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Monthly Archives: April 2018

Alan loses credibility

“A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives.” 

–Hassan Rouhani

By Alex P. Vidal

1236581_10200733918095730_147050845_n - CopyNEW YORK CITY — If he still has a delicadeza left in him, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano should have resigned immediately when news broke out that the Kuwaiti Government has expelled Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa.
Villa has been declared as persona non grata after Kuwait learned that several distressed Filipino OFWs were rescued from their employers with the help of the Philippine Embassy.
Kuwait’s harsh decision against Villa came after Cayetano, a politician before becoming a diplomat, apologized to Kuwaiti Ambassador Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh that the Philippine government had to take action upon receiving requests for help from distressed Filipino workers.
Villa was ordered kicked out after the Kuwaiti ambassador had a meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte in Davao City on April 22.

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In other words, Kuwait did not accept Cayetano’s lullaby.
The tiny but oil-rich Middle East country didn’t take the Philippines’ foreign affairs boss seriously.
If a sincere apology from a foreign affairs chief of one nation over a sensitive matter has been ignored and bypassed, either that foreign affairs chief has no credibility or he is a lousy chief diplomat.
Since the issue was widely reported all over the world, it gave Cayetano a king-sized embarrassment in the diplomatic community which is a big blow to his credibility.

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As expected, no serious troublemaker made a scene when Boracay was shut down on April 26.
There was no untoward incident related to the closure order.
Which made the presence of combat-ready members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) unnecessary as we wrote earlier.
Until the 11th hour, PNP and AFP bigwigs continued to downplay criticism that the presence of soldiers and cops was tantamount to a case of “overkill.”
Since the purpose of Boracay’s temporary closure for six months was “rehabilitation” or “cleaning up operation”, there was no need to militarize the hitherto most preferred tourist destination in the Philippines.

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When time beckoned for Boracay’s sunset, there was no sighting of NPA or Muslim rebels or members of cause-oriented groups sympathetic to establishment owners and local folks using ferry or speed boats from Caticlan wharf to the main island to instigate insurrection or create mayhem.
There were no armed goons hired by disgruntled resort owners and irate residents to block government representatives from implementing the presidential closure fiat.

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Posted by on April 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Are you mentally OK, kapitan?

“Do you know the difference between neurotics and psychotics? Neurotics build castles in the sky; psychotics move into them.”Tanya Thompson

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY – Even before the start of the campaign period for the 2018 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in the Philippines, some candidates were already showing signs of mental disorder or psychopathy.

In the previous elections neuro test wasn’t required when candidates filed their certificates of candidacy (COC), so we can’t expect that all winners in the May 14, 2018 elections will be sane and mentally fit.

A legislation must be pushed to empower the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cancel or declare as null and void the victory of any barangay official–chairman, councilman or SK official – found to be unfit mentally or with a serious case of neurosis.

So many cases of insanity or weird behaviors displayed by elected barangay officials have been recorded in the past.

Instead of being an asset to the smallest political unit in the country, barangay aldermen with brain damage have become thorns and liabilities.

In the early 90’s, for instance, a forlorn punong barangay or village chief in Iloilo City missed golden opportunities to serve his constituents and shine as a promising leader because he had to spend much of his time in the psychiatric ward of the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC).

GRENADE

In one media gathering held at the RPTA Hall of the old Iloilo provincial capitol sometime in December 1992, a “deranged” village chief suddenly barged inside and threatened to throw a grenade into the crowd.

The late DYRP broadcaster Sol Genson pacified the “lunatic” and convinced him to leave the premises when everyone was adamant to talk to him.

He was boisterous and uncontrollable but eventually listened to Sol, his drinking buddy at Virgo nightclub.

When the late Pres. Cory Aquino appointed Rosa “Tita” Caram as OIC city mayor in April 1986, another “lunatic” village chief asked Iloilo City’s first woman local chief executive to extend the route of Dinagyang tribes to Port San Pedro “so that people of Guimaras and Negros can watch the event.”

Mayor Caram, the wife of former Iloilo Assemblyman Fermin “Nene” Caram, dismissed his “crazy” idea right away.

A village chief in Jaro district always brought with him a monkey in the barangay hall because the monkey had supposedly helped “inspire” him when he won in the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” show in Manila.

He accused a barangay councilman of poisoning the monkey, who died under a mysterious circumstance.

