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JANUARY 17-23, 2014 • VOL.4 NO.25

by Miguel raymundo DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is quick to flash the dirty finger. But he “flips the bird” not to be bawdy or rude—but to express his anger against criminals, his repulsion of corrupt politicians and his occasional defiance of malacañang. Page 2

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CLARISSA OCAMPO THEN, NOW IT’S RUBY TUASON 3 2/14/14 10:44 PM


COVER STORY

Next In Line of Fire By ElCid Benedicto

A

The Solution By Miguel Raymundo

THE scenario is ripe for the election of a President like Rodrigo Duterte. The Philippines is almost a failed state and many indicators support this perception. Laws are not obeyed, and worse, even used to fleece money from citizens. President Benigno S. Aquino III does not respect the constitution and openly violates the laws of the land. This has become lately obvious in the public concern over the legitimacy of the DAP that is now a question before the Supreme Court. Mocking the law has become normal in the Philippines, starting in the halls of congress to the streets in the barangays. The claimed 7.1 percent economic growth has only succeeded to rub salt to the wounds of poverty suffered by almost eighty percent of the population. This economic growth that benefited only the very rich of the country has widened the gap between the rich and poor, with about four percent of the economy controlling 90 percent of the national wealth. That widespread poverty is causing disorder in our streets cannot be overemphasized in the rapid rise of petty crimes and robbery that even media offices get ransacked. Even when the police says it has control in the peace and order, the assassinations and theft leading to the death of victims make citizens unbelieving this government.

Cruel Joke

The cruel joke is everything is going up in the Philippines: the GDP is in all-time high; the cost of electricity is record breaking, now the highest in the world; the cost of living has gone up too high that fish in wet markets are sold at ¼ kilo. These three are indicators of an economy gone haywire, an economy that is going in different directions and failing to serve the national good. Experts describe this as lacking in inclusive growth, meaning the billions the economy earned went exclusively to the four percent of the population who control the national economy. The first “killer” to inclusive economic growth is the cost of electricity Meralco delivers to our homes. Cost of electricity has greatly contributed to high cost of living. Owners of power generation firms, distributions and services are a handful of families also fronting for families who control politics in this country and who have bought people in government. Crime against property has gone up that even media offices are ransacked. The OpinYon office in San Pedro, Laguna was robbed of laptop computers, cash and some documents. (What the robbers will do with those documents baffle editors of this paper) There is almost complete disorder in the streets. People get shot and killed for even an inexpensive cellphone. The roads are in complete chaos from traffic, causing hot heads to shoot each other. There is almost collapse of governance if one is to look at the poverty incidence and corruption, deep decline on investments and widespread unemployment. According to a SWS survey, in the last four months of last year alone, 2.5 million Filipinos joined the rank of unemployed, to think that these months are supposed to bring jobs in the service sector, supposed to be big contributor in the country’s jobs requirement. The end of year rise in unemployment could have caused the deepening pessimism among the locals on the future of the country as shown in a survey by SWS. The investigations on corruption in the Senate and the Lower House have contributed to the hopelessness

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OpinYon

among Filipinos, believing that they have been betrayed by officials they voted to office to protect their interests. Worse is, the corruption in Congress is nothing to the corruption in Malacañang with hundreds of Billions of pesos lost in DAP.

Search for a Leader

The people are looking for a true leader of the people. They are looking for one who is proven to have defied even the rich and the powerful so peace and order is served and real justice reigns. It is frightening that what they people see today is a government for the rich, by the rich and of the rich. To think that the rich is only four percent of us. The solution is one who is willing to defy the rich, the powerful who have placed their minions in government. The country is looking for a leader proven to serve real justice and proven muscle in terms of having streets that are safe; the thieves, in government and in the streets, are afraid to ply their trade; government is honest and transparent and above all serves both the interest of the rich and the poor. This leader must be willing to defy those who had been used to dictating the course of this country’s economy by placing their “robots” in Congress and in the justice department. Duterte could be that man.

The Finger

Duterte is one to quickly flash the dirty finger. But he “flips the bird” not to be bawdy or rude—but to express his anger against criminals, his repulsion with corrupt politicians and his occasional defiance of Malacañang. Duterte, one of the most well-known allies of PNoy, has no qualms about locking horns with the President on issues that go against his scruples—his own sense of right and wrong. In July, he openly defied government by refusing to lift a local ban on mining even as the President outlined his administration’s new mining policy and its intent to mine in the mineral-rich districts of Paquibato and Marilog in Davao City. Duterte did not budge from his position. For this, he earned the ire of the powers that be and, at the same time, furthered his tough guy image—a ‘Dirty Harry’ persona that shoots first and asks questions later.

Unconventional

Duterte is not your typical politician and public servant. His popularity is built around a zealous campaign against crime and his transformation of Davao City into one of the most peaceful cities in the country. He accomplished all this by being hands-on. He is always on the scene, taking part in the action—once even posing as a taxi driver in an attempt to catch muggers preying on city cabbies. But Duterte is not without his share of detractors. He has had several run-ins with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for manhandling petty crooks, his alleged involvement in vigilante groups and—more recently— for threatening to kill suspected rice smuggler David Tan (Davidson Bangayan) “if he makes the mistake of going to Davao City.” But instead of being thumbed down, Duterte’s political stock gained even more—enough to fuel movements to support his candidacy for Philippine President in 2016.

SECOND set of upper chamber members may find themselves on the same boat as that of beleaguered Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. anytime soon. Speculations are rife that, allegedly, senators Vicente Sotto III and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. are supposedly “next in line,” meaning that they will be subject purportedly in the same controversy hounding their colleagues’ involvement with the unlawful transactions of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. This issue is no longer new as the allegations of their supposed misuse of their pork barrel allocation, also called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), first broke out shortly after the Commission on Audit (COA) made public its special audit report covering the years 2007 to 2009, middle of last year. Although the issue on Sotto and Marcos eventually died down after they immediately made their respective denials, with the latter even unwittingly exposing for the first time the existence of Development Acceleration Program (DAP). Marcos, it can be recalled, went public to dispute the allegations against him saying that the supposed P100 million funds being attributed to him that he supposedly endorsed to fake foundations and non-government organizations (NGOs) associated with Napoles were uncovered by his staff, following an extensive research of documents, as sourced from the DAP. The controversy over the Aquino administration’s fiscal stimulus package eventually ended up at the doorsteps of the Supreme Court, its constitutionality being challenged by some stakeholders, was eventually uncovered to be Malacanang’s funding mechanism for additional pork barrel of some senators who voted for the conviction of ousted chief magistrate Renato Corona, supposedly. Just as when the issue on DAP was gaining grounds, sources said that a high Palace official supposedly managed to convince Marcos to “go easy” on the issue, the quid pro quo of which was that of the senator no longer being bombarded with issues that tend to question his credibility and integrity as a politician. Such is already an indication that Palace’ hands are at work in its alleged demolition job against certain senators, sources privy to the said issue on Marcos said. Still, speculations have not waned on the matter of another “batch” of senators being targeted over their alleged questionable use of their respective PDAF. A week before Ruby Chan Tuason, who once served as social secretary of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada when he was still President, sources said the three senators were subject of a scrutiny by COA over PDAF disbursements. Sources said state auditors were inquiring whether they have issued “endorsement” letters to some NGOs, raising suspicions as to the motives of the “inquiry.” “They find it highly-suspicious. Why would COA ask documents from these senators? Unless it’s subject of their usual audit work and these lawmakers are being asked to furnish them these papers. It seems that the agency is on fishing expedition,” a reliable source said. Except for one, two of the three said senators have kept mum on the issue as their respective camps are apprehensive that it would only be used as a tool against them. Besides, no other senators appeared to have been approached by the COA for such a request, sources added. Indeed, they seemed to have reason to be concerned about themselves as an administration ally divulged ongoing “efforts” to go after those alleged to have misused pork barrel funds, whether unwittingly or wittingly. The same source disclosed that a team was tasked to “work” on the case of Tuason, meaning, exhaust all means to get her, supposedly, to the side of the government and made to squeal whatever information she has regarding Estrada and Enrile as she may be, as what Justice Sec. Leila de Lima said, be the “missing link.”

