The Devastations that Frank's Wind[fall] Brought

'Isnaji pocketed much of P5-M ransom'
ABS-CBN News Online

Mayor Alvarez Isnaji of Indanan, Sulu cornered 60 percent of the P5-million ransom paid for the freedom of an abducted ABS-CBN News team led by broadcast journalist Ces Drilon and their guide, Mindanao peace advocate Octavio Dinampo, police disclosed Friday.

Director General Avelino Razon Jr., Philippine National Police chief, said Isnaji "kept to himself" P3 million and paid the kidnappers P2 million.

“What we know right now is that the initial payment was P5 million, however, P2 million lang ang binayad sa kidnap-for-ransom group and the rest, P3 million, was kept by Mayor Isnaji,” he told reporters during a press conference in Camp Crame.

Razon said that police have yet to recover the P3 million that was produced by Drilon's family.

He said the money was brought to Jolo by Drilon’s brother, Frank Oreña.

The PNP chief also presented two photos showing Isnaji, his son, Haider, Sulu Vice-Gov. Lady Ann Sahidulla and her bodyguard gathered around the P5-million ransom at the mayor’s residence.

“These pictures show Mayor Alvarez Isnaji [witnessing the] counting [of] the P5-million ransom money that was initially given for the release of Miss Ces Drilon and in the end ang na-release ay si [ABS-CBN assistant cameraman] Angelo Valderama,” he told reporters. [...]

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Read also:

Ces Drilon kin paid P5M but mayor kept P3M by Inquirer.Net

Senate Probe on Loren Legarda by blogger Patricio Mangubat

So much for their "hard stance" on the so-called "No ransom policy". What about their new invention so-called "livelihood project" in lieu of ransom?

This kidnapping incident showed many mistakes beginning from Ces Drilon's actions to the "negotiators'" handling of the case. May the concerned agencies learn something from this.

When can imprudence be considered a virtue? Perhaps when one takes great risk and cares less of his/her own life in order to save another life which is endangered (or cover a "very important" story) and in a situation wherein there is not enough time to think thoroughly about the situation and weigh the consequences of doing the act. This is perhaps one reason why critical people sometimes brand a heroic act as idiotic. But mind you, no genuine idiot is really willing to take true heroic acts. Now who then is fit to be called an idiot? No one!

In this kidnapping incident, wasn't there enough time to think things through (before, during, and after the incident)?

What does this incident tell to the different yet similar-in-a-sense incident at the Manila Peninsula Hotel? Both incidents involved risks on the lives of journalists. Between a story to cover and the life of the journalist, which has more weight to the journalist and which has more weight to the public?


Brain drain of good teachers: An emancipation (for the migrant teachers) that leads to a deeper bondage (a poorly educated nation).

Why the US wants Filipino teachers big-time
By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer

One day, a brown-skinned, Filipino kid was scolded by his white American teacher in class here. Instead of answering, as he had been told to do, he looked down timidly and avoided eye contact.

Thinking he was being disrespectful, the teacher was infuriated all the more. But what Ligaya Avenida, 64, later saw on hindsight was a glaring example of cultural disconnect common in the American school system years ago.

By staying meek in the face of authority, a common Filipino trait, the boy thought he was doing the “right” thing, explained Avenida, a long-time teacher and administrator in the San Francisco Unified School District.

In the American context, he was not.

Cultural implications

“It had a cultural implication,” she said in an interview. “Here, you look directly at the person even if you’re being reprimanded. If you don’t, that’s a sign of disrespect.”

Many school kids coming from immigrant families apparently knew very little about American culture and educational system, leading them to occasional trouble with mentors in the United States.

But between students and teachers with the gulf of cultural differences between them, the city’s school district, with a big lift from Avenida, saw that more had to be done from the latter’s end.

It looked for new mentors who could better deal with its culturally diverse student population. The search eventually led to a familiar face in the global diaspora: the Filipino.

Since the 1970s when the problem of cultural divide first came prominently into national view, hundreds of Filipino teachers have found employment in American schools, says Avenida, who now runs a recruitment agency for international teachers.

Perfect fit

Her company alone recruits 600 to 700 Filipino teachers annually. The number dwarfs Hong Kong and Mexico, where her company, Avenida International Consultancy, enlists only 50 to 70 teachers every year.

She says the bulk of her recruitment is from her home country because of Filipino teachers’ facility in both the Filipino and English languages. This flexibility makes them a perfect fit in school districts with a large Filipino-American population. “They needed teachers who understood the students,” she says.

Their quiet search for greener pastures could be just as worrisome, however, a contribution in small or large measure to the Philippines’ continuing “brain drain.”

“The reason I don’t feel bad about it is because the truth is, the Philippines has a lot of teachers,” says Avenida, arguing that it’s just a question of how effectively the Department of Education is filling positions left behind by migrating teachers.

