Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas is for children

At Christmas, the whole Christian world celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christmas therefore, is for children, both the young and the old.
But for the large part, for the young.
That is why Christmas too, is commemorated by gift giving.
It is the children that appreciate more, the gift giving and receiving.
It is an exciting tradition.
It is one that brings smiles to the children.
We, too, experienced this excitement during our younger days.
The sense of excitement is passed on to the following generation.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Ateneo diploma

I was pleaseantly surprised when my mother told me that my diploma from Aten>eo de Manila College of Law has been "lying" here in Dumaguete.
I thought all along, that this diploma had been lost already.
Though just paper, diplomas often mean the world to the person that holds them. Whether they are from Harvard or a community college, they are far more than just a regular piece of paper.
In fact, those have earned a criminal justice degree may be inclined to set up an investigation if one went missing. Upon not being able to find it, they may do something along the lines of incorporating other agencies to help with the hunt. I, on the other hand, left getting my degree back up to chance.
I haven't been good in keeping diplomas.
Once, I thought I lost my lawyer's certification issued by the Supreme Court.
Then I found out later, it had been languishing in the high court for years as I forgot to claim it.
Anyway, I told my mother to just keep the law school diploma, lest it be misplaced.
The diploma has been framed (thanks to mother) but covered with plastic and hidden beside a working table.
So like my college diploma, I took a picture and just "store" it here in my blog.
It is written in some alien language---Latin probably--- so the only things I can understand are my name and the degree earned: "Juris Doctor".

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cebu judges cry foul

Happy New Year!
Despite the looming global crisis, I pray for a blessed year ahead for all of us.
Let us live each day, as it comes, the best way we can.
Let me quote an old saying, echoed in my son Joshua’s favorite animated movie Kung Fu Panda:
“Yesterday was history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
Today is a gift---that is why it’s called “present.”
-o0o-
A raging issue in neighboring Cebu is what many judges in Cebu think is a continuing move to threaten the independence of the judiciary there, by local government executives.
The story is that judges have noticed that the local government, particularly the provincial government, would “cut-off” allowances to judges who issue rulings unfavorable to the local governments.
Cebu judges have met and will issue a formal statement condemning this attempt to “bully” the local judiciary.
Some judges have waived any allowance given to judges by local governments.
Here is that headline story published in the December 20, 2008 issue of the Cebu daily News.

"‘WE WILL NOT BE BULLIED’
Cebu Daily News (Saturday, 20 December 2008)
by Ador Vincent Mayol
CORRESPONDENT

Judges in Cebu are moving to assert their judicial independence.
Judge Gabriel Ingles of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 58 is drafting a resolution condemning threats made by local government units to withhold allowances of judges who make decisions unfavorable to local officials.
“The cutting off of judges’ allowances should not threaten us. We will not be bullied by anybody. We will not succumb to the pressures,” said Ingles, who was designated spokesman of the Palace of Justice last month.
He said the one-page statement will be circulated among judges in Cebu city and province and then will be sent to the Cebu provincial government and the Supreme Court.
The statement stemmed from the reported threat made by Capitol security consultant Byron Garcia to cut off the allowance of Danao CityJudge Edito Enemecio of RTC Branch 25 for ordering the transfer of three prisoners to Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC).
Garcia, in a phone interview, said that while it was the right of the judges to issue such a statement, he said he was misquoted in a news item published in a local daily.
“ Wa ko niingon putli ug allowance. Namisquote ra ko. Ang statement nako makasave ang province kun dili siya modawat ug allowance (I didn’t say his allowance should be cut off. I was misquoted. My statement was that the province can save money if he would not receive an allowance),” he said.
Ingles said the draft statement mentions that the claim of Garcia that he was misquoted “seemed to be doubtful” because there was already a precedent.
He was referring to the case of RTC Judge Bienvenido Saniel whose name was deleted in the roster of judges who are receiving monthly allowances from the province.
When Saniel learned about the removal of his name last October, he wrote to Gov. Gwen Garcia, asking her not to restore his name in the list.
Saniel was the judge who dismissed the petition filed by the province questioning the authority of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osme┼ła to appoint directors of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District.
RTC judges in Cebu receive P6,000 a month from the province. The amount has varied over the years, but the grant of an allowance has been a practice of several administration and is allowed by the Supreme Court.
In the October incident, Ingles and RTC Judge Meinrado Paredes immediately waived their allowances from the province to sympathize with Saniel and to uphold the principle of judicial independence.
The threat to remove the allowance of judges who make unfavorable decisions was discussed informally among judges during a conference in Argao town this week, said Ingles.
They agreed that it was about time the judges issued a statement on the issue.
Ingles said he was drafting a statement as requested by Paredes, who is now RTC executive judge, to be circulated among the judges for their signature on Monday.
Judicial independence is so important that it is considered the “soul of the judiciary.” said Ingles.
“Even if there are threats to cut off the allowance or physical harm, judicial independence should be upheld whatever the cost.”
Ingles said the main purpose of the group statement was to let all local government units know that judges would never be threatened or intimidated by threats made by the government officials.
Ingles said that any judge, either in the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Court or the RTC, can sign the statement.
He (Executive Judge Paredes) said the judiciary should not be bullied by anyone because it is the “last bulwark of democracy.”
Paredes said each branch government – judiciary, executive and legislative – has its own functions.
The legislative branch is tasked to make laws while the executive branch implements these, he said.
The role of the judiciary is to interpret the law and to resolve conflicts."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Believing in Santa Claus


There was a time when I thought Santa Claus was real.
When I was around five years old, my father and mother took off at around seven p.m. from the house.
I asked them where they were headed, and they sad they were fetching Santa Claus at the airport.
I sincerely believed them.
I was not able to analyze that there were no flights at seven in the evening.
Nor did i think that Santa Claus did not have to land in teh airport to deliver his gifts to us, children.
But when we were kids, we wanted to belive in Santa Claus.
He represented a big part of the mystery and excitement of Christmas.
This tradition has continued to excite the next generation.
Now, my son and cousins MJ, Pia and Nat Nat look forward to the gifts and goodies brought by Santa Claus.
Today, Christmas day, they woke up with their red stockings filled with different kinds of goodies from Santa Claus.
It was a nice thing to see the mystery and excitement continued like an unending Christmas tradition.
I thought it wasn't that long ago where I, too, looked forward to inspecting the candies and chocolates that stuffed the red stockings hanged the night before.
I hope the story of Santa Claus will continue for generations to come.
He brings smiles to kids on Chirstmas day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sans Rival Spaghetti


One of the oldest snack bars in Dumaguete City is San Rival along San Jose Street near the Rizal boulevard.
This is primarily a pastry shop, serving tasty cookies and cakes concocted by the sagarbarria grand matriarch, the woman shoe childrena nd grandchildren call "Abu".
She has passed on the trade secrets to the children who have enlarged Sans Rival from a six-table snack shop into a fully operating restaurant.
Sans Rival is already a permanent fixture to our city's show-window of home-made delicacies.
One afternoon, we dropped by Sans Rival to savor again their own brand of spaghetti.
I accompanied my order with tuna smacked in wheat sandwich.
My wife also ordered her spaghetti plus a choco roll.
For take-out we ordered a box of mango bars (P183 per box), and jam squares (P138 per box).

Jams squares is also good for pasalubong.
It is a square-formed biscuit that has a bit of dried mango in the middle.
There are many other delicacies at Sans Rival.
The main item of course is its namesake, San Rival.
There is also the original "chewey-crunchy" silvanas.
If you are a visitor in Dumaguete City, you can't afford to miss Sans Rival.
Sans Rival is truly among Dumaguete's unique treasures.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Threatening judicial independence

December 23, 2008

Hon. Gabriel T. Ingles
Branch 58 Presiding Judge
Regional Trial Court
Cebu City

Dear Judge Gabriel Ingles,

Maayong Pasko.


