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Planes, trains, and automobiles
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on July 16, 2008 487 Comments 29 min read
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I think my first train-related entry was back in 2005, in Debating solutions to squatting, I pointed to this entry by Torn and frayed in Manila on how our country possesses “one of the most ramshackle railways in the world.” That’s putting it politely. Torn was reacting to a report by Howie Severino (and The Unlawyer also commented on it, including detailing the extremely low fares charged by the railroad).

One major problem, as recalled in Pain On The Train, was that squatters had encroached on the tracks and were, at times, hostile to train passengers. There was once a haunting post by Pulsar in 2006 (well, who says once on the Interweb, something’s forever? The blog’s gone!). Or sometimes, the problem were the passengers themselves, see Test-Riding The Metro-Tren:

But there were dreadfully more — and this was what made me uneasy and had second thoughts about using this mode of transpo on a regular basis or asking friends and family to patronize it. Dark thoughts ran in my mind thinking if I can actually still get out of this situation alive! Here we go:

Amongst the passengers in my coach were shirtless dudes who were not even drunk but were just as dangerously rowdy. Okay, to be fair, not all of them were topless. Two were wearing sando, one did not even have a footwear, and all of them did have confidently loud voices enough for anyone to understand that they are the “masters” in this place. They were huddled on two right-side doors. Some were standing and some were seated on the floor and the little steps that people use when boarding or getting off via those doors. Obviously, no one passed by those two doors. They were not just rowdy in the normal kind of kid things. They had very foul language offensive to many.

These folks were not young kids either. They were men probably in their 20s up to late 40s and they seemed to know just about every person who lived along those rail tracks as they often had a lewd or foul comment at everyone they saw. Samples? Here we go… “Hoy hostess, bihis ka na! Rampa ka ng maaga nang makarami”, or — Tangina! Nakaw ang cellphone na yan, kahapon lang”! And they most certainly elicited equally shouted responses from those they were shouting at. Some of the younger kids they teased even ran with wooden sticks or little stones attempting to catch and whack or pelt them as the train chugged along. And you guessed it, these men would run scampering towards the inner portions of the train (which was naturally a commotion that would make you panic). When kids on the ground can’t keep up with the train, these men would be back at the two doors and back to their usual shouting spree at people we passed by. I even saw two women-passengers stand up and walk further front — obviously to get away from this.

I’d be a liar if I said I was not alarmed. I was actually more than frightened! Then again, I could have been over-reacting, right?

Now hear this: As the train went a chugging slowly after that Espana Station going towards Blumentritt, a guy came walking from the front coaches who seemed to be looking for nothing but trouble. As he passed where I was seated and just about to pass the rowdy men by the door, someone shouted on top of his voice saying “o kayong lahat, ingatan nyo mga gamit nyo, yan naglalakad na yan isnatcher yan… The walking man did not even look back but shouted equally loud saying “tangina mo, hindi ako isnatcher, naghahanap ako ng masasaksak” and as he said that he lashed out a knife in mid-air. I looked at the faces of many passengers and almost all had the same facial expression — they pretended to have not heard that and they all did not look at the knife-brandishing man — and so I did not dare look at him too! This time I felt my balls were already above my forehead.

After having gone to the end part of the train, that knife-wielding man returned to the men perched by the doorway and he joined in the laughter, banter and dirty shouts at people we passed by. I clearly heard him telling the group that it was too unusual the week was almost over and he has not had a fight yet. As if to emphasize that, he said “kahit asawa ko ayaw akong patulan, nakakainip pare”!

Philippine_National_Railways.png

This is a Wikipedia map of the NorthRail and SouthRail lines of the Philippine National Railways -theoretically, at least. I happen to like trains very much (perhaps not to the extent of being a trainspotter) and really wish rehabilitating our railways will be accomplished: just getting NorthRail and SouthRail functioning will actually merely return us to where we were prior to World War II, the last major extension having been accomplished with the inauguration of the Manila-Legazpi Line in May, 1938. That still marks the last major addition to our railway network. However, Marcos’ obsession with highways had led to the deterioration of the railroad.

The result? See photos in A Ride On Philippine National Railways Part I and A Ride On Philippine National Railways Part II. See also RILES in Digital Phtographer Philippines. In response to this sad state of affairs, an ambitious program of modernization has started.

One sad side-effect of modernization, however, is the destruction of heritage sites: see Las Estaciones Ferrocarril Manila-Dagupan in the ICOMOS Philippines site.

There are some extremely informative railroad enthusiasts’ blogs out there, which combine a strong historical sense with efforts to document the rehabilitation of the Philippine National Railways. See their mother organization, Railways and Industrial Heritage Society of the Phils. (and its Reese Blog), and these enthusiasts’ blogs: Philippine Railways S.I.G., Philippine Railways, and Laguna Railways,

Courtesy of Augusto de Viana is The railways in Philippine history which, however, so compresses the most interesting years, the 20s to the 50s, as to render that section meaningless. Oh well. Viviana overlooks the ambivalence and even hostility American officials felt towards railways, since it would affect the Philippine market for automobiles (see The Colonial Iron Horse: Railroads and Regional Development in the Philippines, 1875- 1935). When autonomy was achieved, railroad development accelerated. And the policy debate on highways versus railways also began, along with still-unrealized plans such as a railroad for Mindanao (the development of Maria Cristina Fall’s hydroelectric power was originally envisioned as primarily powering the Mindanao railways: there are interesting snippets on these debates in F.B. Harrison’s diary: as an Anglophile, he was pro-railways, pointing with envy to Britain’s not altogether altruistic promotion of its own steam engine industry in its colonies; as for its biggest handiwork in that regard, here’s an interesting item on accomplishing transport reform: Things Looking Up for India’s Trains).