With few well-paid employment opportunities in the country, more unfortunate Filipino teachers are forced to settle for menial jobs such as being domestic helpers in Hong Kong or Europe for bigger bucks, she says. [...]

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JKOD (Journalist Kidnapped On Duty): Badge of honor or disgrace for imprudence? When is it one or the other?

Spoiled Brats
By blogger Smoke

Over at Filipino Voices, butch insightfully discusses the kind of pressure journalists are under to provide ‘compelling content.’

‘Compelling’ of course, especially in the context of Philippine media in general, I pronounce as ‘sen-say-sho-na-listic.’ In less charitable moments, I might be given to pronouncing it as ‘pro-pa-gan-dis-tic.’

Leaving that aside, butch also pulls this quote:

“The rest of the world knows how to get attention,” Scherer says. “Targeting a journalist will get attention because journalists give attention to each other.”

And that’s what really got my attention. Shenanigans like the kidnapping Ces Drilon are quite obviously about getting attention. Like spoiled brats will sometimes break a vase for no reason other than to get noticed, various groups will often do something outrageous when they feel they’re being ignored by the limelight - or when someone else is hogging center stage. We all know this and understand this to be a fair conclusion.

Which makes me wonder why serious journalists even bother.

I get how most journalists have a kind of messianic complex when it comes to “the search for truth.” You can ennoble that complex by simply ignoring the fact that maintaining it requires a certain level of egotism to imagine that the whole ‘truth’ infrastructure will collapse without your contributions; in fact, we often do. It is practically blasphemy to say that some journalists are just glory hounds; they all have to be knights errant in pursuit of an obfuscated truth.

Click here to read full text.

Read also:

"Waiting", by Conrado de Quiros of Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Without Change of Heart, Reformism is Vain

Blogger Smoke on Almonte’s Reform Agenda

"It’s like dirty streets, folks. You can field an army of street sweepers but the streets will still be filthy for as long as people keep littering when no one’s looking."

The redoubtable Jarius Bondoc reports on Joe Almonte’s latest foray into the wilderness of Philippine politics as - once again - a sort of Baptist, warning of dire consequences lest ye repent. [...]

Albeit a little obvious, all these things are just lovely. Of course everyone wants a reformist for president. It’s when a reformist actually gets elected that we have problems. More often than not, we realize after the euphoria of victory, that a serious reformist will not care who put him in power - a serious reformist will reform everything - even if it means stripping his supporters of their expectations of entitlement. And very few people appreciate that. So, in short order, the shining hope becomes a hapless target of the very same people - disgruntled now, for not getting what they thought was their just reward - who put him in power. It’s an old story; and one we see being replayed over and over and over.

And I love how everyone says the government should clean up the voting process. It’s like dirty streets, folks. You can field an army of street sweepers but the streets will still be filthy for as long as people keep littering when no one’s looking. [...]

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Read also: "Erap commends CBCP for admitting error on Edsa 2", by Ellen Tordesillas


When leaders are the culprits, Justice is so hard to achieve. So help us Lord.

Ombudsman Findings Unfair – Lawmakers
By Delon Porcalla
Philippine Star

Congressmen linked to the P728-million fertilizer scam in 2004 yesterday decried as “unfair” the initial findings of the Ombudsman implicating them in the misuse of public funds.

Quezon City Rep. Nanette Daza, one of the lawmakers named by the Ombudsman in the scam, explained that as a matter of procedure, it is the Department of Agriculture – not the congressmen – that identifies what projects should be undertaken in a particular district.

“No such thing as fertilizer, no such thing as overprice,” Daza told The STAR.

“In fairness to the other congressmen, we have never identified projects. These are identified by them (DA), not by us.”

Daza, now on her third and last term, could not recall though if the DA even provided her with towable shredders as reported.

“That I can’t recall. But if indeed there is I would have endorsed this to Payatas where this is needed. I still have to check the records,” she said.

Daza also cited her highly urbanized district as another reason why she cannot possibly avail herself of a fertilizer subsidy.

“My district and the NCR (National Capital Region) doesn’t need fertilizers,” she said.

Former congressmen Oscar Gozos of Batangas and Federico Sandoval II of Malabon-Navotas also made the same defense.

Both denied having received fertilizers for farm use, but admitted receiving shredders.

“These are not our funds. These are DA funds. We’re not even involved in the bidding. All of these came from the executive department even if Congress has the power of the purse,” said Gozos, now the mayor of Lipa City in Batangas.

“It is the DA that disbursed these funds, not us,” he added. “I’m not a recipient (in the fertilizer list), although I suspect that my name was included. But I didn’t get any fertilizer, in whatever form.”

Sandoval, for his part, claimed he never received any fertilizer for his former district.

“I don’t know (about the fertilizers and overprice). It is the DA that conducts the bidding. What I got was a shredder. Alangan namang tanggihan ko? E para naman sa district namin iyun (How can I refuse that? Anyway, my district was identified as a recipient of that shredder).”

