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Monthly Archives: January 2017

You want peace in Bacolod? Kick out Bing and Monico

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

— Mark Twain

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — As long as Monico “Nyok” Puentevella and Evelio “Bing” Leonardia are active in Bacolod City politics, the City of Smile can never have a political peace of mind.
The two archenemies are Bacolod’s version of Cromwell vs Charles I, Stalin vs Trotsky, Pompey vs Caesar, and Pizarro vs Atahualpa.
They will stop at nothing until they have totally obliterated one another.
The bad blood between the two Ilonggo leaders has escalated in epic proportions.
Whoever sits as city mayor will always be at the receiving end of tidal waves of graft and corruption cases, including their proteges who happen to take over while they are either under suspension or have been sacked.
Whoever between the two is the representative in the city’s lone congressional district will surely wipe his face with graft and corruption charges–real or imagined.
Graft charges have been their most abused weaponry to rock the boat whoever between them is in the helm or the sitting mayor and congressman, respectively.

OMBUDSMAN

When Puentevella was the city mayor, then congressman Leonardia peppered Puentevella with graft cases in the Office of the Ombudsman, one of which was related to the anomalous purchase of P26-million worth of computer sets that resulted in Puentevella’s preventive suspension for 90 days in 2015.
Leonardia, who ousted Puentevella in their epic match in the May 2016 mayoral election, was himself recently ordered ousted by the Office of the Ombudsman for neligence in the procurement of P50-million worth of furniture and fixtures.
Leonardia’s camp pointed an accusing finger at, who else, Puentevella, to be behind the “harassment.” Puentevella, as usual, feigned innocence as Leonardia wont to do.
Their counter accusations have become akin to a pot calling the kettle black.
Their long-drawn-out quarrel, although political in nature, has demoralized their respective followers in particular, and the Bacolodnons in and outside the country in general.

POWER

As long as they continue to wield power and influence, even if they are temporarily out as elected mayor or congressman vice versa, their bitter rivalry will hamper the basic services and operations in the metropolis’ seat of political power, in one way or the other.
If Bacolodnons want to bring back stability, harmony, and even sanity in city hall, they should stop treating the selection process of their mayor and congressman as like that of a game of Trip to Jerusalem between two angry slow-mo dancers.
They should stop limiting the positions of city mayor and congressman only between two harpooned and recycled gladiators.
They should elect fresh faces, new leaders with a reinvigorated vision and mission; leaders that possess humility and emotional intelligence; and modern political philosophy sans any shade of petty intramural and infantile bickering.
Bacolod has to move on; move forward even without Puentevella and Leonardia.

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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS

 

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Double standard in war vs illegal drugs

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”― Voltaire

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Here’s another case of “double standard” when it comes to dealing with characters involved in illegal drug trafficking in the Philippines.
If the suspect is a street-level drug peddler or drug addict, he is killed in a “shootout” with lawmen “after resisting arrest.”
If the suspect is a drug lord, he is accorded a “special treatment” by allowing him to face the media and destroy the reputations of authorities allegedly receiving protection money from the syndicate.
To add insult, the drug lord could escape prosecution if his revelations on the payola scandal would be proven based on the reports below.
Reports from Negros Occidental in the Philippines referred to one Ricky Serenio, 34, of Barangay Singcang-Airport, Bacolod City as “a drug lord under the target list of Negros Island Police Regional Office (PRO).”
Serenio, who has been placed under PRO’s witness protection program after he named several members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), court employees, and media personalities as among those who received regular “payola” from the “boss” he refused to name.

DISMISS

Being placed under the program could reportedly help dismiss the cases against Serenio, “if he can prove that his revelations are true.”
Chief Superintendent Renato Gumban, PRO acting regional director, said Serenio, who is under the custody of the Regional Special Operations Task Group, is facing charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives after police recovered from him a .45 caliber pistol with magazine containing five live ammunition and a fragmentation grenade when he was served with an arrest warrant for grave coercion at Rizal Street, Barangay Zone 9 in Talisay City on January 8, 2017.
Why place Serenio under the witness protection program if the evidence is sufficient to convict him in a fair trial?
If the cases filed against him will eventually be dismissed only because his revelations were proven, the public trust and confidence on our law enforcers will definitely be eroded.
When small fries are trampled like grasses and the big fishes get away with murder, it will defeat the “all-out war” campaign of President Duterte against illegal drug trafficking.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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Scientific age’s 10 sets of premises

