Thursday, August 27, 2009

Governor's reply

Let me print the reply of the governor to last week's query on the on-going road construction along Negros Oriental highways:

24 August 2009

Director, Dr. Jovito R. Salonga
Center for Law and Development
Silliman University

Dear Atty. Maxino:

Thank you for your letter of 19 August 2009 re the on-going road constructions in the province.

May I inform you that even before this was brought to my attention, I have discussed the same questions you raised in your letter with the District Engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways, District II, and later with the Congressman of the Second District and I am basically satisfied with their explanations.

Please know that since there are nationally-funded projects, the undersigned was not involved nor notified in the implementation of these projects, hence I have no control over the same.

However, I took the initiative of getting the cooperation of Mayors and the Barangay Captains in areas where there are on-going road construction to monitor compliance of the Contractors and to be ready to render assistance to the commuting public when necessary. Moreover, the Provincial Government also assisted contractors by identifying quarry areas nearest the project sites where the Contractors can source materials to speed up completion.

Should you need a more detailed answers to your questions, may I refer you to the Office of the District Engineer, DPWH-Dumaguete. With the inconveniences we are all experiencing at present because of the government’s efforts to provide wider and better roads for everyone, may I request our motorists driving up North to be careful and patient while on the road. These are only temporary delays that we have to bear in the name of progress.

Once again, thank you for bringing the matter to our attention and God bless us all!

Yours in service,


Meanwhile, my Canada-based former classmate Grace Lim gave her observations when there are infrastructure projects in her place:

"Everyone I know in Dumaguete are complaining about this gyud!
Allow me to share one thing I admire about this place where I am now in terms of infrastructure projects: when the sidewalk near our house was being fixed, houseowners got notices detailing the job and time-frame around 2 weeks before the actual start of the project.
When the job started, all means of ensuring public safety and convenience were in place. They did what they had to do on schedule.
And one thing ako gi believe-ban, they even replanted the grass which was affected by the project.. gitagaan pa mi ug instructions on how to care for the sod!
That's it...

But for all the quirks, Dumaguete is still where my heart is!
Best regards

Thursday, August 20, 2009

NegOr.'s delayed road building

Let me re-print this letter asking our government officials to explain the delayed road construction projects, which is affecting not only the economy but the daily affairs of ordinary Negrenses.

August 19, 2009

The Honorable Dr. Emilio C. Macias II
Provincial Governor
Negros Oriental
Capitol Building, Dumaguete City

The Honorable Sangguniang Panlalawigan
Capitol Compound
Dumaguete City


We write to express the concerns and even the indignation of many over the on-going road constructions in the province. Although we heard that these constructions are national projects, the affected local government units have the legal obligation to see to it that the welfare of their inhabitants are not unduly compromised. Thus, we ask the Honorable Governor to immediately address the following concerns, and for the Honorable Sangguniang Panlalawigan to summon the concerned contractors and project managers and inquire into these concerns, in aid of legislation so that the appropriate ordinance may be passed to govern future road constructions.

1. We are told that that these government projects are not to be delayed. Yet why are these road constructions taking too long to the prejudice of the public? Why is there no work during rainy days, and at night which is the best time to work? Why don’t these projects hire shift workers who can work at night?

2. Why are personnel not assigned to facilitate traffic at certain times of the day, particularly at night? This failure raises concerns of public safety and convenience.

3. Why are there no or insufficient early warning devices at the project sites? We hear reports of accidents due to the absence of early warning devices or personnel to facilitate traffic or to warn on-coming vehicles.

4. Why are the contractors allowed to undertake many road projects at the same time? Are they not overstretching their resources and equipment? Isn’t this one of the major causes of delay?

5. Why are portions of road destroyed, abandoned, and unattended for some time? Shouldn’t we require existing road projects to be completed first before other portions of the road are destroyed?

6. Who are the contractors and what are their respective time-frames? What are their respective plans to mitigate public inconvenience and ensure public safety?

These and many other questions need to be satisfactorily answered. There is the general impression that the current road constructions are being undertaken without regard to public convenience or safety. The public can no longer tolerate such callousness. We earnestly ask our public officials to take up the public’s cause.

Thank you.

Very truly yours,

M. Mikhail Lee L. Maxino
Director, Dr. Jovito R. Salonga
Center For Law and Development
Silliman University

SC: Edgar Teves can run

The enduring former mayor of Valencia Edgar Teves can now wear his running shoes after he was recently permitted to re-engage in politics by no less than the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court last April 28, 2009 declared Edgar Teves can run for public office in the 2010 elections….if it happens.
Edgar was convicted of violating Section 3(h), Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for possessing pecuniary or financial interest in a cockpit when he was mayor of Valencia, which is prohibited under the local government code.
Edgar Teves was sentenced to pay a fine of P10,000.00.
Former Rep. Herminio G. Teves, Edgar’s uncle, but political adversary, filed a petition to disqualify Edgar Teves in the 2007 elections.
The argument was that since Edgar Teves was convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, he should be disqualified.
The Comelec disqualified Edgar Teves, and cancelled his certificate of candidacy for congressman.
Edgar appealed to the Supreme Court.
The issue raised in the Supreme Court is whether or not the conviction of Edgar Teves was of a crime involving moral turpitude.
Moral turpitude, according to the court, implies something immoral in itself, regardless as to whether or not it is punishable by law.
The act, to be one involving moral turpitude, must be immoral in itself.
The Supreme Court found that Edgar’s conviction did not involve moral turpitude.
The Supreme Court found that Edgar Teves , then Mayor of Valencia, did not use his influence, authority or power to gain such pecuniary or financial interest in the cockpit.
Neither did he intentionally hide his interest in the subject cockpit by transferring the management thereof to his wife, the court added.
The Supreme Court ruled that while possession of business and pecuniary interest in a licensed cockpit is prohibited, however, its illegality does not mean that violation thereof necessarily involves moral turpitude.
Neither does it makes such possession of interest inherently immoral, the court said.
Since the crime for which Edgar Teves was convicted did not involve any moral turpitude, the implication is that Edgar Teves is not disqualified to run for public office.
Let me simplify the rules.
If one is convicted of a crime, it does not mean automatic disqualification to run for public office.
It must first be determined whether the crime for which one was convicted, involved moral turpitude.
If not, then the convict cannot be disqualified.
If the crime involved moral torpitude, then the five year ban (to run for public office) applies.
Welcome back to politics, Edgar!