As leader of the 241-strong House of Representatives, Speaker Prospero Nograles expressed displeasure over the report, which was leaked to the media despite the confidential nature of cases handled by investigators.

But Nograles could not say whether former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante used the involved congressmen in the scam.

Bolante, who is now hiding and undergoing deportation proceedings in the US, allegedly masterminded the scheme to help bankroll President Arroyo’s campaign in the May 2004 presidential elections.

“Let us not telegraph in haste our opinions until there is clear and final findings of a prima facie case,” Nograles said.

“As a matter of fact, this premature disclosure is against the confidentiality nature of Ombudsman cases where only final resolutions are made public. The reason being that reputations of officials may be unduly harmed by premature disclosures,” he said in a text message to The STAR.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, who was also listed among the recipients, said congressmen “are not part of the process for the funds to be released. They may be correct that their districts were just recipients.”

An irate Makati City Rep. Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin, who in 2004 hurled invectives at Bolante, lashed back at Newsbreak for getting credit for the fertilizer expose.

“Newsbreak writes like they exposed it. I did and Newsbreak wouldn’t carry (the) story. Siguro nabili sila nuong una (Maybe then they were paid to kill the story),” Locsin said.

“Pu…ina, cleared daw ako ng mga p…iyan sa Ombudsman when ako ang nag-expose while ang lecheng opposition walang imik kasi sali sila. (… how can they say I was cleared by the Ombudsman when I was the one who exposed it, while those… opposition kept silent because they were part of it).” [...]

Click here to read full text.


Lord, bring justice (once more); for the culprits (almost as usual) are again our leaders.

Ombudsman Probe Details Cover-up Scheme In Fertilizer Fund
By Aries Rufo

An Ombudsman fact-finding probe dissected in detail how the P728-million fund meant for fertilizer and farm implements in 2004 was plundered by House members, agriculture and local officials and private individuals.

Documents obtained by abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak show a hasty manner in which the fund was siphoned off, leaving a trail of clues on the anomaly.

The P728-million fund is just part of the more that P2.8 billion that was supposedly released to the Department of Agriculture before the May 10, 2004 national elections.

Described by the Senate committees on agriculture and Blue Ribbon as “the rape of the nation,” the fertilizer fund scam has been largely identified with former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante. He was tagged as the main architect of the scam, the one who called the shots in distributing the P728-million largesse meant to boost the election success of the administration’s political allies.

The Senate inquiry pinned down agriculture officials led by Bolante for criminal culpability and recommended further investigation and possible filing of charges against local officials. It found a web of officials within the DA which plundered the fertilizer fund.

Further investigation by the Ombdusman has shown that many players are as liable as Bolante.

The first part of this report explained the participation and culpability of House members in the fertilizer fund. (Please see ‘Ombudsman report: some House members liable for fertilizer scam ). In that report, House members were shown to have a “direct hand” and knowledge in the misuse of the fund.

Local officials, too

Another report obtained by abs-cbnNEws.com/Newsbreak illustrates the schemes that local officials engaged in to cover up the misuse of the fertilizer fund. Forty-nine governors and 26 mayors supposedly benefited from the fund.

An Ombudsman source said that as early November 2006, Task Force Abono, a panel of Ombudsman investigators, had already submitted some preliminary reports to Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. For some reason however, she is yet to act on the reports.

We sent text messages to Assistant Ombudsman Mark Jalandoni but he did not reply.

Former Solicitor-General Frank Chavez, one of the complainants on the fertilizer scam before the Ombudsman, told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak that the Supreme Court may soon come out with its ruling on the petition for mandamus that he filed against Gutierrez for her inaction on the scam. He said Gutierrez had been sitting on the case for four years now.

Click here to read full text.

Building an Archipelago of Good Governance

By Jose T. Almonte
Opinion - ABS-CBN News Online

We Filipinos have been so starved of good governance for so long that our appetite for it has become unlimited. What we hunger for is a whole archipelago of good governance. We want the blessings of good governance to spread through all our 7,100 islands—including even those submerged at high tide!

Yet, if the May 2008 State Department Global Report is to be believed, corruption and the uncertain rule of law still lie at the root of our political problems.

Achieving an archipelago of good governance will be a great challenge—because, in its geography, ecology, natural resource endowments, economy, ethnicity and culture, our country is extraordinary in its diversity.

Our fragmented geography produced a highly fragmented political system—whose ill effects we suffer until now.

Decentralization and national unity

Historically, political power in our country has been highly diffused. Until now, we as a people have a great deal to do to gather our regions, provinces, cities, towns and villages in one coherent Philippine state. Simply because the national government is inefficient, uncaring—and far away—local governments still enjoy a great deal of de facto autonomy.

But if local governments could still get away with interpreting national mandates to suit local power-holders, they also still must endure capricious releases of their IRA (internal revenue allotments) from an “imperial” Manila. The presidency’s immense power of the purse makes local governments extremely vulnerable to the political importunings of Malacañang. Consider how efficiently the Arroyo Administration’s political machine deals with oppositionist politicians who threaten her with impeachment.

