A lot of decent Filipinos are getting fed up with arrogant squatters

The squatters in the Philippines have wreaked havoc in the country and they are out of control. The problem is quite obvious and the solution is staring everyone in the face; there are just not enough public servants with enough guts to address the issue. But someone has to put an end to the vicious cycle of squatting particularly in Metro Manila where most poor Filipinos from the provinces seem to converge.

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In other words, the activities of the people squatting are foul. They have no concern or respect for the rights or property of others and have total disregard for the environment and welfare of other people. Some squatters can also be quite arrogant, defiant and selfish when law enforcement agencies finally clamp down on their illegal activities. One video shows illegal settlers berating the court sheriff and demanding to know when and if they are going to be paid by cash or check before they agree to being relocated. Some even joked that the check better not bounce. They appeared to be enjoying their few minutes of fame in front of the camera relating their tales of woes. One wonders why the news crew tends to focus only on their plight and not the story behind why they were allowed to stay there for so long. There is a lot to be said about why they were allowed to stay squatting to begin with.

The squatter problem in the Philippines has been made complicated by misguided Filipinos who think that it is the Philippine government’s sole responsibility to provide housing, education and health for them. Not only is this notion unsustainable, it is an unfair burden on taxpayers.

Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno recently said that “Filipinos must be able to demand from their government their right to housing, education and health, or these socioeconomic rights would remain mere words on paper.” While Puno’s sentiments seem noble, Filipino taxpayers simply cannot afford to fund the growing number of Filipinos living below the poverty line. Some of these squatters, despite living in tiny quarters no bigger than a box, have no qualms about multiplying at a fast rate. Perhaps they have been led to believe that their children can be used to gain access to hand outs from the government.

Filipino politicians do not help solve the problem of squatters at all. If anything, they actually contribute to their proliferation. The root cause of the squatter problem seems to be the lack of urban planning from each Barangay and weak enforcement of the law by members of various agencies who are not doing their jobs properly. Obviously, they did not nip the problem in the bud. Had they been doing their jobs, they could have easily evicted the first squatter before they multiplied and became the enormous problem they are today.

Apparently, there are times when the law enforcement agencies that include the police and the court sheriff are helpless in certain situations. They are supposed to act independently from elected officials but are unable to do their jobs until they get instructions from city Mayors who hold off on evicting squatters during election season or when their popularity is waning. This was evident when Davao Mayor Sara Duterte assaulted a court sheriff 2011 because the latter initiated the demolition of shanties in Davao’s Agdao district without her go signal. She said that she felt compelled to punch the sheriff to prevent violence from ensuing. The irony in justifying the Mayor’s actions escaped her and a lot of people who supported her when she attracted criticism.

Duterte’s actions probably made a lot of squatters think they need to be handled with kids’ gloves. These politicians have emboldened squatters who are now quick to throw a tantrum and use violence whenever they are dissatisfied with the government’s approaches and arrangements to relocate them.

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Lately, the squatters’ sense of entitlement and tough stance have finally caught the attention of some of the members of the upper and middle class who are fed up with the troubles they are causing. A celebrity and social media activist, Bianca Gonzalez have spoken out against the way the Philippine government treats squatters like “babies”. She is getting a lot of kudos for her unwavering stand against the lack of fairness in how the issue is being handled. She highlighted that law-abiding citizens work hard to save money to be able to buy property legally but still get taxed for it while squatters don’t even pay anything to stay in illegally occupied lands. It’s been noted that a lot of the squatters show their arrogance while demanding compensation from the taxpayers. Speaking of babies for that matter, some people who can’t afford to feed themselves shouldn’t have more babies.

It has come to the attention of many Filipinos too that a convoluted law on squatters introduced in 1997 has made it difficult for the government to evict squatters. Republic Act 7279 merely punishes the “professional squatters”. They are defined by law as those who can afford to pay for legitimate housing or those who have received housing units from the government but have sold or leased it to others so they themselves can settle illegally again in another urban area in order to deceive the system by asking for more compensation. In other words, most squatters don’t even get penalized anymore for their illegal activities. They even get rewarded for wreaking havoc in the community. No wonder a lot of Filipinos would rather stay as squatters and have adopted a squatter mentality.

Who can solve the squatter problem in the Philippines? Certainly, the incumbent President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino cannot solve it. Someone even said that the Aquino-Conjuangco clans also act like squatters who have occupied Hacienda Luisita for decades. Violence and intimidation were key to helping them keep the lands that were meant for the poor farmers.

BS Aquino seems more preoccupied with his popularity than providing a permanent solution to the country’s long-standing issues. He will not risk the wrath of the squatters because the Liberal Party still needs to get their votes in the next Presidential election. The President could even increase the number of recipients of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or dole outs to the poor as a way distracting them from the lack of progress during his term.

The reaction of the members of the thinking class is long overdue. They need to step up and call out what the government is doing, which is simply coddling the squatters. Philippine politicians need to quit being overprotective of people who abuse the system just to get the votes in the next election. This abusive behavior from both the public officials who buy off votes using tax payer’s money and squatters who take advantage of the situation need to end lest every corner of the country get run over by squatters.

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Pnoy’s ‘leaked’ SONA

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MANILA, Philippines – It seems President Noynoy Aquino is aware of goings-on in showbiz—at least his supposed “leaked” second State of the Nation Address (SONA) speech suggests so.

A number of popular and controversial celebrities were referenced in his purported SONA which made rounds in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter hours prior to the president’s actual speech before the House of Representatives last July 25.