I remember when I was still new in the Inquirer, the President had a dinner with editors and spent much of her time discussing the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (this will be one of her lasting achievements, I think). Along the way, she discussed trains and how she wanted to eliminate the old PNR lines, and have new railroad lines simply feed the metropolis, with intra-city travel done on the LRT. At the time I remember remarking that her strong grasp of detail was one of the President’s most impressive qualities, but one little-seen by the public: just as the overall schemes fed by her grasp of detail failed to be grasped, in turn, by the public: and government is at fault for this.

Today’s Inquirer editorial, Derailed, looks at the possible permutations of the ongoing problem with NorthRail: Even as our government insists that NorthRail project to push thru the reality seems to be Gov’t scrambles to save NorthRail: China threatens withdrawal, legal suit over a situation caused by the sad reality that Northrail ‘mobilization’ ate up 23% of total loan. (Here’s a helpful Northrail timeline.)

See Target for Northrail: ‘substantial’ completion by 2010:

As things stand now, the most realistic assumption is to have a partially – or at least, substantially – completed stretch of rail road some kilometers short of the first section of the 80.2-kilometer distance between Caloocan City in Metro Manila and Clark in Pampanga.

Officials familiar with the twists and turns of the project told abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak that the initial goal to complete at least the first phase, or the first 32 kilometers up to Malolos in Bulacan province, is not realistic anymore…

A year since the project’s 36-month construction period kicked off in February 2007, clearing the tracks, acquiring right-of-way, and relocation works are still to be crossed out from the list of pre-construction must-do’s.

No civil works on the actual railway have commenced nor has a project design been finalized, yet the designated contractor, the Chinese National Machinery & Equipment Group (CNMEG), wanted to add almost $300 million on top of the current $421 million agreed upon and signed construction cost…

According to various sources, including correspondences from NLRC and the demand letters from CNMEG, the latter unilaterally suspended work on the Northrail in February 1, 2008, with CNMEG’s Chinese engineers returning home.

Pamintuan explained that the engineers have run out of things to do since the project design has yet to be finalized.

But that was only part of the story. Apparently, while the design plan is still pending, CNMEG has been verbally demanding to increase the project cost. In succeeding correspondences, CNMEG has pegged the additional cost, based on computations as of March, 2008, at $299 million.

That would increase the project cost of the 32-kilometer Caloocan to Malolos stretch from $421 million to $720 million. That means the cost of the entire 80-kilometer Manila to Clark distance, which has no financing in place yet, will increase from $1 billion to $1.39 billion…

…After President Arroyo thumbed down CNMEG’s verbal demand in February to increase the construction price by $299 million, CNMEG formalized its demand in their May 13 notice of claim and in their June 3 demand letter to Northrail.

Of that amount, $88.63 million was due to variations in the original scope of work, such as the need to build viaducts instead of embankments in Valenzuela and Marilao areas.

The remaining $211 million was mainly due to foreign exchange losses ($106 million), inflation ($71 million), and cost of the delay in construction. CNMEG pointed fingers at Northrail’s inability to clear obstacles within the right-of-way areas and its non- completion of squatter relocations…

…In the April 24, 2008 letter of resigned Northrail president Arsenio Bartolome III to President Arroyo, he referred to a “presidential directive” regarding the completion of the Caloocan-to-Clark phase.

The directive emphasized two things: that it should be finished by 2010, the end of President Arroyo’s term, and that it should be within the project cost of $1.008 billion.

Construction cost for the 32-kilometer Section 1 from Caloocan to Malolos is $421 million, while Section 2 from Malolos to Clark is $673 million.

The design, supply, construct contract with CNMEG, for Section 1, Caloocan to Malolos, stipulates a construction period of 36 months, or 3 years, after Notice to Proceed was issued in Feb 19, 2007. It was meant to be completed by February 2010, perfect timing for the national election in May 2010.

The relocation of urban poor residents (one day, perhaps, destined to be only immortalized in photos or some videos) has proven expensive but relatively successful (most recently: an amazed foreign friend who had done some filming for a documentary in Blumentritt, Manila, and then saw how the community he’d filmed has been relocated and disappeared) see From ‘Home Along Da Riles’ to ‘Dreamland‘) Of course, not every delay is due to gross inefficiency or corruption on the part of government:

The report also says,

Unlike other controversial projects that were also cancelled, like the NAIA-3 airport terminal, where there is already a massive building that just needs a few months worth of repair and remediation work, the Northrail project’s railway construction has not even started.

I’m not sure if this is accurate.

The thing is, if you look at the reports and photos in the railroad enthusiasts’ blogs, you’ll see that a tremendous amount has been accomplished in terms of rehabilitating the railways (see Northrail-Southrail Linkage Project Update and Rail Lifting at Paco Station for example) though perhaps it’s fair to say no real laying down of track has taken place.

The question is to what extent the whole gigantic effort -and it is gigantic, you’re reversing the deterioration of the past forty years while at the same time laying down an entirely new railway system- has been marred by inefficiency or even corruption. These things take a toll on ongoing projects, as the headlines make pretty obvious, but it also raises another problem: even if hounded by corruption and inefficiency, is the solution to simply tear up contracts and scrap the project?

I once heard someone explain Romulo Neri Jr.’s pragmatism as follows. First question: does the country need a modern railway system? Yes. Since it does, can it be built without corruption? No. If it cannot be built without corruption, then whether major or minor corruption takes place, what is essential is for the railway to be built, because the economic benefits of the project dwarfs whatever corruption will take place.

And pragmatically speaking, Neri is correct and was thinking in true Southeast Asian fashion. This was the Marcos way: anyone who remembers the ferocious debates on MRT-1 along Taft Avenue (expensive! impractical! will never work!) will realize that despite all the objections, the elevated railway line has become an essential part of metropolitan infrastructure.

And this brings me to Neri, his latest reincarnation as SSS Chief.

