Tag Archives: Iloilo

Did Fr. Boy Celis err?

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

–Saint Augustine


By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Was the move of Fr. Espiridion “Boy” Celis Jr., parish priest of Saint Anne’s Parish in Molo, Iloilo City in the Philippines, of calling for a press conference to voice out his rancor with Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, correct?
The press conference at the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) on November 28, 2017 came days after Bishop Lagdameo supposedly rejected Fr. Celis’ appeal to postpone his transfer to Saint Anthony’s Parish in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo effective December 3, 2017.
Fr. Celis lamented that his appeal during their private meeting “fell on deaf ears.”
Since the issue Fr. Celis raised against Bishop Lagdameo was intra-congregation, we suspect the move to call for a press conference was not only incorrect, but also a bad move.
We suspect Fr. Celis erred when he decided to bring the matter to the media instead of waiting for the result of his petition before the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome, Italy.
We respect though Fr. Celis’ right to seek redress of his grievances in the “proper forum.”


Still, media can’t coax Bishop Lagdameo to change his heart. The glitzy publicity can’t swivel the bishop’s mind.
The public can’t help either. After monitoring the press conference, it can’t hold a “people power” to compel the bishop to favor Fr. Celis.
Any press conference of that nature, in fact, could produce a surfeit of belligerence, thus it would only exacerbate Fr. Celis’ enmity with the Jaro archbishop instead of appeasing the church bigwig.
The issue was about an edict for reshuffling of priests, which falls under the Roman Catholic Church authority.
In the church’s hierarchy and in its chain of command, Bishop Lagdameo is mandated to dispense the clergy’s reassignment.
Shall a professional police officer denounce his superior officer and get sympathy from the press for transferring him from one police precinct to another? If the police officer can’t stand the heat, he can always run to the kitchen’s nearest exit.

Fr. Celis was quoted in the report as saying that “I presented the case as plainly, as lovingly, as quietly as possible, and it was just explaining to him (Lagdameo) why it was important to let me stay with my parishioners (in Molo) for a while. But, unfortunately, (his) ears were closed.”
Fr. Celis added that he was prompted to bring the matter to the church’s higher authorities in Rome after he was allegedly “dared” by the archbishop to do it.
He also compared his predicament to the historical Jesus Christ, maltreated by his fellow Jews despite his goodness, according to report.
From the way Fr. Celis expressed his sentiments, it appeared he was already exasperated. After being spurned by Bishop Lagdameo in what could have been his last-ditch effort to save his present post, he probably became distraught and must’ve thought that, by bringing the matter to the media, it would, at least, mollify his pain and frustration.
Our heart goes out for the good priest who is arguably one of the most respected and highly admired church authorities in Western Visayas today.
Ignosce mihi, pater, quia peccavi or forgive me Father for I have sinned.

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in RELIGION


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After inheriting House post, Judy Syjuco faces jail term

“We inherit nothing truly, but what our actions make us worthy of.”

–George Chapman


By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Was it a case of “ako ang bahala, ikaw ang kawawa?” (I’ll be in charge, you face the consequences).
If she did not “inherit” the congressional post from her husband, former Iloilo second district Rep. Judy Syjuco would have been enjoying her life as a private citizen today.
Syjuco is a wealthy woman. She looks more of a socialite than a public servant.
She was supportive of her politician husband, but was never a politician herself in her entire life until she became a congresswoman in 2004.
In fact, she did not need to run for any public office to steal and enrich herself. She could donate her salary for three years and her net worth wouldn’t suffer a dent.
Her income as a politician would be peanuts vis-a-vis her family’s income from their business empire.


In fact, Rep. Judy Syjuco was among the richest solons during her time.
Her trouble started when husband, Augusto a.k.a. “Boboy”, did not want the position to be grabbed by their political rivals, thus he convinced Judy to succeed him.
It was Augusto’s obsession for political power that drove Judy to enter the dirty world of politics, which was probably far from her dream when she married Augusto, a successful industrialist before he became a Constitutional Convention delegate in 1971.
Now Judy is in trouble and there is a chance she would end up in jail if she can’t wiggle out from a graft case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman.