The said humorous, satirical piece was drafted by section blogger “@I_amHolo” and was originally posted on Newsbreak’s website on Monday.

In the introduction, the “president” addressed Vice-president Jejomar Binay, thus: “I know Junjun was just trying to be witty, but it offended Kris and me,” referring to the VP’s son and “PNoy”’s sister, Kris Aquino.

Just last week, Kris declared that she’s distancing herself from Makati Mayor Junjun Binay after the former got offended by the latter’s intriguing remark about marriage in an interview with a national broadsheet.

The supposed SONA even had the president quoting the actual statement of Mayor Junjun as the former “urged the Congress to pass the Divorce Bill.”

“Why do people marry? Because of lack of knowledge. Why do people separate? Because of lack of experience. Why do people remarry? Because of loss of memory,” the speech stated.

As if a script to a TV show, the next paragraph went: “(MOMENT NI KRIS. MAG-ISA SIYANG PAPALAKPAK AT TATAWA. WALANG KOKONTRA: ‘AHAHAHAHAHA. SI NOY TALAGA, WITTY AND PEANUT BITTER. LOVE IT!’)””

Interestingly, Kris and Mayor Junjun were seen seating beside each other and talking during the SONA. The former explained the scenario on Twitter, July 25:

“Yes, magkatabi kami ni Mayor Jun Binay. Ate (Ballsy Aquino) asked him gusto ba nyang magtabi kami para peace na? Friends na kami. Peace on earth.”

The speech also cited TV host-actress Anne Curtis—along with Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Mar Roxas—who rode the MRT early this month to catch the concert of Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue at the Araneta Coliseum.

“Sa kabilang banda ay ang baluktot na daan. Kaya ibinenta ko ang aking Porsche.Mungkahi ni Mar at Anne Curtis, mag-MRT na lang ako. Wala nang wangwang, wala pang counterflow,” said “PNoy.”

The “chief executive” also blamed former President and now-Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the controversies involving Heart Evangelista and Marian Rivera, as well as the alleged Azkals rape victim, model Amanda Coling.

“Dahil kay Gloria, nag-away si Heart Evangelista at Marian Rivera. Dahil kay Gloria, naging “alleged” victim si Amanda Coling,” the speech stated.

The speech also mentioned TV host Willie Revillame, who recently donated P100,000 to a fundraising effort for the acquisition of new vehicles for bishops. Recall that several bishops were criticized of late for supposedly purchasing luxury vehicles using money from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) that were given to them during Arroyo’s term.

“Hayaan na nating si Willie ang mamudmod ng Pajero,” said “PNoy.”

As for the escalating dispute between Philippines and China on the highly-coveted Spratly Islands, “PNoy” said:

“Kasama ang buong sandatahang lakas ng Pilipinas, ipapadala natin sa Spratlys sina (Sarangani) Cong. Manny Pacquiao at (Davao City) Mayor Sara Duterte upang ipagtanggol ang ating interes laban sa Tsina. Sa pakikitungo natin sa Tsina, kamay na bakal ang kailangan.”

The speech also had “PNoy” enumerating his busy schedule—which includes time for “meeting Aquino sisters” and watching “Kris TV,” his youngest sibling’s daily morning show, and bonding with Kris’ two sons, Joshua and Baby James, more famously known as “Bimby.”

Even the much-debated billboard issue apparently didn’t escape the eye of the “president.”

“An Act Regulating the placement of billboards. To all advertisers, don’t distort nature. There are no volcanoes along the Pasig River,” read a part of the speech, apparently referring to the Philippine rugby team (a.k.a. Philippine Volcanoes), whose “offensive” underwear billboards on EDSA-Guadalupe had been taken down.

A part of the speech looked to have been inspired by “Harry Potter”—particularly its main villain Lord Voldemort—as “PNoy” seemingly took a swipe at Cong. Arroyo, who was a no-show at the actual SONA: “she who shall not be named for she is absent.”

Love life

The speech also touched on the bachelor president’s love life. Although names weren’t mentioned, it seemingly alluded to PNoy’s ex-girlfriend, Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad, as well as two other personalities linked to him, Singapore-based reporter Sabrina Chua, and teacher Bunny Calica.

In separate parts, “PNoy” went:

“Sa isang banda po ay ang tuwid na daan. Mula Valenzuela, nakaabot ako ng Singapore, para lang makahanap ng First Lady ng bayan.”

“Kung gusto niyo akong maging produktibo sa trabaho, tantanan niyo ang love lifeko.”

“And finally, in place of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, I enjoin Congress to enact a law banning media coverage of my flings. I’ve had enough of gossipy and trivial reporting like Newsbreak’s Inside Track piece on my Hotdog concert date.”

Wrapping up his speech, “PNoy” said, “Habang wala pa rin akong Kumander, kayo pa rin ang boss ko.”

Project Save 182 Adrift in Ennui After SM Baguio Revises Its Expansion Plan

The most recent word about SM Baguio City is that has revised its expansion plans and this will result in a lower number of pine trees affected.  Apparently, just like the way they harked to Olivier Ochanine’s petition to save the Philamlife Theatre, SM seems to be showing that it is listening to and responding to its patrons’ sentiments.

Contrary to how a small group of people have tried to demonize SM, the mall and real estate giant is still very much like any other business in the sense that it must function within the bounds of the law and work to retain the good will of the communities where its properties are located.  If at any instance SM had done anything flagrantly illegal or done anything to deliberately destroy the decades old good will it established with its shoppers, it would be extremely doubtful that it could have grown into a company that millions of Filipinos patronize every single day of the year.

