It’s somewhat reassuring and a big relief for Filipinos that the Philippines no longer appears on the top list of Transparency International (TI) as among the most corrupt nations in the world today.
How did we manage to do it as a people? Not much at all, it seems. It just came almost as a natural consequence, when vigilant citizens reacted with nationalistic fervor against massive corruption that involved the brazen acts of wholesale corrupt practices by high government officials who allegedly connived with a dubious character by way of manipulating the releases of pork barrel funds allocated to lawmakers through fake non-government organizations or to non-existent foundations to the detriment of their constituencies and the loss of public funds intended for essential community services.
The entire nation went ballistic over the anomaly, denouncing and openly protesting the huge pile of corruption and anomalies that developed into a deluge of multi-billion peso scandals never before seen in this country’s struggling economy.
The scandalous manipulation of the P10-billion peso fund anomaly of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) a.k.a. pork barrel that is now sweeping the entire Philippine bureaucracy, plus the equally-questionable disposal of the multi-billion peso Malampaya funds and the hair-raising Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which are mostly questionable in so far as their constitutionality are concerned all contributed to the people’s dismay and utter frustration.
The culture of impunity and media killings in our midst are still very much apparent in this country today with hundreds of both print and broadcast media practitioners already victimized through the years, but the violence and disregard over the thankless job that media persons perform in defense of press freedom and the people’s right to know do not seem to abate or even strike fear into the hearts and minds of assassins who are apparently hired to liquidate the unarmed and peace-loving victims whose only commitment in their profession is to expose shenanigans and reform our society, even at the sacrifice and risk of their own personal safety and that of their most cherished advocacies in life.
Justice, however, seems to be quite elusive to them and their family even as the unfortunate victims in this country keep mounting with 32 media practitioners in that gory and bloody Maguindanao massacre without any assurance when the suspects could ever be identified or meted justice as soon as possible. For indeed, justice delayed is justice denied. That alone, has been three years ago but still hanging in the balance.
Unless boxing icon Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao finally squares off with undefeated Floyd Mayweather, Jr. next year, his next big fight will no longer be in the boxing ring but undoubtedly in a different venue: the court of tax appeal where he will face a P2.2 billion ($50-M) tax evasion case.
The Pacman’s tax obligations with the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) came out into the open worldwide when no less than the Agence France Presse (AFP) in an international news dispatch titled: "Philippine Taxman Demands Pacquiao to Pay $50-M."
The AFP report quoted Philippine authorities as having demanded last Wednesday that the boxing hero’s assets have been seized and garnished, but the Pacman himself vowed to take the fight to the court of law.
The much-awaited ring victory of boxing idol Emmanuel "Manny" (Pacman) Pacquiao after two successive losses is being heralded and received with enthusiasm and considered a big relief by all Filipinos here and elsewhere in the world as a timely feat that could greatly ease the stress and suffering brought about by natural disasters and adverse circumstances during the past few months.
The news about Pacquiao’s victory in Macau (China)came with an appropriate billing which carried the headline in a dispatch via Yahoo Philippines which said "He’s Back: Pacquiao Batters Rios to Win Lopsided Decision!"
Manny Pacquiao, it claimed, turned back the hands of time with a virtuoso performance against his American-Mexican foe, Brandon Rios from bell to bell en route to an easy unanimous decision victory yesterday, during their "Clash in Cotai," somewhere in Macau, China.
Pacman’s comeback in the ring, he hopes, will also signify the big comeback of his people, specifically those devastated by super typhoon "Yolanda" which left on its wake, a swath of destruction unprecedented in the coutry’s history, killing some 7,000 people, as around 1,600 still remain missing while thousands more have been listed as wounded and homeless.
From hills laid bare by winds to coastlines swamped by floodwaters, the massive swath of destruction across the Philippines city of Tacloban from Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name ‘Yolanda’) is visible even from space.
One of the most powerful storms to ever hit the Philippines and even the world, Super Typhoon Yolanda arrived on Nov. 8 with sustained winds of up 190 mph (305 km/h) in the hours before it made landfall. The aftermath of the storm could be seen before and after false-color images captured by the ASTER sensor aboard NASA’s Terra satellite.
The most dramatic change is in the hills above Tacloban, reports NASA’s Earth Observatory. Comparing ASTER images snapped in 2004 and in 2013, just days after the storm, reveals the hills were stripped bare of vegetation. (Plant-covered land is red; bare ground is tan.)