Decentralization—which was finally accomplished in 1991 after being discussed for two decades—has been widely praised. It has increased the share of local governments in central government revenues; broadened the taxing authority of LGUs; and devolved some central government functions under the fine principle of subsidiarity.

Decentralization also plays to the already-strong sense of regional identity and loyalty that impedes the development of a national political identity. (Until now Cebuanos, Ilocanos and Bicolanos vote largely as language blocs. On occasion, Cebuanos apparently even sing the anthem in the local language.)

In the end, the gains in decentralization will be for naught if they do not also strengthen the national community.

Click here to read full text.


Are the old loopholes plugged, or are new ones added?

House passes CARP extension
By Charlie V. Manalo
The Daily Tribune
Published: 06/12/2008

Finally, after days of tumultuous sessions dedicated to the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) which witnessed lightning pickets by farmers within the halls of Congress and heated debates among members of the minority bloc, the House of Representatives last Wednesday night made good the vow of its leaders to approve an extension of the 20-year-old agrarian reform program which expired on June 10.

With a vote of 194 in favor, with one casting a negative vote, congressmen passed on third and final reading House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 21 filed jointly by Speaker Prospero Nograles, Majority Leader Arthur Defensor and Representatives Luis Villafuerte, Edcel Lagman and Pablo Garcia.

The House leadership decided to put HCR 21 in place of House Bill (HB) 4077 after it became clear during an all-member caucus that the original measure may not get the required majority vote should it be presented for voting.

At the caucus presided by Nograles, congressmen decided to conduct a straw vote on the proposal to substitute HCR 21 to HB 4077 with the latter getting overwhelming support.

HB 4077 was the original measure approved by the House committee on agrarian reform.

It seeks to extend the life of CARP to another five years and retain almost all of the provisions of the original law.

Entitled “A Joint Resolution Maintaining the Effectivity of the Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) component of Republic Act 665, as amended, otherwise known as the comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, until Dec. 31, 2008, HCR 21 will have to be approved by the Senate either in a special session or when the second leg of the 14th Congress resumes.

The bill also provides that “during the period July to December 2008, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, through their respective agrarian reform committees, come up with a definitive bill on extending the LAD with perfecting major reforms which Congress shall adopt on or before Dec. 31, 2008.”

“This will allow us to buy more time for a more exhaustive and substantive discussion of the CARP extension and properly correct the flaws of the Agrarian Reform Law of 1988,” Nograles said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., however, also yesterday said efforts by the House in coming up with a resolution extending the life of the law was a futile exercise and was obviously meant to appease the militant groups.

“What they (congressmen) are trying to do is not to specifically extend Carp law but just to recognize that there are funds up to Dec. 31, 2008,” he noted.

Maintaining that he stands supportive of any action to continue enforcing the law or the general intent of the House’s move, Pimentel stressed that any joint resolution will have to pass through a committee deliberations in the Senate before they could approve it, for it to take effect.

“It has to be taken up by a committee. Even if it is intended to be an action of the Senate as a whole, because it relates to Carp, it has to somehow be processed by the committee.

“It not only requires counter signature from us. It has to be passed by the Senate as a joint resolution. I don’t know if there’s still time for it,” he said.

Pimentel also expressed reservation as to whether it would carry some weight especially if senators fail to act on it before they adjourn sessions sine die.

“I don’t think it will have any effect. But I think this is really an attempt to project an image that they were not remiss in their job. It’s more addressed, I think, to the activists who are pushing Carp’s extension because the thing is that, while there are funds for Carp in general, on the land acquisition and distribution aspect of Carp that expired yesterday.

“It will, in effect somehow, maybe assuage the anger of activists pushing for Carp that this issue was not addressed by them or that all efforts have been exhausted. This is somehow the message I think they want to send them,” he said.

Read also:

"Politics in Land Reform Extension", by Mon Casiple.

"Akbayan carps against Bayan over delay", by Manila Standard Today.

"House resolution on land acquisition, distribution useless – Pimentel", by ABS-CBN News Online.


Sec. Gonzales: Typical Person Of His Kind

Sponsorship Speech for Sec. Raul Gonzalez at the Commission on Appointments
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson

I checked the appointee’s medical records, he may remain standing.

His detractors would say – outside his family, nobody seems to like him, except the President of the Republic. They would add, even that may need further validation.

Our appointee spews acid right in the faces of his critics when he talks. His acerbic tongue spares no one, and no one means including those whose tragedies in life and tragic deaths had brought the nation in grief and shock. Often vinegarish in his remarks, he creates enemies faster than he thinks of how to castrate them.

He defies the odds, strikes back at adversaries with bravado, and proves that he can outsprint the Grim Reaper.

There must be something in Sec. Raul Gonzalez to make me stand her and recommend to you, distinguished members of this powerful Commission on Appointments, his confirmation as Secretary of Justice.