SM Baguio City’s decision to revise its expansion plan so as to affect less pine trees was predictably lambasted by the likes of Calypso Alaia and lawyer Cheryl Daytec Yangot — the supposed force behind Project Save 182 or Boycott SM.

After paring away all the superficiality of their “myopic environmentalism” and anti-mall culture, all the group really has to go on as a cause is the so-called environmental case they filed against SM Baguio City’s original expansion plan — which was rebuffed by the lower court and is now pending before the Court of Appeals.

Now here’s the thing, a lawyer friend says that SM Baguio City’s decision to revise its expansion plan may actually make the petition at the Court of Appeals moot since the subject of the petition — SM Baguio’s original expansion plan — no longer exists.

Of course, this won’t stop the Boycott SM Facebook group from passing the hat around and raise “donations” so they can file another case — perhaps so that they can sustain their cause and keep Daytec employed, visible, or somewhat in the limelight.

In the meantime, another friend who went up to Baguio City recently told me that SM Baguio was literally filled to the rafters with mall goers and as much as it pains me that people are losing sight of what being in Baguio City ought to be, the mess that the Philippine Summer Capital has become doesn’t leave people much choice.

Here are a number of things that every SM Mall gives to its patrons that every city in this country doesn’t give:

Clean, cool, well ordered, and lighted space. Where else can you have a respite from the heat, dirt, dinginess, and other blights you encounter walking on any city street in the Philippines?

Security. Notwithstanding all those urban legends that have been exposed as hoaxes and those sporadic ‘criminal incidents’ that have also happened in other malls, SM Malls are safer and more secure than places like… er… most other places in the Philippines.

Even the recent accident at the SM Mall of Asia where soggy gypsum boards from the ceiling of one of the mall’s over-hangs fell on an 11 year old boy proves just how SM provides its patrons ample security and assistance when needed.  The mall’s security rushed to help the boy as soon as they were notified and applied first aid.  After that, I was told that the boy was brought to a hospital where he was thoroughly checked and this included a CT Scan — of course, all fees and bills were taken care of by SM.

If such an incident happened in a place like Ermita or Malate or Escolta, do you think that boy would have gotten any sort of assistance?  Most probably not.

There were other things I wanted to say here that would indicate that the Boycott SM Facebook Group — being moored precariously on a shallowly defined cause — is about to implode, but I think I’ll just wait for it to happen on its own.

Korean firms interested in P3.3-B Puerto Princesa airport expansion

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MANILA, Philippines – Industrial giants Hanjin and Kumho may join the bidding for the proposed P3.3 billion expansion of the Puerto Prin-cesa international airport, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said.

DOTC Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla issued Special Bid Bulletin No. 01–2013 containing the agency’s reply on the written queries made by Hanjin Heavy Industries Construction Co. Ltd. and Kumho Industrial Corp.

The Korean companies sought clarification on the terms of bidding of the $79.41 million design-build contract for the expansion of the Puerto Princesa airport that serves as the gateway to Palawan where the Underground River is located.

The DOTC issued an invitation to bid last Aug. 17, urging Korean companies to join the bidding for the project.

The DOTC said interested bidders have until Oct. 15 to submit their bids.

The Philippine government through the Department of Finance (DOF) received a loan worth $71.61 million from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of the Republic of Korea coursed through the Export-Import Bank of Korea.

Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

The Puerto Princesa airport development Project aims to improve the existing airport facilities by expanding its present capacity to meet the projected increase in air passenger and cargo demand.

The project involves the rehabilitation or improvement of the existing to meet the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) through the construction of new landside facilities in the northwestern side of the existing runway such as passenger terminal building, control tower, administration building, cargo terminal building.

The project also involves the construction of a rescue and fire fighting building as well as a new apron and connecting taxiways, and upgrading of the existing 2.6 kilometer runway and its strip, and the provision of new navigational and traffic control equipment.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is expected to generate 1.2 million tourists by 2016 and two million tourists by 2025.

Likewise, the airport is seen to revitalize the transport and trade linkages under the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP EAGA). 
By PhilStar.com

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is the Biggest and Ugliest Pig in Pnoy’s Administration

Must Read.

Philippine Underground

Word has been going around that the P10 Billion Pork Barrel Scam is nothing more than President Benigno S. Aquno III’s attempt to cover-up for the his sister and brother in law’s involvement in the $30 Million Czech Inekon extortion attempt.

I would agree, but it’s quite inaccurate because it overlooks the blatant and long-running corruption being perpetrated by his Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

Just recently, the fat and ugly swine of a secretary Purisima managed to tighten his strangle hold on the Bureau of Customs.  In a recent news report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Purisima put in his own men at the BoC:

...retired Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Jessie Dellosa and two others had been recommended for deputy commissioner posts at the BOC by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

Purisima reportedly endorsed Dellosa to be customs deputy commissioner for intelligence and enforcement. The…

View original post 357 more words

MNLF head Nur Misuari is the Janet Lim Napoles of the Zamboanga crisis

The root issue in the on-going trouble down under in Mindanao is the way the Philippine government has traditionally cozied up to even the meanest and baddest terrorist and rebel groups “for the sake of peace”. Currently, it is the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that is being painted as the bad guy, and rightly so because of the atrocities it is reportedly perpetrating against the innocent civilians of Zamboanga City. The ironic good guys of the moment is led by that 1970s MNLF spin-off, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) — just another terrorist group as well but this time lent credibility by its being allowed to sit as a peer to negotiators representing the Philippine and Malaysian governments.

