Monthly Archives: December 2009

“Shabu” and the Philippines

There is not a single town left in our entire archipelago where you cannot find the drug, Shabu (meta-amphetamine); or, if there still are, they are  few and far between. From jeepney and taxi drivers to students to business executives to government employees and officials,  the users are everywhere and number in the millions.  It is the drug of choice of 90% of substance abusers in the Philippines. According to PDEA and PNP officials, the sale of Shabu in this country has reached 200 kilos (200,000 grams) a day worth P200 M in the wholesale market. That translates to about P500M semi retail price or a profit of P300M a day divided among the sellers of the drug.  Of course, the big drug lords have their profits  tucked into the  wholesale price so the total amount of profits going into the pockets of people in the trade when sold in small quantities reaches about P500M a day.  How much of that goes to “protection money” expense? Lets say half of that or 250M Pesos a day goes to people that are able to shield the drug lords and pushers from the law. Who are the recipients of this “protection money” or put another way, who are in a position to give “protection” to the drug lords? Logically, “protection” can only come from people in power:  politicians, law enforcers, judges or, in other words, top officials of all three branches of government including the police and the military. Again, we repeat, that’s 250M Pesos a day to pay-off various government officials every single day!  That’s enough to give 50 Governors, 50 Mayors, 50 PNP and AFP Officers, 50 Congressmen, 10 Senators, 10 Cabinet Secretaries, 20 Judges, and 10 Generals P1M A DAY — P1M each a day!! You can juggle the hypothetical  numbers around — increase the number of this group by subtracting from that group or bring down the amount of P1M to half a million Pesos a day but distributed to twice that number of officials, or however you want to “disburse” the P250M a day — remember, A DAY!  Let’s spread it around more and that still can hypothetically give 50 governors, 150 Mayors, 150 police officers, 150 Congressmen, all 24 senators, all cabinet secretaries, 60 judges, and 30 Generals of the PNP and AFP P2M a week. The point is, there is enough to go around to bribe a very large number of very high government officials with huge sums of money to look the other way to ensure the continued trade of this highly addictive drug that is tearing at the very fabric of our society, and assuring that our growth as a nation remains stunted. And the demand for this drug from all sectors of society  (the poor buy P100 bags– tingi) keeps on growing  as our population increases. Meanwhile, profits from the drug continue to grease the palms of our officials guaranteeing a future that sees no end to this national scourge…until it will be too late. We are entering the 25th year since Shabu found its way into the Philippines and we have seen how it has grown from a few hundred users to hundreds of thousands to the monster that it is now, corrupting many along its path. And what  started as an import is now manufactured here. This is no longer just a legal, moral, or “narco-state”  “narco-politics” issue involving officials in all levels of government not to mention a generation of drug addicts; it involves the economic, social, psycho-physical, and even spiritual growth and well being of a whole people – the Filipino people. As Churchill said: “Healthy citizens are the greatest assets any country can have.”  What opium did to China (no thanks to England), Shabu can do to the Philippines if it has not done so already or will soon do.

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Will Erap Eventually Withdraw from the Race?

It used to be that the favorite Christmas carol of Filipinos was “White Christmas,” an absolute absurdity because as much as we would be “dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the one I used to know,” the fact is, it will never snow here in our tropical islands not to mention it never did (“…just like the one I used to know”). It seems the popularity of that Christmas carol waned as the hope, of not a few, for Philippine Statehood slowly dissipated. In both respects, we’ve finally come to our senses.

In the wake of Tiger Woods’ scandalous “transgressions,” he has decided to change his nickname but still keep it within the cat family — Cheetah. He also announced his indefinite leave from professional golf; he will be resting his balls and keeping away from the holes for now to concentrate on his life as a husband and father. From our talks with friends regarding Tiger’s womanizing, we would say there are as many men envious of him as there are women who now find him disgusting. Whatever we might think of him now, we all ought to remember that our opinions are just that, mere opinions that can change from day to day depending on what’s happening in our respective personal lives which we should all be reflecting on instead of Tiger’s private life. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And for the new year, we share this other simple quote: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.”  On that note, we wish everyone a HAPPY, PROSPEROUS, AND SERENE NEW YEAR — 2010. Cheers!!

Mexico City, capital of a country as catholic as ours, has just legalized gay marriage beginning February of 2010 while we here in the Philippines (the Comelec specifically) nixed the petition of gay organization, Ang Ladlad, for Party List status on grounds of “morality” accusing the members of being “immoral.” Never mind the Comelec’s legal mandate and guidelines regarding eligibility of candidates and qualification rules for Party List status, but for the Comelec to call anyone “immoral” is as laughable as it is pathetic. The Comelec lecturing us on morality is akin to Ampatuan, Jr. giving a harangue advocating pacifism. Don’t the Comelec commissioners get any feedback on how the majority of Filipinos perceive them? Are not the Comelec lawyers aware of the difference between Church Doctrine and State Law and the Constitutional provision that separates them? Even  gay – as in happy, of course – priests know the difference; well, at least, some of them.

