As the days get closer to Christmas, we are also getting more information coming in about the issue surrounding the Dengvaxia vaccine. The issue have been hugging the headlines on social and mainstream media the past days which have created both fear and anxiety especially for the parents and kids who were recipients of this government program. The fast and widespread exchange of information and accusations are not helping in the process. It has created more paranoia rather than peace of mind.
Dengvaxia was a drug that was supposed to help in the reduction of dengue cases in the country. It was to give its recipients the peace of mind that they will be safe from this illness that can cause death. Unfortunately, a few years after the program was approved, budgeted, and rolled out by the Aquino Administration, the developer of the drug, Sanofi, released its findings that their studies show that those who have completed their vaccines have a higher chance of suffering severe dengue if they get infected 31 months after the administration of the vaccine. This is the case of some 700, 000 elementary students who became unsuspecting victims of this Aquino-driven government program.
But stepping beyond the parameters of public safety is the issue on the acquisition process of the said drug. A whopping Php3.5B was released for the purchase of the vaccines. The process was believed to be hastened by the PNoy administration and was coursed through the PCMC. The phase 1 of the program rolled out not long after the purchase to which the present DOH officials are claiming that almost 800K Filipinos were administered the vaccine. The purchase and the program roll-out happened just months before the Presidential election of 2016.
It will not take a genius to figure out that this Dengvaxia Program of the PNoy administration was more of a political move rather than that public service. It was supposed to be a two-way win for the Liberal Party with the hope that it should help push a Roxas administration. Its purchase and implementation had the right timing to generate funds and create a perceived public concern that they were hoping would help them in the election campaign.
Let me break this further down.
The purchase of the vaccine is a financial opportunity to dip their hands into public funds that they can use in the campaign. It was already confirmed that the Dengue Program was not part of the DOH’s budget for the year and its purchase were mainly funded from the savings of other line items. The funds were also diverted to a government hospital that can expedite the purchase of these items. I have heard that the purchase of these vaccines was done urgently and in haste. We also need to consider the huge volume of the order for a new drug in the market which standards dictate should have been done in a smaller scale. The volume of the purchase was so massive that the program became a priority of the PCMC and was rolled out to anyone a year after as against to its initial target of just students.
If it was indeed a priority then why was it not given a budget with the DOH in 2016 and 2017? Why was there a need to course billions of pesos through PCMC if it was an urgent program? Lastly, why was the PNoy administration expediting a 3B peso release a few months before the 2016 Presidential election through means that will not be scrutinized by other government bodies prior to execution?
With the elections coming in fast and with their candidate losing against his opponents, it would not be a surprise to me that this Dengvaxia Program was a means to get additional funds for their personal interests and/or political interests.
Furthermore, the actual program roll-out was also meant to dupe the public into thinking that the PNoy administration was pro-poor. It was perfectly timed a month before the election. It was a last ditch effort to save a party from its sinking ship. Interestingly, the program was rolled-out in Central Luzon, NCR, and the Calabarzon provinces which incidentally was PRRD’s stronghold during the elections. These were the very same provinces that PRRD finished way ahead of all the other candidates. Well, they can always claim that these three provinces registered the three highest dengue cases in 2015. But if you compare reported dengue cases between 2014 vs 2015, the Cagayan Valley region registered an increase of 229% in dengue cases followed by the NCR at 133% increase, and CALABARZON at 102% increase. Region 3 registered a 93% increase from 2014. Looking through this scenario, I think the DOH should have focused their efforts on Region 2 since it had more dengue cases in 2015 against 2014. Alas, Cagayan Province did not have the number of voters needed to propel the administration candidate to the Presidency so the campaign efforts, disguised as government programs, were not directed to the province.
Unfortunately, the effort to swing public votes through the program was unsuccessful as PRRD is now in the position to sort out the mess. And that leaves us with a botched political plan hatched by the PNoy administration in an effort to stay in power.
Now for the Aquino apologists, the Dengvaxia issue is just one of the many effed up programs of the PNoy administration. It is funny as to how much silence we are hearing from the the Liberal Party’s “dakdak” bunch – Pangilinan, Drilon, Aquino, Hontiveros, and De Lima. I cannot blame them because, if the Liberal Party benefitted from the program, these senators become complicit to the crime. And with the 2019 senatorial elections fast approaching, I also understand that they need to downplay another blow to their party’s effed up image.
What is even funnier is the fact that some of these apologists go all the way by blaming the present administration for continuing the program. They try all these stupid efforts to try to wash the hands of their so-called “saints”. They do not mind defending them even if they come out really stupid.