The “lunatic” village chief reportedly wanted to bury the animal in Christ The King Cemetery in Ungka, Jaro district and wanted to use the barangay funds.

“I opposed this crazy idea of our kapitan!” shouted the suspect in the monkey’s death, who came to our office at Sun Star Iloilo to report the “abuse of authority.”

HELP

Former Iloilo Gov. Simplicio “Sim” Grino had to ask help from provincial tourism officer Manny Benedicto to escort a disoriented village chief back from the capitol to the lunatic’s municipality in Dumangas because he kept on addressing Gov. Grino as “Congressman Monfort” and for loitering inside the governor’s office.

Indi ako si Narsing (the late Iloilo 4th district Rep. Narciso Monfort). Si Sim ako. Gob Sim Grino kapila ka na gid hambalan (I am Gov. Sim Grino and I have already corrected you several times),” an impatient Grino ribbed the village chief.

Lakat ta kap makadto ta kay Narsing (Come kapitan, we will go to Narsing),” Benedicto convinced the village chief.

It’s the most common dilemma. Because vote-buying has been rampant even in the barangay level, hoodlums and mentally deranged get elected into office.

If a punong barangay is not a drug addict, he is a drug pusher.

If he is not engaged in the selling of illegal drugs, he is engaged in illegal gambling and maintenance of prostitution dens–or in cahoots with operators of these illegal activities.

Or he is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Let’s scrutinize our candidates carefully and vote wisely.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

We’ll wake you up in October

“The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it.”
— Martin Parr
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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Good night, Boracay.
Sleep well starting April 26, 2018 and allow efforts by the national government to deodorize, purify, and clean you up.
You will undergo a massive rehabilitation and a little face-lifting for six months, as promised by the Duterte administration.
You will take a unique forced “vacation leave” and will temporarily be dislodged from the radar of the world’s most preferred tourist destinations this summer.
Since business will come to a screeching halt albeit temporarily, the island’s economy will go slow, too, and is expected to have a domino effects in the Local Government Unit of Malay, Aklan and its environs.

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Activities and work forces in resorts, hotels, and restaurants will have to be dispersed for a brief moment, and the idyllic beach will be free from contamination of human wastes and sewage from commercial establishments for the time being.
Filipinos will be waiting with bated breath as the combined forces of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Tourism (DoT), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), provincial government of Aklan, municipal government of Malay, the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) do their Herculean tasks.
Boracay, we promise to wake you up in October.-o0o-

Robert Bly’s “Waking from Sleep” can be best dedicated to Boracay’s temporary slumber:

Inside the veins there are navies setting forth,
Tiny explosions at the waterlines,
And seagulls weaving in the wind of the salty blood.
It is the morning. The country has slept the whole winter.
Window seats were covered with fur skins, the yard was full of stiff dogs, and hands that clumsily held heavy books.
Now we wake, and rise from bed, and eat breakfast!
Shouts rise from the harbor of the blood,
Mist, and masts rising, the knock of wooden tackle in the sunlight.
Now we sing, and do tiny dances on the kitchen floor.
Our whole body is like a harbor at dawn;
We know that our master has left us for the day.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

‘AIDS of environment’ worse than ‘cesspool’

“We don’t have to sacrifice a strong economy for a healthy environment.”
— Dennis Weaver
31091954_10211532426849170_8392986482935070720_nBy Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — When tourists fled from Guimaras’ popular beach resorts as a result of the worst oil spill in the Philippines when the oil tanker Solar I went down off Guimaras Island in August 2006, Nagarao Beach, among other resorts within the coastal area, suffered worse than what is about to happen to Boracay in Malay, Aklan which closes down for six months starting April 26, 2018.
While President Rodrigo R. Duterte tagged Boracay as “cesspool”, the tragedy that hit Guimaras resorts was called as the “AIDS of environment.”
A “cesspool” beach can be rehabilitated with total support from government, while a famous tourist destination with location in the vicinity of an “AIDS environment” might not be able to spring back to life.
Even if those affected by the oil spill sued the oil refiner Petron Corporation for millions of damages, resort owners failed to attract back tourists who used to flock the island’s beautiful resorts and beaches even after the rehabilitation.