Pathetic.

You know you are asking for trouble when you presume to grant legitimacy to terrorists. The Malaysian government, for their part, have allegedly been providing logistical and training support to armed Islamic rebels in Mindanao since the 1970s. Filipinos are being screwed at all fronts — its own national government, as well as some “friends” within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The origins of the MILF as a militant breakaway group from what was once considered a more “moderate” MNLF was over disagreements with the direction being taken by the MNLF leadership back in 1977 towardsrenouncing its own separatist agenda in favour of a more “conciliatory” deal with Manila then, a direction which bore fruit ten years later for the MNLF… 

In January 1987, the MNLF signed an agreement relinquishing its goal of independence for Muslim regions and accepting the government’s offer of autonomy. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the next largest faction, refused to accept the accord and initiated a brief offensive that ended in a truce later that month. By one estimate the Mindanao-based Moro Islamic Liberation Front fielded around 3,000 troops.

Back then and in the subsequent few years, a rah-rah spirit of “reconciliation” and a whole lot of other positive new-age vibes characterised government management of the “Muslim situation” in its southern island colony. A 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF cobbled together under the presidency of Fidel Ramos, for example, features this quaint blurb…

The government recognizes the skills, capabilities and achievements of the MNLF and its capacity to develop its members for the highest echelons of military and civilian leadership. The ranks and grades of MNLF forces joining AFP shall be subject to the decision of the President in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the AFP along the principles of universality, nondiscrimination, equity and preferential treatment for the poor and underprivileged.

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How times have changed. Small wonder that the MILF and Malaysian government have so far kept silent (or issued half-assed words) on the Zamboanga crisis. The only loud voices we hear surrounding this imbroglio are coming from the pompous mouths of grandstanding politicians. The MNLF head Nur Misuari, supposedly being a former classmate of Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay at the University of the Philippines, presented itself as a great opporunity for the VP to get a bit of media exposure. Some folks say that Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III for his part, not wanting to be outdone, flew to the battlezone to get a bit of sunshine and assure everyone that he — and not his VP — was on top of the situation. Then there is presidential sidekick Mar Roxas, Secretary of Interior and Local Government, also pitching in as the proverbial third wheel.

Too many cooks are spoiling the bloody broth. And the blood broth, indeed, is spilling all over the kitchen. It is a military operation being commanded by a motley crew of vote-starved bozos. Where is the military leadership in all this? Well, considering that soldiers are being left to beg for food scraps even as they lay their life on the line to control the situation, suffice to say they are not having a very nice week.

If I were a civilian politician, I wouldn’t piss off the Army. The Philippine military, after all, has always been a major player in extraconstitutional leadership changes. Images of soldiers being killed and eating scraps of rice off banana leaves spread on the ground ain’t exactly good motivational collateral in a time of war.

Consider too the families of soldiers who died gallantly fighting the MNLF, the MILF, and the New People’s Army (NPA) over much of the country’s recent history. What would they be thinking of successive governments who rewarded violence with sovereign-sanctioned legitimacy. The MNLF was given their Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the MILF is on the verge of being rewared with a Bangsamoro “nation”, and the NPA’s bosses have all but infested Philippine Congress.

Where is the justice?

Despite assurances that “justice” is “just around the corner” coming from what is little more than routine campaign rhetoric spanning decades of 1980s-style Pinoy feudal “democracy”, there is none.

Nur Misuari is the Janet Lim Napoles of the Mindanao crisis. While Misuari may be guilty, he is not the only guilty party in this astounding mess, and is being held up by spin doctors and their accomplices in the Philippine Media as the poster bogeyman to distract Filipinos from what is really a systemicproblem that plagues Mindanao — one that festered on account of the borderline-criminal political antics of the Philippine and Malaysian Governments as well as the leaders of the MNLF, MILF and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Pork Barrel Redux: DBM Secretary Abad Confirms “Douchebaggery” as Official Administration Policy

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Lest anyone is tempted to buy the desperate attempt of the current occupant of Malacañang (to the extremely limited extent he has had anything at all to say about it) that abuse of the pork barrel is something that only happened when OTHER people were in charge, here’s a reminder from a little more than a year ago (first published on the now-dormant Weather on Neptune last July) of Mr. Straight Path’s official perspective towards this curious institution:

DBM Secretary Abad Confirms “Douchebaggery” as Official Administration Policy

In a brief interview published in the Inquirer this week, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Jr. confirmed that the Aquino Administration would continue to use the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations otherwise known as “pork barrel” as a political tool to curry favor with Congressional allies and punish opponents. Abad did not clarify whether or not anyone who disagrees with the policy should kiss his ass.

Abad named Zambales Representative Mitos Magsaysay, Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco, Jr., and the two sons of former President and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as among those Congressmen who did not receive any of their PDAF in the past two years, and had zero allocation in the 2013 budget submitted to Congress this week. When asked why the funds were being withheld, particularly in an election year, Abad explained “These are political realities we have to consider,” without elaborating, although he earlier characterized Rep. Magsaysay, an outspoken critic of President Aquino, as “a special case” because “she says a lot of things.”