WE TAKE A STAND

2/14/14 10:44 PM


Politics

News from Where You Stand

Clarissa Then, Now It’s Ruby by Diego C. Cagahastian

trada signed the name “Jose Velarde” in the documents opening the controversial account. Her testimony brought to fore a sealed envelope presented as evidence by the prosecution -- which envelop in effect became promoted in the frenzied media coverage of the trial as containing documents incriminating President Estrada as indeed “Jose Velarde”. When the Estrada senators won out in blocking the opening of the controversial envelop, it gave the opposition camp just the right kind of excuse to walk out on the legal process, bring the issue to the people in what had become known as EDSA People Power II, resulting to the ouster of Erap.

HISTORY does not just happen; it is made. The nation is witness today to sudden surfacing of socialite Ruby Tuason veritably as an angel sent from above to sanctify what has been touted as exorcism of the supposed demons in the pork barrel scam. It needed the workings of top agencies of the Department of Justice (DOJ), particularly the Witness Protection Program (WPP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI-Interpol) Special Task Force, and the NBI-International Operations Division to bring Tuason to the country to make what DOJ Secretary Laila De Lima has boasted to be the “slam dunk” testimony that would nail down erstwhile Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, former Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, and Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr. in the cases of plunder lodged by the DOJ with the Ombudsman. VIP Treatment Exercising prudence in the matter of treating witnesses’ affidavits, lawyers take extreme care in making sure that such witnesses come forward on their own volition and that there has not been even an iota of coercion exerted on them in making those affidavits. Tuason’s case betrays the complete opposite. No less than WPP Director Marty Menez, NBI Special Task Force Chief Rolando Agrabioso, and NBI-Interpol head Daniel Daganzo went all the way to the United States to give Tuason an exceedingly VIP treatment in escorting her back to the Philippines. The treatment accorded Ruby Tuason can only belie the assertion she makes in her affidavit. For instance, she claims that she has dug deep into her conscience and has realized that her participation in the pork barrel scandal was all wrong. She avers that such wrong cannot be righted by another wrong, which according to her is what she would be doing if she sided with Jinggoy et al in the controversy. Her assertions smack of sheer hypocrisy. Immunity An act of contrition is unconditional. You recognize your sin and express willingness to correct it regardless of the consequences. In her case, she agrees to turn state witness only on the condition that she is made immune from any criminal charges. Now, waxing dramatic at the Senate Blue Ribbon

Clarissa ocampo

Ruby Tuason

Committee hearing last Thursday, Feb. 13, Ruby cried that she would rather die than go to jail for her misdeed. On questioning by Senator Angara, Ruby replied that she would gladly die if immunity is not granted to her by the Noynoy government, which is directly opposed to the conditions of turning state witness stated in her affidavit. Senator Jinggoy Estrada is completely correct in averring that Tuason has decided to turn against him and company purely in order “to save her own skin.” Might we ask, “What conscience are you talking about?” Tuason paints the worst hypocritical portrait of herself when she drags her grandchildren into the case. Her very act of admitting participation with Napoles in the pork scam already makes her a criminal – already taints her grandchildren with that criminal brand for all eternity. The immunity from criminal prosecution she gets from such act does not at all lessen her criminal culpability. Her guilt in this controversy is not contingent at all on what the court will say eventually but solely on what she says about

it. And as early as the submission of her affidavit, she says she is guilty. How, then, does Tuason save her grandchildren from the ignominy of her admitted crime? Again, as Senator Jinggoy points out, Tuason’s decision to testify has been all for saving her own skin. No matter the repercussions on her family image, no matter the eternal hurt she has already infl icted especially upon her grandchildren. Parallel Event This now emerging Ruby Tuason episode in the pork barrel scam controversy calls to mind a parallel event in 2001, the impeachment trial of then President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. That trial could turn out to be the most laughable travesty of the country’s democratic process. The prosecuting congressmen were defi nitely hard put to pin down Erap on the impeachment charges leveled against him, among them the supposed ill-gotten wealth deposited in the account of one Jose Velarde. A bank official, a woman, Clarissa Ocampo, testified in the proceedings that she was just a breath away when President Es-

Equally Guilty? And yet, as Ruby Tuason is already guilty by admitting as bagman in the pork barrel scam, wasn’t Clarissa Ocampo already guilty of violating banking rules by admitting that she saw President Estrada sign as “Jose Velarde” in the bank account papers. Having witnessed such wrong, why did she approve the Jose Velarde account at all? The Ruby Tuason episode in the pork barrel controversy can turn out into a reprise of the Clarissa Ocampo act. For one thing, both are aimed at the ouster of an Estrada, historically a hard nut to crack in Philippine politics. The conductor of the orchestra in the Erap impeachment fugue in 2001 needed to engage in dirty strokes to be able to drive him out of power. Prevarications, fakery, distortions of facts, machinations wildly promoted by the media effectively fired up the people in bringing the issue for prey by the mob rule. President Joseph Ejercito Estrada was thrown out of power early on in his term. And yet, when eventually the controversial envelope was opened, it contained very innocent documents and not a bit of the perceived incriminating evidences against the ousted president. The second envelope was opened by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., in full view of senators and media, and there was nothing incriminating there. Might Senator Jinggoy Estrada be not subjected to a similar process. Manipulators of Philippine politics have hardly diverted from goodie ol’ ways. As a goodie ol’ adage says, criminals always return to the scene of the crime. They’ve succeeded in their goodie ol’ dirty trick time and time again. They expect to succeed again for the umpteenth time.

Is Uncle sam Behind the Bangsamoro Agreement? by roy Sinfuego RECENT developments in the international diplomatic front, have given China more reasons to believe that the United States could be undermining peace and development in the Asia –Pacific region. As we all know, China is engaged in a continuing diplomatic row with its Asian neighbors including the Philippines, over its maritime claims in the disputed territories in what we call as West Philippine Sea. Aside from China and the Philippines, other countries like Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei are all locked up in claiming parts of the sea that is believed to be rich in mineral deposits. The West Philippine Sea which the Chinese calls as South China Sea is also the source of at least 10 percent of global fish catches and an essential nautical highway for a $5 trillion worldwide ship-borne trade. It did not help that President Benigno Aquino, on Thursday lashed at the Chinese leadership when he compared the maritime dispute with the appeasement of Adolf Hitler  who demanded Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland region to be turned over to Nazi Germany in 1938.