I write after reading the headline of Cebu Daily News (December 20, 2008) regarding a statement that Cebu judges are drafting a statement "condemning threats made by local government units to withold allowances of judges who make decisions unfavorable to local officials."
Judge, if it is possible I would like to have a copy of this statement for circulation/publication in our local newspapers.
Maybe you can email a scanned copy, if it is not too much to ask.
I anticipate this to be a bold statement for judicial independence.
I think, based on my experience in handling cases involving local government units and officials, it is very important to maintain the independence of the judiciary.
I also think it is time that any form of allowance to judges by local government units should be discontinued.
I commend and appreciate that concientious judges like you, have waived allowances from local governments, as the news reported.
This should be followed by all judges, not only in Cebu, but in the entire country.
It appears that sometimes, there are some local officials who arrogantly evoke a posture of judicial invincibility everytime they are hurled in court, or everytime they harrass a citizen to court.
Some people cannot avoid but somehow think---rightly or wrongly---that this misplaced arrogrance by some local officials has a connection with the public funds that are chanelled to the local courts and to judges (and even city prosecutors) themselves, as reflected in the local government budget.
Of course, no one is accusing that judges or prosecutors can be influenced by reason, or in consideration of the allowances that local government units provide for the local courts.
But sometimes, one cannot help but be suspicious.
Since judges are supposed to be beyond reproach, above suspicion, I think it is better for the admnistration of justice that once and for all, any form of allowance should no longer be allowed.
Perhaps judges can, as a start, voluntarily waive the allowances like what you have done.
We will campaign in the Supreme Court to disallow this practice altogether.
Anyway, the salaries and allowances of judges have already been increased.
Our concern is that if this ugly pratice is not stopped, inevitably, somewhere down the road, some local officials might think---albeit erroneously---that the regular allowances to judges have some strings attached.
In any event, whatever benefits are derived by the granting of allowances to judges (or prosecutors) by local governments, are far outweighed by the higher interests of maintaining the independence of the judiciary.

Daghang salamat, judge.
Merry Christmas to you and your famiy.

Very truly yours,
Jay Dejaresco

Jo's chicken Inato


Perhaps, Dumaguete's most immediately recognizable dining place for your favorite chicken barbique is Jo's Chicken Inato.
Jo's Chicken, located along Silliman Avenue, right at the back of Dumaguete's version of the "White House" (official residence of the Silliman University president), still emits that alluring aroma around town.
When my parents relocated to Dumaguete City from Tagbilaran almost forty years ago, we settled in a two bedroom apartment at the Flores compound along Silliman Avenue.
The rent during that wonderful, and memory-filled time was P250 per month.
We resided there for around seven years.
As I was growing up in that once pollution-free neighborhood, I happened to witness the beginnings of what is now that multi-million peso business of Jo's Chicken Inato, beside that apartnment we lived along Silliman Avenue.
From a very simple chicken barbique stand, then personally run by Jo Ng and husband Jesse (he has passed on), Jo's chicken Inato has metamorphosed into a multi-branch barbique business.
Having that rare privilege of witnessing how the industrious Ng couple built their "chicken-inato empire" through sheer hard work, I am not suprised at the breadth of its expansion.
It was---as I saw it---literally a labor of love, as the couple diligently, tirelessly fanned the flames of a fruitful and flourishing enterprise.
It has carved its own identity in the community that has made the place distinctly Dumaguete.
Jo's Chicken Inato's latest, if not biggest outlet is now located along that cozy shoreline in San Jose town.
I missed Jo's Chicken, so in one of our simple gatherings with visiting, former Dumageuteno-friends, I insisted we have lunch at Jo's.
It's always nostalia when you return to something pleasurable, after a long absence.
The chicken barbique tasted the way it was.
We enjoyed eating good old chicken inato, while recounting the days of our childhood.
It was more peaceful, a lot simpler, then.
Stress was a stranger.
But time moves fast and steady like the ticking clock.
Stress is a stranger no longer, but a dreaded companion.
We always want to go back to simpler times.
But now we are only left to savor the food, while we cherish the memories.
We enjoyed while it lasted...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Journey Arnel Pineda Faithfully with Zoo

Here is a video that my son Joshua took of Journey's Filipino lead singer Arnel Pineda belting out "Faithfully" with his former band, The Zoo. This was in May 2008 at Hard Rock Cafe at Glorietta Makati City.

Movies that inspire


One of the things I do, in order to have a “fresh start” next year is to watch old, inspiring movies.
since there are many holidays during Christmas, I squeeze my time to review those old movies that inspire.
Anyway, it would take just two hours per movie.
There are two old movies I plan to watch, which I would like to share.
One is a true story, “All The President’s Men,” a highly acclaimed movie in the 1970’s.
In fact it would have garnered the Best picture in the 1976 annual Academy awards, were it not for the tight competition in that year. It was knocked out by the film “Rocky”.
Other heavy contenders for Best Picture in that year were “Taxi Driver” and “Network.”
“All The President’s Men” was starred and produced by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.
This move inspires me because it is a movie about the pursuit of truth.
Jesus has said “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
As a journalist, it is a mountain of a challenge to pursue the truth, which for the most part, is always elusive.
Many times. the truth is much like fair maiden with a conservative upbringing.
When you pursue it, it always play “hard-to-get.”
As a Christian journalist, pursuing the truth in our writings, is a way to obey the Lord Jesus’ promise that it is always the truth that will set us free.
All The President’s Men” is a ‘re-enactment’ of the fateful events of the Watergate scandal that eventually toppled the Nixon administration.
This is a movie that recounts the events from the perspective of the two young idealist reporters of the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
These two reporters were the spark that ignited that movement leading to the resignation of a U.S. President.
Each time, after I watch this movie, I am always driven to value and pursue the truth more, whether as a lawyer or as journalist.
This is a must-see for young, aspiring journalists.
The other film I would like to watch again is "Shawshank Redemption".
Unlike "All The President's Men", "Shawshank Redemption" is fiction.
But both are critically acclaimed movies.
"Shawshank" is a movie that extolls the values of freedom, friendship and hope.
I cannot forget the line here where Tim Robbins, who plays a wrongly convicted felon Andy Dufresne, said, "Hope is a good thing."
"Shawshank" is also starred by Morgan Freeman, the fellow inmate who became Andy's good friend with whom he demonstrated the virtue of hope.
Amdist the adversities and the difficulties in life, it is still worthwhile to hope, because in life, hope is a good thing.
Hope is liberating.
Hope will set you free.
These two movies I am sharing "All The President's Men" and "Shawshank Redemption" project a common theme: Freedom.
In "All the Preisdent's Men," truth was the liberating element.
In "Shawshank Redemption," it was hope.

Christmas reflections


Christmas, for me has always been a time for reflection.
Christmas is special because I truly believe in salvation through Jesus Christ.
I also believe in my heart that we are saved by God’s grace, not by our deeds. That is how good the Lord is to us, His children.
All the Lord wants from us is to obey His commandment, that is to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength.
So since Christmas is at the end of the year, I usually spend time to reflect whether or not I have fulfilled His commandment.
For me, the genuine measure of success in life is to determine how we have fared in obeying God’s simple commandment.
I try looking back at the significant things that I have done this past year.
Then I find out whether or not these things were in obedience to Gods commandment.
Many times, I must admit, in my reflections, I have failed Him.
I look back what happened this year and I think many times, rather than loving God, I have loved myself with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my strength.
I think that is called selfishness.
Many times, I have taken the easy road, rather than that bumpy road less traveled.
Many times, I have not been honest.
What a tragedy, I must say.
What a failure, I must add.
I recall attending a lecture in Legal Ethics, recently.
The speaker began the lecture by asking how many of the lawyers in attendance have asked for a postponement of a court hearing.
Everyone raised their hands.
The speaker asked, were you honest in your reasons for asking for postponement?
No one answered.
The truth is, there is a host of colorful reasons for skipping court hearings: having diarrhea, the witness has high blood pressure, stomach ache, conflict of schedule, etc.
Lawyers have a reputation of being liars because even in the simplest of things (asking for postponements), they cannot be honest.
Not surprisingly, they become the butt of jokes.
Bato bato sa langit, ang taman huwag magalit.
I have to be “lawyer enough” to admit this.
Guilty.
What is relieving and consoling, is God’s faithful assurance that despite my failures, God will save me out of His grace.
After reflecting, I try to look forward and do better next year.
I hope that we will have time to reflect about our sins this past year, and avoid them next year.
If everyone does this, I think the world will become a better place to live.
Merry Christmas!