Abad’s home district, incidentally, comprises the Batanes Islands, which have a population of roughly 15,000 (the country’s smallest province) and are represented in Congress by his wife Dina. While most Congressional districts receive between P70 million and P140 million in PDAF funds, Abad reportedly approved P800 million for his wife’s district at the end of 2011.

What is truly disappointing – appalling, really – is that for all N/A’s rhetoric about “transparency” and “good governance”, not only did the current occupant of Malacañang reject the chance to literally put his money where his mouth is and put an end to the entire inefficient and corruption-ridden PDAF scheme, he has directed that it be used in the most blatantly cynical way possible. It would have even been praiseworthy, if only mildly so, if strict rules for its rational distribution and accounting had been imposed, but no; instead, he trots out his bookkeeper to announce that the new “political realities” are that those who oppose him – and by extension, the people they represent – will be sanctioned for doing so.

Daang na matuwid? Absolutely. It’s the same money-paved path to hell walked by every government this country has had for the past quarter-century.

US Defense agency: ‘Odette’ now a super typhoon

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MANILA, Philippines – The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) of the US Department of Defense has classified Tropical Cyclone “Odette” as a super typhoon.

The latest typhoon warning of the JTWC said “Odette” (international name: Usagi) has reached super typhoon status and is now equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane, according to a report of the Washington Post.

The report also said Odette is the “strongest storm on Earth in 2013” and is on a track towards Hong Kong.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Hurricane Web Page also reported the reclassification of Odette into a super typhoon.

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The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has not yet labeled Odette as a super typhoon in its latest weather bulletin.

PAGASA weather division chief Robert Sawi had explained to STAR that their agency is not officially using the term “super typhoon.”

As of 6 a.m., the eye of Typhoon Odette was located at 390 kilometers east of Aparri, Cagayan.

Forecast to move northwest at 15 kilometers per hour, Odette is packed with maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kilometers per hour.

Odette is expected to be at 50 kilometers east of Basco, Batanes by Saturday morning and outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Sunday morning.

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Storm signals up in 12 areas

Public storm warning signal no. 3 has been hoisted over the Batanes Group of Islands where winds of 101 to 185 kilometers per hour is expected in at least 18 hours.

UPDATED STORY: Typhoon ‘Odette’ may make landfall in Batanes; storm signals up in 17 areas

Areas under public storm warning signal no. 2 include Apayao, Cagayan, and the Calayan and Babuyan Group of Islands.

Public storm warning signal no. 1 has been raised over Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Abra, Kalinga and Isabela.

Heavy to intense rainfall (10 to 20 millimeters per hour) is expected within the 800-kilometer diameter of typhoon.

PAGASA warned residents in low-lying and mountainous areas under the storm signals against possible flashfloods and landslides.

Those living in coastal areas under storm signals nos. 3 and 2 are also alerted against storm surges.

Odette enhances Habagat; occasionally heavy rains in Metro Manila

PAGASA said Odette will continue to enhance the Southwest Monsoon that will bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms over Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon and Western Visayas.

“Residents in these areas are advised to be alert against flashfloods and landslides,” the agency said.

Sea travel is also risky over the western and eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon and over the eastern seaboard of Central Luzon and Visayas.

Residents in these areas are also alerted by PAGASA against flashfloods and landslides.

In its 24-hour weather forecast, PAGASA said the Batanes group of islands, Cagayan including Calayan and Babuyan group of islands and Apayao will experience stormy weather.

Isabela, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Mt.Province, Ifugao, Abra and Kalinga will have rains with gusty winds with moderate to rough seas.

2010, The year of the rise of idiocracy.

What a year it has been! 2010 is the year I and many other like-minded people will never forget. As a Filipino, I never thought it was still possible to learn many new things about the culture I was born into. Indeed, every now and then, the things I discover about us never ceases to amaze me. To borrow someone’s metaphor, our culture grew on me like it was a colony ofE. coli and I was room-temperature raw pork chops!

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There was so much to learn about our dysfunctional culture and, unfortunately, I realised that the reasons why the Philippines is the way it is are not all good. There is never a better time to learn about ourselves than during election seasons. The Presidential election in May revealed a lot of the ugliness of our culture and the mindset of the average Filipino. The revelation that every election ever held in the Philippines is a sham came as a rude shock, like the shock we all felt when typhoon Ondoy revealed the extent and depth of the incompetence of our civil service.

2010 is the year that the Philippines’ reputation overseas as a “basket case” and a “haven for terrorists” has finally been made official thanks to the WikiLeaks website. Even Hong Kong-based human rights group has come to the conclusion that the Philippines is a “broken and lawless nation.” What a great year ender…Not!

But if you ask the average Filipino what they think about those statements, they will simply shrug it off and say, “tell us something we don’t know!” or “what’s new?” and even worse, “What do those foreigners know, anyway?!”

They say eavesdroppers never hear anything good about themselves but most Filipinos have this ability to hear only good things other people say about our country and about us as a people; not a lot of good things, actually, and yet Filipinos, applying some form of perverse creativity, still manage to magnify these and turn them into spectacular rallying points.

Even if the bad things outnumber the good and are already blatantly obvious to everyone, Filipinos never fail to pin the blame for all the ills in the land to none else but on the usual whipping boys — the “corrupt” and incompetentpublic officials they themselves voted into office. Perhaps, this is because it is quite unthinkable for most Filipinos to see their very culture itself as a key hindrance to the progress that the country badly needs. Now I know that most Filipinos want progress but they don’t want the hard work involved in achieving it. Even the Philippine President, it seems, is totally averse to hard work.