China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5 million square km (1.35 million square miles) South China Sea, depicting what it sees as its area on maps with a so-called nine-dash line, looping far out over the sea from south China. While we admire the government leadership for its tough stance over the issue, it appears to me that the recent posturing of President Aquino has more to it than meets the eye. Which could prompt the question, is the United States fully backing the Philippines in its tough stand against China over the maritime row? And the suspicion of many political and military observers that Aquino could be acting on orders of the United States was somewhat bolstered during a recent congressional inquiry in the US. It was there when U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Danny Russel declared of their “growing concerns” that China’s maritime claims were an effort to gain creeping control of oceans in the region. He described China’s claims as having “created uncertainty, insecurity and instability” in the region.

Whatever it is, I am convinced that as a global super power the best thing that the US could do is to stay neutral, and instead help in solving the diplomatic rift in a constructive way to ensure peace and stability in the region. This brings me to the second question, which is more domestic in nature. Is the US also behind in the GRP-MILF Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro? And knowing how the US operates, I am inclined to believe that it is indeed working for the immediate passage of the new law that would supplant the existing Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which President Aquino has described as a “failed experiment”. To recall, some the most sensitive issues on the agreement have already been hurdled after the parties inked the Annex on Power Sharing and Annex on Normalization and an addendum on the matter of Bangsamoro Waters recently. The annex on power sharing specifically defi nes “the delineation and sharing of power between the Central Government and the (future) Bangsamoro Government within the territorial jurisdiction of the prospective Bangsamoro political entity.”

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As it is, it is safe to assume that the creation of the new Bangsamoro Republic would surely do wonders for the US who could use the same in shoring up its military and economic presence in the ASIA-Pacific region. Let me be clear about this, I am in favor of any form of agreement that the government would enter into just to attain a complete and lasting peace in Mindanao. What I am against is the possibility that this accord can be used by foreign powers like the US to perpetuate their political and economic domination not only in the country but also in the Asia-Pacific region. The recent movements of the US 7th fleet are strong indications that we could be in for some surprises especially now that the creation of a new Bangsamoro republic is in the offi ng. I just hope that the Aquino government made the right decision when it worked and entered into an agreement for the Bangsamoro republic creation. (Roy Sinfuego is a veteran news reporter and is the founding Chairman of PNP Press Corps. He is a lifetime member of Samahang Plaridel and 365 Club at Intercon Hotel ) 

OpinYon

february 17-23, 2014

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OPINION

Meralco, et al Pork: Trillions

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Sick Sense of Humor WE put this issue to bed Friday, Valentine’s Day so let’s take a short break from the heavy stuff. There is good news from a Social Weather Station Survey (SWS) for Pinoys who fall under the category of the less-attractive. We’re talking ugly here. A fourth quarter survey by the SWS fielded over December 11-16, 2013, found that 90% of adult Filipinos (or nine out of 10) would choose a man or a woman who is unattractive but can make you laugh or has a sense of humor Only 10% of the respondents said they would pick someone who is guwapo and maganda, but has no sense of humor. The question posed in the survey went like this: Alin sa dalawang ito ang mas pipiliin mo? Isang babae o lalaki na pangit pero napapatawa ka o yung maganda o guwapo, pero walang sense of humor? Across genders, women preferred sense of humor over looks more than the men. But here’s the deal. Preference for sense of humor over good looks was highest at 90% among respondents belonging to classes D and E. Apparently, as you go up the socio-economic ladder the preference shifted toward good looks over sense of humor. The survey also showed a stronger preference for sense of humor among those with less formal education. So the poor and the less educated in this country want partners who can make them laugh silly—while the better educated perhaps just want to have beautiful babies. Simply put, the SWS survey showed that the Filipino masa picked sense of humor over looks, while the rich went for looks and cared little about being tickled funny. But how the survey cuts distinctly across socio-economic classes is symptomatic of something more than picking choosing pogi over panget. In this age of poverty, hunger and unemployment, the poor of this nation have very very little reason to smile. Having someone around who can make us laugh is therapeutic—if not a momentary escape from the harsh realities of everyday life. The rich, meanwhile, have absolutely no need for a comedian. There are already happy and content as it is— laughing all the way to the bank. And as times get tougher, it gets harder to make the common Juan and Maria laugh. Dolphy is dead and this government has a sick sense of humor.

HERMAN TIU-LAUREL Publisher TONYPET J. ROSALES Managing Editor

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HILIPPINE media over-focuses on the Napoles and “pork” of senators and congressmen. The biggest amount ever mentioned by newspapers of Napoles’ alleged “pork” scams amount to P 10-billion, but the cases in the Senate hearings involve only P 2-billion. The only certifiable culprits are those who have admitted to participation in the crimes and are acting as “whistleblowers” against BS Aquino’s political party’s political rival. It is very clear, however, that all sides in the political arena have wallowed in the “pork barrel” system for the past decades and the party in power is clearly sparing its own partisans. Consider how much money are being sucked out of Filipino consumers in the recent cases of corporate swindle of the people: Manila Water and Maynilad Water pass-on of annual P 3-Billion, or P 30-B the past ten years, corporate income tax for the past ten years to water consumers which is immoral and judged illegal by the regulatory authority; the Supreme Court approval of pass-on to consumers of P 14-Billion (P 27-B, with interest) Meralco penalty due to Napocor for contract infringement; Meralco’s market manipulation windfall of P 24-Billion December-January P 4.15/kWh increase on 2.8-billion kilowatt per month its distributes under TRO. The above amounts represent only the tip of the iceberg of plunder by privatized public utilities. The private utilities are controlled by local and foreign oligarchs – i.e. the ruling capitalist-corporatist class fronting for the International “economic hit men” that international corporate whistleblower John Perkins exposes in his books on capitalism preying on developing economies. For example, Meralco is controlled by “hit man” Manny Pangilinan (MVP) exposed in a Supreme Court case on PLDT as a front man for mysterious foreign fi nancier cabals. In Meralco MVP fronts for Hasting Holdings Inc. behind Beacon Holdings Inc. officially in a 50-50 venture with Hong Kong based Indonesian Metro Pacific. In the water rate case, while consumers won in the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) decision disallowing the pass-on of corporate income tax to consumers and ordering the private water companies to refund the public starting October 2013, the private water companies have put the refund on hold by bringing the MWSS decision to the International Court of Arbitration under the International Chamber of Commerce where those sitting in

JOJO VALENCIA Layout Artist Editorial Consultants DIEGO CAGAHASTIAN LINGGOY ALCUAZ ERICK SAN JUAN RODRIGO CORNEJO RAY L. JUNIA Board Chairman & President ATTY. SALVADOR S. PANELO Ombudsman ATTY. RICKY RIBO, Legal counsel JOACHIM JOSHUA P. MEDROSO V.P. Business Development

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PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE Mentong Laurel judgment come from global corporatist circles with values, rules and standards skewed in favour of corporate interests. The people are at the losing end again. The point of our article this week is the misplaced focus on what is by any measure a much, much smaller scale of corruption and abuse in the political pork barrel while corporate plunder and exploitation of the people, consumers and the country run into hundreds of billions (even trillions as former presidential economic adviser Joey Salceda reported in 2010 of top corporations’ annual plunder) but are at best given limited focus, spottily reported and eventually swept into oblivion – thanks to the power of corporate PR which directly or indirectly controls and manipulates media organizations through corporate cross-ownerships or advertising power. The highlighted privatized utilities abuse which have been so blatant that they are no longer able to hide them from the people’s consciousness, are the avaricious electricity and water utility corporations. But the telecommunications, toll charging infrastructure services such as