Home for the holidays

My family are in Dumaguete for the holidays.
I always look forward to spending Christmas in Dumaguete City, the place I grew up.
In Dumaguete City at Christmas-time I forget everything I do the whole year, or at least try to.
I went to Cebu first last Tuesday for a hearing, before proceeding home by land.
Today we went around town with visiting friends who came from Maryland, the couple Lilibeth Montemayor and husband Joel.
My wife's hi school friends also were with us, namely Emerald Mengrhadjani, Analiza Alviola with husband William Ybanez.
We had lunch at Analiza's home in Valencia.
Later, we had dinner at Hayahay.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mongolian Food

We are fond of Mongolian food.
I don't know exactly what that is.
I can describe it as food mixed with an array of ingredients.
Most of the ingredients are vegetables, like cabbage, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes.
Then you put your choiced meat, chicken, beef, pork.
You mix it with slice onions, crushed ginger, nuts.
There are different choices of sauce you can be mix with the ingredients you have loaded.
Then it is cooked and mixed.
Last weekend, we found this food store that offers Mongolian food at Cash and Carry.
The Store is named Mongolian Quick Stop.
We learned it has branches in SM Makati, and Waltermart along Don Chino Roces.
Very delicious.
We had been captivated by the Mongolian food we ate one dinner in Baguio, the famous Oh My Khan.
The Mongolian Quick Stop offers a similar treat.
Its affordable.
Priced at P175, you can have all the ingredients you can load on the bowl.
For a smaller bowl you can fill it at P139.
Try it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shake Off, Stand over

Today Sunday I attended mass.
The homily was the parable of the "shake-off, stand-over" carabao.
Once there was a carabao that fell onto a dried up well.
When the villagers living in the area learned about this, they tried to kill the carabao.
What they did was to bury the carabao alive in the dry well.
So the villagers threw soil, garbage, dirt, and everything to bury the carabao with.
Each time they threw the soil, garbage and dirt, it settled on the carabao's back.
And each time it settled on the carabao's back, the carabao would shake off its back and remove it, and the soil, garbage and dirt settled to the ground.
Thus, it would allow the carabao to stand over the soil, garbage and dirt.
this happened continuously until the soil, garbage and dirt piled up and the carabao was gradually elevated until it reached the surface.
Instead of burying alive the carabao with soil, garbage and dirt, the carabao used it to stand over after shaking it off.
The morale of the story?
Each time you feel down, when soil, garbage and dirt are thrown upon you.
Just shake it off, and stand over it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Press freedom – a human right

Lest we forget, press freedom is among the universally cherished freedoms around the world.

Evidence of this is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed, and adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations sixty years ago, or on December 10, 1948, to be exact.

One of the cherished values is to respect the opinion of others, and their right to express their opinions, no matter how absurd, irrational, stupid it may be.

The freedom to have an opinion and express it openly is explicitly recognized as a basic human right.

To respect the opinion of others is to uphold human dignity.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights expressly acknowledges that:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

It is incumbent upon all freedom loving people not only to practice the sacred right to hold an opinion and express the same, but to protect it, defend it, and assert it if threatened, specially by the powers the be.

In our local community, and in the experience of the Negros Chronicle, we have encountered various attempts and threats to suppress the free flow of information and opinion, particularly by those who have been given temporary opportunities to sit in the corridors of power.

Instead of cherishing, upholding and promoting this basic human right, those wielding borrowed political power---who by the way are the sterling models of political mediocrity and untold immaturity--- try endlessly to stifle such right.

We thus find it fitting to recall the words of the late Justice Hugo Black, a famed member of the United States Supreme Court, in his concurring opinion in the infamous Pentagon Papers case (New York Times versus United States, 402 U.S. 713 [1971]) where the Nixon administration had tried to suppress the flow of vital information relating to the Vietnam war:

The Press was protected so that it could bare the secrets
of the government and inform the people. Only a free and
unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in
government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a
free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government
from deceiving the people.
"

We thus re-commit our obligation as freedom-loving individuals, not only to practice these liberties, but to defend them, and assert them, so the free flow of information to the people is maintained.

We join the whole community of nations yearning for freedom, as we commemorate that historic proclamation of fundamental and basic human rights sixty years ago by people united in belief, and uncompromisingly committed to uphold human dignity.

Friday, December 12, 2008

P11M Amlan hydropower plant to be built

An P11M hydropower plant will soon begin construction in Amlan, the first hydro power plant to be built in Negros Oriental, to serve the electricity needs of the town and nearby areas.
This was learned from Juan Eugenio “Johnny” Roxas, who hails from Dumaguete City, and is the president of ICS Renewables, the company that won the bidding for the hydro facility
Located in Sitio Pasalan, Barangay Silab, Amlan, Negros Oriental, the Amlan plant is the first power facility to be constructed in the province. According to Mr. Roxas, “it is designed to operate as a base-load plant, supplying the town of Amlan and nearby villages.”
Last Wednesday Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) conducted a state auction for the Amlan hydro power plant.
ICS Renewables topped the bidding, after it offered US$230,000 (or P11,270,000.00) for the Negros Oriental-based generating facility.
“The winning bid exceeded the reserve price set by the PSALM Board for the generating asset,” the state-run company said in a statement, without disclosing any figures.
ICS Renewables is a newly incorporated, Filipino-owned company engaged in the manufacture of alternative fuels. Its president is Mr. Juan Eugenio “Johnny” Roxas of Dumaguete City.
The firm is also involved in acquiring, developing, owning, leasing, subleasing, operating and managing real and personal property of every kind and description, including but not limited to, properties using alternative fuels and other environment-friendly device or equipment.
ICS Renewables would be declared the winning bidder of the Amlan plant as soon as PSALM has verified the accuracy, authenticity and completeness of the bid documents that the company had submitted. Psalm will then issue the Notice of Award to formally notify ICS Renewables as the winning bidder.
With the sale of the Amlan hydro plant, PSALM closed the government’s power privatization program for 2008 on a positive note as it successfully bid out more than its targeted 70 percent of the National Power Corp.’s generating assets in the Luzon and Visayas grids.
PSALM achieved its privatization goal for this year after successfully selling the 146.5-megawatt Panay and 22-megawatt Bohol power plant package on November 12.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tough times hit home

If you think the United States is so far away that the Philippines is not affected by the recession, think again.
Tough times have hit home---this early.
My fear is, its going to get worse next year.
One of the hardest hit is the call center industry here.
Marsha, a friend's wife works in a call center.
Her employer laid off call center agents in a snap, when one of its largest U.S. clients pulled out.
In a call center, you can loose your job in a flash.
Fortunately, Marsha was able to jump to another call center job, owing to her experience.
Maureen, a cousin, works in a Japanese-owned forwarding company operating in Cebu and Manila.
She said exports to the U.S. have fallen sharply.
"If you talk about one hundred fifty container vans exported before, now you have only twenty container vans shippped out," she said.
Graphically, that's how steep the fall in exports is, she said.
Home Depot in the U.S. used to order thousands of pots (for plants) from Cebu regularly.
The exports have stopped as Home Depot discontinued ordering Cebu-made pots.
Cebuano pot manufacturing workers, suddenly lost their jobs.
A friend's father works in a casino in Las Vegas.
If the tip in casinos before was US$600, today its US$60, we learned.
This means far lesser dollars remitted to relatives in the Philippines.
Rey, a structural enginner who holds a managerial position in a U.S.-based firm in Manila, said that they had a major client in the U.S. who engaged their building-design services.
The contract with their structural engineering firm was inked already, while the client was awaiting release of the proceeds of a multi-million dollar loan in the U.S. to fund the building construction.
The U.S. loan did not materialize, hence the structural engineering agreement abruptly came to a standstill---no more money.
The U.S. recession indeed, has directly affected, and will continue to affect the Philippine economy.
Manny Pacquiao is the exception.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Journey Arnel Pineda Open Arms with Zoo at Hard Rock Makati