It is a very straightforward issue with only one question to be answered – was the bulk purchase of the Dengvaxia Vaccine, understanding its clinical arguments on public health and safety and the hurried process that it went through for its purchase, another case of the PNoy administration’s corrupt and manipulative practice that was meant to keep them in power?
The question weighs heavily on the PNoy administration and there is no question to that. The process and the purchase is in question. That is the bottom line.
In the end, the Dengvaxia controversy is a clear indication that a deadly illness coupled by a stupid yellow monkey is a fatal combination for Filipinos.
I just came back from a week-long conference which unintentionally made me absent on my social media accounts. Except for a couple of pics, some FB check-ins, and brief moments of browsing, I was out of touch. So when a colleague asked me if it was true that Mocha Uson was running for Senator, I was not aware and asked her to check which media outfit published the news. She read the FB post from CNN Philippines which I said then it is probably true.
In the end, I told her that it was probably a political tactic of checking the winnability of Mocha as a Senator. A means by which a name is floated and then observed for the reactions of the people at the receiving end. I never really took much of it because, one, I am not a fan of Mocha and neither am I interested with her, and two, I do not simply care – I support the President and it does not necessarily follow that I support ALL of his officials.
Yes, that is possible.
It never dawned on me how much this affected some of my FB friends when my FB and Twitter timelines were bombarded by Pro and Anti Mocha sentiments as soon as I stepped out of the plane. It has come to a point that I muted a friend’s posts because of her anti-Mocha posts, not because I supported Mocha but because I just had enough of it.
I was not interested in Mocha Uson.
Interestingly, more information are trickling in that she was not running and she did not take any oath with the said party. There are also clarifications that a Senator-wannabe and member of the current administration’s info team was clarifying his statement and that he claims he was misquoted on the issue. Whether it be a shift on the idea or fake news, things are getting clearer now.
A quick point though that this issue have clearly shown is the power within Mocha Uson. Whether people admit it or not, Mocha Uson is a power to reckon with in social media. Her breadth and scope goes beyond the people who support her and transcends to even those who hate her. It has come to a point that even I, who have no interest in her, is writing this blog entry about her.
If you still do not get it, Mocha Uson’s power lies in the reaction and interaction that she gets with her social media presence. The name of the game in social media is reach and influence. With millions of followers, she definitely has the reach. Their reaction, your reaction, and even my reaction, through this post, counts as her influence. It does not matter whether you agree or disagree with her. What matters is that she has the reach and that she has influenced you to react. That is the name of the game of social media. Inadvertently, we are making her effective in the government post that she is in.
If there was any grain of truth to her running for the position of a senator, let it be. As far as I know, the Philippine Constitution gives her the liberty to do so. She has the same right as anyone to run for a government office, in the same way that you have the right to influence others not to vote for her.
Now voting for her is entirely a different story for me. I have to agree that she can run for office but giving her my vote will require a lot of thinking and re-thinking. Again, it is something that I am keen on NOT doing. If she does run for office, I have to agree that giving the public an educated discussion as to her merits and qualifications be the key focus of the discussion rather than lambasting her for her personal convictions and her past.
It does not help that some people inadvertently create a victim out of Mocha. Remember that the current sentiments are with the pro-Duterte bloggers after the unmasking of prominent FB personalities from the other side of the fence. The unmasking has proven one thing… that they were right all along with the accusations against these anti-Duterte bloggers and their associations. The truths that were revealed strengthened the hold of Mocha Uson to her followers. A funny and interesting observation after the “unmasking” was the mellowing down of the anti-Duterte bloggers. They were not as hard-hitting nowadays compared to the times when they were anonymous.
Mocha Uson is Mocha Uson. Whether we like it or not, she is a popular and a well-received persona in the Duterte administration. You may not like her but she is loved by many, judging from the number of followers that she currently enjoys. If she decides to run, she may also turn out to be a force to reckon with, come election time. Stop bullying her because the favour is with her at this time. In the end, she might rise up a hero because you keep on putting her down.
Again, I do not care about her BUT I care for my country.
“The wind howled throughout the night. You could hear tree branches and twigs breaking and cracking as the wind lashed its fury. The house creaked and shuddered as it stood against the storm. The rage and the fury continued on for hours but, by the break of dawn, everything was still. With the exception of a few broken twigs, everything outside was in order as the sun was breaking through the trees. The storm left as quickly as it came. It was quick and fast that it left very little evidence that it passed through the area.”