Singapore costing half-a-billion US Dollars while Department of Energy officials in the country are claiming the Philippines will be short of power in the coming year. The International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) which charges here the highest container terminal services fees in the World has invested what it earns in countries such as Syria, Argentina and recently injected $ 225-Million into a Nigerian port project in a joint venture with a French fi rm. I almost forget, the oil sector which has also been under privatization since the assumption of Cory Aquino to power in 1986 and completed by Fidel V. Ramos and Gloria Arroyo. Since the privatization of Petron to a succession of foreign companies from Aramco to Ashmore, and then to San Miguel Corp. which has been investing billions of U.S. Dollars in Malaysia. If these tens of billions of U.S. Dollars these public utility corporations are gouging from the Filipino consumers and citizens had stayed in the Philippines then indeed the country would be the richest and most progressive in the region. Growth of the economy would not just be phantom GDP and Gross Domestic Pain but genuine Gross Domestic Product. The Philippines is hemorrhaging because of this massive outflow of real capital from the country, all a result of the ”globalization” laws that instituted privatization and deregulation of the economy, and fi nancial liberalization which opened wounds for trans-

Consider how much money are being sucked out of Filipino consumers in the recent cases of corporate swindle of the people. The amounts represent only the tip of the iceberg of plunder by privatized public utilities. The private utilities are controlled by local and foreign oligarchs. expressways and harbour and port services are also gouging the public and the economy. According to economist Romulo Neri when he was NEDA chief, the Philippines has the highest port and harbour services fees in the World, while it is well known that the Philippine telecoms sector charges among the highest rates in the World. Again, in all these sectors discrete foreign partners are rarely visible to the public. One result of the discrete foreign participation in Philippine privatized public utilities is the massive outflow of capital and wealth of the country. In recent months Filipinos are surprised by successive news reports of Philippine public utilities companies investing billions of dollars abroad while deficiencies of such utilities, like electricity supply, continues to fester in the country. Meralco, for example, is reported to have set up an 800-megawatt power plant in

fusion of the nation’s economic lifeblood out of the country. The truly massive pork barrel is the corporate pork barrel the prevailing economic policy structure of globalization has given to the local and foreign oligarchy, and unlike the political pork barrel funds which at least mostly stays in the country, the corporate pork is smuggled abroad, to foreign countries almost impossible-to-retrieve in the mesh of trans-national corporate ownership. This is what Philippine media should be focused on, but under the present liberal media laws this is clearly not going to happen. (Tune to 1098AM, DWAD, Tues. To Fri. “Sulo ng Pilipino” program; watch GNN Sat. 8pm and Sun. 8am “MRT TRO – prolonging the suffering”, over Destiny Cable ch. 8 or SkyCable ch. 213, or www. gnntv-asia.com; text reactions to 09178658664; log into www. newkatipunero.blogspot.com)

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2/14/14 10:44 PM


Opinion

The Viewpoints and outlook of the well-informed

Courage

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HEN moral courage feels that it is in the right, there is no personal daring of which it is incapable “ (Leigh Hunt)... and if I may add, “...even as it borders on the suicidal.”This is the simple yet startling sense derivable from statements given by socialite Ruby Chan Tuason, in connection with her having offered to turn state witness against her friends: former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE), former Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, and former Chief of Staff of JPE, Atty. Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, relative to the ongoing Janet Lim Napoles-related pork barrel scam imbroglio.

love and respect of her children and grand children, who stopped talking to her soon as her involvement in the scam broke out in the news. Additionally, life would have been worthless if she had opted to stay beyond the reach of the law as a despised fugitive. Yes, coming home to confess and tell the truth would be her only chance at redemption. As I write this piece about a week before its publication, there is no doubt that Tuason has already won the hearts and minds of citizens as she stands like a tiny David pitted against the formidable JPE-Estrada Goliath, in a showdown that should end in her favor as the perceived righteous underdog --- if the biblical story and the prevailing popular mood are to be relevant.

Why Tuason Came Back

Neither Fairy Tale Nor Basketball

In an interview with Inquirer reporters, Tuason, a reportedly devout Catholic who frequently goes to Mass, said that her values and principles succumbed to friendships when she agreed to serve as a conduit for kickbacks for Senators JPE and Estrada from their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations, adding that she was back from hiding abroad to ease her stricken conscience, by revealing all she knew about the pork scam at the risk of being liquidated. She stressed nothing was more disastrous than losing the

The trouble is: the pork scandal is not a fairy tale where good always prevails over evil. It is one of the most catastrophic corruption sagas ever to have rocked our nation in recent years, where crime and punishment, conviction or acquittal, are fodder to legal minds competing in a public forum that is vulnerable to external pressures like power, influence and awesome material resources. All these usually lead to distortions---if not concealments--of material facts, not to mention

MUSINGS Ronald Roy illicit methods in the manufacture of sundry kinds of evidence. And all this cloak-and-dagger stuff, dear Readers, happens in real life, not only in Hitchcock or Spielberg productions. We recall how hoopla broke out all over the place after DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima announced that the State had virtually clinched its case against the senators with Tuason’s testimonial “slam dunk”, followed by what Estrada sharply observed as her

NBI agents feverishly dovetailing Tuason’s sworn statements with those of the whistle-blowers led by Benhur Luy. Yes, all of this has created the public view that the senators are dead meat. But whoa, rein in your horses, dudes, this isn’t anywhere like P-Noy’s state resources shamelessly acting in concert to ensure then CJ Renato C. Corona’s impeachment removal from office last year. No, I’m not at all implying that JPE’s Impeachment Court convicted an innocent chief justice.

Trial By Publicity Recalled

What I’m saying is that a chief justice was removed from office in an impeachment trial by publicity presided over by then Senate President JPE. The raging tempest of the “mob” outside the senate hall demanding Corona’s

She stressed nothing was more disastrous than losing the love and respect of her children and grand children, who stopped talking to her. Additionally, life would have been worthless if she had opted to stay beyond the reach of the law as a despised fugitive.

scalp is back, this time demanding the scalps of Corona’s scalpers. But if JPE is the superlative legalist that he is reputed to be, this seemingly strange twist of fate has gotten his juices flowing as the legal luminary that now confronts the same mob to whom he had given a chief justice’s scalp on a silver platter. Hmmm...I wouldn’t put it past the foxy JPE to start trying to win back the countless people who had hailed his impeachment performance with a roofshattering 71% approval rating. He may now be musing: “Those guys are thinking of slam dunks. But this isn’t basketball. This is my game, a court trial where a wide array of arsenal is at my disposal, like timely time-outs, delaying tactics, tripping hostile witnesses, nudging lap taps off the tables, timely brown-outs, advising prosecutors never to walk the streets alone at night, and reminding them they owe me for their appointments.” Well, ahh, at this point I have become tongue-in-cheek giddy... but seriously, the time has come for us fuzzy-headed simple folk to demand a just and speedy resolution of the charges against the senators, consistent with their right to due process and a presumption of their innocence. ( http://musingsbyroy.wordpress. com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy )

VFA Sellout

I

T was only in January 25,2014 when the Philippine government and representatives from the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed on the last chapter of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The conclusion of the talks pave the way for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that will allow the rebel group to set up an autonomous government to run parts of the poor, but resource-rich southern island of Mindanao -- in exchange for decommissioning their weapons. The said signing is the fi nal and most challenging Annex on Normalization -the fourth part of a peace roadmap that was set out in October 2012. (Source: Reuters) Only a little over one week that the said pact was signed that another controversial issue was raised by the progressive block in the House of Representatives through Representative Carlos Zarate of the Bayan Muna. He based his allegations from the paper “In Assertion of Sovereignty: The Peace Process” authored by Cesar Pobre and Raymond Jose Quilop, a political science professor from the University of the Philippines who has been providing policy directions to the AFP over the last two decades through the Office of Strategic and Special Studies (OSS), a unit under the military based at Camp Aguinaldo. According to the OSS, Gen-

eral Santos City in South Cotabato is being considered as the future site for a US base. Why is this so? Because -“One thought is about an American-led plot to lend a debt of gratitude by helping Mindanao become independent and get repaid in terms of grant of US rights to set up bases there.” The book went on further that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has also a hand on this through USIP(United States Institute for Peace). It stated that the OSS book said Washington was considered a “major stakeholder” in the peace process and had actually used organizations that were believed to be fronting for the Central Intelligence Agency. One of these agencies is the US Institute for Peace (USIP) through the Philippine Facilitation Project. The OSS, citing several sources, said the USIP’s “true objective is to infi ltrate the MILF.” “The US through the USIP guided the crafting of the [defunct] MOA-AD [memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain] to serve its tactical and strategic objectives in the country as well as in the Southeast Asian region,” it noted. The allegations were denied by then US Ambassador Kristie Kenney who pointed out that the USIP acted on its own in preparing a study paper on the peace process that did not reflect Washington’s position, but “she did not mention, however,

WHISTLE BLOWER Erick San Juan that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was among the ex-officio members of the institute.” The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported last February 3,2014 that Cong. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna condemned and called for an investigation of the alleged participation of US troops in the military operations against BIFF(Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) in Maguindanao. US forces were seen providing medical assistance to wounded soldiers and two journalists who were hurt in a bomb attack. But Zarate said that the VFA(Visiting Forces Agreement) does not cover participation in any form of ac-

tivities inside a military camp during an ongoing massive operation. He even cited the US involvement in the Vietnam War which started from providing “humanitarian” assistance, which he said was a clear euphemism for low-intensity confl ict and intervention. Cong. Zarate concluded that the assistance in disguise strengthen the ‘maneuvers’ of the US government for a more permanent presence in the country. We have written a lot about this move by Washington through Pentagon of actually having the bases already set up in the south (Mindanao) since Uncle Sam launched its global war on terror (GWOT) in 2001 after the September 11 terror attack. This was carried out successfully by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in joining the coalition of the willing in the war on terror. Remember that Mrs. Arroyo was given the title as the Asia coordinator in the said perceived bogus war by former US President George Bush Jr. Whether we like it or not,

Whether we like it or not, our country will always be under the spell of the big brother’s whim through the collaborators in the government that will drag us all into a war not of our liking.

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our country will always be under the spell of the big brother’s whim through the collaborators in the government that will drag us all into a war not of our liking. Now that the said agreement on the Bangsamoro Political Entity is in its fi nal stretch, the perception of allowing a US base in the said ‘new territory’ is not farfetched especially in theses exciting times where the Philippines is believed as the possible epicenter of the next global war. Unless the present administration together with the people in PNoy’s loop will have the balls to say no to its master and be treated fairly as its ally and in the process be given what is due us. John Mangun of the Business Mirror, an American stock market expert and a very pro-Filipino American journalist cited the State of the Union address last January of US President Barack Obama mentioning the Philippines, telling Americans and us that the US would always be ready to help a friend which made the Filipinos glow with honor. But Mangun doubts the sincerity of Obama. He concluded that the truth is, “those foreigners are not your friends and they actually do not like the Philippines.” It’s very clear that the US has their interests to protect but what about us? Can President Obama and the US Congress give us the same privilege they gave to Japan, like an immediate response and retaliation in case of an attack? Just asking!

OpinYon

february 17-23, 2014

5 2/14/14 10:44 PM


Environment Make Your Home And Office Earth-Friendly 1. Buy furniture made from recycled materials. You’re helping in keeping the amount of human wastage and trash from multiplying. You’re also supporting industries and causes that advocate recycling. 2. Avoid toxic materials by acquiring furniture that does not contain toxins like PBDEs and formaldehyde in its manufacture. Look for the Greenguard certification, and ask your supplier and your friends about the materials used to make the living room item. 3. This may seem trivial, but it is important to always buy durable furniture. Furniture that’s made to last long means you don’t have to replace them for a very long time, which means you don’t contribute to trash caused by average broken or old furniture. 4. Vintage is in because it’s green! Buying antique furniture is a good option because it is already used, and has not used up any energy or any kind of manufacturing costs. 5. Go local! Get furniture made by builders in your area, or from the same region, versus buying it abroad. This means cutting down on shipping costs, which means cutting down on fuel costs to bring things from abroad, and

saving energy that would have been used to bring it to your door. You will be making local craftspeople and artisans happy by supporting them, and supporting your local industry means improved quality. 6. DIY - Why not? Making your own furniture will save you money and unnecessary expenses, you get satisfaction from building your own furniture, and you get to cut down on using unnecessary energy and fuel. You get to design your own furniture and make it in a way that makes it stand out from your usual department store-bought home furniture. 7. Bamboo-made furniture makes for a great, native-style look. Not to mention that since bamboo is so easy to grow, there is no sustainability issue because it’s very easy to replace. Bamboo is durable and requires very little to no insecticide treatment. 8. Repurpose! Turn that old wooden table with the broken leg into benches or as part of the kitchen shelving. Use old car tires as tables and chairs by piling them up and securing them together. Those old wooden cabinets can be used as kitchen tables if put together or turned on its side. The possibilities are endless. Turning old furniture

into something that’s different from it’s original use can help reduce the amount of discard in landfills. 9. Get furniture that is easy to dismantle. With room and storage becoming more of a problem in urban areas with smaller residential space, it helps that the furniture you buy is not bulky or something that takes up so much living room space. Once they fall into disuse, it will be very easy to dispose of them, or better, to repurpose and recycle them. 10. Nature provides free green furniture if you know where to find it. If you have access to a wooded area, ask permission from the owners if you can scavenge any tree trimmings or branches that fell off the tree. These discard wood can be designed into little benches, coffee tables or shelvings, with just a little ingenuity and creativity. Ask your designer friends to help you or read up on how to make simple furniture from discarded wood materials.

