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Pinoys not in safe hands EDITORIAL 03/18/2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pinoys not in safe hands

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
03/18/2011
The response of the government thus far to the collateral damages Filipinos are suffering from the multiple disaster that hit Japan is remarkably appalling and gives a sense of disregard for the welfare of the 300,000 residents of that country.

When the earthquake struck last Friday, it took sometime before Philippine Embassy officials mustered the will to reach out and account for some 4,500 Filipinos in the disaster zones particularly in the city of Sendai that used to be Japan’s greenest city but which was virtually stripped bare of its vegetation by the tsunami.

Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez issued statements about having received no reports of Filipino casualties from the twin disasters but the real score was likely that nothing is reaching the embassy since Lopez himself had said that communication lines were cut and that they were relying on the Internet for contact and information..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110318com1.html

A government we don’t deserve FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 03/18/2011

A government we don’t deserve

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
03/18/2011
Western governments have sent their aircraft to bring home their nationals stuck in Japan as their governments fear the possible blast from the nuclear plant site that could would probably spew out radioactive material in the air and cause harmful effects to their citizens.

Westerners, whether Americans or Europeans, stuck in Japan, certainly have the wherewithal to leave the country and go home to safety. Yet, there are their governments providing aircraft for their nationals, ensuring that their citizens are out of harm’s way before anything that spells real danger to their lives and health occurs.

Then there is Noynoy and his government, who merely tell Filipinos numbering over 300,000 stuck in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, especially those living very near the nuclear plants, to simply stay indoors, as this, to Noynoy is merely the “Level 2” alert. There will be no mass evacuation, the Philippine government said, and if the Filipinos workers in Japan want to return to the country, then they must shell out their own money to pay for their airfares, because, as the Noynoy government says, it has no funds for such expense.

In other words, what Noynoy and his government are saying is that Filipino workers are on their own and for them not to rely on government to bail them out and get them out of harm’s way..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110318com2.html

One couple’s battle to find each other, post-quake focus 03/18/2011

One couple’s battle to find each other, post-quake

focus

03/18/2011
ISHINOMAKI — Tsueko Takahashi, 56, has carved a dry path to her home over muddy wood panels, fallen utility poles and chunks of concrete. The trek is difficult but one she is grateful to be able to make.

When the 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck coastal Ishinomaki, she hurriedly bundled her 89-year-old mother into the car and sped toward higher ground in the center of town and the paper mill where her husband Mikio works.

But Mikio had other ideas — he rushed home to check on his family, but quickly found himself trapped on the upper floor of his home when the tidal surge flooded the lower level and aftershocks rumbled on for hours.

The couple would be separated for two nights, not knowing if the other had survived. Hundreds have been killed in the town and many others have been displaced..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110318com3.html

Inspiring NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 03/18/2011

Inspiring

NO HOLDS BARRED
Armida Siguion-Reyna
03/18/2011
When a major catastrophe occurs in a country you used to visit with the husband you’ve also just recently lost, you begin to worry about how to get back on even keel. Then, suddenly, stories come in.

Of the brave 50-man crew who chose to stay and face unknown danger at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station in Japan to stave off the repeat of yet another Chernobyl, a sacrifice like no other, especially as there have deaths among the workers and a good number of others previously on the job already hospitalized.

Of a four-month old baby, found alive in the rubble in Ishimaki in Northern Japan, three days after the massive earthquake yet followed by aftershocks in quick succession. That the baby is in pink, the same color used to promote breast cancer awareness toward hopeful recovery, cannot be mere coincidence: this is a message all will be well.

Of blogs and e-mail in the Internet, where, for instance, a Japanese woman clarifies “There is no ‘exodus,’ no one is running away, no one is escaping, fleeing or abandoning anything in Tokyo. Sure, people are scared at times, some people are getting worn down by the tension, but this is caused by fear and irresponsible media much more than any real danger to person or to property..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110318com4.html

Miriam on impeachment C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 03/18/2011

Miriam on impeachment

C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S
Jonathan De la Cruz
03/18/2011
It is good that Liberal Party (LP) Sen. Teofisto Guingona III who heads the blue ribbon committee, has clarified reports that he gave a copy of the committee’s “partial report” enjoining the House of Representatives to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and asking Malacañang to dismiss the prosecutors who handled the Garcia plea bargain agreement to P-Noy. “People make mistakes,” Guingona was supposed to have told reporters, after advising that indeed he thought his staff had sent an e-mail of the partial committee report to P-Noy but after checking it was not sent at all.