Along the coast, where a powerful storm surge flooded Tacloban, the ASTER image suggested mud and floodwaters still covered the ground. About 800,000 people were moved to storm shelters, but Yolanda’s deadly flooding reached a height of 20 feet (6 meters) in the central Philippines. Further inland, the blurry outline of the city’s neatly gridded streets could indicate debris blown down by the storm, the Earth Observatory said.
Current estimates place the death toll at more than 4,000 people. Several thousands more remain missing and relief efforts have been hampered by the difficulty of reaching remote islands.
No wonder, speculations are now rife over the possibility that Imelda Marcos’ Jewels Can Help Rehab Leyte.
Opinion: Bayan Muna After Typhoon Yolanda Fury In light of the Massive Damage Caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda
Bayan Muna Calls for Massive Relief Efforts, Asks Congress to Support Free SMS Disaster Alerts Bill
In light of the massive flooding and destruction to life and property affecting the Visayas and parts of Luzon and Mindanao due to the super typhoon Yolanda, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares today appealed to its local chapters, private institutions and various non-government organizations for stepped up relief and rehabilitation efforts in the affected areas.
Colmenares also urged Congress to support House Bill 353 or the Free SMS Disaster Alerts Act which would mandate mobile phone companies to provide free text alerts to citizens in calamity-stricken areas.
Awareness and preparedness are up as the Visayas is expecting another powerful typhoon this Friday and fears for its wrath are up.
Both the national government and local governments have put in place measures to lessen the impact of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) on lives and the economy.
Although the howler’s path is Eastern Visayas, the Western Visayas which is just its closest neighbor should not be complacent. It’s time to be fully prepared adequately prepared every inch of the way.
The local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils (DRRMCs) of the region, namely, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Antique, Aklan, Capiz and Guimaras should not even miss any opportunity to be vigilant every minute of the day or night.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), in its 6am bulletin Wednesday, said the eye of the typhoon was located at 1,411 kms. east of Mindanao with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 185 kph.
The typhoon, which is the 24th cyclone to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) this year, is forecast to make a landfall over the Samar-Leyte provinces.
This month of October marks the 19th anniversary of the NEGROS DAILY BULLETIN as a DAILY PAPER in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, after having survived 34 years of existence as a weekly in 1960 to 1994, twice weekly and later, thrice weekly publication.
It was on October 2, 1994 when NDB finally saw the light of day as a daily newspaper whose mission is true public service through the print media, where the right of the people to be informed is the ultimate goal. From a maiden issue of 18 pages in tabloid offset special edition, the NDB started its impressive thrust into the complicated and uncertain world of community journalism with nothing in its coffers but the faith and determination of its staff to succeed where others failed; with but a few investors, namely its own employees and a few friends in media willing to chip in their meager savings to keep the paper a going concern.
Lady luck at first did not realize the need for a third daily in Bacolod, considering that the NDB did not even own its printing press. At the time, the paper was coming out with the use of a rented printing press owned by Beam Publishing Corporation in Barangay Singcang at the back of Negros Engineering Works, under the leadership of businessman-planter Enrique "Nene" Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP).
Its first few years as a daily was certainly no bed of roses, it had to scrounge around for advertising support from the business community and the civic sectors. Having been confronted with such difficulty, the paper had to reduce its number of pages to just between six and eight pages to save on costs.
Yes, every vote counts, let us not waste our power of one solid, precious vote in today’s barangay polls that will determine the fate of our community, our smallest but vital unit of government- the BARANGAY.
Indeed, every ballot means a lot to our people and the future of our community for it is here where big things start and where small beginnings emanate, where the grassroots of our populace are able to form their own opinions and nurture their hopes to influence the thinking and collective action of the masses towards community vigilance, active involvement towards nation building that would help build an enlightened citizenry and become responsible members of society.
One vote has the distinct power to change the course of history, determine the thrust of good governance towards a choice of leaders who will either transform our people’s hopes and aspirations into reality and towards development and prosperity or if we fail to exercise our right to vote today, might lead us to economic ruin and frustrations we will always regret.
The new Lady Dotor, Christine Jane Toga with her father Pert Toga, NDB Editor-in-Chief after the FEU graduation rites at the AFP Theater in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.* (H. James Toga photo)