To Be Green Is Now A Must By Erick A. Fabian

Gone are the days when companies are only into the bottom-line. A successful business is not just one that earns and grows, but also one that is in good standing with the community. All companies are part of the local community, where its offices, production lines and factories are located. The neighbors, schools, hospitals and other businesses will be significantly affected by a company’s actions. A company that engages in responsible citizenship practices corporate social responsibility (CSR). The most popular working definition of CSR, as agreed upon by the 2007 ISO 26000 Working Group on Social Responsibility, is ‘the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment through transparent and ethical behaviour that is consistent with sustainable development and the welfare of society takes into account the expectations of stakeholders; is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behaviour; and is integrated throughout the organization.’ According to James Epstein-Reeves of Forbes Magazine, businesses that practice CSR are likely to gain more than their nonpracticing counterparts. When your business promotes eco-friendly practices and do away with non-green practices, you introduce innovation. You design and introduce products that are not just consumerfriendly, but environment-friendly as well. Installing a device in your workplace that uses less water, for example, can promote cost savings. As Epstein-Reeves puts it, “one of the easiest places for a company to start engaging in sustainability is to use it as a way to cut costs. Whether it’s using less packaging or less energy, these savings add up quickly.” CSR enables a business to have brand differentiation. Consumers will be more attracted to buy pro-environment alterna-

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tives of the same product simply because it markets itself as ‘eco-friendly’. EpsteinReeves notes, “In the past, brand differentiation was one of the primary reasons companies embraced CSR. Companies such as Timberland were able to find their voice and incorporate the company’s values into their business model.However, as CSR has become more commonplace, using it to differentiate your brand is getting harder to do.” One positive outcome to this, though, is that non-CSR companies will be left behind by their more CSR-savvy competitors, and stand to gain more loyal clients. In an era dominated by information technology, there are significant business risks to ignoring CSR, that corporate motivation is almost irrelevant to the issue. Consumers, clients and other companies are likely to break relationships with firms that have unethical reputations. Businesses that do not emphasize their ethical responsibilities are more likely to attract legal troubles. Companies implement CSR practices because their customers care about it. Even if it can be argued that consumers are a mostly self-motivated and self-interested, numerous studies indicate that a company’s CSR policies can influence their buying decisions. In a survey by Landor Associates, it found that 77% of consumers find it important to buy from socially responsible companies. CSR promotes long-term thinking because it encourages a business to look at the company’s long-term purpose and ensure that the company has a sustainable future. Another way to look at CSR is to view it in terms of a company’s longevity. As EpsteinReeves would say, “It is a shift from worrying about the next fiscal quarter’s financial results to the impact business decisions today have on financial (and social) results ten years from now.” Companies engage in CSR for different reasons. To be realistic, it is not the solution to the world’s problems, it will not increase your company’s profits by itself, and it will save your business from bankruptcy.

To expect it to do so is the same as expecting magical solutions to the very complex problems that come with running any enterprise. What it does is that it helps you steer your company towards an economy that does business in a community-friendly, environmentally-sustainable, and profitable manner. One common criticism against CSR is that businesses only use it for for public relations and marketing purposes. As some critics would remark that CSR is just a buzzword thrown about by companies because they are required by law and consumer pressure. Prof. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School counters, “There is no way to avoid paying serious attention to corporate citizenship: the costs of failing are simply too high...There are countless win-win opportunities waiting to be discovered: every activity in a firm’s value chain overlaps in some way with social factors—everything from how you buy or procure to how you do your research—yet very few companies have thought about this. The goal is to leverage your company’s unique capabilities in supporting social causes, and improve your competitive context at the same time. The job of today’s leaders is to stop being defensive and start thinking systematically about corporate responsibility.” Social responsibility in businesses promotes good governance, which in turn can help make this world a better place when ethical and environmental laws are in place and enforced. A green business will take responsibility for its impact on the environment, its consumers, its employees, and the public at large. A CSR-oriented green business will actively promote community growth alongside profitability efforts and voluntarily eliminating non-green practices. To do business the green way is to protect the environment through ethical business practices. A truly green business will make sure that its behavior and decisions benefit not only itself but the local community as well.

Loren Leads National Climate Change Group The Philippines is considered as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. With impacts ranging from extreme weather events (like the recent typhoon Yolanda catastrophe) and periodic inundation to droughts and food scarcity, climate change has been a constant reality that many Filipinos have had to face. Most affected are those living in coastal communities and the lower rung urban communities that lack awareness on proper disaster preparedness measures to take. Climate change poses a wide range of risks to population, health-risks that will increase in future decades, often to critical levels, if it continues. One of the main categories of health risks is the direct-acting effects (e.g. due to heat waves, amplified air pollution, and physical weather disasters). It can destroy people’s livelihoods and homes. It can damage infrastructure and disrupt communication and trade. Moreover, climate change is endangering development successes and the poor and marginalized are often affected the most. A changing climate thus affects the prerequisites of population health: clean air and water, sufficient food, natural constraints on infectious disease agents, and the adequacy and security of shelter. A warmer and more variable climate leads to higher levels of some air pollutants and more frequent extreme weather events. It increases the rates and ranges of transmission of infectious diseases through unclean water and contaminated food, and by affecting vector organisms (such as mosquitoes). Changes in temperature, rainfall and seasonality compromise agricultural production in many regions, including some of the least developed countries, thus jeopardizing child health and growth and the overall health and functional capacity of adults. At the instigation of Senator Loren Legarda, the Philippines Senate set up a Committee on Climate Change which will be tasked with “climate and disaster risks management to reduce vulnerability associated with climate-sensitive areas and sectors.” In the resolution, Legarda cited findings by the IPCC that global warming will lead to more frequent heat waves and more intense tropical cyclones. Legarda warned in the Resolution that the Philippines is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, sea level rise and extreme weather events due to its archipelagic nature and its location within the Pacific typhoon belt. Legarda is a notable advocate of climate change awareness. Incidentally, at the Clean Technology Congress 2014 organized by Thomas Lloyd in Frankfurt, Germany, Senator Loren Legarda stressed the need for greater climate change action, particularly through significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and promotion of renewable energy development,  In her keynote speech, Legarda, Senate’s Climate Change Committee chairperson, said that renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are valuable components of low carbon emissions development strategy. “We need to take action now because a warmer earth threatens food security and public health. It is projected to bring down GDP by 3% and threatens the survival of communities. Clean technologies play an invaluable role in sustainable development. Our search for responses to climate change realities requires the climate proofing of our energy sector,” said Legarda. “It is about time that we take a consistent and deliberate effort to develop our own energy resources in ways that we can guarantee the future generations of Filipinos a legacy of clean, reliable and affordable energy,” she added.

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Agriculture BAR to hold 1st CPAR Nat’l Congress

THE Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) will hold its “First Communitybased Participatory Action Research (CPAR) National Congress” on 20-21 February 2014 at the Manila Hotel, Manila. More than 300 attendees, including farmers and researchers, are expected to participate in the event. With the theme, “CPAR: Pagtutulungan ng mga Mananaliksik, Magsasaka’t Mangingisda tungo sa Malawakang Pag-unlad ng Pamayanan,” the congress hopes to highlight the accomplishments and success stories from the CPAR program and to forge stronger linkages among partners for better implementation. Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso J. Alcala will grace the event together with officials from the DA attached agencies and staff bureaus, regional field units, local government units, state universities and colleges, and private sector. Highlights of the congress include product promotions and presentations of success stories from selected CPAR projects nationwide. CPAR is one of the flagship programs of BAR. It is considered a downstream research that focuses on technology verification, demonstration, and adaptation in the community. It aims to empower communities and to transform lives by modernizing agriculture and fisheries through efficient and effective community-based R&D systems. “In CPAR, specific technologies and interventions are being introduced and taught to the farmer beneficiaries particularly, in applying effective total farm productivity within the context of a sustainable production and farming system approach. Through this initiative, farmers are able to optimize the use of their lands and ensure available and affordable food for the family through the integration of crops, livestock, and aquaculture productions in the farming system,” explained Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, BAR director. To date, there are more than 200 CPAR projects being implemented all over the country since it was initiated under the leadership of Dr. Eleazar. These projects are benefitting more than 11,000 farmers and fishers and through the multiplicity effect, the program continues to expand and affect the lives of the communities. “BAR, as the mandated coordinating body for research and development (R&D) of the DA, is persistent in its commitment to transform subsistence agriculture into one that truly makes farming profitable for farmers and fisherfolk. One way of doing that is through CPAR,” Dr. Eleazar concluded.