The Sandiganbayan has ruled that the evidence submitted by the Office of the Ombudsman is enough to proceed to trial for the alleged payment of P5.9 million to West Island Beverages Distributor (West Island) for the purchase of 1,582 units of Nokia 1100 cell phones using Syjuco’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Payment was made despite the non-delivery of the cell phones to the intended beneficiaries–the municipal tele-centers in Western Visayas, according to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Since West Island is not an accredited supplier, it should have been disqualified from the bidding, added the Office of the Ombudsman.
“What cell phones? I never saw cell phones nor any single centavo,” Syjuco said in a statement after the Sandiganbayan Third Division denied her motion to dismiss the graft and malversation cases filed against her and 10 other individuals including former officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).


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‘Small Time Lottery’

“Forget the lottery. Bet on yourself instead.”
— Brian Koslow


By Alex P. VIdal

NEW YORK CITY — If security guards will check all the cabs that enter the drive-in motels, pension and lodging houses for possible presence of minors in Iloilo City in the Philippines as mandated by a city ordinance, only few customers will have the guts to enter in these premises especially during the Valentine’s Day.
Most customers checking in via taxis will never compromise their privacy for obvious reasons, thus they will resist any attempt from security guards to check them and their companions at the risk of being denied entry.
Drive-in motels, pension and lodging houses, however, are mandated by the ordinance to reject minors or be penalized.
Good for the campaign of the Iloilo City Task Force on Morals and Values Formation (TFMVF) to protect our minors from sexual predators.
Bad for motel and pension house business.
Let’s hope that this campaign by the TFMVF won’t be another case of ningas cogon.
Task force head George Duron specifically mentioned Valentine’s Day as the specific day they would strictly monitor these establishments.
We hope that before and after the Valentine’s Day, TFMVF will continue to implement the ordinance.
Those who bring minors inside motels and lodging houses are not only sexual predators. Some are “normal” characters who happen to have partners not yet of legal age but are either sexually active or victims of blackmail, exploitation and deception.
TFMVF will fill in the blank left by negligent parents.


Unless the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) increases the share of the local government units and the police under its Implementing Rules and Regulations, the Small Town Lottery (STL) will be dismissed as Small Time Lottery.
Under the new IRR, it was reported that the city or municipal government gets three percent of the revenue; congressional district, 0.25 percent; provincial government, 0.75 percent; and the Philippine National Police (PNP), 2.50 percent.
Because of the “small share”, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. has expressed worries that both the police and municipal mayors might not be able exert strong efforts to clamp down on “jueteng” to protect STL’s interest in their areas.
Defensor’s warning has a solid basis. Both STL and “jueteng” had similar mechanics when STL was first launched in 1987 under the Cory Aquino administration.


Unknown to authorities, “jueteng” operators used STL as a front.
To add insult, it was found out in a Congressional hearing following the end of STL operations in 1990 that franchises for STL had been awarded to the same people behind “jueteng.”
It may be recalled that it was Defensor’s cousin, the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who exposed in September 2012 that money from “jueteng” amounted to P30 billion annually.
“Jueteng” operated openly in at least six cities in Metro Manila and in nearby provinces.
If STL will continue as “small time lottery”, illegal gambling operators could “buy” the loyalty of corrupt law enforcers and municipal mayors.

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Posted by on February 7, 2017 in CRIME, NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!


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Iloilo leaders ready to secure embattled P-Noy

“Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.” Tim Gunn

By Alex P. Vidal

ILOILO appears to be the safest haven for the country’s highest official during political upheavals in a nationwide scale.

Ilonggo leaders have always been quick and firm in making a political stand.

They are aware that President Simeon Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III draws strength from them.

President Aquino is aware, too, that the Ilonggo leaders are willing to sink and swim with him.

After all, he feeds them well.

Ditto for the police and the military.

If he can’t stand the political and military heats in Metro Manila, President Aquino can transfer the Malacanang Palace in Iloilo where almost all the local leaders here don’t want him to step down amid rumors of coup d’etat.

