Mindanao Times » Vic Sumalinog http://mindanaotimes.net Wed, 19 Sep 2018 01:50:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.25 Rough Cuts: Striking a ‘decisive blow’ vs. corruption http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-striking-a-decisive-blow-vs-corruption/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-striking-a-decisive-blow-vs-corruption/#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2018 01:47:44 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=62275 ]]> We strongly support the proposition of our friend Architect Florencio “Chito” Gavino that if the government is to succeed in fighting corruption President Rodrigo Duterte must strike a “decisive blow” against this long social illness that is plaguing the country. Chito is consultant of the Davao-based People’s RevGov for Real Democracy (PRRD) and the Kilos Pederal sa Pagbabago. RevGov stands for Revolutionary Government.

Yes, we believe that in fighting corruption which had been known part of the country’s government operating system since the Philippines’ formal existence, only a “hammer blow” can strike fear to those who are doing it.

However, that “decisive blow” can only be done using the “hammer” in possession of persons with hands that, in conscience, can pass the test of immaculateness. And we mean hands that are not only those of the President’s but those of the men and women he has chosen to help him run his administration.

Yes, the President’s record of governance since the start of his political career can undoubtedly prove that he has not dipped his hands in the government coffers to fund his personal lifestyle. Not even the most vocal and vicious of his critics in Sen. Antonio Trillanes has presented ex cathedra proof in any of his claims of the President’s amassing of ill-gotten wealth. Hence, the country’s chief executive can be the most appropriate person to possess the “hammer” and deliver the “decisive blow” in the fight against corruption in government. So, what could have deterred the President from using that “hammer?”

Unfortunately for the President however, there are a lot of factors that put weight on his hands that it has become extremely heavy for him to raise the “hammer” and deliver the “decisive blow.”

We can cite two of these so-called weight enhancers that are hindering the President’s campaign against corruption. One is the country’s highly protective legal system to the rights of individuals. Another is the presence of people who only have their eyes set on government projects that they can surreptitiously make big money without much effort except facilitating their approval and implementation. It is this situation that might have put the President’s anti-corruption efforts in near standstill, if at all less effective.

Yes, if the President will be able to muster enough strength to use the “hammer” to deliver the needed blow he would end up striking first the very structure of his own organization. And he will not even be certain whether any such strike will totally impact on the corruption infrastructure. Why, because as we have mentioned earlier, there is a built-in maze of protection provided by the country’s legal system.

This is probably the reason why our friend Chito’s PRRD is advocating not just the change in form of the government but also putting up ahead of Federalization, the conversion by the President of the present administration into a revolutionary government (RevGov). It is on this aspect that we are not in agreement with the good architect.

Frankly, we believe that even with some institutionalized bars the President has to hurdle in his fight against corruption, he can still lift that “hammer” and deliver the “decisive blow.” Meaning, axing a corrupt Cabinet member or any officials with influential positions in his administration, should not be the end of it all. The President must ensure that the corrupt officials are prosecuted to the end, and is meted with the appropriate sanctions of their misdeeds.

The President must also call in the support of the co-equal branch of government, the Judiciary, not to allow any delay in the deliberation of graft and corruption cases against officials finally charged in court for such infraction.

We assume that the Judiciary will not deny such request of the Executive Department since it would mean cleansing the government of its “resident evil.” But then, again, it is common knowledge that graft and corruption is one evil that has extended its residency also in the country’s judiciary. All these, we can possibly assert, will make the President’s war against corruption a modern day proverbial “fight against the wind mill.”

So, can the President still succeed? Yes, if he uses his political will; if he is not afraid to be rebuffed by some graft tainted courts men; if he is willing to lose some of his closest friends and even relatives.

Above all, the President should not forget his major campaign promise of changing the government from its present highly centralized form to a Federal system to make it more accessible to the people who are in reality, both the government and the governed.

But no Revolutionary Government along the way please.

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Rough Cuts: Davao City SP should do a Davao Oriental http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-davao-city-sp-should-do-a-davao-oriental/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-davao-city-sp-should-do-a-davao-oriental/#comments Tue, 18 Sep 2018 01:49:43 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=62240 ]]> In Davao Oriental coconut growers are demanding that the local government conduct a probe into the very low buying price of de-husked coconut. This was disclosed by no less than Ednar Dayanghirang, chief-of-staff of Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang.

 

According to the governor’s aide, farmers in that eastern Davao Province are losing immensely due to the steady down trend in the per kilo buying price of the important agricultural product the area is known for.

 

The governor’s chief of staff added that from a high of P10.50 per kilo of de-husked nuts this has now gone down to P5.

 

Ednar who also belongs to a family of coconut farmers, disclosed that in response to the demand the provincial government is calling on the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to exert more efforts to address the problem. The local government, added the governor’s chief aide, is also pleading for the coconut meatprocesssors to be considerate in giving the farmers fair price on their produce.

 

We do not know if there is an association of coconut farmers in Davao City. And if there is none, we are encouraging someone from among them to come out and initiate moves that will goad the local government of the city to do a Davao Oriental; that is, to call for an investigation into the grossly unfair buying price of de-husked coconut by local traders mostly Chinese businessmen.