Not many of us here know that the appointee took and passed the Bar in 1955 with a grade of 99% in Remedial Law. Kaya raw magaling magremedyo, sabi ni Senator Jinggoy; and 95% in International Law. He also tapped the Judge Advocate General’s Office examinations. [...]

Sec. Gonzalez weathered through the professional and personal allegations leveled against him. Evidence of his tenacity and steadfastness was the secretary’s ability to outlast two congresses, and therefore two Commissions on Appointments.

We must therefore give due credence to Sec. Gonzalez’s endurance not only in his professional career but in his personal life as well.

Immediately going back to work after a life-threatening kidney operation would indicate his passion and dedication that many of us in government do not possess and should possess. He definitely loves his job and he certainly loves to work.

This humble representation has mostly been at the receiving end of the appointee’s passion for persecuting the so-called enemies of the state. My friends in the opposition had asked me to meet the secretary’s passion with equal passion to wit. I asked them back, how about compassion? [...]

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A Xenophobia, An Insulted Pride, A Harshly Done Reprimand, Or What?

"Get out of the country!"
By Antonio C. Abaya

This was the curt rebuff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile to representatives of foreign chambers of commerce who had been ‘invited’ to the Senate last June 6 to explain their letter of May 27 to President Arroyo, asking her not to amend the EPIRA law. The Senate has been debating the EPIRA law in an effort to find ways and means to lower the price of electricity in the Philippines, said to be the second highest in Asia, next only to Japan’s.

“Get out of the country if you can’t live with us!” Sen. Enrile snapped at the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) – representing some 2,000 investors from the US, Australia-New Zealand, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the European Union, who employ some one million Filipino employees and workers – whose spokesman that day was Frenchman Hubert D’Aboville, current president of the European Chamber of Commerce.

D’Aboville has been living in the Philippines for the past 31 years and is married to a Filipina with whom he has four children.

He must have had his socks blown off his feet when he was told to “get out of the country if you cannot live with us!”

This sounds very much like President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe telling off foreign investors to stay away from his country, as if anyone needed any telling to avoid a country with one million percent inflation and 80 percent unemployment.

Or like the military junta in Myanmar refusing to allow foreign aid and foreign aid workers to enter or land in the cyclone-ravaged Irrawaddy delta, even while one million of their impoverished people languished in makeshift shelters., without adequate food, water, medicine and housing.

But Sen. Enrile’s bristling xenophobia is hard to understand given that he is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and was an architect and chief administrator of President Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law regime, which had the backing and blessings of the US government at that time..

The object of his ire, the hapless D’Aboville, tried to ingratiate himself to the senators by starting his statement with a “Magandang umaga sa lahat ng mga ginang at ginoo.” (Good morning to all ladies and gentlemen.”)

Which Sen. Enrile promptly and ungraciously cut off with “We understand English, don’t worry. Like you, I value the correct use of my language and I hope you understand our nationalistic feeling.” Clearly, D’Aboville and his JFC had crossed Sen. Enrile even before they set foot on the Senate floor on June 6.

And what was the cause of this rhubarb? The JFC had apparently committed a faux pas by addressing their letter to President Arroyo, instead of to the Senate or to Congress, which has the exclusive prerogative to amend or not amend any law.

That’s all? Well, D’Aboville refused to specify to the senators the amendments that they were objecting to. He also refused to name the legislators whom the JFC said were “making unwarranted accusations regarding the bedrock principles of the power industry…that are sound and in fact practiced by many progressive power industries around the world.”

But was this enough to warrant telling foreign investors to “get out of the country if you cannot live with us.” This xenophobia is outdated. It was fashionable in the 50s and 60s when communist ideologues like the late Renato Constantino Sr. blamed the underdevelopment of the Philippines on foreign capitalists and the “conditionalities” of the World Bank-IMF. [...]

Click herer to read full text.

Other related blog entries:

Transcript of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s interview after the Senate Committee on Energy Hearing With The Respresentatives from the Various Foreign Chambers of Commerce.

Miriam Hits JFC On IPPs.


Another Test, And To Whom?

Ces Drilon kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf in Sulu
By Manila Standard Today

ABU Sayyaf bandits have kidnapped ABS-CBN reporter Ces Drilon and her two assistants in Sulu, demanding P20 million for their freedom.

A military intelligence report said Drilon and two colleagues, cameraman Jimmyfred Encarnacion and a driver, were taken to an area near Mt. Tumatangis in Indanan, Sulu.

Drilon’s team arrived in Jolo, Sulu, from Zamboanga City on Saturday and stayed at the SSC Hostel. They were supposed to interview the one-armed Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron.

Sahiron, who carries a $200,000 bounty from the US government, planned the 2004 bombing in Jolo that killed 11 Filipino civilians and an American serviceman and wounded more than 200 others.

Known as Commander Putol because of his amputated right arm, Sahiron is also considered one of the masterminds of the April 2000 kidnapping of 21 foreign tourists in Sipadan.