Journey's Arnel Pineda belts out the band's classic ballad Open Arms, with The Zoo at the Hard Rock Cafe in Makati City. This was in May 2008 before he left to join Journey on its Europe and U.S. tour.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Pacquiao - De La Hoya Dream Fight

HBO production of the Pacquiao De La hOya Dream fight on December 6, 2008 lifted from http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos

Journey Arnel Pineda: Don't Stop Believin'

When Journey's Filipino lead singer Arnel Pineda was set to leave for his European and U.S. tour with Journey early this year, he gave out a "drop-by" concert at the Hard Rock Cafe at the Glorietta in Makati City.
Upon learning this, we dropped by ourselves to catch a glimpse of our idol, with my son Joshua, and wife Ruby.
As I have said, Arnel Pineda is a unique musical phenomenon because he has bridged the generational gap that usually separates a father's musical choice from that of his next-genration son.
But Joshua and I share common choice of music in Journey.
While I grew up with Steve Perry, Joshua opened his arms to Journey with Arnel Pineda.
But we both love Journey's music. We share a common passion.
So we watched Arnel Pineda at Hard Rock dish out Journey classics appreciated by both parent and child.
That, you cannot experience with many other bands or singers.
We took video shots of the Hard Rock affair.
One of them was Journey's signature song: Don't Stop Believin'

Friday, December 05, 2008

Perdices debuts on witness stand


For the first time last Tuesday December 3, 2008, the city mayor Agustin R. Perdices took the witness stand as complainant-witness int he sala of Judge Antonio Estoconing.
Perdices testified to prove how he was deeply hurt about an article published in the Negros Chronicle, written by columnist Dindo P. Generoso on May 20, 2007, after the May 14, 2007 elections.
Perdices has accused Generoso of abusing his rights when he wrote the hurtful article. He accused Generoso of defamation. He is demanding that Generoso pay him P300,000 pesos in damages.
In his testimony, Perdices said Generoso caused him damage when Generoso, in his column, attributed the loss of Atty. Arturo Umbac in the 2007 mayoral elections to a criminal conspiracy and felonious act of electoral fraud involving Perdices.
Perdices also complained that Generoso had accused him (Perdices) of robbery, by robbing Atty. Umbac of his victory in the elections.
It was a rare privilege to "baptize" Perdices as he debuted on cross-examination.
I am not sure if he enjoyed it as I did. It was fun.
Perdices struggled particularly when he was asked to point out where in the article he based his charges, so as to enable him to extract P300,000 from Dindo Generoso.
He engaged in round-about responses. When pressed, his answer was "You have to read the whole article," or "It is implied."
In other words, one has to resort to imaginations to see the complained defamation.
That is the theory according to Perdices.
He miserably failed to point out in court the defamatory language and words he was accusing Dindo Generos of having written.
The defense here is quite simple: Res Ipsa Loquitor.
The article will speak for itself.
Just to recall, here again is that very article itself.
Kindly read and see if you can find the defamatory and abusive imputations that Perdices is accusing Dindo Generoso of.

"When trends are established in cavassing election returns, it is unlikely that it will change much. It didn't change much for the counsilors as much as it did not for the vice-mayoraltyrace TO THE VERY END. BUT IT DID FOR THE MAYORALTY RESULTS! From LESS THAN ONE HUNDRED VOTES AHEAD, the incumbent's lead streatche dto more than FOUR THOUSAND VOTES AFTER THE COUNTING WAS ILLEGALLY STOPPED FOR AT LEAST TWELVE HOURS WITH A QUICK BROWNOUT TO BOOT.
As if it had no connection to how the people voted for councilors and vice-mayor, it assumed a life of its own. Sec. 231 of the Comelec's RULES OF CANVASSING VOTES is very SPECIFIC in stating "It shall meet CONSINTUOUSLY...until THE CANVASS IS COMPLETE..." offering no allowable excuse why it should be stopped other than running out of votes to be canvassed.
Elections are not ordinary democratic exercises and stopping the canvassing "BECAUSE THE CANVASSERS ARE TIRED..." constitutes no less than tht echoking of democracy and the violation of the sacred right to vote. It needs to be addressed and the perpetrators prosecuted for this criminal offense of desecrating the people's democratic voice and the mockeryh of the electoral process.
The COLLECTIVE GUILT rests on those cnavassers who "became tired..." and the COMELEC officer who allowed the stopping of the canvassing, specifically Sec. 231. Under this rule CANVASSING SHOULD NEVER BE STOPPED! If canvassers get tired, they should be replaced.
"Until this can be sufficiently EXPLAINED, this columnists believes, that Mr. Arturo Umbac has been ROBBED of his apparent road victory in the last elections. The people's VOICE has been clear fromt eh very start of the canvassing; establishing a likely loss of hte incumbent mayhor. it didn't change much for the councilors and the Vice-mayor; IT DID ONLY FOR THE MAYORALTY RESULTS.
Strange huh? It might be good to hear from the father and son team, Lagahit & Lagahit, mayor's sidekick and city legal officer on how this can possibly happen! Will the people of Dumaguete have the political will to correct this apparent choking of democratic rights? Mr. Umbac's resigning not to fight for his rights puts this issue on the people's court. After all it was the people's voice which was baltantly stifled. We can only have what we deserve, right? Have a nice day!"

Monday, December 01, 2008

Touring Tagaytay


Last Sunday November 30, 2008 my high school batchmates and I took advantage of the long weekend and brought our families to Tagatay City, some 55 kilomters from Metro Manila.
With us were John Lee Lim who planed in from Zamboanga del Norte, Cenon Voltaire Repollo and his girfriend Valeska Vicente, Alex Abregana and wife Tricia, Judy Bajarias, wife Marsha Sygaco-Bajarias with daughters Sandy and Alessa. I was joined by wife Ruby and Josh.
We motored to RSM restaurant, one of the cozy places that gives a panoramic view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano.
RSM is known for tehir specialty which is their uniquely-cooked Tawilis, a native fish from Tagaytay Lake and their special Bulalo.
We ordered both. It was delicious. It was re-charging, after an hours drive from Manila.
Actually, we were invited for the birthday party of another high school batchmate, Joseph Walde, who is now based in Sta Rosa Laguna.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The cityhood bottomline


The bottomline in the bid for cityhood by many municipalities is money.
If a municipality succeeds in converting itself into a city, its share in the pie for Internal Revenue Allotment shots up to the sky.
It is a financial bonanza for the local government unit.
The Supreme Court Decision last November 18, 2008 that ushered a stinging debacle to Guihulngan, in its futile bid to become a city, is not yet final and executory.
I don't even know if the the Guihulngan local government has already received its own copy of the decison.
The fifteen-day period to appeal (reconsdieration) starts to count upon receipt of the decision by Guihulngan being one of the respondents.
So up to now, Guihulngan can still regard itself as a city, and it can continue to receive its share in Internal Revenue Allotments as a city.
What Guihulngan, and perhaps the rest of the defeated municipalities, properly need to do is to appeal through a motion for reconsideration with the high court.
It is not a unanimous decision, but a divided one, mind you.
I couldn't feel the passion in the hearts of these municipalities in seeking to be converted a city, until I was given a computation by our technical people on local governments from the office of Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., like Director Eliuterio Domugho, and staff member Katrina Infante.
Let's take the example of Guihulngan.
This year alone (2008), if Guihulngan maintains itself as a city, its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) would shoot up to P287,133,055.45.
But if it reverted back to a municipality, Guihulngan's IRA for 2008 would be just P97,362,841.98.
In the year 2009 Guihulngan's IRA as a city would have amounted to P341,526,420.06
But if it is reverted to a municipality, Guihulngan's computed ITR for 2009 would only be P115,434,707.97.
If a town is converted into a city, its IRA share jumps to almost three times bigger in IRA share than when it was still a town.
This is the sole reason why there is that so-called "mad rush" to cityhood.
The existing cities, naturally won't like this as their share in the IRA woule be reduced to accomodate the new cities.
For the cities, they don't like more members bcause many will be sharing their pie.
The problem does not end with the Supreme Court decision.
What happens now to the city offices created by these "converted-reverted" LGUs?
Guihulngan, I suppose has created its city division schools with staff, even local court personnel.
What do we do with these newly created offices now with the reversion of Guihulngan into a municipality?
What happens to the newly hired employees? Terminate them?
Impliedly, the decision declared the cityhood void and unconstitutional.
So these newly created offices reserved only for cities should be obliterated?
What's your opinion?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Manila Penn siege--- one year ago