“There is nothing that will cure the senses but the soul, and nothing that will cure the soul but the senses” –– OSCAR WILDE

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NEW JERSEY — From Willis Harman’s Global Mind Change, the promise of the 21st century, we learned that there is a set of 10 premises, which, if encountered in a textbook a few decades ago, would hardly have aroused a question. It is humbling to the educated Westerner to realize that to an indeterminable extent, science, like the traditional belief systems of “primitive” cultures, describes a world that is shaped by its built-in assumptions, observes Harman.
The rational set of premises for a scientific age, according to Harman, are the following:
1. The only conceivable ways in which we can acquire knowledge are through our physical senses, and perhaps by some sort of information transmission through the genes. The sole way in which we extend our understanding of the nature of the universe is through empirical science–that is, the exploration of the measurable world through instrumentation that augments our physical senses.
2. All qualitative properties (at least the ones we can talk about scientifically) are ultimately reducible to quantitative ones (for example, color is reduced to wavelength, thought to measurable brain waves, hate and love to the chemical composition of glandular secretions).
3. There is a clear demarcation between the objective world, which can be perceived by anyone, and subjective experience, which is perceived by the individual alone, in the privacy of his/her own mind. Scientific knowledge deals with the former; the latter may be important to the individual, but its exploration does not lead to the same kind of publicly verifiable knowledge.
4. The concept of free will is a prescientific attempt to explain behavior that scientific analysis reveals is due to a combination of forces impinging on the individual from the outside, together with pressures and tensions internal to the organism.
5. What we know as consciousness or awareness of our thoughts and feelings is a secondary phenomenon arising from physical and biochemical processes in the brain.
6. What we know as memory is strictly a matter of stored data in the central nervous system, somewhat analogous to the storage of information in a digital computer.
7. The nature of time being what it is, there is obviously no way in which we can obtain knowledge of future events, other than by rational prediction from known causes and past regularities.
8. Since mental activity is simply a matter of dynamically varying states in the physical organism (primarily in the brain), it is completely impossible for this mental activity to exert any effect directly on the physical world outside the organism.
9. The evolution of the universe and of man has come about through physical causes (such as random mutation, natural selection), and there is no justification for any concept of universal purpose in the evolution, or in the development of consciousness, or in the strivings of the individual.
10. Individual consciousness does not survive the death of the organism; or if there is any meaningful sense in which the individual consciousness persists after the death of the physical body we can neither comprehend it in this life or in any way obtain knowledge about it.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2017 in NATURE, PSYCHOLOGY, SCIENCE

 

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Councilor Ganzon ‘usurps’ functions of mayor, cops

“To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.”
―Tacitus

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY –– It’s the job of the police to warn gangsters and their leaders not to create mayhem in public. Or round them up.
They are paid to run after hooligans and other troublemakers in society.
To maintain peace and order, police are tasked to neutralize any group engaged in criminal and terroristic activities.
If peace and order worsens, the city mayor may order the police to safeguard the civilians and protect government properties.
Police are mandated to use force (but not excessively) if the situation warrants. Although they are also trained for physical confrontation, police may negotiate for peace to avert a spill over of violence and bloodshed.
Under the Local Government Code, the executive department, or the city mayor and provincial governor, with law enforcement at their disposal, wield awesome power.

FEUD

In Iloilo City in the Philippines, a city councilor, “worried” by the increasing dangers posed by feuding gangsters in the metropolis, wanted to act both as city mayor and police.
As chair of the city council committee on police matters, Councilor Jeffrey Ganzon has asked Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) acting director, Senior Supt. Remus Zacharias Canieso, to provide him with police escorts as he planned to meet leaders of the 25 to 32 gangs operating in Iloilo City.
Ganzon wanted to personally “appeal” to the rowdy teenagers to stop creating trouble. He also wanted to talk to their parents. Nice.
In hindsight, Ganzon’s gesture deserves an accolade. He did not ask to be paid for the heroic act. What’s wrong if he wants to volunteer for the field work?
We were surprised though that nobody from among Ganzon’s colleagues reminded him during their regular session last January 9 that dealing with problems on street gangs was the job of Senior Supt. Canieso and his cops.