The PCIJ in a Special Report reveals that the resignation of Corazon de la Paz and the assumption of the leadership of the SSS by Romulo Neri Jr. has a major policy shift at its core:

De la Paz first intimated how she has not been able to accustom herself to the workings of government, indicating a preference to return to her work in the private sector. But upon further questioning by the media, she eventually relented to a little known fact: she had stood up against the use of SSS members’ funds for the government’s pro-poor agenda, in the process offending the powers that be.

“Using the fund has limits. (It) cannot be used to finance pro-poor projects of the government unless it is defined in the (SSS) Charter,” De la Paz explained, serving up a warning to SSS members and the public of the potential danger of the fund being misused.

With Neri at the helm of the SSS, many have indeed expressed fear that the funds will be used for partisan political interests. Both Malacañang and Neri’s avowal that the funds will not be touched for government’s welfare programs has not helped assuage such concerns for the very reason that the appointment boils down, not so much to the issue of competence, but to Neri’s integrity and credibility - and that of the one who appointed him – as a public official.

Those who insist that the economy in general, or government financial matters in particular, can and ought to be insulated from politics have another lesson coming in why this is neither possible nor desirable. This is a defect that afflicts not just loyalists of the present dispensation, but bureaucrats, too, as the PCIJ report reveals:

Neri also probably felt his detachment that he had to bring along with him to NEDA people whom he could trust. His consultants, many of whom were not known to the NEDA staff, were like a parallel office which acted as his political arm. At first, some at NEDA appreciated the arrangement as it insulated the staff from politics, preferring not to deal with politicians and just continue to do their work professionally. Later, on instructions by Neri himself, NEDA officials had had occasions to interact with his consultants. Even his meetings with them were recorded as part of his official schedule.

The way one director understood it, Neri played politics as a matter of course in public policy. The NEDA Secretariat and other oversight bureaucracies are to exert effort in providing full information to decide policy, he says, and that necessitated engaging with politicians and playing the game of politics.

From his own experience working with him, the CPBO’s Vicerra believes Neri played politics not in the sense of politicking, which he says Neri always tried to avoid. “It’s more of realpolitik,” he explains, “as he always wants to involve himself in policy issues. And he has his advocacies.”

Doing so may have made the NEDA Secretariat more aware of the nature of public policy in their work, but it also made them vulnerable, admits the same director. “It put the organization and employees unprecedently in an unrequitedly bad light,” he says, though maintaining that the Secretariat has remained nonpartisan, its own standard of integrity and professionalism undiminished by this initiation into politics.

But Neri’s pragmatism, the NEDA staff also claim, conflicted with his reformist image. Some would say on hindsight that this probably explains why he is seemingly not appalled by unethical behavior, that is, corruption by way of commissions, extortions, kickbacks and the like, because these make things move or work. Others find it ironic that he wanted reforms yet “still wants to be in the good graces of this government.” Still others comment that since he is a “political animal” himself, it was not surprising that he had been offered bribes as he had admitted.

This is a confusing passage, but then it neatly illustrates the confused, because ignorant, attitudes of bureaucrats themselves about politics and its place in governance.

Government’s policies and management of the economy can be left alone if the public feels officials are capable and trustworthy stewards. If not, then they can and should be guarded every step of the way.

In its editorial, The Business Mirror, not inclined to be an instinctive critic of the administration, advocates retaining the VAT on oil, but points out the essential problem with expectations being built on spending the windfall for the public good:

Removing the oil E-VAT may be akin to a voluntary disarmament at a time when we need all the weapons we can get our hands on to confront grave threats to our economy.

Gordon’s proposals may not be popular – but they make sense. Having said that, the only problem with following his tack is this: Local experience is replete with evidence that, in this country, it’s next to impossible to get a good accounting of where and how precisely special-purpose funds – say, E-VAT “windfall” as used for infrastructure to rebuild disaster-ravaged areas and spur local economies – were applied. For even as critics complain that letting the government use the E-VAT windfall for doles is tantamount to giving more money to crooks, that same peril lies in using the funds instead, as Dick Gordon wants, for infrastructure.

Finally, in a town where a crusading auditor who keeps asking a warlord to “please liquidate” millions of pesos in public funds may easily get what he prays for – that is, be literally liquidated from the face of the earth, his killer(s) never brought to justice – accountability, like honesty in the Billy Joel song, is such a lonely word. So, to Dick Gordon, you may be right on this one, but, good luck.

Which goes to my point about NorthRail, the handling of the economy, and what Yen Macabenta points out: that the economy is coping with increases in the cost of oil pretty well, not least, it seems, to some pretty OK handling of economic matters by the powers-that-be; the problem is that while this redounds to the benefit of big business, ours is Still a jobless-growth economy; and the powers-that-be don’t quite know how to effectively toot their own horns and even if they do, there’s a widespread assumption officialdom’s on a looting spree (made even deeper, I think, because most of the public can’t quite grasp how it’s being done):

The report on Monday that the government kept its first-semester budget deficit at about P18 billion – only half of the programmed ceiling – despite the food and fuel price crises is encouraging. Two points stand out in the report:

First, revenue collection improved during the first semester.

And second, our fiscal managers were concerned that the various agencies of the government have not been able to absorb additional funding to help perk up domestic growth. In other words, the problem is not lack of funds, but projects to spend on.

When the President decided that the government would no longer aim for a zero budget deficit this year, it was for the specific objective of cushioning the impact of high consumer prices on the most vulnerable among our people. The government has the resources to provide subsidies to the needy during these trying times. And just as important, it has the funds to put into infrastructure and social and economic programs that will boost economic growth this year and next year.

Inflation for now is our biggest worry, as it hit a 14-year high of 11.4 percent in June. But Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. believes the problem should ease before the end of the year, and the country should fully recover by next year.