It was one year ago today that Senator Antonio Trillanes led the siege of the Manila Penninsula at hte heart of Makati City.
It began with Trillanes walking out of his hearing at the Makati court of Judge Oscar Pimentel at at the 33rd floor.
He was supposedlly fetched by armed sympathizers, who were able to bring their guns to the courts despite tight security.
Co-incidentally I was at the Makati court at that time for a hearing.
With my cellphone camera, I was able to take video shots of as the drama unravelled.
Little did I know that while I was recording, Trillanes was already at the elevator going down.
If you notice the video there was shouting from where the elevagtors were located.
I was standing in front of the court of Judge Pimentel.
Below is that video.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Duped

I have a strong feeling I'ved been duped by a car repair shop.
About two weeks ago, or November 13, 2008 to be precise, I had the break pads of my vehicle replaced, by a near-by car repair shop.
It was sort of urgent as it involved car breaks so I decided to immediately have it repair at a nearby car re pair shop.
I have permanent car-maintenance shop in Evangelista owned by my friend.
The changing of the break pads total cost amounted to P4,025.
When I made a test drive, I noticed an unaffiliated sound in the front.
I notified the owner-manager of the car repair shop who told me to bring back the vehicle.
Two days after the repair, on NOvember 15, 2008, I left it in the car shop as I had other professional engagements that day.
I called the car repair manager for an update, and he told me that the sound did not emanate from the break, or did not arise from the repairs in the vehicle break facilities.
When I went to the car repair shop I was handed a "job estimate" to repair the alien sound in the front of the vehicle.
The job estimate cost P4,870.
I did not proceed with the job repair.
I did not use the vehicle until seven days after.
I used the vehicle on the sevenths, eighth and eleventh day or on November 26, 2008.
On the seventh day from the last check up with the car repair shop, I already noticed the vehicle to be "dancing" while driven.
On November 26, 2008 I discovered the front right tire was abruptly shaven on the outer portion.
It displayed the symptoms of a disaligned vehicle.
I have strong suspicions of foul play.
I immeidately called up my friend from my "in-house" car repair shop.
My friend share the same suspicions.
They are going to undertake an inspection and compare it with the items in the "job estimate".
They said they can determine whether something was done to the vehicle.
My permanent car repair shop also said they have a record of the previous maintenance of my vehicle.
This should merit a legal action.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gigi drops by


California-based Silliman high school classmate Giselle Gigi Gonzales dropped by Manila recently enroute to L.A. with her husband Denden Vestil and sons Kurt and Sean.
We had dinner together at Dampa district in Macapagal Avenue.
This is a place were you eat fresh seafoods like Baked cheese Tahong, buttered shrimp, crabs, among others.
Also with us were high school classmate Girlie Espiritu and her husband and daughter.
Ruby and I were classmates with Gigi in college at the College of Business Administration at Silliman.
Gigi says she is pursuing her master's degree in the U.S.
Husband Denden, who is originally from Cebu, work in a top company supplying packing machines worldwide. He is a frequent traveller, that is why he says travelling aboard airplanes is one thing he does enjoy.

Taal Vista Hotel

I recently attended the three-day 34th Top Level Management Conference of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).
The venue was at the plush Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City.
This was I think the former Taal Vista Lodge.
I was surprised, or if not amazeed, at the massive facelift of Taal Vista Hotel, which is now run by the SM group, which has ventured into the hotel industry.
There is an expansion going on, with the contruction of new hotel rooms, new convention facilities, among others.
I was holed up in a pretty large room, that had one large, king-sized bed and one single bed.
The bathroom was spacious.
I took some pictures just to show the improvements on this hotel.
I recommend this for a quick get-away from the busy metropolis.
I say "quick getaway", because Tagaytay is not far away from Manila as Baguio is.
Tagaytay is a summer destination in the Philippines.
It is perhaps the coolest place to be, outside Baguio City.
Baguio is 280 kilometers away from Manila.
Tagytay is only sixty kilometers away, down south.
Its just an hour-and-a-half drive from Manila
By the way, it is at Taal vista where you can have the best view of Taal Lake and Volcano.
If you havent been to Tagaytay for five or ten years, there's been a major face lift of the city.
Tagytay was not what it was five or ten years ago.
There are now many restraurants, places to stay.
The lastest to build is the Robinsons group which just opened about a month ago.
Robinson built a big grocery store, with condominiums ore condotels nearby.
I frequent Taygaytay because I have some cases pending in that single sala court there.


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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bahura


Take a breather when you're in Negros Oriental.
I would recommend you come visit Bahura.
It is a resort by the sea, in the town of Dauin, less than twenty kilometers south of Dumaguete City.
Not long ago, my parents treated us to a stay in Bahura.
It's got the larget outdoor swimming pool in the province.
I found Bahura relaxing.
You would likely notice the cool gush of the soft, morning breeze that touches the skin of your face.
In Bahura you would also notice the abounding coconut tress that are left undisturbed, which contributes to that naturally cool wind.
Bahura completes the laid-back life that you experience while in Dumaguete.
Bahura, I recall, offers a buffet lunch.
My son Josh specially enjoyed night swimming in their pool with cousins.
Bahura's got spacious rooms. There was one large bed, I think bigger than the king sized bed, plus there were other smalled beds. I think it was a family room we stayed in.
Bahura is the place if you desire your vacation to be private, and quiet.
There are times you feel you just don't want to be distubed, away from work.
Bahura would be a nice place to hang out.



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Guihulngan is a city no more

Guihulngan’s bid to be the sixth and newest city of Negros Oriental has been thwarted after the Supreme Court last Tuesday (November 18) voided the town’s cityhood law.
The biggest setback suffered by Guihulngan is the reduciton of its share in the Internal Revenue Allotments.
Guihulngan stood to receive a much larger IRA share had it remained a city.
According to Director Terry Domugho, a native of neighbroing La Libertad, and our go-to-guy when it comes to local government data, information and issues, a town stands to receive about three times its I.R.A. share (as a town) if it is converted into a city.
He promised to provide the data for Guihulngan, particularly comparative figures on its I.R.A. share.
The high court in an en banc ruling (G.R. No. 177499) Tuesday declared as unconstitutional Republic Act No. 9409, the law that converted the municipality of Guihulngan into a city.
It became law on March 24, 2007.
However, subsequently, the League of cities filed a petition in the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional such “cityhood law”, along with fifteen other similar laws that converted towns into cities.
According to the league of cities, the “cityhood” laws violated the constitution because it exempted Guilhulngan and other similar towns from complying with the income requirement in the local government code.
The local government code Section 450, requires that in order for a town to be eligible to become a city, it must have an income of at least P100-million.
The local government code also prescribes minimum size and population for an applicant town.
But when the Guihulngan “cityhood” law was enacted, it contained a provision (Section 61) that exempted the town from complying with the income requirement in the local government code.
The League of cities, represented by the cities of Bais and Bayawan for Negros Oriental, protested the unfairness.
The leagues argued there is no basis for making such exemptions from compliance with the income requirement.
The Supreme Court agreed saying that the constitution specifically requires that the criteria prescribed in the local government code in order for a town to become a city must be followed.
The Supreme Court cited Section 10 Article X of the 1987 constitution which provides that: “No …city…shall be created,… except in accordance with the criteria established in the local government code.
“Congress cannot create a city through a law that does not comply with the criteria or exemption found in the Local Government Code,” the Supreme Court declared.
The creation of cities must be through a general law, meaning the local government code, and not “cityhood” laws, the court noted.
But the policy protest of the league of cities is that they don’t want towns to become cities, and eventually share in the internal revenue allotments for cities, by making short-cuts (not complying with the income threshold requirement).
The Supreme court also cited Section 6 Article X of the constitution which provides that: “Local government units shall have a just share in the national taxes”
If towns are allowed to become cities without complying with the prescribed criteria in the local government code, then it would subvert the constitutional mandate for cities to have a “just share” share in the national taxes.

