Tuesday, December 29, 2015

An Unconventional Holiday Season

Well, it certainly has been an eventful holiday season. Grace Poe is fighting an ongoing battle to legitimize her claim of being a natural born Filipino as well as a qualified presidential candidate. Ms Philippines was also able to bring home the title of Ms. Universe to the delight of millions of Filipinos. The NBA has been full of story lines from Golden State's dominance to Kobe's retirement tour. While PBA playoffs have been really exciting lately.

Whether you're a follower of everything politics or sports or beauty pageants, which should encompass most Filipinos, I'm sure you can label your holiday season as "eventful" or "exciting". As for me, it's been rather different.

For the past few holiday seasons, I just simply did my thing. My birthday falls within the season and I have multiple Christmas parties to which I usually look forward. Getting drunk and adding to my already burgeoning waistline was the norm.

This particular holiday season has been anything but normal though. Never mind that a couple of my close friends got married. It's been different because of one name: Nona.

Typhoon Nona really packed a punch. Though it did not affect us here in Laguna, it really did a number on my parents' home province of Oriental Mindoro. My relatives in Calapan live in well-built homes and were relatively safe. It's my mother's town of Victoria that really felt the power of Nona.

Typhoon Nona's winds ripped away roofs of the kubos of Victoria. It left trees bent and plants uprooted. Power lines were devastated leading to a power outage that has lasted until today, around ten days later. Crops were destroyed and animals were exposed to crippling weather. My aunt and uncles' small farm suffered quite a bit as their trees were destroyed. They lost a few ducks, chickens and a couple of piglets. Those are pretty substantial loses considering they only operate at a small scale. But then again, their luckier than most who lost all their livestock and crops not to mention a relative or two.

Typhoon Nona was really strong. It may not have been as strong as Yolanda or Sendong but it was strong nonetheless. My aunt, a former cop, relayed information that the town of Baco is withholding their true death toll which according to her reached the hundreds. The mayor of Victoria which is a distant relative apparently won't accept help from NGO's in an attempt to save face for the elections. Hopefully, she received wrong information and Baco is safe. Hopefully, my distant relatives are doing what's best for the town of Victoria even if it goes against what my family sees of that clan.

Nona has turned my family's holiday season upside down. Because of the destruction in Victoria, my aunt and two uncles there celebrated their Christmas here in Laguna. I had to help out as our helper was given the holiday off. One of my aunts came home from Vietnam and my sister came from Singapore to celebrate with us along with my other relatives here in Laguna. It was fun. It's not what we usually do for Christmas but fun nonetheless.

Today, my uncles and aunt return to Victoria as they attempt to get their lives back to the way it was. Their eight hour travel time won't come close to the journey they are going to take back to normalcy. But hey, they've done this their whole lives. We, as Filipinos, have done this our whole lives.

This may have been an unconventional holiday for me personally. But in the sense of being Filipino, what is a conventional holiday season? We got hit by Yolanda, Ruby and Sendong near the holidays. Some of us lost loved ones during the Christmas tsunamis a few years back. Remember the Rizal Day bombings? If Nona didn't hit, I'd be treating a hang over right now after a long night of drinking with my brothers and sister or my friends. But sometimes, more often here in the Philippines, the holiday season is as much about vacations, consuming or loving each other as it is just getting through life.

Happy holidays everyone

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Problem with Celebrities Endorsing Politicians

I don't watch teleseryes voluntarily. My only exposure to them is brought about by my mom's incessant "tampo" whenever I change the channel. She would always say "ito na nga lang kaligayahan ko (this is my only source of happiness)". Of course, I have no choice whenever those words are said and simply surrender the remote of our living room TV even if she has a TV of her own in her room.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes, teleseryes can be entertaining. But to enjoy them fully, you have to endure tons of advertising. That's the deal breaker right there. I was tempted to watch Pangako Sa'yo because it brings out a lot of memories of the early 2000's when I was forced to watch it because of my mom. But the commercials really sucked the enjoyment out of watching the show.

Commercials suck. They ruin shows for me. But I won't go as far as saying that I hate them. I mean, they do serve a purpose even though I frown upon certain types of commercials like the ones promoting medicine. They inform us of new products and to top it off, the salaries our talented actors and production crew receive mostly come from them. They have their benefits. I don't like watching Alden Richards and Yaya Dub promoting Mcdo three times in a span of five minutes. But at the same time, I understand it.

However, this level of understanding I have for celebrities endorsing products is not present in political endorsements. I usually hate it when celebrities endorse political candidates.

Now, don't misinterpret me here. I love that celebrities are politically aware. I understand that they have a voice and they have the right to promote someone who they believe can mold this country into a prosperous land. I don't blame these celebrities at all. There are just some things about some celebrity endorsements that screw up our already flawed democracy.

What do I mean by "these celebrities"?