Ask President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) how things are and he will tell you unashamedly that “the children today are luckier compared to the children during the Martial Law years when he was barely 12 years old and aware that there was no promising future for them.” If only the average Filipino had the analytical skills to challenge P-Noy to come up with the data to back up this claim, P-Noy would think twice about making such fantasy-laden statements. P-Noy’s statement is of course at odds with the statement of one member of the Morong 43 recently released from the captivity of the Philippine military since their February 6 arrest in Morong, Rizal:

“Yung claim ng AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] that they’re different from the Marcos era is quite false,” Dr. Alexis Montes told ANC’s “Headstart” on Monday.

“Sa experience namin, it’s been proven that even without the official martial law declaration, they are still thinking above the civilian [authority]. That’s why I was wary with the President saying there were pressures. If he claims he was the only President who got the mandate of the people, why would he be afraid of other sectors?” he added.

Throughout the year, P-Noy’s vocabulary in his speeches was as bad as, like, “whatever“. This did not stop his staunch supporters from leaping off the pavement in applause at every instance; similar I guess to maggots when you try and fry them in hot oil. Despite all his gaffes, his supporters still pant heavily and their breasts heave like teenagers when they see their idol.

P-Noy and his supporters complete each other. They were made for each other. They deserve each other. His inadequacies are masked as he swaggers and entertains his fans with news about his “new love” and his sister’s scandals. And P-Noy is likewise entertained and protected by the bubble his minions created for him as he basks in the adoration he gets from the millions of star-struck ignoramuses who are quite “happy” gawking at him and the rest of the Aquino family members. It’s too bad that he is just a crisis away from being proven to be a pretender.

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2010 is the year that muddled everything we know about the blame game in the Philippines. Now that there is no (blatantly) corrupt President to blame, the incumbent President Noynoy still manages to get away with blaming previous President Gloria Arroyo (GMA) and every other GMA-appointed public servant for every crisis that he and his Cabinet get embroiled in.

Yes, P-Noy still manages to blame anybody else but himself regardless of the fact that he is still using GMA’s policies until now and has not introduced any radical measures that can actually distinguish his stint in Malacanang from the rest of the previous Presidents before him — aside from, perhaps, the “no wang-wang” policy. More importantly, leaked reports courtesy of Wikileaks confirmed that statements from world leaders in China and the U.S. say GMA was perceived as a good leader because she is someone who is in control of the situation in the country. To wit:

DAS John agreed President Arroyo has stabilized Philippine leadership and enacted strong fiscal and economic policy, but stressed that Beijing and Washington must encourage Manila to continue working hard to promote transparency and good governance, according to the leaked diplomatic cable.

Apparently, just six months into office, there is already a book that narrates P-Noy’s rise to become leader of 100 million Filipinos as well as take stock of his “successes”. Woohoo! Congratulations Mr President. We know that things in the country are still the same old way or even worse than during the Martial Law years, but since you and your minions count your win in the election as a “success”, you need to be congratulated for a job well done as a President who does not deserve to be there but still managed to get there despite the odds.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) was correct when they said that it has become an “illusion” and “absurdity” for anyone to claim that there is protection and security for people in the Philippines. To quote an excerpt from an article on their website:

The Philippine National Police and government spokesmen have a habit of assuring the foreign community that the country is safe, in the face of travel advisories to the contrary issued by foreign governments.

The human rights body said it has become ordinary for killings to be carried out by policemen, the military and the paramilitary forces working for them, and for killings to be perpetrated in broad daylight in crowded public places and in front of the victims’ families in their own homes.

Ever since Jesus Christ died on the cross, Christians have been on the look out for that “someone” who can embody the virtues by which “the man” and “the son of God” lived by. That statement is truest in this country we call “the Philippines”.

Why else would someone like Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) win in the May 2010 Presidential election? It’s not that P-Noy actually has the same virtues as Jesus Christ. In fact, he has none of these. It’s just that, his supporters have formed an idea of what P-Noy supposedly stands for and it seems that there is nothing in the world that could destroy the image they have created of him in their little heads. It is pure illusion but that is how most Filipinos cope in this wretched land called the Philippines and this is the way it is in the Yellow world Filipinos now live in.

They say that not everyone can absorb reality and this statement is nowhere truer than in the Philippines. Once the Filipino people wake up from their stupor, the Get Real Squad have documented our own version of how idiocracy has taken over the Philippines.

Scandals During Cory Administration

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One of the biggest urban legends of recent times in the Philippines, is the story that the Cory Administration was supposedly the “cleanest” among the Administrations in the last three decades. Thanks to Nostalgia, and the fact that her Administration was at the dawn of the internet age, much of the negativities of that Administration has been largely forgotten, and people tend to remember only the “good” things about that Administration.

Well, thanks to Noynoy Aquino’s “holier-than-thou” campaign strategy, much of the “unpleasantries” during Cory’s time are being brought back to the surface slowly, but surely. Here are some that I have managed to dig out:

‘Philippine Air Lines Stocks to Nephews’
Cory approved in January 1992 the sale of 67% of the stocks of the Philippine Air Lines (PAL) to an investment group headed by her relatives, composed of one of her Tanjuatco nephews and three of her Cojuangco nephews. The sale resulted in a loss of USD 300-million plus for the Filipino people. The Philippine government, through the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), owned the shares. And worse, her nephews did not even have the money to pay for the airline stocks. They borrowed the money that they used to pay the GSIS from three Philippine government-owned banks, even using the PAL stocks as collateral.