At 8 a.m. Sunday, Drilon’s team met with Octavio Dinampo, a professor at the Mindanao State University-Sulu, who is affiliated with the Moro National Liberation Front.

Bandits led by Albader Parad and Gapul Jumdail blocked the yellow Tamaraw jeep that Drilon and her team were riding in Kulasi village in Maimbung, Sulu.

Chief Supt. Joel Goltiao, police chief of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said they were surprised to learn that Drilon was in the area.

He said Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan would head any negotiations with Drilon’s captors.

Intelligence reports put the ransom sought at P20 million, but Goltiao said the bandits had made no demands as of 5 p.m. [...]

Click here to read full text.

NUJP calls for safe release of Drilon, TV crew
By ABS-CBN News Online

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has appealed for the safe release of ABS-CBN News senior correspondent Ces Drilon and her crew who were allegedly abducted by suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.

“Whatever the abductors stand for, whatever their goals are, there is absolutely no justification for seizing journalists whose sole concern is to seek out the truth and present this as accurately as possible,” the NUJP said in a statement.

Drilon was with Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama while pursuing a story in Sulu together with their host, peace advocate Octavio Dinampo, when they went missing Sunday in Maimbung town.

An official statement from ABS-CBN appealed to the public to avoid speculation until facts are ascertained.

The NUJP urged authorities to exert all efforts to ensure the safe return of the journalists and their host.

“We are also urging for sobriety among our colleagues in the media in reporting about the incident so as not to aggravate the situation and endanger Drilon and her companions,” the group added.

The NUJP said has recently conducted a series of safety training for journalists, taking into consideration the many risks they go through while performing their duties.

“Too many journalists are sent into dangerous coverage situations without adequate preparations and safety measures. Many silently bear the scars and traumas of their coverage, with hardly any support from those who profit from their toil,” it said.

“It is time Philippine media owners soberly assess the situation and take steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues oftentimes caught in the line of fire just to get the news out,” it added. [...]

Click here to read full text.


Finally, Ed Panlilio Has A Blog!

Opening Statement on Blog Inauguration
By Ed Panlilio

Technology has collapsed our world more intimately than what Marshall MacLuhan has envisioned the global village to be. We now live in a global neighborhood. In fact, even walls and fences have been brought down by the explosion of information in real time. Today, age, gender, race and creed are no barrier in the exchange of ideas, giving new meaning to the term, “freedom of expression.”

Governance, good governance in fact, can only grow within such an environment where there is a healthy exchange of ideas between the governing and the governed. The so-called public pulse must always be taken, in order to gauge the health and general welfare of the people, as well as to discover their needs and involve them further in decision-making. This openness can then lead to a better mutual understanding that proscribes name-calling, labeling and discrimination.

One sector that has its voice muffled for so long has been that of the youth. Their exuberance, idealism and even their angst are wasted on the wayside, as adults struggle to shape the future with what they perceive to be the wisdom of the ages. They forget that they, too, were once a little less older, with far more capacity to imagine.

The amonged.org blogsite allows for that imagination to come through and be expressed in a new form. It also allows for a healthy dialogue with the elders, with which I confess to belong. In a movie that was filmed long before you were born, a protagonist remarked, “what we have here is a failure to communicate.” Indeed, when everyone talks at the same time, there is no moment left to listen. Putting our thoughts, opinions, perceptions and perspectives in a written form allows for more time to reflect on what each of us really wants to say, and allows further for a more sober and contemplated response.

I am excited to hear your voice, most specifically your take on how governance and politics should proceed in this country. I am equally excited to hear the reactions of other people on your positions. We are thankful that the internet has allowed this to happen, enabling us to listen, as it were, to what other people have to say, notably those from other countries who have their own templates of experience, and from whom we can also learn so much.

Imagine, for example, if we can get inputs from Chile, a country that rose up from the ravages of dictatorship to join the ranks of the least corrupt countries on earth.

There is a crisis of hope in our country today. Many of our people have lost sight of a better future, consoling themselves on the fact that they are still surviving in the here and now. The irony is that this future is owned by you, young people, and we the so-called adults are just leasing it. Don’t get short-changed, cheated or otherwise robbed. Speak now, or forever hold your peace, as they say in the old marriage rituals. But by your rants and raves, be voices of hope, upholding the good and condemning the evil with equal force.

If there is one thing that this blogsite will hopefully prove, it is that freedom of self-expression can be tempered with responsibility, respect, civility and objectiveness. I trust that you are capable of upholding the best of our humanity, even as you can be most creative with your writing skills. Go, therefore, and let your fingers fly across your keyboards. Be the conscience of this nation. Tell the world of a young generation of Filipinos that has not lost hope. And may you become a force of such magnitude, that you will never, never be ignored.