 

In areas like Toril, Tugbok, Calinan, Paquibato and some interior parts of Bunawan and Buhangin districts where coconut farms still exist, farmers are complaining that the coco traders are buying their de-husked produce between P4.50 to P5 per kilo. Added to the low buying cost is the deduction from the sale proceeds the so-called fixed kilo provided for the huge basket used in the weighing. Then there is thisresecada thing which supposedly represents the moisture content of the coconut. It’s also another deduction from the proceeds.

 

This crucifixion of the coconut farmers – and all farmers for that matter –has been without let up even as the prices of the derivative products from coconutsuch as cooking oil, desiccated nuts and others continue to rise. In fact, reports quoting government sources said recently the increases in the prices of cooking oil and other food products derived from coconut, say that these are among the major contributors to the rise in the country’s inflation rate.

 

But while the traders, the processors and their middlemen are taking turns in driving the nail through the hands and feet of the coconut farmers on their cross, the PCA has remained unheard of during these times of the former agricultural sector’s journey to their Golgotha.

 

We are calling a good friend of ours who is a former media personality in Davao City who now sits in the PCA board to please look into this mess and do something to help the agri-sector the PCA is supposed to serve.

 

We hope that he can stop the PCA from becoming the Roman emperor Nero who, during his reign, kept playing his flute while Rome was burning.

 

Meanwhile, we expect the City Council Committee on Agriculture to do its own initiative in looking into this harsh situation of the city’s coconut farmers. It can possibly conduct validating activities in the farming community, in the trading and buying sector, in the coconut product processing plants, and in the local markets and grocery stores. The committee can work hand-in-hand with the City Office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Whatever data they can gather would be good basis to identify who to call to serve as resource persons in their committee investigation. Of course we strongly suggest that the Council Agriculture Committee calls the local PCA to participate in the probe so that it can give the public updates of what it is or not doing for the coconut farmers.

 

We believe that this probe is urgent. It is grossly unfair that only one, two or three components in the entire coconut industry will survive floating in an almost bottomless profits while the farmers themselves are drowning in indebtedness and impoverishment. Hence, for the SP Agriculture Committee to give some degree of priority to conduct a probe would be most-appreciated.

 

This is one issue that is totally out of sync with inflation. Imagine the coconut farmers continuously deprived the opportunity to earn more while at the same time being hard up to the maximum in buying the by-products of their coconut!

 

Where is equity in this situation?

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Rough Cuts: Compliance is badly wanting http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-compliance-is-badly-wanting/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-compliance-is-badly-wanting/#comments Sun, 16 Sep 2018 16:00:00 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=62111 Read more ›]]> One major development – and a much welcome one – that is evolving starting this month is the putting up by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) of the P52 billion power linkage network between Mindanao and the Visayas.

This project will assure not only stability and quality power to residential consumers but also to commercial and industrial customers of electricity in these two regional groups of the country.

Based on NGCP’s daily Power Situation Outlook published in the country’s major broadsheets, the most precarious supply situation as of last Thursday is that of the Visayas islands. The entire area has a total of 1,898 megawatt available capacity. The systems peak demand however, on that day was at 1,851, leaving only a measly 47 megawatt reserve. Luzon has a total available capacity of 11,545 mW with a peak demand of 9,330. So its gross power reserve is at a high of 2,215. Meanwhile, Mindanao registered a total available capacity last Thursday of 2,427 mW power provided by a combined hydro, coal and thermal generating plants. The island’s peak demand was at 1,736 megawatt of power, leaving a gross reserve of 689 mW.

For now the power situation in the Visayas is chilling especially to businesses and industries with large power requirements. Should any of the area’s power plants conk out, there is strong likelihood that economic activities will also be disrupted. And that would be disastrous.

However, once the NGCP interconnection project between Mindanao and the Visayas is completed and operational any shortfall in that part of the country can be compensated with the reserve power from Mindanao.

Indeed the implementation of this project of the power grid operator is one big cause for celebration. Imagine, this Mindanao-Visayas interconnection has been dreamed of as early as the 1980s! And it was only last year that the project was approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)! That is almost half a century of waiting!

We have taken up this subject in this column at least two times already. We are taking this up again today because it seems some officials at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) are maintaining a “no see-no hear-no read” position on the issue. It is also possible that they just simply ignore public observations that are brought to the open through our intervention.

We are referring to nationally and locally funded infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and school buildings that are glaringly wanting compliance of certain requirements.

Yes, we had been moving around Davao City as part of our performance of journalistic duties and responsibilities. In several barangays in Tugbok district we have noted that there are several multi-storey school building projects funded by the national government rising. We cannot help but appreciate the implementation of these projects. This means the government is doing its responsibilities for the benefit of the people.

But there is one thing that could be considered a cause for public concern. It is the failure of the DPWH to have the project contractors comply with the requirement to put up billboards in the project vicinity complete with critical information the public deserve to know. The billboards are to contain information on the project like the budget, contracted cost, completion date per contract, and name of contractor.