Friday, August 14, 2009

P1.2-B Presidential plane eyed

We hear Malacanang is eyeing the purchase of a P1.2-Billion presidential plane, akin to that of Airforce One.
Ten percent of P1.2-Billion is P120-million.
Assuming that President Arroyo is stepping down in June next year, why on Earth would she be interested in purchasing a new plane that will cost taxpayers P1.2-billion.
How many foreign trips will she be taking with less than one year left in her term?
That is if, she really is stepping down.
What could be a more enticing reason to engage in a billion peso sale transaction using taxpayers' money, at the end of her term?
This doesn't look like a bad midnight sale transaction, does it?

Who died? Aquino or Arroyo?

Reputable news publications committed the “greatest” sin in journalism when they announced to the world that a living person was dead.
It didn’t help that the person attributed to have died was the President, the highest government officer of the land, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
This happened during the burial of former President Cory Aquino.
Some publications, among them the Manila Bulletin, wrote that the casket about to be buried was that of President Arroyo, instead of former President Aquino.
This monumental mistake highlights the fact that journalists, are only humans.
They too commit mistakes.
Indeed, to err is human.
Good thing, Malacanang, nay the President, the one who was published to have “died”, is not planning to take legal action.
In fact the Palace was magnanimous.
Malacanang said this should have been an “honest mistake,” devoid of any with malice whatsoever.
Case closed.
However, if journalists mistakenly think there can be no legal action on these kinds of mistakes, they could be wrong.
Legal history tells us that when a publication is negligent with their facts, particularly then it wrongly/erroneously casts a person in a bad light, they can be liable for damages.
Let us re-visit the case of Eugenio Lopez versus court of appeals, decided by the Supreme Court in 1970.
This story gets us back to 1956.
A sanitary inspector named Fidel Cruz assigned to the Babuyan Islands sent a distress signal to a passing United States Airforce plane.
This US airforce plane relayed the message to Manila.
Fidel Cruz was not ignored.
An American Army plane dropping on the beach of an island an emergency-sustenance kit containing, among other things, a two-way radio set.
Fidel Cruz, the sanitary inspector, utilized the two-way radio to inform authorities in Manila that the people in the place were living in terror, due to a series of killings committed since Christmas of 1995.
Losing no time, the Philippines defense establishment rushed to the island a platoon of scout rangers led by Major Wilfredo Encarnacion.
Upon arriving at the reported killer-menaced Babuyan islands, however, Major Encarnacion and his men found, instead of the alleged killers, a man, the same Fidel Cruz the sanitary inspector, who merely wanted transportation home to Manila.
In view of this finding, Major Wilfredo Encarnacion branded as a "hoax," to use his own descriptive word, the report of Fidel Cruz.
That was the term employed by the other newspapers when referring to the above-mentioned incident

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A question of values

Report: Arroyo dined in New York for P1M.
Palace responds: No taxpayer's money spent.
Commentary: I think somebody's missing the point here. It's a question of values. Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display, during a period of acute public want, is not only immoral. Its illegal---if I still recall my civil code correctly.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Cory's Legacy

The nation will principally remember Cory as the restorer of Philippine democracy.
Being the nation’s, and Asia’s first female head of state, her ascension to political power was so dramatic when she, a mere housewife, toppled a regime that ruled using the barrel of the gun.
In my perspective Cory left a political legacy that ought to be a lesson for all politicians.
More than a political lesson, it is a moral lesson.
To my mind, I have yet to know a political leader other than Cory Aquino, who voluntarily relinquished power when her term of office was over.
Cory Aquino was never power hungry.
For all of Cory Aquino’s political deficiencies, as she was not perfect, political greed was never one of them.
When her presidential term was over, she eagerly relinquished power to her political successor.
Then she gracefully and quietly faded, and returned to ordinary civilian life.
In this day and age of our political history, most if not all, politicians practice opposite the example shown by Cory Aquino.
When a politician’s full, allowable term ends, he starts to think of ways to circumvent our laws so he and his clan will remain in power.
They will let their wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, run for office to maintain their grip on power, only to go back after the political interregnum.
If this is not feasible, politicians will engage in horse-trading, and switch political places with other politicians, just so they can remain their hold on power.
To these politicians, it is plain stupidity to give away political power.
For political power translates to economic power.
This is the norm in Philippine politics today.
But I don’t believe this is the spirit and intention of our laws.
That is why you see the same faces over and over again every election time.
The problem is, you can’t see any visible progress with these rotating and recurring faces.
I cannot yet see in the horizon that day when politicians will emulate the example of selflessness of Cory Aquino.
Today, it is selfishness, not selflessness.
But Cory is different.
A distinct breed, indeed.
Perhaps, she lived ahead of the times.
God bless Cory Aquino.