Similar to the storm described above, the death of a 17-year old Grade 11 student in the hands of apprehending police took Philippine social media by storm. In a matter of minutes after the story broke out, SocMed platforms were ablaze with varying opinions from the condemnation of the act to the justification of the police operation. It was one fiery long weekend in the virtual world that the “heat” seeped into everyone’s virtual life.
I had my share of the action, a decent one that is, while some of my friends had to contend with the nasty ones.
As expected, politicians started appearing from the blaze. While some of these politicians were sincerely aghast with the death of the student, there were some who really had the gall to make a futile attempt to make the story their own. The call to organize was allowed to float for people to digest, with one politician even inciting that there was a call for a revolution. The call was made to organize on the day where the country was incidentally celebrating the death of a supposed hero – an Aquino.
As Monday unfolded, I was glued on my social media platforms, shifting from Facebook to Twitter and back, for updates. There was none. It was complete silence in the virtual world except for a “spurt” on the issue every once in a while. It was so uncomfortably silent that I asked friends if they were experiencing the same in their feeds to which they confirmed the same observation.
And just like how the storm came, the massive fury, or the perceived massive fury, about the incident quickly died down with only a few more taking their arms to the fight. The politicians who “rode” into the fight with their fiery chariots were suddenly silent. They were no where in sight during the gathering at the EDSA. As fast as they rode with the storm, it was in the same intensity that they faded out in the oblivion.
So with the furor and the silence of the student’s death, I picked up a couple of facts of this particular case:
Fact #1: The death of the 17-year old gave us a reality shake.
The death of the 17 year old was a reality shake of some sort for most of us. It was a long time problem that was staring at us on the face. My reality shake was two-pronged for me – the reality that the drug problem that we face transcends all ages and the reality that, despite the efforts to clean up the ranks of the PNP, we still cannot deny the existence of rogue cops.
While most of us have shown our disgust over the student’s death, we have to face the facts that the drug probem that we face has gone from bad to worse over the past years and has now creeped into the younger generations. The question whether the student was a user or a runner is still subject for proof but the truth that is in front us is that the problem is now affecting our youth. What’s worse is that the law on minors have given unnecessary power to drug traders to use minors in the trade.
Again, the guilt of the police officers involved in the incident is yet to proven by the courts but the existence of rogue cops is a reality. I seriously think that the presence of rogue cops in the system was primarily due to the negligence that the police force received from previous administrations. Personally, it is only this administration that has given me that change of behavior towards our policemen. I have full respect and admiration to the PNP compared to before. Yes, rogue cops do exist but we should not let a few of them damage those who work with honesty and integrity.
Fact #2: Investigate before judgement. Elevate your discourse.
It was interesting to find people jump into conclusions even with the smallest bit of detail given to them. Prior to the investigation, the CCTV footage presented by the media gave way to immediate judgement. I even came across a statement that the CCTV footage was enough proof to the alleged crime, even without the proper confirmation. The same arguement goes to the ones in the defense of the police. A mere social media post made the 17 year old a drug runner. Seriously?!?
Furthermore, the conflict between the parties was further aggravated by harsh, even threatening words, between supporters. The fight to seek justice does not lie with the harsh words and threats thrown around. It’s funny how people can quickly turn around with bashing and name throwing when they find themselves at the brink where they feel that they are losing their grasp in their arguements.
Elevate your discourse by discussing possibilities and not passing judgement. Let the proper authorities investigate and then you can discuss the judgement after it has been given.
Fact #3: Be watchful of those who use these cases to push their own selfish agenda.
The biggest fact that I pick up on the 17 year old student’s death was how fast politicians picked it up and use it to push their own agenda AND how quickly they also fade out into oblivion when things don’t run the way they were hoping it to be. It was interesting that the most controversial ones were the ones at the forefront and started aiming and shooting. But when their calls remain unheeded, they faded out in the dark. They were like knights in shining armor galloping but, when the rains came drenching them, they shudder back to their stables as fast as they appeared.
Be watchful of these people. They will always take advantage of the weak. They will use people to push their own agenda. They will also be quick to leave once they sense that they will not reap their “perceived” benefit from the people and the incident.
After all that was said and done by these “influential” people, not one of them showed up in any of the gatherings that sought justice for the 17 year old.
Th 17 year old victim was brought to his final resting place yesterday. I admire those individuals who are still taking the fight for justice on social media despite the sudden silence after Monday. I admire them for standing on what they believe is right and justice.
I pity those who suddenly fell silent. I pity the politicians who came out strong at the start but was silent, not even a murmur, as the body of the student was being entombed. It just goes to show where your ideals stand, not for the people but for your own vested interest.