However, in the many national school projects we have seen to have the billboards, spaces intended for information on budget and contract cost are left blank. It’s somewhat intriguing why such important details on the project are not given. We are also at a loss why the DPWH seems to condone such infraction.

And there is this other project that we have noted wanting in compliance of the same requirement. It is the ongoing expansion of the Catalunan Grande barangay road from a two-lane stretch to a four-lane thoroughfare.

We have seen several billboards containing some details on the said project installed in strategic areas in the entire stretch. Again, the project budget and contract cost are missing. It however, contains the contracted completion date, which the contractor might have regretted putting in. The completion date is supposed to be last January 2018 yet. But it’s already September or eight months late and our estimate of the completion rate is still between 50 to 60 percent. So, when can this road expansion project be completed? We do not see a January 2019 completion.

Really, we do not know why this aspect of the government’s transparency mantra seems hard for DPWH to have its contractor comply.

Meanwhile, we have also observed some local government infrastructure projects having billboards complete with all the information required. But we have noted that the winning contractors appear to have nearly hit the bull’s eye with bid amounts too close to the allocated budget. Their bids are only a few thousands, even hundred pesos, short.

So, the non-winning bidders could possibly be submitting proposals higher by centavos, pesos, hundreds, or thousands than the lowest bid. They could not have submitted bids higher than the estimated project cost which the project owner provides the prospective bidders as a matter of procedure. So, what’s behind this “phenomenon?”

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Rough Cuts: Will sales or consumption statistics show? http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-will-sales-or-consumption-statistics-show/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-will-sales-or-consumption-statistics-show/#comments Thu, 13 Sep 2018 16:00:08 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=62047 Read more ›]]> It’s a good thing that the local electric utility in Davao City will be holding a Construction Workers Day on Sept. 30, 2018 at the Almendras Gym.

We have learned earlier from the company’s corporate communication unit that the activity will endeavor to appraise the construction workers of the dangers they will be facing when doing their job closer to high voltage power lines.

According to Ross Luga, Corporate Communications Asst. Vice President of Davao Light and Power Co., the local power distributor of Davao City and part of Davao del Norte, during the meeting with construction workers and officials of construction companies the utility will also present appropriate measures that have to be done in order to avoid the risk of electrocution.

The utility executive emphasizes the need for the contractors to coordinate with the company’s engineering unit so that even before the start of construction works potential danger areas can already be pinpointed and safety measures are adopted.

Yes, we agree with the observation of certain sectors in the city that there were a number of electrocution cases in the past most of these fatal.

But learning some lessons from those unfortunate incidents and doing what is necessary to avoid it from happening again is one welcome development.

After all, there is nothing too late a measure to take if it would mean the safety and security of lives of people.

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There is a move by the government to increase the number of maternity leave days for working women in the country. That is, from the current 60 days to 100 days with pay.

This has already hurdled at the Lower House and a Senate version could be put in the agenda sooner. If this proposal eventually becomes a law it would mean there is need to beef up the financial reserves of both the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to ensure that the fund life of these two pension and social services entities will not be further shortened.

Thus, on the part of the government as employer, more budget will be needed by the various agencies. On the other hand, private employers will have to cough up bigger money when they have to increase the percentage of their share in the SSS and PhilHealth premium contributions when the pension firm implements a raise in contribution rate.

But even as this is not yet happening since the Senate version of the Maternity Leave days raise has still to be tackled, private companies could already be preparing measures to resort to ahead of the passage of such maternity leave days increase law.

And one possible serious repercussion is that private corporations may now be possibly thinking of limiting acceptance of female applicants even if they are qualified to the position applied. It would not also be surprising if in the very near future positions traditionally held by women would be found in the hands of men.

The other possibility is that private businesses will suddenly become strong advocates of family planning. Perhaps during job interviews on female applicants questions on family size and how it is answered could be a major determinant in the decision of management to accept or reject the application. That, without doubt, is one subtle way of discriminating women in the work force.

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A published report quoting the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) as source, says the Davao Region or Southern Mindanao, has registered an average of 7.1 percent inflation rate in the month of August 2018. The rate, according to the PSA, is higher than the national average of 6.4 percent as of the same period.

According to the same report quoting the PSA, the biggest contributor to the region’s 7.1% inflation are the increases in the prices of such commodities as alcoholic beverages and tobacco products which registered a rate of 161.9 percent.

Well, with such whooping rate of inflation in alcoholic beverages and tobacco, housewives would have reasons to celebrate. But no, not yet.

Perhaps it would interest everyone, as it interests us, if the PSA would be able to provide the sales figures or consumption volume in the entire Davao Region of the herein-mentioned products. If there is a commensurate decrease in the sales or consumption of alcoholic beverages and tobacco then there is reason to believe that the drinkers and smokers in the region already feel the pinch of the 161.9 inflation rate of products to feed their vices. But if the sales volume has remained the same, or has even increased, then it would be safe to say that the drinking and smoking sectors in the Davao Region have not at all minded the staggering cost of perpetuating their favorite diversions.

So, women of the households, do not celebrate yet.