During the “talent portion” of political rallies here in the Philippines where the main candidates do a song or dance number, it might be “refreshing”  to see a candidate eat fire or charm a snake into dancing, for a change. That would at least show that the candidate has a capacity for innovation even if eating fire, like singing or dancing, does nothing to demonstrate the ability of a candidate to govern, nor does it say anything about his or her credibility, albeit,  one could say, the flute-song was at least credible to the snake.  Of course, that’s still neither here nor there. Lets see… what about a candidate places his head inside the wide-open mouth of a lion? We know a lot of people would like to see some candidates try that…and then watch the lion do what is needed to prevent  a locked jaw. How about doing cartwheels on top of an elephant?  Oh… well, just some thoughts.  Sorry about that

Moving on to the battle for the Presidency, there is a scenario which, if it does occur, would seal the election for the Presidential candidate that would be the beneficiary of the said scenario. It goes like this: by around March, when Erap finds himself still stuck in 3rd or 4th place and Gibo or Villar within striking distance to come out on top, Erap decides to withdraw in favor of… guess who. Do a process of elimination and the answer should come easy: Noynoy. Hence, we will have another Aquino as President and Erap, a year after, is appointed Senior Presidential Adviser or “Tzar  for the  Alleviation of Poverty”  or some masa upliftment agency or program. Nice and dandy for both, huh? One wins the Presidency while the other wins the chance to redeem himself (short of becoming President again) which, we believe, is the sole reason he is running in the first place. Politics is, indeed, addition.

There is not a single city left in our entire archipelago where you cannot find the drug, Shabu (meta-amphetamine), for sale. From jeepney and taxi drivers to students to business executives to government employees and officials and to policemen themselves,  the users are everywhere and number in the millions.  It is the drug of choice of 90% of substance abusers in the Philippines. According to PDEA and PNP officials, the sale of Shabu in this country has reached 200 kilos (200,000 grams) a day worth P1B in the wholesale market. We are entering the 25th year since Shabu found its way into the Philippines and we have seen how it has grown from a few hundred users to hundreds of thousands to the monster that it is now. Everybody has at least one relative, friend or neighbor that uses this drug. The government’s war against Shabu is like a Goliath (drug lords) pitted against a David (government) with no sling-shot and whose arms have been amputated.  This is no longer just a legal, moral, or “narco-politics”  issue involving drug lords in cahoots with officials in all levels of government, not to mention a nation with millions of unproductive or underproductive drug addicts; it is a scourge that compromises the economic, social, psycho-physical, and even spiritual well being of a whole people – the Filipino people. As Churchill said: “healthy citizens are the greatest assets any country can have.”  What opium did to China (no thanks to Churchill’s ancestors), Shabu can do to the Philippines if it has not done so already or will soon do.

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Lifestyle check on the Ampatuans

“Sensing possible misuse of government funds by the Ampatuans, the Office of the Ombudsman also ordered a lifestyle check on the family.” Lording it over one of  the poorest provinces in the country and with no known on-going legal family-business, the Ampatuans managed to acquire several mansions located in some of the most expensive residential enclaves in the country including some in Davao city’s exclusive villages and expensive real property in Metro Manila. They are also notorious for moving around with “bodyguards” aboard long convoys of more than 10 vehicles of current-model SUV’s and other top of the line cars. They have amassed fire-arms worth at least tens of millions of Pesos and support,  on a monthly basis (salaries, food, housing, etc.), hundreds if not thousands of people that comprise their “private army” and hangers on. They spend millions of pesos every three years to ensure they get re-elected to the many government posts they have occupied over the years. They also “accommodate”  national candidates and manage to deliver votes in their favor. It shouldn’t take the Ombudsman more than a minute to come to a conclusion in their on-going “lifestyle check” on the Ampatuans (Hello!?). Having said that, on second thought,  based on the track record of the Ombudsman, we’re afraid to ask what their conclusion might be!

It is beyond comprehension how some people try to hold Congressman Ferdinand Marcos II (Bongbong) “responsible” for his father’s declaration of Martial Law almost 40 years ago especially now that he is running for Senator. Bongbong was barely fifteen years old when Martial Law was declared in 1972 not to mention he was in England attending to his schooling and probably, more so, worrying about where to get tickets to the “sold out” Rolling Stones concert for that fall season as most youngsters his age were concerned with or with the likes of it. As for the entire period of the controversial Marcos Rule, it would be best to leave to historians the rendering of a dispassionate accounting of that period in the history of our nation, where his father, President Marcos, stood at the helm of government as President of the Republic of the Philippines.  Bongbong Marcos, in fairness, has declared that he is ready to be judged by the voters not based on anyone’s actions, good or bad, nor even on his father’s achievements, but based on his own performance the last 15 years he has been in public office – nine years as Governor of Ilocos Norte and six years as Representative of the 2nd district of the same province. If we let his track record speak for itself, and the voters decide based on that record, then he will surely be elected to the Senate in the coming elections, half a century after his father was first elected to the same post.