Mr. Aquino will be safe in Iloilo as long as Gov. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr., Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, Iloilo City Rep. Jerry P. Treñas, among other local chief executives and representatives are in power.

While other political leaders in the country have been mum over the simmering calls from various sectors for the president to relinquish his post in the heels of the “Mamasapano 44” debacle these past weeks, Iloilo leaders have rejected calls for Aquino’s resignation.

Negros Occidental leaders also joined those who want the president to finish his term until 2016.


It’s the people and the leaders in the entire Western Visayas who are willing to shield the president from those agitating for his resignation.

The Ilonggos also sneered at the call to impeach Mr. Aquino if he won’t step down.

They fear political destabilization and economic meltdown once the president has been removed or forced to resign.

Back in July 2005, Senate President Franklin Drilon asked then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to relocate the seat of power in Iloilo while the president’s enemies were ganging up on her for the “Hello Garci” fiasco.

Drilon, however, turned his back from Mrs. Arroyo several days later and joined those who wanted her to yield the presidency to then Vice President Noli De Castro.

Drilon wanted to be the next vice president via the rule of succession.

There are no signs that Mr. Aquino’s Iloilo allies will abandon ship and surrender him on a silver platter to the enemies.

They are four square behind the president.

“The Moro rebels are Filipinos, too. They are under our laws so they should also be held accountable for any violations of our criminal law,” Defensor announced recently.

“Let the Board of Inquiry investigate the incident. Let the Senate and the House (of Representatives) investigate it, better under a joint investigating committee. Let’s all wait for the result. The peace process should not prevent the government from seeking justice for the 44 killed SAF members.”


Treñas also tagged as a “call for grab power” the move to compel the president to resign and to be held accountable in the tragic massacre of the 44 elite cops.

The congressman said: “What happened in Mamasapano is one of the darkest chapters of our history. But what’s even more lamentable is the fact that some people cannot simply resist the urge to use the misfortunes of our nation for their own selfish agenda. This call for President Aquino’s resignation is a nothing but a call for power grab.”

Mr. Aquino can sleep tight while under the watchful eyes of his Western Visayas allies.

The 34-member Visayan bloc led by Treñas and Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez have already issued a manifesto of support for the president come hell or high water.

For these Visayan allies, the accountability and criminal liability should only fall on those who planned and implemented the operation against Marwan, a terrorist killed during the January 25 raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The manifesto read: “We…commiserate and empathize with the families of the 44 members of the SAF who died during the said Mamasapano operation. We demand accountability for those who planned and implemented the debacle and the imposition of criminal liability for those responsible for the massacre.


“Change in administration should be the farthest solution to what happened in Maguindano and should not be our response to our currently hurting nation….The Mamasapano incident should create unity and strong front among us Filipinos instead of discord.”

They stressed that “The nation and our colleagues in the Philippine Congress to focus on the investigations and call for swift and thorough deliberations on what happened in the Mamasapano operation.

“The probe should immediately identify those who should be accountable for what happened, ensure that perpetrators of the massacre suffer the full force of our penal laws, and develop remedies that would prevent another incident from happening in the future to the men in uniform who are only fulfilling their vows to promote peace and order in the country.”

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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Ilonggos face moral bankruptcy with STL’s surge

“Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy – the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.”  Eric Hoffer

By Alex P. Vidal

GAMBLING–legal or illegal—should not be used as a weapon to fight poverty.

There are many ways to combat poverty.

Number one is population control.

A bloated population means more mouths to be fed.

Less people means less problems on malnutrition; less problems on shortage of food production; less problems on housing; less problems on employment and other social services.

The government won’t be over-burdened.

Inviting investors to build factories; encouraging small-scale businesses; and pushing for income-generating programs and activities that provide employment opportunities.

But not gambling.

Gambling corrupts both the poor and the rich.

It corrupts those in political power absolutely as they stand to benefit once we allow gambling like small town lottery (STL) to be legalized in Iloilo province.

Poverty can’t be solved overnight.

We are supposed to embrace the value of hard work if we want to rise in the economic ladder, and not to depend on numbers game.