‘Philippine Air Lines Building Scandal’
“The PAL Scandal,” where Cory authorized in 1992 the sale of the PAL Building in San Francisco, California. It resulted, according to the column of the late journalist Louie Beltran, into a USD 6-million loss to the national airline. Cory did not charge Mr. Beltran with libel on this issue about the PAL Building. She, however, did file a libel case against Mr. Beltran and his publisher, Maximo V. Soliven on a separate issue, when Beltran wrote that Mrs. Aquino “hid under her bed during a coup d’etat attempt at the presidential palace in Manila.”

‘Bargain Sale of Companies to Lopa’
The assets of the Marcoses, the Romualdezes and their cronies were supposed to have been sequestered by the new Aquino administration, but Kokoy Romualdez’s (Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s brother in law) 38 companies, which were worth billions of pesos, were not turned over to the Presidential Commission on Good Government. Cory instead during her first months in office, permitted the transfer of these 38 companies to her own brother-in-law, Ricardo “Baby” Lopa. What’s worst, was the fact that all 38 companies were bought back by Lopa during the transfer for the price of only USD 227,000.

‘Philippine Long Distance Company to Nephews’
The same case happened with the ownership of the Philippine Long Distance Company. Instead of sequestering the company for the Philippine government (as it was then controlled by the Marcos cronies), she returned the billion-dollar company to her Cojuangco nephews. She claimed that her nephews were illegally eased out by Mr. Marcos. The truth was that the Marcos cronies, whether their money were ill-gotten or not, paid the Cojuangcos the prevailing market-stock prices during the sale of equity that happened between them at the time when Marcos was still president.

‘Re-negotiation of Marcos’ Japanese Loans’
Cory approved the re-negotiation of the loans that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. obtained from Japan. The administration of Mrs. Aquino agreed that the loans would be paid in Japanese yen, rather than in U.S. currency that former Marcos negotiated. This simple change in currency resulted in a USD 5-billion increase in the loan principal.

‘Refusal to Give Hacienda Luisita to Farmers’
Cory publicly promised in 1986 that Hacienda Luisita will be distributed to the farmers. However, in 1987, she issued Presidential Proclamation 131 and Executive Order No. 229 just days before her legislative powers were going to revert back to Congress, to include a provision in the Land Reform program for a “Stock Distribution Option”, which allows landowners to comply with the Land Reform Law without actually giving land to the farmers. Hacienda Luisita of course took this new option, and thus was not redistributed to the farmers.

‘Double Cross of Doy Laurel’
Cory had promised to Doy Laurel that she would let him run the government as Prime Minister after Marcos was ousted, as Cory had no experience in politics. However, in March 1986 she issued Presidential Proclamation No. 3 declaring a revolutionary government, and dissolving the 1973 Constitution. This nullified Laurel’s position as Prime Minister as the Parliament was abolished. This prompted Laurel to break ties with the Aquino regime later.

‘Protecting Hacienda Luisita’s Interests’
Cory continued to protect Hacienda Luisita, even firing Miriam Defensor Santiago from her post at the Department of Agrarian Reform after she told the press her opinion that Cory should inhibit herself as chair of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC), which was tasked to make the final decision on Hacienda Luisita’s application for the “Stock Distribution Option” (see section on ‘Refusal to Give Hacienda Luisita to Farmers’ above).

‘Garchitorena Land Scam’
In 1988, a foreclosed property of the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) was sold to Sharp International Marketing for P3.8 million. Before the sale was closed, Sharp tried to sell the same property to the government for P56 million. The sale was eventually approved by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), but only after the price was inflated further to P65 million. The financier of the scam was Romeo Santos, an associate of Cory’s brother, Peping Cojuangco. He was also Cory’s campaign manager in Bicol.

SOURCES

– “Not Getting Mad at, But Getting Even With, Tita Cory” by Bobby Reyes,http://www.mabuhayradio.com/sections/philippine-presidency/455-not-getting-mad-at-but-getting-even-with-tita-cory.html

– “The Philippines Cory, Coups and Corruption” by John Greenwald, Jay Branegan and Nelly Sindayen,http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,969186,00.html

– “Hacienda Luisita’s past haunts Noynoy’s future” by Stephanie Dychiu,http://www.gmanews.tv/story/181877/hacienda-luisitas-past-haunts-noynoys-future

– “Cory’s land reform legacy to test Noynoy’s political will” by Stephanie Dychiu,http://www.gmanews.tv/story/182195/corys-land-reform-legacy-to-test-noynoys-political-will

– “The Garchitorena land scam” by Stephanie Dychiu,http://www.gmanews.tv/story/182211/the-garchitorena-land-scam

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The yellow mythology presents Cory Aquino as saving the Filipinos from the tyranny of the Marcos dictatorship. That’s only half the story. The other half of the story is that the EDSA faux revolution is a case of Filipinos jumping from the frying pan and into the fire.

For short, Cory Aquino “freed” the Filipinos from the tyranny of Marcos and delivered the Filipinos to the tyranny of the oligarchy. That is not liberation – that’s simply a transfer of the reins of power from one-man dictatorship to collective dictatorship.

Yes, Cory herself was not the dictator. However, she was the spokesperson, the figurehead, who executed the decisions of the vested interests who benefited from government regulations issued during Cory’s time.