Although not everybody was taken in by his hasty retreat, at least his mea culpa somehow eased the apprehensions of his colleagues and, of course, the public in general, that the Gutierrez impeachment is getting to be a highly partisan political exercise devoid of a modicum of due process and fairness.

Coming as it did after that highly publicized meeting which P-Noy had with LP members of the House of Representatives where he virtually ordered his partymates to toe the party line and get Gutierrez through the wringer, Guingona’s precipitate move had it pushed through would have seriously compromised the process itself. It would have opened the floodgates to the derogation of the separation of powers and, of course, the principle of checks and balance as envisioned by the framers of the Constitution..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110318com5.html

Pinoys’ daily tsunamis DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 03/18/2011

Pinoys’ daily tsunamis

DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel
03/18/2011
While the world’s attention has been diverted to the Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, the many tsunamis on Filipinos continue daily, wave upon wave. This month, the final 2010 figure on the nation’s debt servicing for interest and principal payments hit a staggering P690 billion. That’s practically half of the national budget; up 10 percent from 2009. This gobsmacking payment is being made despite Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Amando Tetangco’s continuing boasts that the country has around $63 billion in foreign exchange reserves simply lying idle in various financial instruments.

Such tsunami of hubris and arrogance can only come from a government that thinks very lowly of the Filipino public, assuming that the people are unable to see through its farce of staying in the good graces of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) while pummeling the people more with burgeoning taxes.

In the wake of what the country is witnessing in the Japan disasters, there has been quite a lot of speculation about how the Philippines could cope if anything similar happened here. Government is, of course, yakking about preparedness for such events. Seriously though, given the financial state of the Philippine government, if anything close to what hit Sendai, Japan were to happen today, the country would just be a little better off than Haiti in the aftermath of its own killer quake.

In particular, if a mega-quake were to hit the coast around the capital, Manila Bay will be drained for a few moments and an equally gigantic tsunami will soon engulf the city up to the limits of Makati and Malabon-Navotas, up to Obando, Bulacan. Even Cavite will most probably see the same devastation as Minami Sanriku, with the death toll reaching the equivalent of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

If we consider the state of preparedness and availability of equipment and leadership that we witnessed during the massive “Ondoy” flood, then the Philippines will be in real trouble if a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami were to hit us today. During Ondoy, government wasn’t even able to gather enough rubber boats; and we certainly know of the sorry state of our Air Force’s helicopter fleet (which used to number hundreds in Marcos’ time but is today down to two dozens).

A country that is drained of P690 billion (or $16 billion) just for debt servicing will simply never have the resources to prepare itself nor the equipment and supplies necessary for survival and reconstruction from monumental disasters such as what we have seen more frequently around the globe. Just think: The estimated cost of Japan’s devastation at $100 billion is already about the total debt of the Philippines at P4.4 trillion.

Added to this murderous debt servicing is the annual tsunami of the siphoning off of people’s resources to the Big Corporatocracy, which, on record (as Gloria Arroyo economic adviser Joey Salceda pointed out before Big Business in 2010), has swallowed down P1 trillion every year, like huge earthquake fissures chomping down huge trucks and structures. Truly, the Filipino people have long been hemorrhaging even before any epochal physical or tectonic disaster has ever hit the country.

The daily scene in Metro Manila’s streets, for one, is no different from the disaster-ravaged lives in the Sendai Shinruku area today: Children in ragtag clothes shivering in the cold nights (even if there’s no winter here); thousands of homeless in the alleys and side roads; and makeshift houses of cardboard and salvaged tin sheets dotting the landscape of blighted areas.

But that’s not all. Yet another great Philippine tsunami is also at work here — the tsunami of idiocy.
The debate over nuclear power in the Philippines has resurfaced in the aftermath of the feared Fukushima nuclear meltdown. It is right for Mark Cojuangco to back down from his proposal, as he did so already. But the anti-nuke proponents are now making hay in pushing their agenda — the promotion of solar and wind energy.

The problem here is that these baby energy methods (solar and wind) are just as idiotic as the previous insistence of the pro-nukes to borrow $1 billion for nuclear energy given the fact that the Philippines is sitting atop one of the richest hoards of geothermal energy in the world.