If you’re wondering why skyrocketing oil prices – with talk of crude hitting $200 a barrel by the end of the year – are not taking the bottom out of the economy, here are a few reasons:

1. It’s not just the price of crude oil that has soared to record levels this year; the prices of other commodities have hit peak levels, as well. This is the difference between this oil-price shock and the shock of 1974. Higher commodity prices across-the-board are also benefiting the exports of the Philippines and other countries. So our import bill is not as crushing.

2. Oil is not as all-pervasive in our economy as many believe. It affects mainly transport. Most of our electricity needs are fueled by other sources of energy, such as hydropower and geothermal energy.

3. The general prognosis of experts is that oil prices should come down during the second half of the year, though not to the same level as last year. The bubble is simply unsustainable. Demand will ease and supply will rise following the basic law of economics.

But again, the windfall is there. Surely it’s helped fund the following: Government subsidy for cheap rice in first half reaches P8.6B:

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the rice stocks were distributed and sold through 3,197 Bigasan ni Gloria sa Palengke, 8,080 Tindahan Natin outlets, 540 Bigasan sa Parokya and 199 rolling stores nationwide.

Government subsidy for cheap rice is expected to rise as the DA said 28 million more bags of rice will be infused into the domestic market from now until December to stabilize prices.

The NFA will be injecting some 6.5 million bags monthly, from now until August.

This volume will be reduced to 5 million bags by September, when palay harvests for the wet or main crop will start coming in.

Yap said the government is confident that it will have more rice to distribute until the end of the year as 900,000 metric tons (MT) will arrive in the country before September 30.

But the questions won’t go away whether the windfall’s economic potential’s being maximized. As it is, the President has announced Round Two of her “Katas ng VAT” program (no mention if it’s part of the commemoration of National Nutrition Month):

Which brings me to something Jarius Bondoc puts forward in his column for today (no link to the Star because it still hasn’t figured out permanent links):

The truth is unraveling, slowly but surely. A clique in the Arroyo admin is capturing the energy sector for kickbacks.

First, there was a sudden flurry to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. Rep. Mikey Arroyo, the presidential son who chairs the House committee on energy, said it was necessary to bring down consumer rates. His congressmen-brother Dato and uncle Iggy assented as committee members. It turns out, however, that the main amendment is to advance the start of open access from the time 70 percent of Napocor generators are privatized to only 50 percent. While speeding up open access is fine on paper, since it will allow big users to pick their own electric retailer earlier, it would be unfair in practice. State-owned Napocor will still control half the power plants, so there won’t be true competition. Worse, the Napocor mafia will continue to dictate, for multimillion-dollar kickbacks, imports of coal to fuel the plants, whether sold or not.

Then, Gloria Arroyo appointed amiga Zenaida Ducut as Energy Regulatory Board chief. Aside from Ducut being the town mate from whom Mikey inherited his congressional seat in 2004, they have a common friend, the oft-named jueteng lord Bong Pineda. Ducut’s posting jolted the industry because of a recent Napocor scam. The state firm last Feb. awarded to a four-month-old, undercapitalized and flighty broker a P956.4-million coal import from Indonesia. There must have been P258-million overprice, since the bid price was $109.50 per ton, although the Indonesian posted rate then was only $77 (at P40.418:$1 for three shiploads of 65,000 tons each).

Among the listed incorporators of broker Transpacific Consolidated Resources Inc. are Leslie and Ressie Ducut, but Zenaida disclaims kinship. Still, there are many inconsistencies. Napocor faxed the bid invitation two weeks prior to TCRI’s only known address then, the nearby Danarra Hotel’s business center, closed since Christmas. Now Napocor insists it awarded the deal when TCRI moved into a real office – in two short weeks. Paid-up capital was only P62,500, but Napocor says “so what?”, in disregard of the Public Bidding Act that requires congruity of capital with contract price. Ducut says the scam does not matter since, as ERC chair, she will have nothing to do with Napocor operations. But Napocor spokesman admits that the ERC, aside from the energy department and NEDA, needs to approve coal imports.

The capture of the electricity sector is complete - from the executive and legislative branches to the quasi-judicial ERC. From there the clique can move to other energy sectors - say, oil exploration - if it has not already.

(Incidentally, a sense of deja vu comes from this article: Lights Out in Indonesia: Jakarta as 1990s Manila? With India, Indonesia, Vietnam,scrambling to put up more power plants, and with the Philippines going to need more power plants soon, those who position themselves in the energy sector now are going to be positively minting their own money in years to come) If you’ve ever read how Ferdinand Marcos squirreled away funds abroad, then the stories -occasionally dribbled out in the press, but more often than not, whispered about in business circles- of what’s going on in the energy sector are equally intriguing -because the money’s come home, unlike most of Marcos’ stash. One day, hopefully, someone will write it all down, from the time money began to leave the country, a hop, skip, and a jump ahead of sleuthing legislators, journalists, and American anti-money-laundering officials, with the money making its way to places as far afield as Austria, then eventually, back home again where it could be used to buy banks, and dummy firms.

Manuel Buencamino looks at the curious story of Homobono Adaza’s alleged attempt to extort money from a Japanese businessman.

Ellen Tordesillas has the skinny on what the President was up to in Washington:

A Malacañang source who was part of Arroyo’s entourage in her recent US visit said there was no mention by Arroyo of any plans to implement martial law or authoritarian measures in her meeting with Bush, the first since she fell out of his grace after she pulled out the Philippine military contingent in Iraq in exchange for the release of kidnapped Filipino truck driver Angelo de la Cruz in July 2004.

But he admitted that increased military assistance was top in her agenda in her talks with American officials.

The source was amused that Philippine media covering Arroyo’s US visit followed Malacañang’s spin about the near passage of the Veterans Equity when they know very well that it has a slim chance of it passing in the House of Representatives despite the approval of the Senate.