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Yes, Cory is gone, but the regime – the set of rules, cultural or social norms, etc. that regulate the operation of government and its interactions with society – persist. The outcomes of the Cory regime are its legacy. Legacy is further defined as “something that is passed on to you”.

So what has Cory passed on to Filipinos? Here are the things that she passed on to Filipinos – these are Cory Aquino’s legacies:

CORY AQUINO’S LEGACY #1- SERFDOM 

The economy is propped up by the remittances of aliping saguigilids (serfs) deployed overseas.

In pre-colonial times, the people in the bottom barrel were scornfully known as, alipin sa gigilid. Thegilid was the spot behind and below the house where the toilet is situated.

These alipins were single men and women who worked in and tended the gilid of their master’s homes. They were completely dependent on their master for food and shelter, but if they could make some money on the side, they were allowed to keep some of it.

Isn’t this quite a familiar site among OFWs – whether in the Middle East, in Japan or Hong Kong, in Europe, and even in the US Of A? How many Filipinos with 4 year college degrees end up being serfs in foreign households?

Joblessness pervades the Philippines. The unemployment rate remains high – and the 7% joblessness rate has not budged since Cory’s anointed son, Kim Jon Un, este Noynoy Aquino took over. The Aquino regime can claim that there are jobs around – but the wages are so low that Filipinos in war-torn countries like Syria and Libya would rather take their chances there than return to the predictable low wages of the Philippines.

Too add insult to injury, the Aquino regime boast of the remittances provided by the aliping sagigilids.

CORY AQUINO’S LEGACY #2 – POVERTY

Cory’s second legacy is Poverty. The recent SWS surveys have shown that poverty has even increased during the watch of Cory’s anointed son – Kim Jong Un.. argggh.. Noynoy Aquino. The country’s standard of living remains low while those of its ASEAN peers have grown substantially.

A ranking of the GDP per capita among different agencies consistently show the Philippines among the countries in the bottom barrel:

1. In the World Bank 2012 list, the Philippines is ranked 121 out of 180 countries.
2. In the IMF 2012 list, the Philippines is ranked 128 out of 185 countries.
3. In the CIA 2012 list, the Philippines is ranked 134 out of 195 countries.

All that jobless GDP Growth being bandied about by Kim Jong Un este Noynoy Aquino is worthless. And that’s not even counting the statistical discrepancy called out by the World Bank. When the WB Economic Update stated that

“Growth in the third quarter must be tempered by the fact that statistical discrepancy explains 1.4 ppt of the 7.1 percent growth. This suggests that either third quarter growth will be revised downwards or fourth quarter growth will be lower by around two percentage points as statistical discrepancy is zeroed out in the full year growth statistic.”

The WB meant that the 7.1% GDP growth should be taken with a grain of salt.

CORY AQUINO’S LEGACY #3 – TYRANNY 

Tyranny is defined as:

1. arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.
2. oppressive or unjustly severe government on the part of any ruler.
3. undue severity or harshness.

The 1972 Marcos Constitution was full of restrictive economic policies. In fact the Philippine constitution is unique in having equity restrictions on foreign businesses. Normally, such restrictions are passed via legislation – the Philippines instead embedded it in the constitution.

With Marcos removal, you would think that Cory Aquino’s regime would remove these impediments to economic development. Oh boy, you are so wrong! Cory did not remove the restrictions, the restrictions were retained – and even expanded. And she even out-Marcos-ed Apo Ferdie with welfare programs embedded in the Constitution – yup Pinoy Big Brother isn’t just a noontime show.

In terms of the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, the Philippines is ranked 97 out of 161 countries – categorized as “Mostly Unfree”.

CORY AQUINO’S LEGACY #4 – CORRUPTION 

Plunder goes unabated. Plunder was centralized under Marcos. The plunder did not go away in Cory’s time – it was “decentralized” – for short more plunderers came into existence.

The Corruption Perceptions Index of 2012 ranked the Philippines 105 out of 174 countries.

In terms of Ease of Doing Business, the Philippines ranked 138 out of 185 countries.

Just look at how pathetic the Philippine Senators are as they squabble about the taxes they plundered from Filipino taxpayers.

Or how Aquino dangled the pork barrel among Philippine congressmen in order to sign the articles of impeachment of a chief justice even if the congressmen have not read the articles.

And more recently, look at how Aquino dangled the pork barrel again – in order to railroad the passing of an unnecessary RH bill.

Then, there’s the CCT subsidy which is so full of fraud – and yet the three pigs Dinky, Franky, and Butchi keep on supporting it on the basis that it alleviates poverty. The results however show that poverty in the Philippine has increased even as the CCT subsidy funding increased.

In 2013, as the 2013 Mid-term elections come to fruition, the P317B billion COA audit-exempt pork barrel allocated for Kim Jong Un.. este Noynoy Aquino will again be put to good use.

CORY AQUINO’S LEGACY #5 – NOYNOY AQUINO 

Lastly, it will be a disservice not to mention Cory’s other legacy – Kim Jong Un.. este Noynoy Aquino who has continued the moronic policies of his equally inept and vacuous mother.

It’s also interesting how the election of Cory and Noynoy have parallels in that the conduct of both electoral exercises were surrounded by dubious circumstances. Where Cory had manual dagdag bawas, Noynoy had an electronic dagdag bawas.

And just like Cory, Noynoy continues to be a willing mouthpiece of the collective dictatorship of the Filipino oligarchy – and keeps Filipinos chained to serfdom, poverty, tyranny, and corruption.