This information is backed by no other than the US Geological Surveys agency. Moreover, it is also a well-known fact among the world’s geothermal authorities that the Philippines is a pioneer in this field and has one of the best crops of geothermal engineers and technicians ever. So why is geothermal energy being deliberately side-stepped?

While we have to live with this disaster area called the Philippines because we were born here and grew up here, there comes a time when we need to ask: How much longer can we hang on? This, especially as the tsunami of idiocy has reached all the way to the top, with Aquino III writing off P6 billion in tax debts of an oligarchic company’s power plant in Pagbilao, Quezon, at a time when the Philippines continues to reel from the financial tsunami of the national debt and the continuous exploitation by the corporatocracy.

Maybe a real, physical, tectonic and oceanic tsunami would be a blessing — to wipe off such idiocy from the face of this country, in order to finally allow the authentic Filipino spirit to rise and reign over this land.
(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; TNT with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8, on “Philippine energy alternatives;” visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our select radio and GNN shows)



 (Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)


SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20110318com6.html

Japan thumbs down Noynoy’s $14-million aid offer By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Michaela P. del Callar 03/18/2011

Japan thumbs down Noynoy’s $14-million aid offer

By Aytch S. de la Cruz and Michaela P. del Callar 03/18/2011

The Japanese government has “politely declined” the Philippines’ offer of assistance to Japan’s disaster-stricken communities in Japan even as President Aquino personally reiterated his pledged aid when he met with Ambassador Makoto Katsura yesterday morning.

Aquino had bragged about helping out the triple-whammied Japan with an offer of $14 million, saying that the Philippines was one of the first countries to offer help to catastrophe-struck Japan, but this offer was reportedly thumbed down by the Japanese government.

Katsura reportedly opted not to act on the types of assistance the Philippines has said it is willing to extend Japan.

Malacañang officials and Aquino himself do not take Japan’s thumbing down of the Philippine offer as a rebuff or rejection of the offer.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110318hed1.html

China death sentence on 3 Filipino drug mules goes ahead By Michaela P. del Callar 03/18/2011

China death sentence on 3 Filipino drug mules goes ahead

By Michaela P. del Callar 03/18/2011

China will proceed with the execution of three convicted Filipino drug smugglers whose death penalty sentences were postponed last month following an appeal from the Philippine government but said the decision is not related to a recent territorial dispute off the South China Sea.

News of China’s decision to go ahead with the executions came at a time when Aquino’s administration is grappling with an array of problems involving large numbers of Filipino workers who are trapped in raging conflicts in several Middle Eastern and North African countries or dealing with deadly disasters such as the earthquake catastrophes in Japan and New Zealand.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao said the death sentences will be carried out “sooner or later.”

The Filipinos are to die by lethal injection but the final date of the execution has yet to be announced by China’s Supreme Court..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110318hed2.html

Exodus out of Japan on; Taiwan detects radiation 03/18/2011

Exodus out of Japan on; Taiwan detects radiation

03/18/2011
Alarm over Japan’s nuclear crisis grew yesterday, with more foreign goverments advising their citizens to flee Tokyo as army helicopters water-bombed an overheating power plant.

The US and Britain chartered flights for their nationals trying to leave Japan, China moved thousands of its citizens to the capital for evacuation and France assigned two government planes to pull its people out.

Commercial airline tickets were scarce and some companies hired private jets to evacuate staff. In Tokyo the streets were quiet but calm as the Japanese people, though deeply concerned, mostly remained stoic over the emergency.

At the stricken plant itself, Chinook helicopters dumped tons of water in a desperate effort to cool reactors crippled by Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami to prevent a catastrophic meltdown..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20110318hed5.html

‘Voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense’ hit 03/18/2011

‘Voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense’ hit

03/18/2011
An alliance of Filipino migrants group in the Middle East yesterday scored the Aquino government’s declaration on “voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense,” saying this is a disservice to the sector that is helping the economy being kept afloat through their billions of remittances and fees and exactions imposed by the government.

“‘Voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense’ is but a disservice to OFWs; it is the state’s responsibility to secure the well being and safety of our Filipino workers abroad especially under adverse situation like wars and disasters or natural calamities and any burden should not be passed on to them,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Yesterday, the Department of Labor and Employment announced, citing the assessment issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) raising alert status to level 2 (restriction of movement) from alert level 1 (heightened alertness), that OFWs could be repatriated if they want to avail “voluntary repatriation” at their own expense.