He said the real reason Arroyo wanted to meet with American congressmen was to explain to them the government’s side on extra-judicial killings. Like in the Philippines, any appropriation bill originates in the House of Representatives. That’s the reason behind the idea of giving the newly minted Order of the Golden Heart Award, which is different from traditional Order of Sikatuna awards given to diplomats or nationals of other countries who have made outstanding contributions to strengthening of relations with the Philippines. According to press reports, not all awardees showed up during the conferment affair in Washington D.C. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came very late.

(Just a correction, which I told Ellen: the Order of the Golden Heart was established by President Magsaysay. It was not “newly-minted.” A more relevant question might have been whether the Philippine Legion of Honor might have been more appropriate; but then a lower-ranking Order might be appropriate because no law has been passed yet.)

Foreign Affairs officials lobbied hard to get a meeting for Arroyo with Senator Barbara Boxer (D., Cal.) chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific. It will be recalled that Edith Burgos, widow of press icon Jose Burgos and mother of missing activist Jonas Burgos, met with Boxer last March.

In the hearing that she conducted on alleged extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the military, Boxer said, “We do not want blood on our hands. We do not want to use US taxpayers’ money to train their (Philippine) military and police to kill their own people.”

Arroyo was able to meet with Boxer, the source said. The meeting must have been so insignificant that it didn’t merit a line in Boxer’s website. Not even Malacañang reported it.

It was unfortunate for Malacañang that whatever propaganda it wanted to generate domestically for Arroyo’s US trip was negated by typhoon Frank which struck on the eve of her departure, sank a passenger ship and devastated many parts of the country. Compounding the stigma was the junket of 63 congressmen whom Arroyo brought along with her as part of her pre-2009 impeachment payment.

But the source said, despite the bad press that Arroyo’s US visit got, she feels that she accomplished her main objective which was to impress the military that she still has the support of the US establishment.

It maybe a meeting of lame ducks but it was still a White House meeting, the source said. Add to that was her meeting in Pentagon with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

She may not have gotten categorical support for the things she might do in case her unpopular administration is shaken by the wrath of a long-suffering people, but it is good enough for Arroyo that she has given the military the illusion that the US is behind her. With that, she believes that her presidency, whatever questions about its legitimacy, is safe.

In the blogosphere, radicalchick aims a broadside at ABS-CBN and its Ces Drilon Kidnap Special.


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  1. Speaking of memory.

    based on past comments I believe Cat is no longer on the west Coast,because on direct conversations with .her she made mention of the East Coast when talking of such a trivial topic as tingi tingi and buy supersize;kung winter nga naman di epektib yung tingi tingi.

    When we were talking about call centers again, the configuration of her home sa east coast was made mention ;that the garage is far from the house,kaya the troubleshooting probing questions of the csr is way of the mark.

    and on one thing that is personal, but she made mention of it as well,on her travels to mindanao(artifacts yata ang topic nun) she said that she was with her mother in law, so in defense of the cat she is not single.

    and PLM is off themark as well,because she made mention na it is outside metro manila.

    wala lang.

  2. One of the most shocking and distressing things I have noticed about the debate on managing population is the utter manipulation of the news media on the issue.

    They have been playing up the issue of scarcity and the direct effect of population on scarcity.

    The whole debate missed out on the most important irreconcilable contradiction between The Church’s view of the human person and the utter confusion of the supposed faithful in this country.

    The entire argument of the Chruch is based on the ideal and principle that the urge to have sex must be controlled as this must be done with one end in mind and not trivialized as simply a recreational activity. However the Church has evovled as to the issue of having sexual pleasure between married couples as part of the expressions of sharing love with both partners willingly and freely acting.

    Issues of women having the right to say no to their husband are issues relating to politics, economics and societal norms. Marital rape is common. .

    I disagree with the Chruch’s stand on gay partnerships as two people can willingly decide to spend their lives together sharing themselves if that is their inclination and choice. But the same rule applies to their private sex lives.

    If they want to triviliaze their bodies then they are free to do so but it would probably demean their person.

    As to the issue of planning for kids, the Church will never agree to artifical means as these means tend to trivilize the very act that the Church has raised to a level of marital love. An act of total giving of oneself to each other.

    The natural method has its detractors and supporters in the scientific community. However in open competition in the market place there are no vested interests in peddling the natural method. It is also unfortunate that media plays up the more strident shallow voices on both sides as it helps sell the news.

    Pharmaceutical companies have large budgets to sustain marketing techniques to dwarf any attempt by anyone to push the natural methods. Halos libre kasi after simple visists to one’s gynecologists who can teach this method to both partners as both have to be involved.

    If one were to browse amongst columnists and editorials in papers one can see the almost universal condemnation of the Chruch’s position most especially based on Pop Paul’s VI encyclical, “Human Vitae.”

    The papers should have published the entire English version of that Encyclical. It is compelling and clearly lays out the Chruch’s moral position.

    That issue on a moral basis should be addressed to our lawmakers. Cultural norms evovle. But the ideals of the views of the human person must be grounded on very deep foundations.

    If we would want to trivialize and dehumanize sexual activity then we can start to talk about sexual activities just like we talk about sports and other recreational activities.

    Then we can ask the sponsors of the bills on population management through contraception to legalize sexual activities for hire and commoditize it and let free markets operate. Legalize pornography as it can very well create new revenue streams for the state.

    Even in more advanced societies where all sorts of contraceptives are available abortions are rampant.

    It is like simply going to the beauty parlor.

    When Martin Luther King went to Tennessee to support the striking garbage men where he was shot, the slogan on the signs of the strikers was simple. “We are human beings” The reminders of slavery all to well embeded in the black man’s struggle for freedom.

    If we want to make secularism a way of life or prefer to become disciples of agnosticism like all the almost all so called equilbirium scientists who drum up studies to prove that the numbers of human lives must be controlled while the means to life should not be managed for the common good but left to natural selection then that is another matter altogether.

    Porn on the internet is freely available in the Phils. As the head of the MTCRB goes after the more visible medium the wide open web is available to everyone at any age level.