Hindi ninyo nakuha ang gusto ninyo kaya nanahimik kayo.
You know what my biggest worry?
The 17 year old student is now resting in peace. I fear that after yesterday he becomes just part of the statistics. With his burial comes the deafening silence of injustice by the perpetrators and those who used this incident for their own selfish intent.
It was a brewing storm for the past months judging from the blind items and hushed talks making its rounds. Who would have thought that a blind item that I once heard on an AM radio show on my way to work about a Presidential appointee dubbed as “Angry Bird” would become a national headline in a matter of months? It was funny that the “item” was very precise with its details and the only thing that really stuck with me was Angry Bird’s kinky fetish. Don’t blame me but the anchor made the whole topic really juicy.
So after this Monday’s big reveal, I took the time to watch Karen Davila’s interview of Tisha Bautista and Commissioner Andy Bautista, on her morning show at ANC, to get a better grasp of what was being presented and the arguments being laid on the table for public consumption. You get a better insight of the issues after hearing both sides of the story. I took down notes that I deem valid and my own thoughts while watching the interview.
I have to say that Tisha Bautista was very composed throughout the whole interview. She acted what she was saying that she was not there to convince people to believe her. All that she pleaded was for them to look at the documents she had presented and then make a judgement. She was modest enough to steer clear of putting her estranged husband in a bad light when she reiterated that look at the documents before making the judgement. Her focus was clearly directed on the issue – what were these financial documents? She came in with a clear demarcation line of what is a domestic dispute and what is a government concern.
Tisha was right in saying that their marital woes is just a distraction on the real issue – her discovery of 36 LDB passbooks, pay envelope that go back to the PCGG years of Commissioner Bautista, commission handout reports, documents of BDO checks issued to LDB, and vital and sensitive correspondence. She focused on the issue of clarifying what these financial documents are that reflects billions of pesos that the commissioner possibly owns and was undeclared in his SALN.
As for the accusation on her alleged extramarital affairs, she categorically denied the accusation. She also raised a valid point on the allegation that she was just after the money when she said that by putting these questionable accounts forward, it will reduce the money that she could legally claim when their marriage gets dissolved. She could have easily earned half of these billions by just keeping silent. But she was very clear with what she wanted, she wanted what is rightfully and legally hers from their assets that is cleanly their ownership.
Tisha Bautista did confirm that the root of all these discoveries was their marital woes and did not deny that there were prior meetings where both parties were trying to resolve the marital issue. She did confirm that both parties were in the process of getting into an agreement but she felt uncomfortable with certain points in the agreement. Two of these clauses were her denial of the discoveries of this documents and her admittance to the understanding that some of the documents were related to a family business. I like the way her lawyer phrased it that Tisha Bautista agreed to the financial terms of the agreement but she did not agree to participate in the concealment of a possible crime.
Tisha Bautista understands that what she has presented now for public scrutiny is bigger than her and their domestic dispute but she also understands that she needs to stand up for what is right and that we should do something. I like the way she said it, stop complaining and do something about it. Her message was clear that we should look into these documents and take the necessary action based on the findings.
Commissioner Andy Bautista was a stark contrast to his estranged wife Tisha during his turn on the interview table. He sounded off like a whining brat who took offense that a broadsheet gave her wife more airtime than him. He was on that table to convince people that he was a poor victim and depicting his wife as an adulterer who is playing a part in orchestrating a demolition job against him. Interestingly, more airtime was spent on how sour their marital relationship turned out and the demolition plan against him rather than answering the allegations against him.
While Tisha came in with the stance that their marital woes was not the issue here, Andy came in with an attack that highlighted their marital problems. He started it off with a story on how his wife was unfaithful to him and what he went through when she told him that she has found her soulmate. She painted her wife, not only as a cheater, but as someone who completely turned her back to the family. He tried to paint the issue as a domestic dispute turned political at his expense by his wife and the people behind her.
When faced with the question regarding the vital documents found in his custody, he neither issues a categorical yes or no. He kept emphasizing that he needs to see these documents first. He does “subtly” confirm a couple of points to the issues raised at him:
- He does confirm that some of the 32 passbooks are actual existing and closed accounts. He confirms that these accounts were a product of family investments in forex and pyramid scheme, where he is either a co-investor or form part of the “and/or” bank accounts.
- He confirms that he recycles PCGG pay envelopes but does not categorically say that the money inside these envelopes were planted although he tries to imply that it might be and that he needs to see it first.
- Commissioner Andy Bautista confirms that SMARTMATIC is a client of the Divina Law Firm.