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Rough Cuts: Waiting for October http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-waiting-for-october/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-waiting-for-october/#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2018 16:00:17 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61928 Read more ›]]> It is barely a month to the dates within which candidates for local and national positions for the 2019 mid-tern elections will have to file their certificate of candidacy.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has set the date for filing on Oct. 1 to 5, 2018.

This early (or should it be this late?) those who are contemplating to run for an elective position are already searching the deepest recesses of their minds whether to proceed or cancel their ambition. And those who are aiming to run but are unlikely to be taken as official candidates of the well-established political parties, especially the administration, should be the ones to do the soul searching.

In other words, affiliation with a strong and well-endowed party is of primordial consideration in determining one’s chances of winning. Personal resources could only be secondary even as these are acknowledged as one enticing factor to be considered in getting accommodated to the so-called official slate of the more established political groups.

We have no doubt that in Davao City’s political arena the situation for now appears to be a “wait-and-see” scenario. Mayor Inday Sara’s politics-related pronouncements for the 2019 polls are keenly monitored. Her every step as well as body language, is being analyzed by both local and national political observers.

There are a number of people who believe that the lady mayor of Davao City is aiming a run for the Senate. This after Mayor Sara organized first with fellow Davao Region local government chief executives, then later with other governors and mayors of other Mindanao provinces and cities, the “Hugpong sa Pagbabago,” supposedly a local political party only.

The sudden gravitation of political luminaries outside of Mindanao to Sara’s home-grown Hugpong sa Pagbabago all the more heightened suspicion that the Davao City mayor would leave her local post and seek for a national elective office. And not a few discounted the possibility of her running for the Senate.

Personally, we agree with the observation of many. That is, that Mayor Inday could be aiming for a national position; that she is even looking forward to the highest office of the land that is now occupied by her father President Rodrigo Duterte. But of course, we believe that that is not for the immediate.

Our take is that what Mayor Inday is doing now is laying the foundation so that when she runs for a national elective position she is well-grounded on a base that is solid as rock that can withstand the rigors of a national campaign.

So, when Mayor Inday’s Hugpong-endorsed candidates both in the local and national positions will have gotten a good number of winners, then that could be good signs for the Davao City mayor to pursue her political plan at the national level.

In short, Mayor Inday will not be running for the Senate come May, 2019 mid-term elections. She will run for reelection as Davao City mayor.

Who will she be in tandem with? Here comes the more interesting part of the local political contest.

We all know that right now Vice Mayor Dr. Bernie Al-ag is not hiding his own ambition to continue serving the city in his current capacity. And he can only do that by running for the position – and winning – that he is currently holding brought about by the resignation of then Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte. And VM Bernie knows getting elected to the post is much more fulfilling compared to having it courtesy of an appointment. So VM Al-ag may have to find ways to have his Hugpong sa TawongLungsod, or the lady Mayor’s own Hugpong, recognize his capability and winnability.

Of course VM Al-ag’s way to the Hugpong’s benediction is known to be strewn with stumbling blocks.
We can already see this through the many tarpaulin notices posted in various strategic locations all over the city. These tarps have the inscription, “January in May.” Note that in this three-worded phrase the first and the third words which are joined by the preposition “in” are names of months. The former seemingly wants Davaoenos to remember a name. The latter reminds of the month when the mid-term elections will be held. So, how do you read the message imparted on those tarpaulin signage?

Our take is that January refers to the wife of resigned VM Pulong. January who is currently the Barangay Captain of Catalunan Grande could be groomed for the Vice Mayor position and by family affiliation she could be a formidable rival to VM Al-ag for the blessing of the Hugpong party.
Meanwhile, if Mayor Inday would be running for reelection who is her likely opponent? Out answer is that, it all depends on whether the Duterte and the Nograles (former House Speaker Boy Nograles) political detente will still hold with the clearly known plans from both sides.

Remember that some three weeks ago former VM Pulong expressed his availability to be back in the political harness. And he did not categorically deny that he is eyeing for the congressional seat in the city’s first district.

Then, late last week also, Mayor Inday who attended a meeting of local executives in Mandaue City, Cebu, openly endorsed Davao City’s first district last termer Rep. KarloNograles for senator. So, that would leave the first district with Karlo’s brother PBA Partylist congressman Jericho Nograles as the potential candidate to be fielded by the Nograles group. And may be, in the evaluation of Hugpong’s political strategists, Jericho is the beatable candidate. So the Hugpong leaders may be thinking that former VM Pulong may not have a rough sailing if he faces a candidate like Karlo.

But then, that would be the end of the Duterte-Nograles political detente, a “live and let live” kind of political co-existence.

Given this likely scenario will the Nograles side just take it sitting down? Will it not do the rub on the Duterte end?

This certainly is worth watching and discussing over cups of coffee or even bottles of beer.

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Rough Cuts: Fairness needed in Shrine Hills land use http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-fairness-needed-in-shrine-hills-land-use/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-fairness-needed-in-shrine-hills-land-use/#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2018 01:05:02 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61888 ]]> We commiserate with the plight of people who have acquired lots on top of Shrine Hills in Matina, Davao City.