  3. As hvrds says, porn on the internet is freely available in the Philippines. GMA can quite easily implement a security envelope around the Internet that Pinas citizens see using 3 routers and special-purpose programs and tables. She can also then direct that these programs be used to monitor for anti-GMA blogtalk.

  4. chineck ko kulang ng l sa dulo ang url; it should be html instead of htm.

    and medyo di magkakasya sa isang column pala pero one page ad pwede,if gagastusan.

  5. I wonder why those neo-cutltists at the Opus Dei do not put their money where their mouth is and defend the position of the Chruch in all forms of media and take on the vested interests that are pushing the commercial aspects of the sex as recreation idea and the womens rights groups who are demanding equal rights for women in unequal rights marriages.

    Look at that prayer rally asking God to enlighten people.

    People react only to pain and not to light and that is why they will look for scapegoats when crisis time comes.

  6. And so if she monitors,if you mean send iSAFP to your door steps,I stilll remember what they did to my cousin ok lang pinakawalan naman nila eh.

    ISAFP monitor this.
    check on the feud of Jes Dureza and Dirty Harry in Davao,and find out how secrets are already open and you are the last to know.

  7. In the ‘pro-life’ rally held in UST, boxing-champ Manny Pacquiao obliged his bodyguard Lito Atienza by shouting “kung nag-kontrol ang manga magulang ko, wala sanang Manny Pacquio” to the great delight of the crowd.

    Yes. But for one-in-a-million, outstandingly-talented Pacquiao, there will be tens of millions forever who will be forever marginalized and mired in poverty, because society failed to ensure that there will enough of the ‘other’ basics of food, clothing, shelter beyond the ‘most’ basic of pro-creation.

    Freud once stated “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” No work, no love.

    I said earlier, truth must be subjected to a reality check.

  8. “Signs that you’ve lost the argument

    1. Godwin’s Law

    2. Bring up that term ‘crab mentality’

    3. Bring up nationality”

    yehey i haven’t lost an argument yet!

  9. Wan Tester is a joker.

    we still live in a hush hush world,no matter how many newspapers ,tabloids,blogs,websites there will be.

    i can name just a few whatever you call them; security lapses intentional or not.

    Ka Roger Rosal attending a funeral wake inside a military camp.
    Gringo Honasan at the height of his being a fugitive ,attending a wedding also in a militray camp.
    The Ram meeting a few steps away from the quarters of the AFP chief of staff.

    If you are a netwrok administrator from of of the isps or telecoms,I suggest you visit ping lacson’s blog and apply as a witness for the ZTE Broadband hearing,kaya lang malapit na matapos committee report,sa ibang hearing na lang.
    .
    I guess you arenot, because the specs you gave us is only good for the use of a single company, with knowing how messy our government network and procurement system is,good luck to that project.
    .
    You are reading to many Ludlum novels.

  10. The bishops and politicans are taking a lackadaisical stand on this population control issue. I can understand why: their whole relevance to Filipino society is at stake. Survival instincts, naturally.

    But we, the middle classes who stayed behind should stand up. After all we will be paying, through our tax pesos, most of the subsidies and support for the programs to mitigate the effects of overpopulation.

    Not the Philippine catholic church and the overseas foreign workers (who are not taxed) nor the B.S. politicans (who are used to squandering our tax money anyway).

    As what the child in a famous fairy tale did, we should say if the empress, the holy men, and the solons ‘have no clothes.’

    Please don’t have doubts on this.

  11. How Ironic naman that an economist like C at is so dismissive of nursery analysis.

    Economics after all is an exact and accurate science and economists are always correct 98.7% of the time.

    meow…

  12. to PSI: One of the reasons that the Vatican and the CBCP strongly resist calls for church acceptance of sex education (and condoms/others for HIV/AIDS and parents’ spacing the children)– bunker-mentality. The issue energizes the diehards (both young and old). The sex-Ed/birth-control issue strengthens the solidarity among the anti-birth-control proponents and deepen their commitment to their religion. So the diehards preach — “Do not tell me what I should do!!! Do not tell me what I should believe about my religion!!!” — while they tell the rest of the population what they should do and how they should behave.

    And what does the Vatican feel about the rest of their flock? The Vatican already knows that parents (who can afford it, i.e. USA, Europe, Australia, the middle-class and richer) are taking action alrleady (pills, condoms, IUD’s) but they — these Catholic parents — still go to church and do their regular tithing. The loss to the Vatican — not much.

    The poor… they still go to church, too.

  13. kg,
    thanks.
    though the information about me are not exactly accurate, i would not bother correcting them. Personal data such as age, status, social life, lifestyle, gender orientation are not relevant in a forum discussion.

  14. The key to bringing better — better information to the poor, better services (on how to space the children; on how to prevent the spread HIV/AIDS) — will be our lawmakers.

    And for such educated-kuno and thinking-of-the-greater-good-of-the-citizens-kuno, Pinas lawmakers are spineless scared stooopid. I guess it is because in the privacy of their bedrooms, they are okay.

  15. to the Ca t: d00d0ng (three kids) and you should be within 6 years plus-or-minus in age….. that’s my guess.

  16. How Ironic naman that an economist like C at is so dismissive of nursery analysis.

    some of her analyses are not about economics. errmm correction…
    except for recommendations about planting camote and the coordination of Dept. of agri with Dept. of edu (maybe to incorporate planting camotes in the curricular programs) to improve the nation’s economy.

    Oh and she reminded that health is wealth and camote or sweet potato is good for one’s health. bwahaha.

    her nursery analysis of absence of management in the Philippines just because i mentioned of dearth of indigenous materials on management cases in the grad school is classic

    The Management Association of the Philippines may like to invite this clueless woman as their special guest for their dart practice.