Alcala to Farmers:

Produce Other Coco Products THE Department of Agriculture, through the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), urged Filipino coconut farmers to join the government in resolving and recommending steps for the utilization of the coconut levy fund, during the 2nd National Coconut Farmers’ Conference held recently in Quezon City. In his welcome address Secretary Proceso J. Alcala reiterated the agreement made during the 2012 conference and stressed that the coco farmers, then, agreed to maintain the coconut levy as a trust fund and spend only the fund’s interest earnings. To effectively use the earnings, Alcala challenged the coco growers to appropriate the fund for projects aimed at developing the coconut industry and raise the income of the small coconut farmers Alcala also encouraged the coco farmers to try non-conventional livelihood. “Aside from copra and crude coco-

nut oil processing, you may want to try other value-adding processes under the Bukod-Kopra and FRESCO programs which produce virgin coconut oil and coconut skimmed milk,” the Agri Chief announced. Bukod-Kopra is a strategy that uses other resources in the coconut farms while FRESCO is a non-copra industry which uses fresh mature coconut as raw material for interlinked processes that produce a variety of by-products. The Secretary challenged the coco farmers to create programs and form groups that will oversee the establishment of village level coconut processing plants as part of the planned agroindustrial hubs. He also asked them to help identify strategic areas where farmers’ associations can partner with local government units and non-government organizations in the construction and operation of processing plants as well as marketing

of coco products. “Even as coconut oil remains to be one of the country’s major export commodities we need to deviate from it and produce high value products. This is the change that our hubs want to initiate,” Alcala said. The 2nd National Coconut Farmers’ Conference was organized by the Coconut Industry Reform COIR Movement led by Ka Oscar Santos, in collaboration with the PCA and the Project Management Office for the Coconut Integrated Development Roadmap led by Ed dela Torre. The coco farmers’ conference served as a venue for consultations on the collaboration between coconut farmer groups from thirty three provinces all over the country, the DA-PCA and the Project Management Office in crafting measures to uplift the livelihood of coconut farmers and promote the local coconut industry.

Health Advocates Want Government Code on Tobacco Industry The New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) has called for the full implementation of a code of conduct for government officials after an international report identified the Philippines as one of three countries in Southeast Asia where tobacco interference is high. Results of the world’s first ever Tobacco Industry Interference Index by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) showed the Philippines among the top three countries in the region where tobacco industry exercises influence in public health policy. The report, released by the Bangkokbased organization in Manila last week, identified the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia as having the highest degree of tobacco industry interference in the region. Emer Rojas, NVAP’s president, said the

guideline, a joint memorandum circular signed by the Department of Health and the Civil Service Commission in 2010, should be fully implemented to prevent cigarette makers from exercising undue influence in public health policy. “This circular should be implemented in all levels of the bureaucracy to stop the tobacco industry from meddling with government affairs. Cigarette manufacturers will never have regard with the people’s health. Its business interests will always run counter against public health,” said Rojas. According to the circular, public officials are only allowed to interact with the industry “only when strictly necessary for the latter’s effective regulation, supervision or control.” It also mandated transparency to be observed during such transactions to avoid public perception of

misconduct on the part of public servants. Despite this guideline the SEATCA report identified the Philippines among seven other ASEAN nations as having the highest tobacco industry interference level. The other countries surveyed were Brunei, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The SEATCA report, the first ever attempt to rank tobacco industry interference in the ASEAN, named the Philippines as the highest when it comes to government officials having “unnecessary interactions” with cigarette makers. Rojas said this unnecessary interaction between government and the tobacco industry is a major reason why it tobacco control in the country is moving slow compared to other ASEAN members. “It took Congress three decades to WE TAKE A STAND

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amend the sin tax law and impose higher levies on tobacco. When you are lobbying for the protection of public health against a giant like the tobacco industry, it is disheartening to see when some of our beloved legislators side with the industry instead of fighting for our people’s right to health. This CSC-DOH code of conduct for public officials and employees should be observed at all levels of government,” lamented Rojas, a cancer survivor and a former smoker. According to the CSC, violation of the joint memorandum may result to dismissal from public service on the part of the government employee or official. The commission however admitted that four years after the JMC was signed, there were not much complaints being filed against public servants suspected of dealing with the tobacco industry.

OpinYon

february 17-23, 2014

9 2/14/14 10:44 PM


OPINION

Mass Media and National Development

P Conquering A Man’s World From Page 12

And then there’s also this OFW whom I photographed in Hong Kong and she told me her whole life in the fi rst 10 minutes that I met her... all the stories were really personal,” she added. Most of Sara’s professional work has been culled under the fashion and beauty categories, with a bias for portraits. “I do love shooting people,” she enthuses.

first book

Her fi rst book was published in 2009. “When I Look in the Mirror”  is a series of extreme close-up portraits of real women with facial imperfections, meant to provoke contemplation in a society growingly obsessed with vanity and perfection. “I just kept looking back at what drives me and what inspires me in my daily life. Sometimes it sounds simplistic and cheesy, but it’s really love, it’s just really the most powerful force in our lives. At the end of the day, that’s what makes everything make sense,” Sara shares. Sara adds that she has been continually inspired by the selfless lives of countless people whom she have met throughout her nearly decade-long career, and she wanted to translate their stories and capture those on camera. “All the stories were intensely personal, that I can’t pinpoint and say that one is better than the other,” she shares. “I connected with all the subjects in a really intimate way, and I’m just so honored that people were really honest with me,” she said.

‘We Love’

In 2012, Sara published her second book, “We, Love”. This coffee table book combines compelling narrative, written by the photographer herself, with portraits of pairs in unique selfless bonds, resulting in a work where Sara’s eye for authenticity flourishes. Here, she is offering numerous, varied stories. It specifically zeroes in on relationships, presenting portraits of pairs of individuals. “I came up with a list of subjects which I felt would defi ne the kind of love that I wanted to portray,” Sara said in an online interview. “I fi nd that there is a lot of beauty in the dysfunction of love. “ There is a casual feel to her portraits, as opposed to glamorized or stylized shots of her more commercial work; this imbibes a certain level of intimacy. Each image has accompanying text, the subjects’ words on the page to complete the story. “I wanted to maintain the authenticity and the integrity of what they said and leave as much of myself out of it,” Sara explains. “I wanted the readers to feel like they could be there at that moment that the photograph was taken and the subjects could be speaking to them directly.” There are quotes but no descriptions, no setting of the scene, no explanation of one’s relationship to the other. Sara says, “I don’t believe in spoonfeeding readers. Then, you would dictate what kind of experience they should have, or what their interpretation should be of what they’ve seen or read. “The book also plays on our prejudices when we view others who love — for some readers, they may feel ambiguous as to whether to feel empathy or disgust as, for instance, in one of the pairs that portray a gay relationship. Hopefully not; but who knows how people feel in this judgmental society! “Nevertheless, it’s up to the reader to decide how they want to defi ne the relationship on their own terms.” The featured individuals are from all walks of life — society, showbiz, politics and the Juans on the street. “That’s the other thing I really wanted to portray — that no matter what background [we are from], we are all the same. So, the choice of subjects was very carefully orchestrated!” Sara laughs. “I wanted the pairs to speak to each other and resonate.” There are mothers and children, friendships of various shapes and sizes, siblings. “This book presents love in its reality — how it is beautiful in spite of its dark and sometimes painful nature.” Today, Sara is one of the country’s leading beauty and fashion photographers. In a male dominated industry, Sara’s feminine touch leaves a distinct mark.