Read also, "Ed Panlilio Now Blogs", by blogger Nick of FilipinoVoices.com

A very much bigger candle is finally lighting itself up from its corner! What a delight it is to know that Among Ed is now "among us" in the blogosphere.

We hope and pray that his bigger, stronger, and more brilliant light which emanates from the light of the Holy Spirit will be a beacon that we little candles can look up to for guidance, hope, and strength during times when strong winds come and tend to blow out our individual little lights.

Among Ed, we are praying for your success in your governorship so that you may gain and increase more in the knowledge and skills of a good and honest public servant so that you will be ready in whatever bigger and harder tasks that the Lord maybe preparing you for in the near future or in the not-so-near future for the country and the people (your bigger flock).

The Lord always works in simple but unexpected ways. For who would have expected that a lowly and lonesome work of "shepherding" would turn out to be a preparation and intitial training for the rulership of a nation? That happened in David's case as recorded in the history of the Bible.

Meanwhile, Among Ed's case could not be far from it. A lowly "shepherd" from somewhere in the rural lahar-devastated province of our country is being prepared and trained by the Lord to pull our nation out from being buried in the lahars of corruption
and lead us into the "foot of Mt. Sinai"? The idea defies traditional politics.

(Readers, you may be interested on this old entry in my other blog. And maybe on this one also.)


Runaways: Victims of Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery

By The WindChime

Just a few months ago, the Philippine government declared a ban on the recruitment of filipinas to work as domestic helpers in Jordan after reported cases of abuses perpetrated by Jordanian employers to their filipina (or Asian) domestic helpers reached an alarming proportion. Al Jazeera featured some of these cases in their international cable news network.

This week TJ Manotoc of ABS-CBN hosted a very commendable documentary about the plight of many of our filipina OFWs who are working in Jordan as domestic helper. "Runaways", which is the title of the masterpiece, tells the stories of these filipinas who are victims of the evils of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

When you see in the documentary the cruelties that these OFW domestic helpers have undergone in the hands of their employers, you can't help it but be filled with righteous indignation. But what is more outrageous are the injustices that some of these abused workers have experienced under the supposed protection of the Philippine embassy officials in Jordan.

These fragile female workers (some are still underage!) are beaten and/or raped that is why they ran away from their abusive employers and took refuge in the embassy's shelter facility hoping for humanitarian care and protection while desperately pleading for help in going home to the Philippines. But what is wrong with our embassy officials overseas (particularly in Jordan) is that instead of being on the side of their abused kababayans to protect their human rights at all cost, they instead assisted the abusive employers in taking them back for slavery.

We call our OFWs "modern-day heroes", but could we afford to let many of them continue to suffer the evils of human trafficking and modern-day slavery? According to a priest serving in Jordan, foreign female domestic workers are especially vulnerable and in constant danger because they are without equal protection under their laws. He said that in the culture of the Arabs, a practice known as "honor killing" is almost not even penalized.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Jordan is top on the list of the number of cases of abuses, followed by Lebanon and then Kuwait. There are also cases in other Arab and non-Arab countries where filipina domestic helpers are employed. In other words, where there are filipina domestic OFWs, there are cases of abuses.

This issue is so poignant, and to fully express the disgust on this matter is simply beyond words. No wonder why one senator who is aspiring for the presidency cleverly took advantage of this issue by creating an infomercial about it on television promoting his advocacy on the welfare of the OFWs.

If this aspirant senator will actually put more action into his advocacy (not just personally shouldering the cost of bringing home some of these abused OFWs) by creating concrete and effective policies that will really address the issue once and for all and push for its implementation as a demonstration of his leadership skill and political will, then he might be in for serious consideration by the people for presidency. (But he should stop using the infomercial of his advocacy to circumvent the law on premature political advertisement.)


"Right demons, wrong exorcist." [?]

No Small Tragedy
By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer

“Lopezes, di saklaw ng batas?” (“The Lopezes are not covered by law?”) screamed a full-page ad in the Friday Inquirer. “Scream” is not an exaggeration. The words come in gigantic bold fonts, followed by a litany of indictment in equally huge fonts, the important points emphasized in bold letters as well.

The ad asks, after entering the various crimes (translated from the Tagalog): “Doesn’t this show double standards? What emboldens the Lopezes to display this brazen disregard for law? Is it that they have senators, congressmen, justices and so-called cause-oriented groups in their pockets? No one is above the law, not even the Lopezes!”

A group called Siglo claimed responsibility for the ad. [...]

[...] But in the end, what makes the ads by Siglo and Naflu and Garcia’s antics even more disgusting is that the Lopezes do deserve to be demonized. Except that GMA and company are the wrong people to do it. Right demons, wrong exorcist. Siglo’s questions about the legal process are laughable, but not so these ones: Why haven’t the Lopezes returned the P30-billion income tax Meralco passed on to us from 1994 to 2002? Why haven’t we seen one centavo of the P21.4-billion refund the Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Meralco to give back in 2004?