Despite these confirmations from the commissioner himself, he added that some of these bank passbook were probably falsified. Karen Davila was quick to retort that it would be difficult for Tisha to falsify a bank document to which he responded “I don’t know”.
Commissioner Andy also denied the allegation that he received any commission from anyone or the Divina Law Firm. He said that the checks issued to him was for the payment of a property that he sold to Nilo Divina which was being paid in installments.
In the same way as that of Tisha’s interview, he also confirms that he and his estranged wife were both on a negotiating table where he presented a document to support his claim of an initial 620 million settlement through Tisha Bautista’s first lawyer, Atty. Kapunan. He also confirms by showing the last settlement draft between him and the new lawyers of Tisha. Parts of the draft was read out loud by the host which also affirms it was the same parts that Tisha was not in agreeance to.
It is interesting to note that the focus of Commissioner Bautista was on the ongoing marital squabble with the attempt to depict Tisha as a vulture that was pouncing on a hapless victim. He never made a categorical admittance or denial to any of the allegations thrown at him but instead focused on the issue as an after effect of a domestic problem. It even came to the point that he started hitting on the new lawyers of his wife on a personal level. I had the impression that he came into the interview a bit rattled where his objective was to discredit his wife.
Tisha Bautista was on point with the fact that with our culture that is deeply embedded with too much drama similar to the soap operas that hound our television sets daily, their marital woes is really none of our business. It is their drama and theirs alone. The issue is not about their failed marriage and the issue goes far beyond that. Hence, their marital issue is theirs to settle and not for the public to meddle.
Having said that, the real issue at hand are the authenticity and the ownership of the financial documents presented by Tisha Bautista which is allegedly owned by Commissioner Andy Bautista. This is the first step in finding the truth behind these allegations. Tisha presented it very well by encouraging the public and the authorities to look at these documents before making the judgement. Are these documents valid? Once this is answered then we can then check whether this documents are really owned by the COMELEC Commissioner before we can proceed to any further action.
Based on the “subtle” admittance of Commissioner Andy that some of these bank accounts exist and some were already closed, then we can proceed with the inquiry whether these accounts are owned and/or co-owned by Andy. He already made a claim that these accounts are owned by his family and he is just part of the “and/or” management of these accounts. This is where the clincher comes in, if these accounts bear the name of the commissioner whether wholly or partly then it should have been declared in his SALN. The way I see it, the names that appear on that account are legally the owners of the money deposited even if only one really owns the actual money. If Commissioner Bautista has his name in ANY of these accounts then he should have accounted it in his SALN. If not, then Andy just committed an impeachable offense.
From my point of view, Commissioner Bautista’s best defense really is by presenting facts to the public rather than their melodramatic love story. He could have easily presented his bank accounts with the Luzon Development Bank and cross-referenced it to his submitted SALN. That way, from the point of accusation, he could have easily flicked off the doubt. But his continuous tugging of “I need to see the documents” is really making me think that these documents may actually be valid. Commissioner Bautista says that he was nominated by the family to be the finance guy so I am pretty sure he knows how many, if not all 32 LDB passbooks, are valid and active, whether his name appears on these accounts, and whether he declared it in his SALN.
The “Maang-maangan School of Arts” approach of Commissioner Bautista no longer appeals to the discerning public, and you can also include in the list the drama of comparing himself to a “rape victim”. It is so lame because at this point he could have already deflected the accusation by presenting his actual SALN, which is a public document. He is at a position where he can already present the truth if he really submitted a truthful government document.
Commissioner Bautista can paint his wife as an adulterer. He can paint her as mentally imbalanced. But that does not disregard the REAL question that Commissioner Bautista needs to answer to the Filipinos – how much is the commissioner’s real net worth and where did these assets really come from?
While Tisha Bautista sat on the hot seat composed and focused on what she believes was the right thing to do, it bothers me when Commissioner Andy said that he is seriously considering on what his next move would be because it would implicate others in the issue. At this point, everyone involved in their marital and political issue have already been divulged to the public.
So… sino pa ba ng pwede ma-involve sa issue na ito, Commissioner?
If I were to sum up the first year of PDiggy’s presidency, it was a time where government actions struck closer to home. It was a time, as a friend puts it, when the government was closer to the Filipino people. It was a time that majority of the Filipinos realized, as MY President puts it, that “genuine change is what this country needs”. It was a time when we scratched our head in disbelief and told ourselves “pede naman pala”.