UBLIC opinion drives public policy and vice versa, public policy drives public opinion. Public opinion is influenced by the mass media, and that is why the mass media has the social responsibility to report the truth and only the truth to the people. If the mass media does not report the truth or if it reports only the half truths, the wrong public opinions are formed. Either that or the public opinions are misguided. In turn, the wrong public policies could come out of the process. Although a mass media organization is supposed to operate under specific laws and certain generally accepted standards of good practices, it is nevertheless a commercial business that not only has to survive; it also has to make money for its owners or investors. Just like any other product, a newspaper or a broadcast station also has to compete for market shares or viewership ratings, and it is for these reasons that some rules or practices are compromised. It was not too long ago when there were very clear lines or boundaries between what publishers and editors, and also between editors and reporters. During those times, the publishers were supposed to be just the business owners who are not supposed to prevail over the professional judgments of their editors. During those times, editors were shielded from the influence of politicians and business interests, and not even the publishers could tell them what to print. The good news is that the conventional mass media is no longer the exclusive source of news and information nowadays, meaning that public information could now be formed by alternative sources, notably the newly emerged social media outlets. Despite the fact that there is now a de facto convergence of the conventional mass media and the new social media, the characteristics of the latter are still uniquely defi ned, and it still has a life of its own. The social media side is also going through a convergence of its own, between internet technologies on one hand, and mobile technologies on the other hand. The fact is, internet tech-

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SCIENCE WORKS Ike Señeres nologies are already being used in mobile devices, and it is already difficult as it is to draw the line between these two sets of technologies. For example, social networking sites like Facebook are already available in mobile devices and there are many people who nowadays who access their social sites only from their mobile phones, and no longer from their computers. Only a few years ago, there was an attempt to popularize what was then known as Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) sites, but that did not take off. WAP sites were supposed to be the mobile equivalents of web sites, but that is moot and academic now, because web sites are now accessible via mobile phones even without WAP. What is interesting to note now is that mobile apps have already emerged as an alternative to mobile browsers, and perhaps apps might even compete with browsers in the long run. Technically, a browser functions as a “reader” of data that resides in the web sites. On the other hand, an “application” (or an “app” for short) is “native” to the mobile device and it would only “fetch” data from a mobile server if and when necessary. The comparison may not be absolute, but suffice it to say that a browser could not be useful by itself, but an app could function by itself, doing exactly what it is programmed to do. By comparison, conventional mass media would only use one way devices that are not interactive. Social media sites however are in effect two way devices that are interactive. That is the reason why conventional mass media is used only to convey news and information, because there is no “direct” connection or interconnection between the “broadcaster” and the “listener”. It could be said that voice devices could be used for the

“back flow” thus making it interactive, but that is really nothing compared to the “direct” interaction that users could get from social media networking sites. Instead of trying to draw a wedge between conventional mass media and the new social media, it is better to just consider these two forces or resources as one converged multimedia technology. This approach is already happening now, as we now see how the radio stations and television channels are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media networking sites in order to enhance their programming by adding more interaction to their shows. Beyond news and information however, the converged multimedia technology could actually be used to improve the delivery of social services to the general public, by way of delivering actual programs and projects that would directly benefit the people in general. The thrust of the World Bank to “reduce poverty” on one hand and to “share prosperity” on the other hand is a perfect example of this balanced approach to national development. To put it another way, there would be no new value added if multimedia would only be used to deliver news and information, without reducing poverty and sharing prosperity. Again by comparison, it is easier to formulate public policies, but it is harder to deliver programs and projects. Whereas public policies could easily be influenced by public opinion, we do not need opinions to know how much the people are suffering from poverty, and what we could do to help them. It is ironic that “social media” is being called as such because it enables its users to “socialize”. One way to cure that irony is to utilize these “social” sites to uplift the conditions of the marginalized sectors of our society, that way these sites would truly become “socially” oriented instead. It is a no brainer that the internet could be used for e-commerce, using all its variations. Imagine if we could use the internet to also deliver e-learning, e-healthcare and e-justice to the poor. For feedback, email iseneres@ yahoo.com or text+639083159262

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JANUARY 17-23, 2014 • VOL.4 NO.25

Visit us at www.opinyon.com.ph

Millionaires Club

sectIoNs PolItIcs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 oPINIoN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 BUsINess . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 AGrIcUltUre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 ForeIGN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P1 lIFestYle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P4

SARA BLACK

Conquering A Man’s World

M

ODEL and photographer Sara Black is an icon in the local industry. Making her mark in a craft dominated by men, she has become an inspiration to women who want to make a mark in the art of taking pictures. Always fascinated with photography, the idea of making photography her business came to Black only after college. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Sara worked as a photography studio assistant right after fi nishing her Communication Arts degree at Ateneo de Manila University. While steadily learning about the craft, she was pulled on to the other side of the lens as a model—a happy accident to which she credits her better understanding of her subjects, a factor so crucial in all kinds of portraiture.

business Guidance

Eager to be one of the best in the industry, Sara read books on photography and tirelessly practiced the principles of capturing breathtaking photos. She also sought the guidance of veteran photographer Pancho Escaler, who helped her learn what she needed to know in putting up her own studio. Sara also draws ideas from her experience as a model to improve her negosyo, as it gives her insight on how to bring the best out of her subjects and models. Sara has since photographed countless models and celebrities for the country’s top prestigious magazines such as Mega, Meg, Metro, Chalk, Metro Working Mom, Metro Society, Maven, Star Studio, People Asia,  Cosmo,  Smart Parenting,  Good Housekeeping,  Women�s Health, Yes Magazine, Town & Country, Sense & Style, and Philippine Tatler. She has photographed many high profi le Filipino celebrities such as Dawn Zulueta, Lucy Torres-Gomez, Kim Chiu, Bea Alonzo, Anne Curtis, Marian Rivera, Heart Evangelista, Lea Salonga, Zsazsa Padilla, Korina Sanchez, Imelda Marcos, Carmina Villaroel, Ruffa Gutierrez,  Richard Gutierrez,  Gary Valenciano,  Jericho Rosales,  John Lloyd Cruz, Gerald Anderson and former Vice President Noli de Castro. “In this day and age, people don’t tell you their life stories during the fi rst five minutes that you meet, so it was so amazing,” Black says of the experience of taking photographs of people. “For example, I photographed Jericho Rosales and his grandfather, and the grandfather was like tearing up during the shoot. I mean, where do you meet a man who’s unafraid to show emotions? Turn to page 11

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