They are now facing the possibility of being denied their right to maximize the use of their lot with the proposal of environmental non-government organization (NGO) Interface Development Interventions (IDIS). The group has proposed to the Davao City Council to add a new amendment to the Zoning Ordinance which is to allocate 75% of their land as ecological sub-zones. In effect, the lot owners will only have 25% left for them to put up development.

At the same time, the Shrine Hills lot/homeowners are saying that they are also facing the possibility of being slapped huge fines if they already have introduced development in their property after 2013. According to Nelson Go, a director of the Shrine Hills Home/Lot Owners Association, the amendment in the Zoning Ordinance in 2013 included a moratorium on new building construction at their area. Unfortunately, according to Go, they were not informed and the local government seems to have no efforts to advise them on the matter.

Thus, according to the association director, many homeowners have introduced additional improvements on their existing developments, and some lot owners also built new structures occupying areas over the IDIS-recommended 25%.

The Zoning Ordinance as amended in 2013, slaps a P500 per day administrative penalty on those who built new structures effective immediately after the amendment took effect.

Now let us take the first case. That is, the IDIS proposal to allow the lot owners to use for development only 25 percent of their property.

Mark T. Penalver, program coordinator of IDIS, asserts that “adding development to Shrine Hills without mitigating measures to ensure stability will cause more tragedies.”

In saying this, we assume that IDIS believes any development occupying over and above the 25% maximum proposed by the environment group would be too much weight to bear by the hills. As consequence, the areas around its foot may be endangered and the communities in the lower areas put in jeopardy.

We have no doubt that IDIS is correct in its assessment. But we have also seen quite vividly the weakness in the same analysis of the Shrine Hills situation.

Yes, if the hills are to be structurally disturbed on its top by putting so much weight in terms of development, the base may not hold and landslides could occur. So the IDIS believes that by limiting the level of development that lot owners could introduce to only 25% would be enough assurance that future disasters like landslides would not happen.

In the same vein, however, IDIS also says that if proper mitigating measures are introduced, landslides may be prevented from happening.

Well now, if this is so, why did IDIS not recommend that government, both local and national, implement projects that would mitigate the effect of development made over the 25% of lots on top of Shrine Hills? Instead, the NGO wanted to have the owners give up their rights to put in place development in the 75% so this could be included in the so-called ecological sub-zone imposed through an amendment in the Zoning Ordinance.

What made the group think that denying the lot owners their right to maximize the use of their property would be the better option to save the hills and the communities around its base?

Yes, there is no argument as to the correctness of the assessment of IDIS that putting up mitigating projects can curtail the possibility of future degradation of the Shrine Hills thereby preventing landslides to happen and bring heavy destruction on the communities surrounding its foot. The mitigating projects can also be reinforced with appropriate regulations from the city government without necessarily compromising the hill top home/lot owners’ right to a big portion of their possession.

For example, the City Council, in coordination with the City Engineer’s Office (CEO), the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and in close consultation with stakeholders, can come up with policies regulating the kind of horizontal or vertical development that can be undertaken on the top of the hills. And these must cover even those developments introduced by the government.

We think that if the city government considers these hybrid mitigating measures we can be certain that nobody will lose. These can be the only “win-win” solutions that can be fair to all stakeholders in that part of the city.

Meanwhile, IDIS itself also admitted that there were lapses in the information dissemination on the part of the city with regards to the imposition of the “No New Build” provision at Shrine Hills in the 2013 amendment of the Zoning Ordinance.

Thus, we recommend that the environmental advocacy group IDIS should also endorse the request of Shrine Hills homeowners for an executive clemency in the payment of P500 per day administrative penalty. That would make IDIS a fair player in its advocacy endeavor.

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Rough Cuts: Turmoil in the legal community http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-turmoil-in-the-legal-community/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-turmoil-in-the-legal-community/#comments Thu, 06 Sep 2018 16:00:10 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61848 Read more ›]]> The circumstances surrounding the voiding by Malacanang of the amnesty given to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV look very familiar even as it is closely similar to the ones leading to the filing of a Quo Warranty case against then Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno who was eventually ousted by her peers at the Supreme Court.

Yes, this already chilling phrase void Ab Initio or void from the beginning has become some kind of the Damocles sword to some people occupying critical positions in government.

In other words, we suspect that it is possible the filing of a Quo Warranto case against the ousted CJ Sereno was a test case for Malacanang that has evolved into a precedent jurisprudence to be referred to in cases against officials who may be similarly situated.

We now feel with some degree of certainty that the granting of the Quo Warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida is now being used as basis for the issuance of the Presidential Proclamation voiding the grant of amnesty to Senator Trillanes IV. Trillanes and his Magdalo group were charged with offenses like coup d’etat by the administration of then President and now Speaker of the House Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He and his followers were also facing court martial proceedings. All these were offshoots of Trillanes group’s Oakwood mutiny, Manila Peninsula occupation, and their participation in the so-called Marine stand-off supposedly to manifest their disdain on the corruption in the Armed Forces and the government. In 2011 they were given amnesty by then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

In the withdrawal of the Trillanes amnesty the Presidential Proclamation cited as primary reason the amnestied senator’s failure to comply with the main requirements of the grant of amnesty. And these are his supposed non-submission of application for amnesty, and his continued non-admission of the crimes charged against him and his group. This citation in the Presidential Proclamation is buttressed by sworn statements by officials of government offices that are the repository of such documents.