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Martin Stummer, owner of Nagarao Beach, had warned: “The ill effects on the health of the residents will be felt until ten years and even beyond.”
Although still popular among the tourists who used to visit the island for snorkeling and diving–especially those with links to Stummer’s European networks–the 10-hectare Nagarao Beach, located off the coast of Sibunag town, was never the same again.
The coastal areas of Nueva Valencia, Sibunag and San Lorenzo towns were among the areas worst hit by the oil spill from the 998-ton tanker MT Solar 1 that sunk on Aug. 11, 2006 while transporting about two million liters of bunker fuel oil from Limay, Bataan.
The oil slick had reached Concepcion and Ajuy towns in Iloilo province.

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If the dumped sewage will be rehabilitated, Boracay can be back to business in October or even earlier, according to government officials.
In 2017, Boracay had 500 tourism-related businesses, which had a combined revenue of P56 billion.
The president lashed at the island’s hotels, restaurants and other businesses, accusing them of dumping sewage directly into the sea and turning it into a “cesspool” in February this year.
Boracay’s drainage system was being used to send the untreated sewage into its surrounding turquoise waters, reported the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Some 195 businesses, along with more than 4,000 residential customers, were not connected to sewer lines, the DENR further discovered.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Journalist Herbert Vego and the New York Parade

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.”
— Gilbert K. Chesterton

1236581_10200733918095730_147050845_n - CopyBy Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — I’m glad to know that a legitimate and truly respected veteran journalist from Iloilo City, Philippines will be coming to New York City to chronicle the 120th Philippine Independence Day Parade on June 3, 2018.
Herbert Vego, 68, a columnist and editor since obtaining an AB-Journalism course at the Manuel L. Quezon University in 1971, will also actually join the Philippines’ official representative, 2018 Dinagang Festival grand winner Tribu Panayanon of Iloilo City National High School, in the celebration for the Filipino American community held every year at Madison Avenue.
In New York, Mr. Vego is expected to meet and interview philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis, the Parade’s chief supporter and the most influential leader, among other celebrities, in the Filipino American community.
Mr. Vego, who hails from San Pedro, Antique, is one of the only few living, most active and highly respected Ilonggo journalists today who emerged unscathed from the dark years of Martial Law in the 70s.

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He is also expected to reunite and interview New York-based Filipino president of the World Youth Alliance (WYA), Lord Leomer Pomperada, 26, son of Vego’s friend, Merlyn Bayombong, of San Jose, Antique.
More importantly, Mr. Vego will finally have a chance to embrace his only son, Norberto, a nurse, who has been based in upstate New York, after a long time.
Tribu Panayanon has received invitations to join the parade from the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) through past president Joji Jalandoni, who graced the 2018 Dinagyang Festival together with liaison officer Jay Balnig in January.
Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III, Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI) chairperson Ramon Cua Locsin and City Tourism Office chief Junel Ann Divinagracia are expected to spearhead the Dinagyang entourage.
The tribe was expected to hurdle financial difficulties that nearly stymied its participation in the 2018 Aliwan Fiesta in Manila, an annual competition of the country’s best festivals, from April 26 until 28.

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SERENO AND THE ILONGGO LAWYERS. On-leave Supreme Court Chief  Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, who has been busy attending graduation ceremonies all over the country, was recently seen in several photo-ops with prominent personalities in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Iloilo Chapter.
She seemed to be “at home” with her companeros andcompaneras in that part of the country.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) national president Abdiel Dan Fajardo, incidentally, is an Ilonggo who has been consistently calling for independence among government branches and the respect for law in the country.
Fajardo urged President Rodrigo Duterte and other public officials in September last year to not be “onion-skinned” as “a government official holds his life open to public scrutiny.”
Fajardo has been standing firm that the Supreme Court en banc has no jurisdiction over the integrity issue of a chief justice even as he echoed the assertion of Sereno’s camp that the correct way to remove a sitting chief justice is through the process of impeachment.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Richard goes to social media for wife Janette