STL, when legalized, can provide employment for those who solicit bets, but it will eat up the moral fiber of Ilonggos, who will only rely their luck-or even next meals-in the game of chance.

Since they expect to win an instant lump sum of cash for a small bet by the stroke of luck, Ilonggos will become head-over-heels with STL.


They will only wait for the manna from heaven, thus they will end up lazy and won’t dream big beyond earning via easy money schemes.

Gambling will also teach Ilonggos to become subservient to politicians or those who advocated the removal of any barrier to make it legal.

Gambling or the legalization of STL will also send a wrong signal to the younger generation.

When our own leaders are the ones pushing for gambling, it means it’s not evil per se; it means whether it is moral or immoral depends on the interpretation or choice of our leaders.

The church has been consistent on its stand against any form of gambling, much less any move to provide it with a legal structure.

We expect the church to make a solid stand once the provincial board of Iloilo will pass a resolution to give the governor’s office the green signal in favor of the legalization of STL.

We already have so many legalized gambling operations in the country.


Online-lotto under the auspices of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PSCO) is one of them.

But life of the Filipinos has not improved.

Many still live under the poverty belt.

Crime rate is still blamed on overpopulation, unemployment and lack of economic opportunities for qualified job-seekers.

The number of poor has not been reduced.

Despondent heads of families will no longer dream big and will be hooked on the legalized gambling for instant relief from the rigors of life.

In STL, only the politicians and police will stand ten feet tall, not the members of the hoi polloi.

It will not ensure an instant food on the table for bettors; it will not ensure an instant tuition fee for the students; it will not ensure a better life for Ilonggos as a whole.

Ilonggos will suffer from moral and even spiritual bankruptcy.

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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS


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Gallar a pawn in STL saga?

“I can’t speak on behalf of the show. I’m not a creator; I’m just a pawn.”  Randy Harrison

By Alex P. Vidal

THE main reason why small town lottery (STL) was not legalized in the province of Iloilo is because then Gov. Neil D. Tupas Sr. was against illegal gambling per se.

Under Tupas, STL was never a serious topic.

It’s a taboo.

Tupas would pay attention to anyone who visited his office and even his house in Hechanova, Jaro district, Iloilo City but would sneer at those who would convince him to support gambling operation in the province.

Although the provincial board had passed a resolution interposing no objection to the operation of STL in the province, it met a major snag due to Tupas’ lackadaisical attitude.

No one could fathom why Tupas, who reigned from 2001 until 2010, was so allergic to gambling.

On several occasions, Tupas gave cold shoulder treatment to liaisons of gambling operators lobbying for the STL in the province.

Reports that Tupas “nixed a monthly payola” from illegal gambling operators were confirmed by the most diligent factotum of Bogart, one of Iloilo’s most powerful and most influential illegal gambling operators.

Sakit sa ulo na si gob (Tupas). Ka tig a gid. (It’s hard to convince Governor Tupas. He is really hard),” the diligent factotum grumbled.

The grapevine was so loud at that time that as long as Tupas was the governor, there’s no way for STL or any gambling activity to prosper, much less be legalized in the province.


Under the administration of Gov. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr., gambling or STL found light at the end of the tunnel, finally.

In fact, Defensor is himself pushing to allow STL in the province in order to solve the problems brought by its clandestine operations.

The governor’s ally in the provincial board, Manny Gallar, has started the ball rolling.

In the recent regular session of the provincial board, Gallar sponsored a resolution pushing for legalization of STL.

Gallar’s move came in the heels of former Iloilo first district congressman Oscar “Oca” Garin’s Sr. saber-rattling that some municipal mayors and police chiefs in his district were receiving protection racket from illegal gambling operators.

Interestingly, Garin’s only son, Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., acting as chair of the committee as a whole, introduced the board resolution in 2010 when the latter was still the vice governor.