Explaining the proclamation further Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that without any copy of sworn documents anent the compliance of primary requirements the Aquino grant of amnesty to Trillanes, even if concurred by Congress, could not be held effective right from the start. So Malacanang lawyers, no doubt with substantial inputs from the SolGen and reference to the successful Quo Warranto petition against Sereno, may have confidently given the President the go-signal to void the Trillanes amnesty.

Another condition that is considered built-in in any amnesty grant is that the beneficiary of such act is deemed to have committed not to repeat the crime he is presumed to have committed, or do anything that is prejudicial to the government or the general public. And this, according to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo in a television interview over GMA’s Unang Hirit last Wednesday morning, Senator Trillanes continues to ignore. Panelo added that Trillanes keeps his unsubstantiated attacks against both the administration and the person of the President to the point of already committing sedition.

Meanwhile, Trillanes is insisting that he has complied with all the conditions of the amnesty grant except the crime charged against him and his group which is mounting coup d’etats against then President Arroyo’s government.

In media interviews the senator, showing a military man’s composure, said that the clearest proof of his and his group’s compliance of the amnesty requirements is the amnesty itself. According to Trillanes the amnesty would not have been granted at all if he and his group did not apply for it. And it is the same reason why Congress concurred the Aquino proclamation, Trillanes told media in an ambush interview in the Senate.

As to his vehement attacks on Duterte and his administration the senator showed no qualm in saying he is merely doing his job as an opposition and as the people’s watchdog against the excesses and the “dictatorial tendency” of the Duterte leadership. Commenting on the voiding of the amnesty grant for him he waxes defiance saying that he is not afraid of Duterte and that what the President is doing is clear political persecution against those who dare to cross sword with him.

From where we are perched we are seeing the polarization of people on this issue. There are brewing debates as to the constitutionality of the Duterte proclamation with arguments presented clearly defining where those engaged in the discussion of the issue stand.

And surely, when this matter is brought to the lap of the Supreme Court to have the issue of constitutionality resolved, the issue would probably get even hotter, depending on how the High Court decides on the matter.

Imagine the assertion of administration critics that the Sereno ouster was orchestrated by Malacanang, and that the appointment of CJ Teresita Leonardo de Castro is a “reward” for her manifest dislike of the ousted former Chief Justice!

Already, there are insinuations and intrigues that De Castro’s appointment is Malacanang’s elaborate preparation for the voiding of the Trillanes amnesty.

Indeed, the legal community of the country is again put into the vortex of a turmoil the final resolution of which may cause sleepless nights among lawyers — practitioners and those tasked to settle issues on laws and to dispense justice.

The current Trillanes amnesty voiding issue is worth every Filipino’s anxious waiting, even if it takes a much longer time.

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Rough Cuts: Helping DTI and DA locate the ‘culprits’ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-helping-dti-and-da-locate-the-culprits/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-helping-dti-and-da-locate-the-culprits/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2018 16:00:21 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61727 Read more ›]]> After attending mass last Sunday we did our usual wet market chores while the woman of the house was doing her rounds at a grocery store.

We were aghast to the maximum when we found out that the cost of one most needed items in the market, the “sayote,” (large) costs P5 apiece. Three weeks ago the vegetable was sold by ambulant vendors P10 per three pieces. Two Sundays ago “sayote” was sold at P4 a piece. Last Sunday we felt our blood pressure shot up when the very store we have been regularly buying our vegetable supplies for a week was already selling the “sayote” at P20 per 3 pieces.

We could not help but raise our voice to emphasize our disgust. The increase of that particular vegetable alone was 100 percent in only two weeks’ time. We felt it was like a highway robbery. This time though, the economic crime is done inside the public market. The voices around us were all about complaints of the sharp price hike of wet market merchandise.

We also found out that some other vegetables and market items like fish increased in cost by as much as P70 to P100 per kilo. The so-called fish for the poor, the “matambaka,” a month ago cost between P150 to P170 per kilo. Last Sunday it was already sold at P240 a kilo.

We tried to calm ourselves down by seeking some explanations from the vegetable retailers why, despite the proximity of the market to the source which is the highland farms in Marilog district, the cost per kilo has gone so exorbitant that it is already almost beyond the reach of the ordinary wage earners.

From the almost similar explanations we got we feel that maybe the officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Agriculture (DA) can take stock and perhaps they may finally be able to pinpoint who are crucifying the ordinary man with the high prices not just of farm products but also of other basic commodities.

According to the market retailers we have talked to, much as they would want to commiserate with the buying public, they are totally out of control in determining the prices of vegetables. Primarily, this is because they are only small players trying to eke a living selling the commodities in the market.

They explained that some small farmers in Marilog and other vegetable-producing areas of Davao City used to sell them direct their products. Now, these farmers are no longer selling to them; they are under the stranglehold of big-time “compradors” that are using middlemen to complete their dominance of the farm products trade. These big-time farms produce traders, using their built-in financial capital advantage, are able to “chain” the farmers to deal only with them. That is, that to make certain the vegetable producers do not sell their produce to small buyers, they offer them cash loans to buy farm inputs like pesticides, fertilizers, and even labor cost.