Like in the previous government functions, PDiggy’s SONA was void of the usual pomp and pageantry. It had a mix of a structured speech intertwined with his personal thoughts on how the country’s Chief Executive looks at the current issues hounding the nation. It was very bold, softened by PDiggy’s own brand of humor. It was a message addressed to Filipinos with the intent of making us understand the why’s for these government efforts. The SONA was not delivered to impress a particular audience but was delivered to Filipinos to digest. It was delivered right and to its rightful recipients.
I loved the way he spelled out the issue of human rights and the hypocrisy of the supposed guardians of it. Though I am not disregarding the need to investigate the “possible” abuse by the police in some isolated cases, the same “outburst” should also done to victims of heinous crimes. Politicians, eager for positive ratings, should not add too much drama to the deaths of suspected criminals, because they fought back to resist arrest, by trivializing it in the guise of human rights and due process. The truth is that these politicians take on the banner of human rights violation with so much passion for these suspected criminals and yet they remain silent over heinous crimes committed against innocent lives. When you are against crime, you should be against all forms of crime. If you create noise and clamour on the death of a suspected criminal, we expect to create the same noise and clamour for the victims of these suspected criminals. Noise created in one and silence with another does not make sense. It makes one a hypocrite and Filipinos can see these intentions.
Martial Law in Mindanao was justified in one sentence – it is the fastest way to quench a rebellion by terrorists in Mindanao. It will take a Mindanaoan to understand the situation of what is happening in Marawi and the risks that it entail. It is not just a simple faction throwing its tantrums at a government. It is a group that is very eager to carve out a caliphate in Mindanao and struggling to get the world’s attention. It is important that the government shows it force against these groups now. An iron fist is needed to eradicate this group for the nation’s safety. It is only PDiggy who has the balls to take this brave action to address this security concern and we can all see how swiftly key people of the Maute group fall into the hands of authorities.
In the same frame of thoughts, all these perceived Martial Law abuses are yet to be properly reported, documented, and investigated by the right government agency. We cannot rely on hearsays alone. The right and justified way to address these issues is through channelling it through the right government agency instead of mere press releases.
“I will not take to you (Leftists). Why should I?” was a bold statement from PDiggy. This comes after several incidents of treachery on the part of the NPA. I mean you cannot talk about peace and stage surprise attacks that claimed the lives of our police force. That is a complete opposite of the why we are on a negotiating table.
This statement was further emphasized by PDiggy’s show of support to the AFP and the PNP. This administration has, by far, shown the most support to the military and police force, not only with the promise of modernization programs but also with the moral support for our troops. You have to admit that this administration has inspired a whole nation, except for a minority, to rally behind our troops. Stories of simple citizens extending small acts of kindness and support to our troops are no longer confined to stories that we read from other countries. We now have our own inspiring stories to tell from simple Starbucks coffee treats to airline’s extending free baggage weight allotment for our troops. You cannot deny that the way we see the police and the military are slowly shifting. There are still some scalawags on the line but we do not let the SOME taint the image of the whole. Besides, the some will soon be taken out of the line.
Speaking of strong words, the call to return the “Balangiga Bells” is one of the strongest points of PDiggy’s SONA. It was definitely a bold statement that made a number of pro-American politicians, and probably even the US Ambassador to the Philippines, a bit uncomfortable on their seats. The President was right in saying that the bells belong to the Philippines and they are part of our country’s national heritage.
For me, the statement goes beyond just the act of returning the bells to its home. It is a statement that mainly emphasizes three things:
- PDiggy believes that what is ours is ours;
- The US has no moral right to keep prodding and interfering with how we are dealing with our issues on the West Philippine Sea; and
- PDiggy is putting emphasis that we are no longer the “little brown American” as we are an independent nation.
I could probably write a separate blog about this but, for the purpose of this blog, I will try to give a short summary of my points.
It may seem that it is just a material thing compared to the West Philippine Sea Issue but the Balangiga Bells stands more than just a bell. It is a national heritage that was forcefully taken from us. It is a symbol of American defeat and by returning it to us is a recognition by the US that they have strong respect for our history and heritage. It is a statement that they recognize our independence as a nation and the respect for our values. Furthermore, the US should not prod us to go against China on the West Philippine Sea issue with them giving us support. As a matter of principle, how can the US demand from the PDiggy Administration to act the way the US want this administration to act on the West Philippine Sea issue when the US themselves cannot even return a national heritage to its rightful owner? Again, it is hypocrisy. Return what is ours first if that is the principle that US is really standing up and working on.