RISK

Members of the legislative branch gobble up their time in debates to hammer out quality resolutions and ordinances.
They aren’t elected to risk their lives marching on lairs of street ruffians and strike a deal with minions of the underworld.
Only in Iloilo City where a member of the local legislative body appointed himself as “peace emissary”, bypassing the executive office or city mayor.
He also “demoted” himself to act as foot patrol cop (with escorts to boot) for a tete-a-tete with bedraggled youngsters.
Because Ganzon reportedly plans to run for city mayor in 2019 (his supporters believe he will win if his opponent is his one-time tormentor, Vice Mayor Joe Espinosa III), Ilonggos should expect to see him perform more extra jobs that would boost his public image and unwittingly “usurp” the functions of police and city mayor “in aid of legislation.”

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2017 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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Death sentence for Iloilo mayors in ‘narco’ list?

“Do I favor the death penalty? Theoretically, I do, but when you realize that there’s a four percent error rate, you end up putting guilty people to death.” — Gary Johnson

By Alex P. Vidal29572442_10211417967587760_356020253209754251_n

NEW JERSEY — I bumped off two stories over the weekend to pave the way for an article I deemed to be more urgent and relevant in the heels of President Duterte’s speech during the swearing in of several newly-appointed cabinet officials on January 9 in Malacanang.
President Duterte called “narco-politicians” as “dead men walking.”
He vowed to kill big time “shabu” dealers, and the next batch, reports quoted him as saying, would be the city and municipal mayors engaged in illegal drugs and whose names he mentioned weeks after he assumed office in July 2016.
I was so alarmed because some of the mayors President Duterte had linked to illegal drugs based on the list provided by his intelligence men were from my place in Western Visayas.
They were Jed Patrick Mabilog of Iloilo City, Alex Centena of Calinog, Iloilo; Siegfredo Betita of Carles, Iloilo; and Mariano Malones of Maasin, Iloilo.
Except for Betita, the three are known to me personally. Malones was our former business manager in the News Express; Centena is a friend way back in the 80’s when he was not yet a public official; and Mabilog is our mayor in Iloilo City.

DEATH LIST

Are they among those included in President Duterte’s so-called death list?
We want to know. We need to know especially because there has been no solid evidence linking them to illegal drugs.
They could only be victims of political black propaganda or vendetta. They were never convicted by any competent court.
In fact, no formal charges have been filed against them yet. They were vilified, along probably with several others who could be innocent in the Duterte list, without any formal trial.
What if the president erred or the list he was reading was a sham and contained falsehood? Since July 2016 when their names were disclosed as alleged drug protectors, the government has failed to substantiate the allegations.
Therefore it’s premature to condemn them; it’s not fair to punish them with a harsh “death sentence” which could become only another case of extra-judicial killing, God forbid.

LAW

While most Filipinos who elected President Dutere in the May 2016 polls support his campaign to stamp out criminality in the country especially the president’s “all-out” war policy against illegal drugs, pressures from human rights advocates, including the United Nations and other international organizations, continued to hound the president as dead bodies piled up in the streets.
Most of those killed in “shootouts” with police were drug addicts and small-time peddlers of illegal substance. Their families claimed the dead were victims of summary execution.
The Philippines doesn’t have any law on death penalty. Convicted criminals spend time in jail and are not killed.
If these mayors are executed when their guilt was not yet proven beyond reasonable doubt–and in the absence of any law that supports the death penalty–the president becomes an executioner and violator of the law, not the dead mayors.

 
 

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Miss Universe and sex tourism

“I think the pageant system is about empowering women. I think that aspect of it is great, but when you take parents who are forcing their children to do anything, I don’t think it’s healthy.”
–Olivia Culpo

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY — When the Philippines first hosted the Miss Universe in 1974, the pageant not only showcased the country’s “warm” hospitality and “greatness” before an international audience, it also deodorized the human rights violation-tainted Marcos administration which placed the country under Martial Law on September 21, 1972.
Most of all, it reportedly promoted sex tourism, or so it seemed.
In fact, that year’s winner, Ms. Amparo Muñoz of Spain, who became an actress, was implicated in a sex scandal.
It’s not the kind of sex scandal though that has bedeviled some politicians and showbiz stars today like the Hayden Kho sex video or the alleged Senator Leila De Lima-driver taped tryst.
It’s the slapping incident involving Muñoz and a prominent socialite accused of pimping the Spanish beauty.