High school reunion videos

I just uploaded some of the video shots of our high school reunion held during the Founder's Day activities at Silliman University in Dumaguete City.
It was our twentieth year since high school graduation.
The activities were more elaborate since it was a major, week-long gathering.
I volunteered to be the video and picture taker for the event for purposes of posterity.
Below is one of the uploads I made on Youtube.



Off-road vehicles

I flew to Dumaguete recently for a professional engagement.
I was surprised when I arrived at my parents' home when there were huge, skeletal jeeps parked in front.
I realized these were off-road vehicles that were tmeporarily parked and were on their way for an off-road activity.
I was told that there is now a venue for off-road vehicles.
I was more surprised to hear that this is quite an expensive hobby.
One of the young owners of one of the jeeps I asked said that his vehicle already cost him more than one million pesos.
Off road jeeps are a combination of different parts to enable it to traverse difficult off road tracks.
I was also told that in order to even own one off-road jeep, it would cost at least three hundred thousand pesos.
What an expensive hobby!
This does not include the costs of maintenance, and perhaps re-modelling and improving these vehicles.
But the jeeps looked cool and rugged, I must admit.
Huge tires, elevated chassis, almost open air on all sides.
I couldn't afford this hobby.
So I contented myself by just taking pictures.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Digging into the Fertilizer fund scam

We should congratulate Representative George Arnaiz for coming forward to explain how he used the five million pesos which the province received for fertilizers to help our poor farmers with their farming efforts.
This five million pesos is part (kuno) of the P728-million “fertilizer fund scam” which is now being investigated by the Senate.
The allegation is that the P728-million was mis-used and eventually diverted to bankroll the candidacy of President Arroyo 2004.
On the hot seat is the former Agriculture Department undersecretary Jocelyn “joke-joke” Bolante, who has been alleged to be the architect of the fund mis-use and diversion.
Bolante has flatly denied the accusations under oath, on nationwide television before a Senate inquiry.
Rep. George Arnaiz (who was governor during the distribution of the controversial funds) has confirmed that five million pesos was actually received for Negros Oriental farmers.

The explanation

Rep. Arnaiz explained, and as published in this paper, that everything was in order and that five million pesos was used for the benefit of the farmers, and that no money went to private pockets.
I fully believe our good Rep. George Arnaiz.

Change of public purpose?

However, there are some points in his explanation that left me unsatisfied.

First question: Joke-joke Bolante testified under oath before the House investigation that "not a single centavo" of the fund went to any congressman, governor, or mayor. So what is this five million pesos admittedly received by the provincial government?
Second question: Why was part of the five million pesos received by the province (P1.75-million), used to buy “farm equipments” instead of fertilizers?
It was reported that when an additional P1.75 million was released by DBM representing the second tranche of the fertilizer fund, the provincial government decided to use it to buy farm equipments instead.
The farm equipments (which obviously are not fertilizers) include thresher/shellers, hand tractor, flat bed dryers.
Third question: Who has the discretion to switch the use of public funds from one public purpose (fertilizers), to another public purpose (farm equipments).

Boncodin testimony

May I refer to the 2006 Senate Committee report under former Senator Jun Magsaysay.
Former Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin testified before the committee that: The release of funds made by the DBM was for farm inputs which could incorporate fertilizers, seeds and even insecticides.
But the actual purpose for which the same will be used will depend on the Department of Agriculture” Boncodin said.
It is thus clear that it is the D.A. that decides the “actual purpose” for which the funds are to be used, not the local government.
Fourth question: What is the legal basis of the local government unit in changing the public purpose of public funds from “fertilizers” to “farm equipments”?
I am asking these question on the angle of technical malversation.
Technical malversation may arise if public funds are applied to a public use (farm equipments) other than that for which the fund has been appropriated (fertilizers).

The constitutional violation

May I kindly remind that we have a specific constitutional mandate in Section 25(2) Article VI that provides:"No provision or enactment shall be embraced in the general appropriations bill unless it relates specifically to some particular appropriation therein. Any such provision or enactment shall be limited in its operation to the appropriation to which it relates."
It seems to me that the constitutional command that appropriations must be particularized and specific has been blatantly violated.
We hear testimony that money was given to local government officials. Some admit fertilizers were given (not cash). Other say the money was used to buy local fertilizers, and local farm equipment. Sir George says he received money and he conducted bidding on fertilizers and farm equipments. Ano ba talaga?
What does the national budget (the appropriations law) say?
Who has discretion? Bolante? The D.A.? The congressman? The governor?
Was the appropriations law followed in the P728-fertilizer fund?

Biggest Source of corruption

Do you know what is the biggest source of corruption in government?
Its called "Lump sum appropriations".
My theory is that lump sum appropriations are unconstitutional.
Lump sum appropriations are not particularized appropriations.
That is why funds are juggled, because they are appropriated in lump sum.
With lump sum approrpiations, the executive department(starting with the President)and the legislators, are just too happy because they have spacious room and wide latitude to juggle and maneuver our taxes to their liking (i.e. bankroll elections).
As one lawmaker asked: "What are we in power for?"
This is another good article to write about.

Better probing

With all due respect to our probing legislators, if they want to pin down Bolante, they should focus their questions on the constitutional provisions on appropriations.
They should determine whether the constitution (provisions on appropriations) was violated.
Then they should tie this issue with the criminal laws on malversation, technical malversation, and graft (RA 3019).
I used to work in the Senate Blue Ribbon committee. Questions are supposed to be thoughtfully prepared.
But it seems Bolante is more prepared--and very intelligent.
One unwritten rule has been violated in these legislative questionings: Do not ask open-ended questions when you have an intelligent witness.
If you do, the witness will drive you around town on a joyride.
And that is what Bolante has done successfully.

Why was there a local bidding?

What also disturbs me is the “bidding” conducted by the provincial government. This needs to be clarified.
Rep. Arnaiz’s explanation is that there was a (local) public bidding for the purchase of the fertilizers.
He publicized the winning bidders/suppliers of fertilizers.
However, I thought the P728-million fertilizer program was already a centralized negotiated contract between the Department of Agriculture and the controversial fertilizer supplier (Feshan).
It was the late journalist Marelene Esperat who exposed this “negotiated contract,” which many believed was the reason for her assassination.
So why did the provincial government conduct a local bidding for fertilizers, when there was already a negotiated contract between DA and the supplier Feshan?
If you were the entity/supplier with a contract with the Department of Agriculture already, and the local government unit still conducts a bidding to award to somebody else, how would you react? Will you be happy? Won't you sue?
It doesn't make sense, does it?

D.A. the procuring entity, not the LGU

Besides, the P728-million fertilizer fund is an appropriation to the Department of Agriculture (AFMA) and not to the provincial government.
So it should be the D.A. that should conduct the bidding or negotiated contract.
Under the procurement law (R.A. 9184) it is the D.A. that is the procuring entity (not the provincial government).
Under the general appropriations law, the fertilizer fund is an appropriation to the D.A., through the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), not to the provincial government.

Doubts

There are quite interesting points in the good congressman’s explanations which I have compared with the Senate committee report.
Unfortunately, in my reading, many things do not match (Dili mo takdo).
I am thus prompted to ask: Is the five million pesos referred to by the good congressman in his explanation, really a part of the controversial P728-million fertilizer fund?
I doubt it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If your celphone is stolen, have it blocked

Celphone has become one of the coveted targets for stealing and snatching.
According to one observer, cellphones have become hot targets because nowadays, unlike a kiss, a celphone is not just a celphone.
A cellphone now has digital camera, digital video, MP3, internet facility, and other fancy accessories.
What should you do when somebody steals your cellphone?
Have the cellpone blocked by the NTC.
Cellphone blocking render the cellphone unusable.
When blocked, a cellpphone becomes useless.
Besides, then the cellpphone is sold by the one who stole it, there will be trouble when the cellphone isblocked.
What do you do when your cellphone is stolen?
You report it to the National Telecommunications Commission.
It is quite easy to have a cellphone blocked.
The NTC has prepared a pro-forma affidavit which will be deemed the formal request for blocking.
You just fill in the blanks.
The form of the affdavit is available at the NTC website www.ntc.gov.ph.
Generally required are you identification, proof of ownership or police report, among others.
Where do you file it?
At any NTC office whether the national office in Quezon City, any of the regional offices, or the NTC sattelite offices.
Better still, you can fax the form and other required documentary attachments to the NTC offices in Quezon City at (02) 924-3736.
Within one week from filing, the cellphone will be rendered unusable.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Our taxes used for private purpose?