The big-time “compradors” that lord it over the city’s major markets like Bankerohan and Agdao, even offer to give the farmers hassle-free transport of their products as they are the ones that pick the vegetables up in designated areas that are most accessible.

Also, according to the market retailers, every time the bulk supplies of farm products reach the city’s main markets the so-called “jamboleros” working allegedly under the “baton” of certain market officials, collect a minimum of P1 per kilo. This, according to retailers we have talked to, will assure the “compradors” that their items will be unloaded at the most desirable areas of the markets for easier access by their dealers coming from all over the city as well as those who are from other areas in the country.

They added that when the P1 per kilo “taripa” transaction is done the “compradors” have to deal with the labor cost in bringing their merchandise to their bodegas or their respective market stalls. The second level “compradors” or traders that will distribute the vegetable products in the city’s satellite markets or elsewhere, then assume the cost of transport to which smaller markets they will bring the vegetables and other farm produce. And this add-on expense is over and above the purchase cost from the main traders.

And again, added the market vegetable retailers, as these vegetables enter the satellite markets, prescribed market fees have to be paid. But still, “jamboleros” allegedly operating under the “instructions” of unscrupulous market officials, this time collect P20 per sack. Then labor cost will again be paid the “kargadors.”

Apparently, all these costs, both incurred under the legitimate business transactions and the access “facilitation” deals, are factored by the retailers in their final determination of the price tag per kilo of each of their products on sale with some reasonable profit on top.

Given these scenarios in the trading of farm produce in Davao City, we believe that the local government has already the solution needed to correct this inequity. And it is the “bagsakan” center for farm products like vegetables that is undergoing construction somewhere in Daliao, Toril. If this will finally be operational and works in accordance with its defined objectives, then both the farmers and the big-time traders will have a venue for transactions that would be fair for them both. Of course that is on the assumption that by the time the “Bagsakan” is open, the farmers have already unshackled themselves from the bondage of indebtedness to the traders.

Meanwhile, we could not imagine that given these scenarios in the market, still the DTI and the DA would remain unable to identify who are behind the crucifixion of both the farmers and the consumers. They cannot be naïve forever. Or, would the people in the two government agencies rather prefer to be “ignorant,” purporting not to know the culprits for their own selfish motives?

 

 

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Rough Cuts: Likely city political scenarios in 2019 http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-likely-city-political-scenarios-in-2019/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-likely-city-political-scenarios-in-2019/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2018 01:27:49 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61675 ]]> We would like to share with our readers some revealing, even disturbing observations we have while doing our daily rounds of the city in the performance of our responsibility as journalist.

In certain very strategic areas along most used city roads we have seen rising over the last few weeks billboards with inscriptions like the following:

Go/Bato sa Senado 2019 (at the Bankerohan Bridge 2 approach). January in May (in a conspicuous site along another widely used road). Many other billboards both large and medium sized, with similar inscriptions on them have been observed dominating the Davao City landscape. Any ordinary citizen can easily understand the message.

No matter how the personalities involved will deny that they are running or entertaining idea to run come the 2019 elections they betrayed their real intention by allowing the installation of such billboards.

So, if the Charter change is assumed approved and its ratification is to come in a separate exercise after the May 2019 mid-term elections, then we can safely say that what most political families are doing now is engaging in a “beating the political red light” game. That is, for close relative politicians to be already in place ahead of the anti-dynasty provision in the new Charter.

Other aspiring politicians who are not related to those in power except by the ties of close friendship and personal association, they, too, are simply employing the art of beating around the bush in the matter of interpreting the election code’s provision on early campaigning.

Yes, they could be banking on the advice of their lawyers that putting giant billboards with their faces dominating the tarpaulin spaces together with the inscriptions suggestive of their intention to run, is not and cannot be an act of early campaigning. Why, because these are put up way ahead of the campaign period and nothing is inscribed expressly soliciting the public’s vote.

Again, theirs is another way of beating the political “red light.”

And speaking of elections, it is barely a little over a month for aspiring politicians and those intending to remain in their current elective post or wanting to move to another higher elective position, to be filing their certificates of candidacy.

We have talked with some so-called political observers both coffee shop standbys and those street side viewers, and they seem to have closely similar readings on Davao City’s political situation.

They somehow agree with our own view that Mayor Inday Sara would rather run for reelection and strengthen her newly acquired role as a political king maker of sort. They also believe that while Vice Mayor Bernie Al-ag is very much interested to run for the post that he is occupying now, he is constrained by the thought that the Party that he is affiliated with, the local Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod formed by no less than the former City Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte, may have some other person in mind. And this doubt was buttressed by a recent statement from Hugpong stalwart, second district councilor Danny Dayanghirang, who admitted the party is considering a January Duterte run for the Vice Mayorship.

In this case VM Bernie will just have to abort his desire to become an elected Vice Mayor of Davao City. For how long, only a New Charter can answer.