Garin Jr’s committee in 2010 held public consultations and concluded that “the operation of STL in the province will not contribute in cultivating a culture of immoral gambling among the Ilonggos; the societal value of STL as a tool to eradicate jueteng, an illegal numbers game, may be enhanced by allowing its operations, and from the standpoint of government as the primary agency charged with addressing the needs of its people, it can be prudently argued that the funds generated from STL appear to promise available resources for a more responsive and effective delivery of basis services to its constituents.”


STL charity fund sharing scheme suggested that the host city or municipality gets the biggest slice of the STL revenue share at 10 percent.

Capitol and the PNP will get five percent apiece.

Each of the five districts of Iloilo will earn 2.5 percent.

With Defensor’s imprimatur, Gallar’s resolution is expected to have a smooth sailing.

Gambling proponents think now is the right time to step up the campaign to legalize STL because of the apparent harmonious relationship between Defensor and the provincial legislature.

No feud means no opposition.

No check and balance?

When he was still anchorman of Bombo Radyo Iloilo, Gallar lambasted illegal gambling operations in the city and province in his early morning radio program.

He was fearless and consistent in his anti-illegal gambling commentaries.

As a provincial board member, Gallar now advocates for STL’s legalization.

A 360-degree turn for the diminutive politician from Cabatuan, Iloilo.

He must only be a pawn in this saga.

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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, POLITICS


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Garin’s nitpicking: No names, no glory

“We can’t have full knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; then afterwards we may be led on to master the evidence for ourselves.” Thomas Aquinas

By Alex P. Vidal

THE so-called “bombshell” uncorked by former Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Oscar “Oca” Garin Sr. against several unnamed municipal mayors and police chiefs in the first district of Iloilo who supposedly “received” a regular payola or protection money from illegal gambling operators, was a dud.

Because Garin didn’t name names and failed to show the Provincial Board even a tiny piece of paper or document that contains his evidence, he only succeeded in besmirching the reputations of the municipal mayors and the police chiefs in that district.

Such a sweeping statement was uncalled for and wasn’t expected from someone of Garin’s stature.

What Garin said during the Provincial Board’s out-of-town session in Guimbal, Iloilo on January 27 can be considered as hearsay or unverified, unofficial information gained or acquired from another and not part of one’s direct knowledge.

It can be dismissed as a saber-rattling by a powerful political personality with agenda he alone knows. 

It was the kind of “information” we all regularly hear from the gossip mills.

It was the kind of gossip we regularly hear from the kapehan and barber shops.

Nothing was new.


It’s public knowledge that gambling and other illegal activities exist.

It’s common knowledge that some cops (not just their superior officers), public officials (not just municipal mayors), and even some media personalities (bogus and active) are “on the take.”

But because we lack the evidence or we don’t have sufficient information to back it up, we don’t say it in formal sessions; we can’t just slander anyone and get away with it.

Laura is a known prostituted woman because she accommodates male clients for sex for livelihood.

That’s a common knowledge in the neighborhood.

But nobody saw Laura having sex and receiving money from the male clients.

No client made a sworn statement that he went to bed with Laura.

If we announce in public that Laura is a prostitute, we’ll end up in jail if Laura files a slander or oral defamation case.

According to some lawyers, “truth is not a defense in a libel case.”

Going back to Garin, a former congressman who is the acknowledged patriarch of politics in the first district of Iloilo, his allegations were bereft of merits if presented in a formal court.


In the court of public opinion where politicians bring their cases attended usually by pomposity and blunderbuss, “crusader” Garin is a hero.

When we fight the devil, we don’t need to convince the public of our casus belli or case for war.

Municipal mayors and police chiefs who felt alluded to in the “expose” and who think they were unjustly crucified, can always run after Garin in a formal complaint (granting they have the guts to collide with this political demigod).

But still, Garin can easily wiggle out from any legal trouble because, in the first place, he didn’t name names.

No one can coerce him to confess his sources and specify his facts–unless he is being tried by the Catholic Inquisition.

A witty and grizzled politician for 30 years, Garin can easily attract media attention even if he will claim that a stray dog has bitten him.

Never mind if it was not him who bit the stray dog.

In the court of justice, Garin’s nitpicking will collapse.

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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in POLITICS


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