If one were to  look objectively into each Presidentiable’s track record including their credibility, it would not be difficult to conclude that Gibo Teodoro is the most qualified among all of them to be the next President of the Philippines and, one might even add, has the potential of a great leader. Sadly, voters, and not a few, will resist voting for him if only to send a message to GMA that they have not forgiven nor forgotten the many accusations of graft and corruption involving the first family. Many have also not forgiven her involvement in the alleged cheating (Hello Garci) in the last Presidential elections. And for these reasons, it is a pity that the country would have missed-out on the chance of good if not great leadership from a candidate whose only fault is his association with GMA. There’s no other way to say it: GMA’s support is proving to be the “kiss of death.”  Gibo will have to convince the electorate that a vote for him does not translate into forgiveness of GMA’s sins. His work is cut out for him. Otherwise, we will have to make do with, hopefully, whoever is second best and who that may be is to us, still a toss-up.

It used to be that the favorite Christmas carol of Filipinos was “White Christmas,” an absolute absurdity because as much as we would be “dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the one I used to know,” the fact is, it will never snow here in our tropical islands not to mention it never did (“…just like the one I used to know”). It seems the popularity of that Christmas carol waned as the hope, of not a few, for Philippine Statehood slowly dissipated. In both respects, we’ve finally come to our senses. MALIGAYANG PASKO!

In the wake of Tiger Woods’ scandalous “transgressions,” he has decided to change his nickname but still keep it within the cat family — Cheetah. He has also announced his indefinite leave from professional golf; he will be resting his balls and keeping away from the holes to concentrate on his life as a husband and father. From our talks with friends regarding Tiger’s womanizing, we would say there are as many men envious of him as there are women who now find him disgusting. Whatever we might think of him now, we all ought to remember that our opinions are just that, mere opinions that can change from day to day depending on what’s happening in our respective personal lives which we should all be reflecting on instead of Tiger’s private life. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  

And for the new year, we share this other simple quote: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.”  On that note, we wish everyone a HAPPY, PROSPEROUS, AND SERENE NEW YEAR — 2010. Cheers!!

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Bongbong Marcos for Senator?

It is almost beyond comprehension how some people try to hold Congressman Ferdinand Marcos II (Bongbong) “responsible” for the declaration of Martial Law by the late President Marcos especially now that he is running for Senator. Bongbong was barely fifteen years old when Martial Law was declared in 1972 not to mention he was in England attending to his schooling and perhaps, worrying about where to get tickets to the “sold out” Rolling Stones concert for that fall season as most youngsters his age were concerned with… or with the likes of it. It’s been more than 35 years since Martial Law was declared and President Marcos is no longer here to defend it having passed away two decades ago. Most of them who were with him during that period are likewise gone except for a few including the present Senate President, Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Ramos, both key players during the entire period of Marcos rule until the last few days. Others that served under Marcos are still serving in Congress while most of the rest are pillars in their respective industries. It is not for Bongbong Marcos to pass judgment, for obvious reasons, on the merits or shortcomings of the Martial Law period nor should he claim credit for the  achievements of his father,  such as the thousands of kilometers of roads built, the hundreds of schools erected, the bridges, the ports both sea and air, and the other numerous infrastructure projects that Filipinos benefited from and are still benefiting from up to today. Neither can he claim to have contributed to the robust agricultural sector of his father’s era, when not only was the Philippines self sufficient in rice but a major exporter of this crop. We could go on and on debating the positive and the negative of the Marcos era but that is best left for the historians to render a dispassionate accounting of that period in our history as a nation where his father, President Marcos, stood at the helm of government as President of the Republic of the Philippines.

Bongbong Marcos, in fairness, has declared that he is ready to be judged by the electorate not based on anyone’s actions, good or bad, but based on his own performance the last 15 years he has been in public service – nine years as Governor of Ilocos Norte and six years as Representative of the 2nd district of the same province.

To begin with, he transformed a third-class province into a first-class one (based on income) within his first term. With some 70% of Ilocanos dependent on agriculture (as in many other provinces), he raised agricultural productivity by focusing on rice production and cash crops and investing in hybrid seedlings production thereby succeeding in making his province self sufficient in rice instead of “importing” from other provinces. He set up one of the most if not the most successful program for “cooperatives” development in the entire country. He turned his province into a model for public health care by providing 100% of his province mates with health insurance. He “brought” Ilocos Norte to China by participating in International Tourism Conventions in Shanghai even when the Philippines as a country failed to participate in them. He lobbied the Chinese government to open a Consulate in Laoag City (the consulate opened two years ago) to make travel from China to Ilocos Norte easier and more convenient, capitalizing on Laoag City’s proximity to China and it’s being the northern international gateway into the country. In education, students from high schools of his province have become consistent “1st placers” in national student competitions in math and science. And in energy, he oversaw the creation of the first wind farm in Southeast Asia providing his province with half of its energy needs – cleaner and cheaper. And just as remarkable as all of these achievements is the fact that not once was he tainted with corruption or any anomaly in all his years in public service. The biggest proof of his sterling performance as governor is the fact that, in his last bid for the Governorship in 2004, he ran unopposed, and again, unopposed for Congressman in 2007.

If the voters will decide on giving him a Senate seat in the coming elections based on his performance, as they should with every other candidate’s respective track record, he may even top the race for the 12 seats that are up for grabs in the coming senatorial elections.

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