Meanwhile, the same coffee shop-based and street side political analysts are also one in their views that the present “detente” entered into by and between the Duterte and Nograles political bands could be headed to a dissolution.

Incumbent first district Congressman Karlo Nograles, while somehow definite of his plan to run for the Senate, could end up in the line-up of a Party outside Inday Sara’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s support. That is, if we have to read between the lines in President Duterte’s statement that the PDP-Laban Party that carried his candidacy for the Presidency, is “losing its relevance” as an offshoot of the split immediately after the change in the House speakership.

So, according to these two groups of political pundits, the Nograles group will put up Karlo’s brother, now PBA Partylist congressman Jericho “Koko” Nograles in the slot the former will vacate. But they also said that the Hugpong leaders are pushing resigned Vice Mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte to run for Congressman in the first district. And Pulong himself is insinuating he is willing to be pushed — even shoved — even as he claimed he still would get the nod of the party leadership and of his family for his final decision.

In this situation, our friend political observers are saying that given a longer and more expensive shot for the Senate, Karlo may end up running for mayor against Inday Sara, if only to retain the Nograles political base.

This multi-political observer groups’ analysis, if it happens, could be one interesting development in Davao City politics where excitement in the past many political seasons has been reduced to the barest minimum for luck of contest.

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Rough Cuts: Congressman Karlo’s next best move http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-congressman-karlos-next-best-move/ http://mindanaotimes.net/rough-cuts-congressman-karlos-next-best-move/#comments Sun, 02 Sep 2018 16:00:11 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61631 Read more ›]]> We strongly agree with the proposition of Davao City Councilor Dr. Mary Joselle Villafuerte, widow of our very good friend, the late councilor Louie Villafuerte, that as the “Most Child-friendly City in the Country” awardee, “we must do more than just report these incidences of sexual abuse; we must institute protective and preventive measures.”

Yes, the councilor is right even as we see that she appears to be beaten to the draw by Davao City Police Office (DCPO) director Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum. The latter, in an earlier nationwide interview over a radio/television network, disclosed that the Davao Police is shifting to another approach in dealing with the increasing number of rape cases in the city. According to the Police Director his office would institute a strategy that would put more premium on information, education and communication (IEC) component on the drive against this heinous crime against the female genre.

In that interview the Police Director said he believes that the bigger role in the prevention of the crime of rape lies with potential victims and her prevailing family values. In interpreting Tagum’s idea we can say that the official believes that a potential victim can best protect herself by not giving any man she suspects to possess devilish mind any opportunity to develop any lewd idea, much more the chance to execute his carnal desire on her.

Thus, Tagum seems to hit the nail on the head when he thought of educating potential rape victims on how they could avoid the heinous crime against their person, or secure help when confronted by a potential rapist.

On the other hand, the police official’s plan to look into the prevailing family values and to possibly change these for the better through the IEC approach, could also be a good deterrence from incest rapes.

So, we consider Councilor Villafuerte’s plan for a multi-agency effort to arrest the increasing incidence of rape cases is a timely move. And by calling for joint committee hearings among relevant Sanggunian bodies to brainstorm for an effective approach against the crime, Davao may just be able to escape the potential tagging of the city as a “rape capital.”

For now, Davao’s having the most number of rape cases in the entire country, according to police record and admitted by Police Director Tagum, is clearly doing injustice to city’s being known as a virtual “drug free” metropolis.

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Davao City First District Congressman Karlo Alexie Nograles, chair of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, has called out the National Food Authority (NFA) for using billions of pesos in funds for its palay procurement program to pay off the agency’s loans with the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

According to Congressman Karlo he himself discovered the new unauthorized use of the fund by the NFA which was on top of what the Commission on Audit (COA) has already raised a red flag. In other words, the discovery of Congressman Karlo is a new diversion of funds that should have been used for the purchase of palay or import rice from other countries, to accumulate a comfortable level of buffer stock that would ensure food stability for the country.

Good thing that this seemingly very anomalous utilization of the NFA money at the national level has already reached the knowledge of Congress, first through the COA report, and now through the discovery by no less than House Appropriations Committee chair Congressman Karlo Nograles.

But we believe there is one question begging for a clear answer. And this is, “Who makes the decision on matters like diverting funds intended for a specific purpose to another projects or programs of the agency?” Is it the NFA Council? Has the agency a board, other than the NFA Council, that sets policies and approves any or all programs and projects that need to be undertaken for the agency to get its mandate done?

It is our take that this time Davao City Congressman Karlo Nograles should not only limit his intervention on the mess created by the NFA on the rice supply situation of the country. The Congressman must initiate an investigation on the conduct of the NFA’s affair. After all, it is Nograles’ committee that sets aside the more than P7 billion funds for the grains agency’s Buffer Stocking Program both for rice importation and for in-country’s palay procurement.

Indeed, even the dumb can understand that if P5 billion is taken from the P7 billion funds for rice procurement, the remaining P2 billion or less would not be enough to buy the target buffer stock of 153,483 metric tons of rice. And the preceding figure is even that of last year yet! How much more for this year’s desired buffer stock?

All these developments only further strengthen the call for the abolition, or perhaps restructuring of the NFA.

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