In relation to the issue of public funds used for private purposes, I re-call a case on this regard: Wenceslao Pascual v Secretary of Public Works (G.R. L-10405, decided Dec. 29, 1960).
In the 1950’s, Gov. Wenceslao Pascual of Rizal province filed a case questioning the appropriation of P85,000 to be used purportedly for the construction repair extension and expansion of “feeder road terminals” in Pasig.
According to Gov. Pascual, these so-called feeder roads were yet planned subdivision roads that were not yet constructed.
Worse, the sites of these feeder roads were located within a private subdivision owned by a Senator, Jose C. Zulueta, which feeder roads do not connect to a government road or highway.
But just prior to the approval of this appropriation law, Senator Zulueta wrote the municipal council, offering to donate the projected feeder roads to the municipality of Pasig.

The charge

The charge of Gov. Pascual was that inasmuch as the projected feeder roads in question were private property at the time of the passage and approval of the appropriations law, such appropriation of P85,000.00 for the construction, reconstruction, repair, extension and improvement of said projected feeder roads, was "illegal.
In short, Gov. Pascual charged that public funds were appropriated for a private purpose, which is illegal and unconstitutional.
The case was eventually elevated to the Supreme Court.

The issue

The issue brought before the court was whether or not the appropriation of P85,000 to construct a projected feeder road upon a location that was privately owned was legal or illegal.
The Supreme Court ruled the particular appropriation was illegal and, therefore void.
In this case, the Supreme Court laid down the rules and standards in determining whether a certain appropriation can be considered for public or private use.
In determining whether an appropriation is for public or private use, consequently it will be determined whether an appropriation is legal or illegal.

What is the test, according to the court?

The test of the constitutionality of a statute requiring the use of public funds is whether the statute is designed to promote the public interests, as opposed to the furtherance of the advantage of individuals, although each advantage to individuals might incidentally serve the public

According to the Supreme Court, inasmuch as the land on which the projected feeder roads were to be constructed belonged then to respondent Zulueta, the result is that said appropriation sought a private purpose, and, hence, was void.

Wenceslao Pascual v Secretary is a case commonly discussed in first year law school under constitutional law to find out, and to learn what is public purpose (legal) and private purpose (illegal).

Relating to the appropriation for T-shirts

Let us relate this important case of Wenceslao Pascual v Secretary of Public works, to the insistence of the city government to appropriate funds (reportedly P200,000.00) for T-shirts of city government employees.

The city government is inclined to push through with this T-shirt appropriation.
The argument, we read, is that anyway the T-shirts are to be used many times over in various activities.
The next argument is that the council determines what is necessary, therefore finding this necessity, then it can appropriate our taxes to buy T-shirts for city employees.

Applying the Supreme Court test

If we follow the test applied by the Supreme Court, the question is: will the appropriation for T-shirts of city employees promote the interests of ordinary taxpayers like you and me?
If so, how does the appropriation of funds to buy T-shirts for city employees promote our interests as a taxpayers?
If city government employees wear T-shirts on parades, how does that promote and advance the general welfare of citizens?
Let’s be more liberal. How will the wearing of T-shirts by city employees even remotely or incidentally advance the welfare of taxpayers and the community?
Can the city government explain that to us ordinary citizens, whose hard-earned taxes are to be used to buy these T-shirts?

To be used many times

The argument advanced to back the T-shirt appropriation is that “anyway the T-shirts will be used many times” in various activities.
Even if that T-shirt is worn a thousand times, we still go back to the basic question: How will these T-shirts advance and promote the welfare of ordinary taxpayers?
Will the taxpayers’ money not be put to better use if the city instead buy more equipment for our police, who until now are still using vintage police vehicles?
Which would advance and promote the public welfare?
Let’s call a spade a spade: Will the T-shirt appropriation advance the public interest, or the politicians’ interest?

Necessity

Another argument advanced by the city to justify the T-shirt appropriation is that it is the council that determines what is necessary or not.
This argument is at the height of misplaced political arrogance.
The issue is not necessity.
The issue is legality.
Besides, how has it become necessary to buy T-shirts for city employees?
Are city employees walking around naked, that they need to be clothed?
Where is the necessity?
Are the T-shirts merely for aesthetics?
Is aesthetics tantamount to necessity?

Appeal

Hence we kindly appeal to our trustworthy (“kasaligan”) public servants at city hall.
We are guided by laws and rules laid down by the Congress and the Supreme Court.
We follow these rules so that there will be order and progress in society.
That is why there is such a thing as upholding “the rule of law” not the rule of rogue public officials.
We hope that those entrusted with our hard-earned taxes will properly use it to promote the welfare of the whole community, not a handful of political supporters.
Otherwise, we just have to appeal to the electorate to remember these untrustworthy public officials in the coming election.
We, in the press, assure you:
We will not forget.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Joshua turns ten


Today, November 8, 2008 Joshua turns ten.
More than anything else, he's excited on his birthday.
He wants to buy something at a department store.
We treated him at Burger King, a favorite burger store of his.
We ordered one Whopper meal, and shared it among the three of us.
One big burger is enough for us three.
A little later he bought a toy at Landmark.
Then we bought home a chicken for dinner.
In the evening, we watched fireworks display near our home.
We took some pictures.
Surprisingly, our old reliable Olympus delivered interesting shots.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mines View Park Today

We recently took the weekend off and motored 280 kilometers to Baguio City.
My wife Ruby, Josh, and I didn't realize it's been five years since we last visited the country's coolest city.
Baguio's cool, literally and figuratively.
In grade school, Baguio's taught as the "summer capital of the Philippines."
It's called Pine City because of the countless pine trees that litter accross the slopes of the Baguio mountains that contribute to that chilly atmosphere.
One of the places we re-visited was Mines View Park.
This is the place on a mountaintop where spectators can take a panoramic and breath-taking view of the mountains and the valleys that make Baguio alluring to both foreign and domestic tourists.
What were the news things we saw in Baguio?
There's that new SM mall that sits on a pedestal on an elevated plain.
It's the first time we went to that enormous "mall on a mountain".
What's new at Mines View?
Well, we noticed a greater number of Asian tourists (Koreans, Chinese?), and a growing number of stalls in the area.
Below is a video of what Mines View Park looks on a typical day.

COA, the press, and good governance

We have, in this space, shared a series of interesting incidents in local governance through the regular reports of the Commission on Audit (COA).
When I was handed copies of COA reports, it has been a feeling of bitter-sweet.
It is sweet to see that the COA reports are a “goldmine,” in terms of trying to see how governance can be improved, particularly in trying to plug the loopholes to prevent taxpayers money from being unnecessarily drained.
At the same time, it is bitter to read how our hard-earned taxes have been wasted and illegally disbursed by public servants who have been entrusted to take care of public funds.
Public funds, we have discovered, have been funneled to what we call "bubble-gang disbursements", illegally channeled to private purposes.
We have seen innovative ways to divert public funds away from intended purposes.
It is sickening.
Nevertheless, we have noticed that the COA reports we have been furnished so far have been sincerely attempting to promote good governance, and the proper handling of the peoples’ funds.
Unfortunately, the COA recommendations have fallen on deaf ears.
The illegal activities (read: corruption) continue unabated.
We cannot let the moment pass without thanking our tireless COA personnel, commnedable public servants, who have been trying to correct what is wrong with government.
This is not an easy task, considering the political pressures that come with the job.
This is not to say that the COA is totally insulated from the creeping claws of corruption.
We have also seen certain COA personnel and officers (not in Negros Oriental) who have yielded to worldly desires, and who have succumb to the charms of corruption.
You can easily see when a COA report is tainted with corruption because the report “sees-no-evil” and “hears-no-evil”. Thus we "read-no-evil."
A corrupted COA report is like pornography.
You know it when you see it.
But not the COA reports we have read so far.
That is why we, in the media have been willing instruments and collaborators with the COA in pursuit of good governance.
We are willing to be disseminators to the public of official COA findings, so that the people will know how their hard earned taxes are being used and spent, or misspent (like for nose repair).
We in the press will continue to do our share in exercising vigilance because we feel and we know that people don't want their tax money wasted.
Our role as disseminators of information on matters of public concern is well defined.
COA audits. Media reports.
Our hope is that the public too, will do their share in exercising vigilance over the affairs of government.
COA alone cannot do it.
Media alone cannot do it.
But together, as a people, we can help build a better government.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Directions in going to Baguio