The DFA yesterday announced that it will be sending a team to Bahrain to assess the peace and order situation and continuously study the viability of its contingency measures in evacuating OFWs in case the situation in Bahrain worsens..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110318nat2.html

Seven die as Leyte landslide buries home; 3K homeless By Mario J. Mallari 03/18/2011

Seven die as Leyte landslide buries home; 3K homeless

By Mario J. Mallari 03/18/2011

At least seven members of a family yesterday died after their house was buried by landslide in Leyte province where more than 3,000 people have been displaced by flooding brought about by continuous heavy rains in several areas in the Visayas region since Wednesday.

Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Region VIII officer-in-charge Epifanio Pabilona identified the fatalities as Marlon, 35; Winita, 35; Angelica, 14; John Paul, 13; John Ray; four-year-old Jenita, and three-year-old Heilrich, all surnamed Jordan.

“The response of the council was a bit late because of the heavy downpour that’s why one family has been buried under mudflow, landslide. They were all brought to hospital but they were declared dead upon arrival,” said Pabilona.

Pabilona added the seven victims were buried by landslide that hit Barangay Cabalawan in Tacloban City at around 2 a.m. yesterday.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110318nat3.html

Only 20% pass Bar exams By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/18/2011

Only 20% pass Bar exams

By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/18/2011

Less than a quarter of the 4,847 law school graduates who took last September’s Bar exams passed the grueling four-weekend test, the Supreme Court (SC) announced yesterday.

In a report furnished to reporters by the Committee of Bar Examiners headed by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, the SC said only 982 out of 4,847 examinees passed the 2010 Bar examinations, bringing the passing rate to 20.26 percent, the second lowest since 2002.

According to available information in the last decade, the highest passing rate in the Bar was 32.89 percent in 2001 while the lowest was 19.68 percent in 2002. The highest was 75.17 percent in 1954 while the lowest was 16.59 percent in 1999.


 This year’s passing rate is lower than the 24.5 percent passing rate in 2009..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20110318nat1.html

1Utak chairman bats for P12 minimum fare for public utility vehicles 03/18/2011 Partly-list group United Transport Koalisyon (1-Utak) yesterday asked for government assistance to help drivers and operators of public utility vehicles cope with the increasing oil prices and the projected drop in passenger load. 1-Utak chairman lawyer Vigor Mendoza II said historically passenger load drops by as much as 30 percent when summer class vacation starts. If this is coupled by continued high cost of fuel, there will be no recourse but to increase transport fares. Based on a straight line method of computation, a P12 minimum fare for jeepneys is not far-fetched. Such high transport cost is not also good for drivers as their children and other family members ride the public transport too, Mendoza said. However, Mendoza added there is no cause to panic as they had been in this situation before and already submitted to the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) the alternative actions to mitigate fare increases.

1Utak chairman bats for P12 minimum fare for public utility vehicles

03/18/2011
Partly-list group United Transport Koalisyon (1-Utak) yesterday asked for government assistance to help drivers and operators of public utility vehicles cope with the increasing oil prices and the projected drop in passenger load.

1-Utak chairman lawyer Vigor Mendoza II said historically passenger load drops by as much as 30 percent when summer class vacation starts. If this is coupled by continued high cost of fuel, there will be no recourse but to increase transport fares.

Based on a straight line method of computation, a P12 minimum fare for jeepneys is not far-fetched. Such high transport cost is not also good for drivers as their children and other family members ride the public transport too, Mendoza said.

However, Mendoza added there is no cause to panic as they had been in this situation before and already submitted to the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) the alternative actions to mitigate fare increases..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110318met4.html

Lim promoting culture of violence, says De Lima By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/18/2011

Lim promoting culture of violence, says De Lima

By Benjamin B. Pulta 03/18/2011

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday accused Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim of promoting a culture of violence in issuing the shoot-to-kill order against five policemen who allegedly pocketed part of the P15 million in ransom recovered by lawmen who rescued a kidnapped Malaysian.

“Maybe what he said was misinterpreted by the media when he said that he is living in a different world, in the wild, wild west. Have we not learned from the past?” De Lima quipped in comment.

Lim clarified his instruction was premised on a situation where the fugitive policemen would put up a fight.
Lim ordered that the missing ransom in the controversial abduction of Malaysian businessman Eric Chin Sim Tong be recovered as he presented the five Manila policemen who surrendered to him after he issued a shoot-to-kill order against them..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20110318met1.html

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