  17. ” But we, the middle classes who stayed behind should stand up”
    unfortunately, the middle class is a minority in numbers.

    good news : LGu’s are encouraged to enforce its local agricultural zoning or if none , to create their own for food security…
    http://www.mindanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4375&Itemid=105

    the demand of rice and it’s high prices can be supplemented by eating kamote. saksak is back for the hungry unemployed filipino.

  18. Republic Act 8435 is a complete failure under Arroyo’s government policy even in the field of stabilizing prices in the market.
    Scientist say, it will take 3 years for our country to attain self sufficiency…. The short cut to 3 years is kamote, saksak and other alternatives… and my favorite-victoria gardens.

    The promotion of hybrid rice has largely been hampered by the absence of training and know-how supports to farmers and inefficient distribution policies. ( lacking skills and management experience)…

  19. The Opus Dei couldn’t care less in the birth control debate. They practice truly spartan lives including real abstinence from sex, which is to be desired from the priests.

    But the neo-cult which has been profiting from the misery of the poor is the El Shaddai. This guy Velarde is even worse than bishops. He combines Bible readings with voodoo to hoodwink the Les Miserables.

  20. I did take sex education class in my highschool ( private school ) The church did not intervene to stop it. During PTA/Teachers meeting, sex education was also addressed.

    In public schools?
    “The council was created on April 30, 2004, by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo under Executive Order No. 314.”

    hanggang ngayon wala pa ba ma implement? http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20080331-127531/DepEd-set-to-launch-sex-education-in-public-schools

    our population problem is already in existence. sex education classes is an alternative long term solution. if the 2004 program was implemented sooner without delay, it will matter. the consequence of hunger is our current problem now.

  21. Leytenian, I remember one practical gem while I was in the United States. Public high schools in New York city have this to say:

    “if you can’t be good, at least be careful.”

    Condoms and birth control pills are tthen made available.

    You see, whatever one says, the young and the restless must be taught sex education. These are different times calling for different approaches.

    How often do the youth get to listen to a priest., if at all. Maybe once a week, during Sunday mass. Meanwhile, they are on the internet 24/7/365 and God knows what evil they see, hear, and speak of.

    That is not encouraging promiscuity. That is preventing unintended consequences.

  22. i think the process of careful implementation and timing is crucial. I am trained to implement within 6 months not years… backward pa rin ang pinas…

    When I was in elementary school, we have planted repolyo, petchay , kamatis, talong at iba pang gulay sa school garden namin. outside the school, small vendors are selling kamote cue, banana cue and coco juice or mango ice candy…

    the training and learning the habit of doing was the best education…
    that skills can be applied daily and is transferable to any other problem-solving scenario.

    I went home last year, I asked my mother if we can have kamote cue or banana cue for snacks. She said,,, sa goldilocks na lang daw kasi masarap doon…geeh.. I don’t like high calory food from goldilocks . So i was forced to go to the palengke… to my surprise.. konti lang ang kamote- mahal pa… ang saging…ganun rin… worst is the fish… mas mahal pa sa maynila… what’s wrong with my congressman… lol

  23. another story: my ex highschool BF always asked me about my monthly period… i said.. it’s coming.. lol

    the total hours of sex education class was 2-3 hours during my third year. It was taught at the beginning of the school year. it’s not like an everyday thing for highschool students.

    PSI , sorry to say.. I hate condoms… lol .

  24. Sex education for the Filipino youth is especially important in the light of the pervading dysfunctional OFW family, where at least one parent is away as worker-migrant.

    The teens will need guidance in this critical stage of their lives.

  25. in the US.. small franchise business such as chik-fil-a, burger king, and macdonalds .. etc provide coupons to students. Some small town in florida.. offers one dollar for a burger every wednesday. My point: the collective efforts in times of crisis has been implemented.

    recently, a friend bought a new home with 1 year supply of gas. other auto dealers are marketing the same just to move their inventories…. these business people will not wait for things to happen. putting this concept to Philippines national economy…. it will help. it’s the small ripple effect that will matter.

  26. I just had a glimpse of Mr Quezon in his TV program the explainer about railroads and trains. It is refreshing to see people talking about infrastucture in nation building without politics involve.

    There are a lot of individuals in our country who just want to move on the right direction come hell or high water. They probably came to the conclusion that these projects are so vital to our country that derailing them will come at a steep price in our development. The goals of the apolitical rail enthusiasist is to let the system do the due dilligence with regards to alleged corruption but not lose sight of the more pressing need for these important infrastuctures.

    Thanks Manolo for giving voice to the less known groups who work hard in the background giving time and much effort for a better Philippines.

  27. magdiwang, i saw part of it too and i was inspired. i think i’m going to join the group and see what i can do to contribute.

    i couldn’t agree with you more about our need to move on the right direction, and discard that brand of politics that sets as back to the proverbial end of the food chain.

    a case in point is one korina sanchez of abs-cbn in another show called “harapan”. i understand the woman is a first lady wannabee for mar roxas. i’m not sure if she was just playing the devils advocate but her presccription is to gut the whole northrail project altogether on the simplistic reason that we are paying 1 million pesos a day (roughly $20,000) interest on the amount that was borrowed. for heaven sake, we are talking about a project that would benefit an entire nation of 90,000 million people. what does she want? interest-free loan? what vacuity! even an average homeowner has to pay mortgage on her home, some in amounts that is already a fortune to the average joe blow. she should be thankful that anyone would lend us the needed funding despite ourselves.

  28. the cat, talking about “nursery analysis”, i must compliment the lady for dogged persistence. it seems she’s impervious to derisions. i don’t know if she’s doing it deliberately to rile the rest of us.

    she reminds me of a classmate in first year high school who keeps raising her hand whenever the teacher asked a question. her answer was almost always off-the mark but she persisted anyway. i heard she managed to become a small-town politico – a councilor or something.

  29. Our politicians has the propensity to move ideas that will serve them on election time. I find it self serving to the detriment of the nation.