“A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father.” –Frank Abagnale
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By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — No one can now accuse him of just watching and doing nothing while his wife is being saddled by a heavy storm.
Because he can’t openly lash at the critics of his beleaguered wife, Dr. Janette Loreto-Garin, for delicadeza, Iloilo 1st district Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr. has opted to utilize his Facebook accounts to “share” some news from several media websites that somehow tended to “cushion the impact” of Sen. Richard Gordon’s draft report of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee on the P3.5 billion dengue vaccination program.
The news Rep. Garin shared in his two Facebook accounts these past days appeared to be balanced, objective, and weren’t tainted with any bias in favor of Gordon’s committee draft that recently recommended charges against Loreto-Garin, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, and former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad in relation to the botched deal.
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Rep. Garin must have felt there was a need for him to urgently disseminate those articles not only to his social media friends but also to the public in general, in order to help disabuse the minds of those who think that his wife, Mr. Aquino and Abad are guilty beyond reasonable doubt and, thus, deserve the guillotine.
He probably wanted those who have not yet seen or read the draft committee to take a second look at the stormy issue and scrutinize further the evidence presented, as well as the sides of the accused and their accusers.
If Rep. Garin did nothing and acted only like a deaf and mute kibitzer while Gordon’s committee draft was ripping apart the three like ribbons, his family, friends and constituents will think he is an irresponsible, insensitive and a coward husband who has no love and concern for an embattled wife.

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For her part, Loreto-Garin herself has insisted the program was not rushed as talks about a dengue vaccine started in the time of her predecessor, Dr. Enrique Ona, and ended in the time of her successor, Dr. Paulyn Ubial.
Ubial was among those who pinned down Loreto-Garin. She filed a libel case against Ubial and several others in return.
It was reported that some 830,000 schoolchildren were vaccinated under the program before drug maker Sanofi Pasteur admitted late last year that Dengvaxia may cause severe dengue when administered to patients who have not contracted the mosquito-borne disease before.
The Duterte administration has since suspended its dengue vaccination program, but several parents claimed that their children died due to complications from the vaccine. These claims, however, have yet to be proven, it was reported earlier.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Emily Lopez, the first victim of gossip, fake news

“There is a fundamental difference between men and women – women need romance, men need intrigue.”
–Sherry Argov
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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — The decision of former Guimaras Gov. Emily Relucio-Lopez to stay away from the kitchen when the heat became unbearable in 2006 was a brilliant move.
Her “premature” retirement from politics, as well, was mourned by her admirers, including some members of Iloilo media, but was hailed by friends who wanted to shield her from “dirty world of politics.”
Relucio-Lopez was supposed to get an ambassadorial post to Italy under the Arroyo administration, but merchants of intrigues and gossipers made sure she would be sideswiped from selection process.
As soon as her name surfaced as among those being considered by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the post, green-eyed monsters started to circulate ugly stories about her relationship with husband, former Iloilo second district Rep. Albertito Lopez.
Her detractors tried to flood the mass media with fake news (it’s good social media wasn’t so influential at that time) that Chona Mejia, Rep. Lopez’s estranged wife, was sharpening her knife and was poised to appear in the Commission on Appointments (CA) to “spell the beans” and oppose the former governor’s appointment.
It was actually Sen. Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III who was painting the town red portraying Relucio-Lopez to be “unworthy” of the ambassadorial position.

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Osmeña had ax to grind against Relucio-Lopez because his wife, Betina, was Chona Mejia’s daughter with Rep. Lopez.
According to Osmeña, the marriage between Chona and Rep. Lopez has never been annulled and there was no divorce in the Philippines.
When reached by reporters for comment, Chona Mejia reportedly denied she was planning a CA ambush against Relucio-Lopez.
She admitted though she tried to campaign against Relucio-Lopez when the latter ran for office in Guimaras in the 90’s.
Chona Mejia, too, appeared to have let bygones be bygones and wasn’t interested anymore to dip her fingers into the murky waters of politics.
True or not, Osmeña’s saber rattling was dismissed by Relucio-Lopez’s sympathizers as an “intriga” (intrigue) and a“tsismis” (gossip).
It was also belittled as an “estoppel” since Relucio-Lopez had also previously served as congresswoman in Guimaras aside from governor in the island province; her relationship with Rep. Lopez was never used with extreme necessity by her political enemies to stymie her stint as public servant.
It was tsismis or gossip that toppled Relucio-Lopez from the ambassadorial post to Italy.

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We remember Gov. Relucio-Lopez’s predicament amid the decision of Facebook to lower the boom on fake news websites in the Philippines that contain false information.
The lady governor would have been a victim of cyber or internet bullying if social media was active during her time.
An outstanding public servant, Relucio-Lopez was a big loss in Philippine politics.
The idea of building a bridge between Guimaras and Iloilo had been conceptualized during her term as governor.
She refused to seek reelection for congresswoman at the time when Guimaras was starting to attract foreign investors and when “delicious” Guimaras mango became an international sensation.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2018 in Uncategorized