The protection of the environment is a non-negotiable for this administration. This statement, for me, was a bold statement after the non-appointment of Gina Lopez as DENR Secretary. The President emphasized the need to exercise extreme care in the extraction of minerals from its sources by creating a mining economy that is responsible, regulatory, and sustainable. He emphasized the need to raise taxes on mining so as to have funds for the rehabilitation of the local community affected by this industry. Simply put… there are two viable options that goes hand in hand with the care of the environment – raise taxes or stop mining.
Speaking of taxes, a good message that made an impression on me was PDiggy’s stand on the strong need to bridge the gap between those who are paying taxes and the elimination of corruption in the government. It emphasizes that this two goes hand in hand that we as private citizens and companies have a deep responsibility in paying our taxes while the government works on the right appropriation of these funds for the government’s project especially on its “Build, Build, Build” projects. The President made it clear in his SONA that they “will not spare no one for cheating the government what is due” hence the call to “declare the right income and pay the correct taxes”. On the President’s end, he gave us the assurance his fight for corruption will be relentless and also calls for the public’s cooperation on fighting corruption.
Right after PDiggy’s SONA, I read varying comments on social media and I restrained myself from giving my reaction not until after I have heard the whole address. I have to say that one thing that makes this administration effective, as reflected by the President’s address, is that its programs strike very close to our homes. These are programs that make us feel the presence of the government in our daily run. Again, it makes you think and say “kaya naman pala, bakit hindi pa nagawa noon?”
PDiggy’s address was simple and straightforward. Much was already done and much still remains to be done but as PDiggy puts it, it also needs our cooperation.
Now if you only counted the cuss words or something less relevant during the SONA, something is terribly wrong with you.
At the end of last month, I signed up with a movement that aims to take concrete steps in educating and taking action in reducing the use of plastic in our daily lives. I receive weekly emails that give me some action plans to work on for that particular week. Most of the things being shared were nothing new to me as I have long taken the initiative to reduce drastically the use of plastic at home and in the office.
Earlier this evening, with the usual fanfare of our Sunday, my daughter and I decided to go for food delivery for dinner. I went online, placed our orders, and, in reference to a recent article that I read, specified in the “Other Comment” section of the chain’s order form to not include plastic straws in the delivery.
Less than 45 minutes after, the delivery guy was already buzzing at our gate. I went through the orders, noting that there were no straws in our delivery, and went on to give our payment when a quick thought came into mind. I asked the delivery guy if our orders came in with the usual plastic spoon and forks to which he answered affirmative. I then pulled out these plastic itensils and handed it back to the delivery guy. He was surprised and I simply said that there was no need for it because we can use the silver spoon and forks that we have at home.
I realized at that moment that by using the silver utensils that we have when we have food delivered at home is another small step in reducing the use of plastic in our daily lives. I thought that it was a small and significant step that, if done by many, could make a huge impact in saving the environment.
The evening’s eureka moment had me creatively go through my day and identify the small tweaks that we can do every day to reduce the use of plastic in our daily churn.
Ask your food delivery service to not include plastic straws and plastic utensils in the delivery unless needed.
Like what happened last Sunday night, you can request from your food delivery service to exclude straw and plastic utensils with the food you ordered. You can use your silver utensils during the meal when you are at home.
This small act will reduce the plastic garbage in the household since most of these straw and plastic end up in the bin after a single use.
When buying small items from a store, refuse the small plastic and just slip the item you purchased inside your bag.
This is one action that I have easily adopted in my everyday run. Usually we buy small items in our neighborhood convenience store and, most of the time, they will pack it in one small plastic bag which goes directly to the bin. The plastic is so small that we do not find any use for it unlike the bigger ones.
So when you find yourself in the situation when you bought a couple of small stuff, you can ask the attendant to not put it in a small packaging plastic. You can simply slip the items inside your bag and make sure you get the receipt before leaving the counter.
Hydrate with a reusable water bottle.
As a traveler, I always have with me a reusable water bottle. This is one way where I can reduce my garbage footprint when I explore. It cuts down my purchases on small bottled water which then reduces my pet bottle waste.
I have adopted the same principle now when I head up to work. I often find myself buying soda in pet bottles and you know where those bottles end up after. So I now bring with me my reusable travel water bottle to work. This small act have actually given me two benefits – it reduced my plastic waste from pet bottles and plastic cups and it made me healthier since I drink water more often.
Make sure that you have your own coffee cup and silver utensils in the office.
For most of the workforce, lunchtime is usually a time when we gather with fellow workmates to bond and share stories outside of the office or over delivered food at the pantry.
You can significantly reduce your plastic residue by using your coffee cup and utensils instead of the plastic utensils that go with your delivery. If everyone in the office take the same action then that is one of the first step towards a plastic-free workplace.
