March 31, 1957. He was posthumously referred to by the people the “Idol of the Masses”.
Only newspaperman Nestor Mata survived the plane crash that killed Magsaysay. Police Senior Insp. Jun Abrazado, Robredo’s bodyguard, was also the lone survivor.
When great public servants like Magsaysay and Robredo perish at a time when their services were needed most, the whole nation is amputated.

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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Uncategorized



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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Uncategorized