    The government single minded political will to go ahead despite protestations with regards to SCTEX, NAIA T3, North-SouthRail, nautical highway, STAR tollway, C-5 extension, NLEX, SLEX, nationwide airport upgrading , MRT, Cavite coastal extension, DMIA, Pasig River ferry will eventually make a big difference to the lives of many people.

    Do you go ahead or axe all these worthwhile projects because of the fear of corruption? The filipino nation eventually will be the only one who can decide as corruption is endemic and systemwide with no easy solutions.

  30. Magdiwang (at 3:00 am), if you don’t mind breaking world records in building the most expensive infrastructure in terms of unit costs, then your recommendation is ok. But how sustainable is completing one infrastructure project for the price of two (or more)?

  31. cvj, fair enough……but why dont they present a credible proof on their accusations. the critics are good at the art of muddling the issues but when confronted with judicous scrutiny they back out claiming that the process is unfair. they should either put up ot shut up, they cant have it both ways. dont you agree?

  32. and the time of implementation is very slow. interest payment is not OK unless there were obvious implementation such as for example: clearing the way for constructions and prevention of thief to “rails”
    Since contract inception, I believe the Northrail project has no full support in terms of gathering the data on the first place. It was planned by very few people without proer advice from the experts.

    I do want this project to continue, there’s lots of advantages for our national economy if done right. The delay has made the public vulnerable to question credibility, quality , time and price. I believe all of GMA’s agenda delay and failure… will become the basis of moving forward to proper implementation of plan and may not be started under her administration. Some will use this project to win the election and some will use it for profit.

  33. magdiwang, surely you know you have already lost the argument. Seven or ten more sentences, then you will hear this one:

    how can you defend this administration which, we all know, is defined by one and only one thing —- GMA and “garci”?

  34. the proof is on the paper trail… the interest payment of $ 400,000 /month for the past 3 years. this is what happen if we do business with companies with no solid presentation of plan from the very beginning. Follow up of the project was never done… This is a big project that requires phone calls daily on “what’s up” when are you going to start? what do we need to do to prevent delay? can we do this together? wat happen in between 2004 up to the present. Nothing has been done in terms of cost savings.

    “This project is a burden to the people. The $400,000 monthly interest that the government is now compelled to pay can be used for subsidies and other projects for the poor and marginalized. Terminate this project now so we can be spared from the burden of paying for the kickbacks and anomalies that have long surrounded this project.” said Maza.”

    http://gabrielanews.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/northrail-project-is-a-burden-to-the-people-maza/

  35. “Oh and she reminded that health is wealth and camote or sweet potato is good for one’s health. bwahaha.”

    Oh, ano naman ang mali at nakakatawa doon? Kaya naman siguro there is no Nobel prize given for economics.

  36. UP n, ha ha ha….at least you pre-empted them. There are very crucial issues confronting our country and they are much bigger than GMA and Garci. Our homeland is too precious to be held hostage by a single contentious issue.

    If we dont do our act together we will be surely lose our momentum economically. The current administration have made economic gains no matter how you spin it to the contrary. This can be use to propel us to the next level. It does not mean that we have to look the other way on the shenanigans. We should do responsible due diligence by advocating change but without rocking the boat too much where everyone drowns with no winners.

  37. @ PSI

    “this guy Velarde is even worse than bishops. He combines Bible readings with voodoo to hoodwink the Les Miserables”

    At least naman si Mang Velarde does not claim to have healing powers unlike that charlatan Fr. Suarez who explicitly claims he has supernatural curing powers.

  38. magdiwang: another very important issue — separatism in Mindanao (and maybe to include Palawan????) — is being ignored by supposedly nationalist Filipinos, again because of this “… but GMA is an illegitimate President”.

    Or maybe some use that — GMA illegitimate — as their cover because they favor Muslim separatists.

  39. A few Filipinos exaggerate the military strength of the MILF (and exaggerate the weaknesses of the Philippine military command/control abilities and the fighting abilities of Filipino army/marines) and I think a reason is to give this aura of inevitability to negotiations with the MILF thugs.

    In contrast, China reportedly exaggerates the strength of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (an underground separatist organization in western China) so that China can maintain tighter control (news blackouts/other censorship, curfews, etc) in the area.

  40. And I repeat…. I am utterly disappointed that the Inquirer and other newspapers do not cite acts of heroism and bravery by Filipino soldiers who have died against the MILF and the NPA. I do not buy the argument that all Filipino soldiers are cowardly or incompetent or are good only to be mercenaries for the United nations.

  41. WanTester,

    tinetesting ko lang kung ano ba talaga ang tinatawag nilang godwyn’s law.
    sigurado ako di ako sablay sa pag ka joker mo,nakakatuwa ka nga eh.

    ilang bit error rate na ang lumalabas sa wantester mo.

    yung tukayo mo na si tester mali ang obserbasyon ke benigs,taga new zealand daw;taga australia sya eh.

    hanggang sa muli.

    but the godwyn’s law is supposed to be the show stopper
    or the conversation stopper,we have not reached that yet.
    hanggang di pa pudpod mga daliri natin, the godwyn’s law does not apply.

  42. UPN,

    being a milittary brat with friends who died in mindanao, I am with you on that.

    Dati nga itong si moin tulfo pagtapos pagsasabihing tanga yung mga pinugutang marinesnuong 1993 tinawagan ko eh. it was not aired pero sinabihan ko gago ka pala eh,sinabihan lang ako na naintindihan kita anak din ako ng nasa serbisyo,e kung ganyan ka sinong maniniwala sa iyo sabi ko.

    itong si korina sanchez naman,me binasang report sa kapwa ko military brat na babae na naaksidente ,siguradong pang ratings din ang report,tinawagan din namin kung anu ano kasi ang pinagsasabi,all we got was I’m sorry.,no wonder she got suspended when lambasting a pnp chief on air .

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