MOVIE

When Muñoz slapped the alleged pimp of big time Manila businessmen, the episode was not part of the Hayop sa Ganda movie that also starred 1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz.
“It was a real skirmish that shocked the entertainment world,” the late Joe Quirino once remarked in Seeing Stars with Joe Quirino.
Since it was a Martial Law, the press could not report in complete details what really had transpired.
Muñoz was reportedly declared as persona non grata as a result of that tumult and left the Philippines in a huff. She died in Malaga, Spain on February 27, 2011 at age 56 due to Parkinson’s disease.
Although nobody came forward to confirm that other Miss Universe contestants had also been pimped at that time, the reported slapping brouhaha underscored fears that sex tourism could have reportedly penetrated the prestigious international beauty contest.

CIRCULAR

Meanwhile, one thing good about the Philippines’ hosting of the 2017 Miss Universe, is the Malacanang memorandum circular dated December 28, 2016 which ordered that no public funds shall be expended for the international event which will unfold on January 30, 2017.
“The DOT (Department of Tourism) may call upon any such department…. for assistance as the circumstances and exigencies may require, read the circular signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“Officials concerned shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to ensure that there will be no disruption of work and services in their respective offices by reason thereof,” the circular says.
“Except for such reasonable resources required in providing support for the hosting of the Pageant, no public funds shall be expended for the hosting of the 2016 Miss Universe Pageant,” it adds.
When the Philippines hosted the pageant for only the second time in 1994, the organizers suffered a shortfall and the Ramos administration reportedly covered some of the expenses in the $5.3 million-event.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2017 in TOURISM

 

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The greatest thinker of all time

“Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance.”

Will Durant

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY — He was a pride of Asia.
Before being adjudged as the No. 1 “greatest thinker of all time” by Dr. Will Durant, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Medal of Freedom, the great American historian-philosopher acknowledged that the choice of Confucius had sparked doubts and quarrels.
“By what canon shall we include Confucius and omit Buddha and Christ?” Durant inquires in The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time.
“By this alone: that he was a moral philosopher rather than a preacher of religious faith; that his call to the noble life was based upon secular motives rather then upon supernatural considerations; that he far more resembles Socrates than Jesus.”
Born (552 B.C.) in an age of confusion, in which the old power and glory of China had passed into feudal disintegration and factional strife, Kung-fu-tse undertook to restore health and order to his country.
In the book compiled and edited by John Little, Durant describes Kung-fu-tse’s speech as “a sound moral and political philosophy within the compass of a paragraph. It was a highly conservative system; it exalted manners and etiquette, and scorned democracy; despite its clear enunciation of the Golden Rule it was nearer to Stoicism than to Christianity.”

GOOD FOR EVIL

A pupil having asked him should one return good for evil, Confucius replied: “With what then will you recompense kindness? Return good for good, and for evil, justice.”
He did not believe that all men were equal; it seemed to him that intelligence was not a universal gift.
As his pupil Mencius put it: “That whereby man differs from the lower animals is little. Most people throw it away.” The greatest fortune of a people would be to keep ignorant persons from public office, and secure their wisest men to rule them.

MAGISTRATE

A great city, Chung-tu, took him at his word and made him magistrate. “A marvelous reformation,” we are told, “ensued in the manners of the people…There was an end of crime…Dishonesty and dissoluteness hid their heads. Loyalty and good faith became the characteristic of the men, chastity and docility of the women.”
It is too good to be true, and probably it did not last very long.
But even if his lifetime Confucius’ followers understood his greatness and foresaw the timeless influence he was to have in molding the courtesy and poise and placid wisdom of the Chinese.
“His disciples buried him with great pomp. A multitude of them built huts near his grave and remained there, mourning as for a father, for nearly three years. When all the others were gone, Tse-Kung,” who had loved him beyond the rest, “continued by the grave for three years more, alone.”

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2017 in EDUCATION, HISTORY

 

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