I was trying to seek directions in going to Baguio City through the internet.
I came accross this site: http://www.aaphilippines.org/_newsdata/5/object/alternate%20route.pdf

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Local swine scam exposed

The Commission on Audit has exposed what is deemed to be the local version of the “swine scam” involving top officials of the Dumaguete city agriculture office.
The Commission on Audit (COA) has uncovered several anomalies involving city agriculturist Engr. Alfredo delos Santos and staff in his office, in connection withy the city government’s Swine Fattening–Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project (GNPLP).
The Swine Fattening Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project (GNPLP) aims to give recipients the feeds required for swine fattening.
Under this program the recipients, after selling the fattened swine, will pay the value of the feeds they had received, plus one percent.
The COA has found out that there is an unaccounted balance or “shortage” or “deficiency” in the financial records of this project.
The COA has also found out that the beneficiaries of this swine fattening project were the wife of the city agriculturist, and three of his staff.
The COA also discovered that after public funds were released to purchase the swine feeds, not a single centavo has been repaid to the city government, since the repayments by the beneficiaries were diverted and treated as “revolving fund” in the name of the management committee.
“As of December 31, 2007, not a single centavo has been returned to the city,” the COA reported.

Conflict of interest

The city agriculturist, Engr. Alfredo Delos Santos, appears to be suffering from a conflict of interest.
The COA reported: “An examination of the list of recipients/beneficiaries showed three (3) employees of the City Agriculturist’s Office availed of the program.”
The COA reported added: “An immediate member of the OIC City Agriculturist availed of the program five (5) times, for total loaned amount of P62,837.00.”

“Real Intent” questioned

“This fact raises questions as to the real intent of the project considering that this office is the proponent and implementor” said the COA,
The COA said officers of the city agriculturists office should have inhibited themselves from becoming beneficiaries.
In fact, the signatory to the memoranda of this Swine fattening project was the OIC City agriculturist (Engr. Alfredo Delos Santos) himself, thus making the agreements with his family and staff high questionable, the COA said.

Delos Santos defends wife

In response to these COA findings, Engr. Alfredo Delos Santos defended his wife Cleta Delos Santos’ involvement as a major beneficiary of the Swine Fattening Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project.
Delos Santos downplayed his wife’s involvement saying: “The inclusion of Mrs. Cleta Delos Santos and three other employees as recipient/beneficiaries is incident to their being members of the organization which tended to, and supervised the Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Scheme and the Swine Fattening.”
Engr. Delos Santos explained that in fact, Mrs. Cleta Delos Santos was past president of the RIC Motong, and the President of the Federation of Rural Improvement Club of Dumaguete City for 2006 and 2007.
It was actually the association of Federation of Farmers Association that was the recipients/beneficiaries, but being President of both organizations, it was inevitable that their names would be included as recipient, beneficiaries.

Nothing anomalous

City agriculturist Engr. Delos Santos maintained: “There is nothing anomalous for members, particularly officers of the Federation who are involved in the day-to-day operations of the organization because the administration, supervision and operations are counted on them.”
Delos Santos debunked as “misplaced” and “without basis” the allegations of anomaly regarding the beneficiaries of the swine fattening project involving his wife and three of his staff.

Fund shortage confirmed

Meanwhile, Engr. Delos Santos confirmed the shortage in the swine fattening program amounting to P21,000.00.
In the investigation it appeared that a portion of the feeds intended for the Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project were “intentionally used” as feeds for the city Farmstead in 2004.
The farmstead caretaker unfortunately, cannot recall how many bags of feeds were used or consumed in feeding the animals in the city farmstead, Delos Santos explained.

Wife also beneficiary in another project

The COA also reported that Mrs. Cleta Delos Santos, the city agriculturist's wife, is also listed as loan beneficiary in another program under the city agriculture office. Records show the wife also loaned from the Plant-Now-Pay-Later-Program, presumably a project similar to the Grow-Now-Pay-Later-Project. Still, six other employees of the city agriculture office were listed as recipients of this project.
Mrs. Cleta Delos Santos must be a very active individual.
Her name crops up in the money-related loan projects in the government department that her husband heads.

Friday, October 24, 2008

City office illegally issuing temporary receipts

When you pay anything to the city government, always demand an official receipt.
Do not accept anything short of the official receipt.
If a city office to whom you paid money issues a temporary receipt in lieu of an official receipt, tell that collecting personnel that this is illegal.
The law, the revised administrative code provides that No payment of any nature shall be received by a collecting officer without immediately issuing an official receipt in acknowledgment thereof.
The government’s accounting and auditing manual explicitly prohibits the issuance of temporary receipts: “At no instance shall temporary receipts be issued to acknowledge receipt of public funds.
The Commission on Audit has discovered that the city agriculturist’s office, crop division, had been issuing temporary receipts (T.R.), instead of official receipts (O.R.) in the sale of crops.
This is illegal, says the COA.
The COA conducted an examination of the file copies of documents kept by Ms. Felicitas A. Barba, Agriculturist II, the center chief, crop division.
The COA found several ORIGINAL copies of already-issued official receipts.
The COA was surprised---or suspicious?--- why already-issued official receipts were still in Ms. Barba’s possession when these official receipts are supposed to be in the possession of crop buyers.
The COA then discovered that what were issued by the office were not official receipts, but only “temporary acknowledgment receipts.”
According to Ms. Barba, upon the sale of crops, the buyers are issued temporary acknowledgement receipts, especially during those times when she is not around.
Ms. Barba continued to explain, that in her absence, she designates a utility worker, named Eddie Apenas to accept sales of crops and instructs him to issue temporary receipts to the buyers, prior to issuance of official receipts which are in her custody.
The COA inquired, why official receipts (already issued) were still in her possession.
Ms. Barba explained these official receipts will be given to the buyers “later”, or when they come back to buy again.
The COA asked whether the office has file copies of the temporary receipts.
None, said Barba.
This is illegal, COA reminded.
This practice may raise suspicions as regards the amounts appearing in the temporary receipts, with that indicated/transferred in the official receipts, the alarmed COA noted.
There is no way to trace and compare the T.R. against the O.R. because there were no file copies of the issued temporary receipts.
The COA also raised the possibility that no official receipts may have been issued for some collections.
If this is the case, to whose pocket do these collections go?
Ms. Barba said she has been recently designated. She is not aware of the regulations.
After the COA discovery, Ms. Barba said the practice of issuing temporary receipts will be stopped.
Here is a possible scenario, as may be feared by the COA: For example, P500 was paid by a buyer. A temporary receipt of P500 is issued (by a utility worker) and given to the buyer. But what if only P100 is “later” written in the official receipt ?
Remember, the COA uncovered issued official receipts in Ms. Barba’s possession.
Is this scenario impossible, improbable, remote?
What’s your answer?

Winner at starbucks

I won a free frap at Starbucks today.
I am in Cebu for a hearing.
I dropped by at Starbucks at the northwing of SM Cebu.
I merely wanted to check the mails on my computer.
So I purchased a Globequest prepaid internet card.
When the cashier at Starbucks punched my transaction, the receipt yielded that I won a free tall drink.
This one is literally cool.
By the way, I ain't a coffee drinker.
But I can say Starbucks is my cup of tea.
I was instructed to go to a website called www.MyStarbucksVisit-ph.com.
I responded to a survey, generally on Starbucks services.
At the end of the survey, I was given a "customer code" in numbers.
I wrote the numebrs on the receipt and handed it back to the cashier.
Then I got my free tall drink, mocha frap.
Nice.