The problem here is not just that GMA wants to get off the hook by redirecting the blame to the Lopezes. It is also that that the Lopezes will get off the hook because they have her to do the fishing.

A pity, because no two groups of people more deserved hooking, frying and—in these truly hungry times—eating.

Click here to read full text.

DepEd, Doesn't This Bother You?

Education's Dilemma
By Dean Jorge Bocobo

The periodic international survey Trends in Math and Science Study (TIMSS) measures the math and science proficiency of grade school and high school students from all around the world in a series of standardized tests whose data are analysed and used to improve national and local school systems, curricula, and performance outcomes over time. A paper by K. Nabeshima (PDF) shows the Philippines consistently near the bottom in both Math and Science among Asia Pacific Rim countries.

Philippines34536 (out of 38)

Click here to read full text.


Jun, Welcome to the Blogosphere

Message To The Youth
By Jun Lozada
Blogsite: JLozada.com

During the recent months that I have been in the public eye, I had the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with the Filipino youth of different socio-economic, ideological, religious and regional profiles, in all of these forums there appear to be a common thread of thoughts that cut across the youth of the land and that is their abhorrence of the current socio-economic-political structure of the country in its different forms.

From the sociological form of modern day hunter-gatherer society where the able men & women of the community has to leave their youngs in order to find “food” for their sustenance in their own community, sacrificing the precious years of early childhood up to the adolescent years of their children without the loving care and guidance of one or both parents, these OFWs are victims of a society where the governing class looks at the exploitation of these OFWs sufferings away from their families and sometimes from their evil masters, as their main source of foreign exchange to pay off their loans which feeds their greedy pockets.

To the economic structure of modern day feudal lords, a structure that has persisted over the long years of struggle of the common Filipino for economic equity, the struggle is simply not over land ownership but over the unequal access to capital that is most necessary in creating the much needed that propels an economy to prosperity. Look at the failed land reform program of this government, where most of the beneficiaries have sold back their land to a new landed class mainly composed of the corrupt politicians and their greedy financiers.

Lastly to the dysfunctional political system that brings about a government made up of politicians that treats a public office as a business enterprise for their family and their cronies, politicians who looks at a public as a franchise held by their family, bought from the public every election time and duly certified by a COMELEC that is also paid to award the franchise.

Click here to read full text.

Read also, "Claiming one’s place in the light of truth", by Jun Lozada.

What took you so long to enter the blogosphere? Your deeper thoughts are long awaited. Now that you have finally joined the blogging community in cyberspace, we welcome your move.

We hope more people of your caliber could also spare some time and express their valuable relevant thoughts in the blogosphere. The more heads blogging, the better is the discourse.

There are so many brilliant minds out there, but we do not hear their thoughts yet in the blogosphere. One mind speaking its thoughts is like one candle lighting itself in its corner. The more candles light themselves, the brighter the collective light becomes; and the more the darkness is lessened.

If That Is So, Then COA Should Do Something About It!

President’s Office Fails COA Audit
By Malou Mangahas
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

Unliquidated cash advances, “loans” without records, donations diverted to uses not prescribed by donors, understated expenses and overstated accounts in the hundreds of millions of pesos, all sourced from taxpayers’ money.

These irregular transactions in clear breach of government accounting and auditing rules mark financial transactions in the Office of the President (OP) under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2007, according to a Commission on Audit (COA) report, a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

The report on the presidency for 2007 contained 11 qualified comments and observations on these erroneous entries – mostly the same errors COA had noted in its 2006 audit of the same office.

COA also pointed out that of the 11 audit recommendations it made in the 2006 audit, only four were fully implemented, three partially implemented, and four not implemented at all by Malacañang.

Thus, for the second year in a row, COA rendered “a qualified opinion on the fairness of the presentation of the financial statements of the OP.”

The OP Proper consists of “the Private Offices, the Presidential Assistant System, the Executive Offices, the General Government Administration Staff, the Internal Audit Service Unit, the Locally Funded/Foreign Assisted Projects, and the Other Executive Offices.” The OP also “directly supervises 58 other executive offices, agencies, commissions, and committees that warrant the special attention of the President.”

The OP kitty is obviously substantial. In 2007, the OP received total cash inflows of P3.38 billion, or 13 percent more than the P2.99 billion it got in 2006. Of the 2007 figure, P2.31 billion came from notices of cash allocation from the Department of Budget and Management. The OP collected another P1.06 billion as its share in the net earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

The OP likewise raised service income of P9.3 million, interest income of P4.05 million, and miscellaneous income of P3.3 million.

COA said that the OP’s total cash outflows reported in 2007 amounted to P2.67 billion, or 13 percent more than the P2.36 billion in 2006.

Click here to read full text.

Read also, "Arroyo Fails COA Audit", by the PCIJ

Leaders should be fully accountable to the people they serve, and people should vigorously demand accountability from their leaders at all times.

If we must reform this nation, full public accountability is the key to one of the many doors of our future that we as a people must strive diligently to open.