In one of the fitness clubs that I manage, we have taken the step of reminding our members to bring their own water bottle when they workout. We do not provide plastic cups as part of our initiative to be earth-friendly.
PET bottles make good plant boxes.
Our attempts to create an urban garden led us to a unique way of recycling big soda pet bottles as plant boxes. I read about it on the internet and put it into use instead of buying plastic boxes for our plants.
Your urban garden does not only recycle the plastic bottles but it also creates a greener and cleaner environment in your home.
There are a lot of creative ways to reduce, recycle and re-use plastic and, with these initiatives, plastic waste is reduced. When you come across one, apply and share the initiative with others. A collective effort is already a huge step in helping the environment.
And by sharing your own tips on how to reduce plastic in your everyday dealings, you are already doing a big part in this movement.
Exactly a year ago, a shift in power came into play when a city mayor became the first Philippine President to come from Mindanao. This change came after a divisive election campaign that had me taking my armour and getting into the frontlines. I fought for him and I voted for him. And yes, I do not have regrets having done so and I am mighty proud to be a Dutertard.
As his first year come to pass, we are now getting these supposed “report cards” and evaluations from different politicians. Those who are aligned with him have given them all their praises and those who do not like him have romped up all their negatives against him. They can say anything that they want but THE one thing that really matters in the political arena is the pulse of the people he serves. This is where PDiggy reigns with high grades. You can say anything and everything but MY President has the support of the majority – the true sense of democracy.
Let me share with you my personal thoughts about why my trust in PDiggy kept its ground.
PDiggy is the President void of the pomp and pageantry.
PDiggy is void of the pomp and pageantry that we got used to from the previous administrations. He kept his character without conforming to the usual ways of traditional politicians. He says what he says and he acts the way he needs to act as a leader defined by him not by what others dictate. Others may be dismayed by his supposed lack of “class” that they have always associated with Philippine Presidency. His ways and means make him stand out as a leader – PDiggy has given us himself without the pretensions.
Furthermore, his supposed street character is what endeared him to MAJORITY of the Filipinos who propelled him to the Presidency. It is the same character that he lives by to this today thus sending the message that what we saw in him then is the same that we see now. It was not just mere propaganda. He was not someone trying to be someone else just to get the nod of people. He is a man of no pretension.
PDiggy is a President of servitude.
The truth stand that, with PDiggy, Filipinos go first. H has played his cards very well in the international arena by weighing in on which international relationship will be most beneficial for us. At last, we have managed to get US hands off our necks from their tightened hold. He has managed to open our doors to other countries rather than focusing on just one. He was not too eager to please Uncle Sam but was more focused on what would be the best for Filipinos.
Yes, he spent a lot of international travels but let us not disregard the huge benefits that we are getting from these trips in terms of assistance and projects. His “Build, Build, Build” program is geared on addressing infrastructure requirements necessary to our growing economy.
It is amazing how PDiggy placed Filipinos first in his agenda. He speaks and acts based on how he can make things better for Filipinos. As I have said before, his words and actions strike close to home. Case in point, who would have thought that we can have our own 911 emergency line? While others scoffed at the idea, here he was making it happen. He is a President who wants to put the basics in place for everyone, and not just for the privileged few.
The same spirit of servitude resonates with his cabinet secretaries, barring a few. We see a more personal approach during human crisis. We see a more responsive government through him. We are finally experiencing a government that is working for us.
PDiggy and his personal touch.
Nothing will PDiggy’s personal touch on issues. It was a welcome relief to see a President visiting the wakes of fallen heroes without the usual fanfare. He cries with them as he consoles their widows and assures them of government support. You feel his sincerity when he wraps his arms on a grieving relative and you feel the genuine smile that he shares with his supporters. Again, what we see is what we get.
His compassion towards Filipinos cannot be undermined. His sincerity precedes him and you actually feel it. Here is a President who reaches out, not for the fanfare of politics, but because he feels that it is his obligation. Here is a President that Filipinos can really relate to whether in words or actions.
PDiggy’s detractors can say all that they want against him but one thing that they cannot dispel are his words and actions are enough to defend him. People believe and trust him because of what he has given us on his first year of Presidency – the feeling that we are finally cared for. He was able to show Filipinos that “kaya naman pala” if a person leads with a heart for the Filipinos. He was able to define a brand of leadership that Filipinos need and should look for in our future leaders.
As one political analyst puts it… PDiggy is a tough leader who makes tough decisions and actions when the Filipino’s welfare is at stake but, at the end of the day, he will always be a “tatay” who will always make the best decisions for his family.