My biggest problem with celebrities endorsing politicians is that we don't really know which ones are genuine endorsements and which ones are mere advertisements. The Brgy. Ginebra basketball team can endorse gin-bulag without me expecting them to actually drink it. They earn millions of pesos a year and we're supposed to think they actually drink gin-bulag? Come on.

Celebrities endorsing products do not require any defense. Anne Curtis can say she likes GSM Blue. Bela Padilla apparently likes San Mig Light. But in reality, these celebrities were chosen by the products. These products believed fully in their endorsers. The endorsers, on the other hand, only believe in the product up to a certain level. That belief in the product won't keep Bela from drinking whatever beer she prefers.

This lack of belief is what irks me whenever I see celebrities endorsing politicians. I don't mind celebrities endorsing products they kinda believe. But once they endorse people for positions that would change the country, they need to be completely behind the person's ideals. They have millions of fans following their lives and they have the ability to influence a few voters. They should keep that in mind when endorsing politicians and only endorse if they are fully aware and fully behind the candidates.

If you think I'm hastily antagonizing the practice of celebrities endorsing politicians, here's a video:

 Juday:And I for one also maybe one way or another believed in her also

Why did Juday endorse Madrigal when she herself is not sure if she completely believed in Jamby?

Celebrity endorsements should not be taken seriously. Unfortunately, it's hard to set aside the fact that these celebrities have strong drawing power. I mean, there's really no study showing their efficacy in getting a politician elected. But if campaign masterminds are willing to pay millions of pesos, just as the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism once reported,  to get these celebrities then who am I to tell them they are wasting money? 

I love it when celebrities become politically aware. I love that Jim Paredes is very open about his belief in the Liberal Party even though I don't fully agree with the LP leaning so hard on PPP's when it comes to major infrastructure. I love the conviction Chito Miranda has when tweeting or posting about Duterte even if I don't appreciate the lack of respect Duterte has for human rights. These are the political endorsements I can appreciate. They are fully behind their candidates and there's no doubt that they are gonna vote for these politicians. Even though their criteria in choosing the candidate are different from mine, at least I know what they are.

Unlike Paredes' or Miranda's endorsements, the ones  we see on TV seem like any other commercial for snacks or appliances. They are hollow and perfect metaphors for our ailing democracy. If celebrities really want to support candidates, they should do it like Paredes and Miranda - void of cheesy song or meaningless one-liners. If they are willing to go on TV and promote their candidates, they should be willing to go on TV to explain why and be scrutinized justly in the same way Miranda and Paredes have exposed themselves on social media. But of course, their parent TV stations won't risk their stars' image being damaged by potentially looking foolish on TV.

Celebrities have political power. They exercise it whenever they tell us which brand of milk to buy or which food joint to check out. Once they exercise it in the realm of governance, their views need to be scrutinized just like the views of their candidates. If their managers won't allow them to go on TV to discuss political matter, at least they must share their views on social media so we can scrutinize them.

The risk for celebrities in endorsing should be correlated to what they are endorsing. If they endorse a brand for something as simple as washing the dishes, then the risk for them should be low. When they endorse someone for something as important as the person who will shape the present and future of the nation, the risk for them should skyrocket.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Reactions to Rodrigo Duterte's Profanity-Filled Proclamation Speech


Putang ina. This particular expression was the go-to-move of aspiring presidentiable Rodrigo Duterte this November 30 when his party PDP-Laban proclaimed him as their standard bearer. It is an expression many find taboo and hurtful. That being said, it is a common expression being used by many of us Filipinos.

Aside from the constant appearance of "putang ina" or any of its varieties, Mayor Duterte also sprinkled some "Fucks", "Fuckshits", jokes about marijuana usage and a reference about masturbation in his speech. It was certainly a colorful, be it, disjointed speech. A portion of the crowd certainly thought so.

That being said, many were not pleased with the mayor's speech.

Gabriela did not appreciate how Duterte nonchalantly admitted having several partners. According to them, "womanizing and treating women as objects are an affront to women and it should not be flaunted".

People from the Roman Catholic church certainly did not appreciate him cursing the pope and making light of how he kills criminals in Davao. Archbishop Oscar Cruz was quoted in a report by GMA saying Duterte is dangerous. He says Duterte only acknowledges his own rights and he is worse than a dictator. As expected, CBCP president Socrates Villegas was also not pleased.

MAYOR DUTERTE?What the world desperately needs now is leadership by example. We have so many leaders in office and...
Posted by Socrates B. Villegas on Monday, 30 November 2015

Mayor Duterte was really on a roll yesterday. He made enemies out of a lot of people. He may have even turned off some of his supporters. It was crazy. Mar Roxas' own "PUTANG INA!" moment paled in comparison to this one. This profanity-laden speech was something special. I can't imagine anything like this happening again in the near future.

That being said, I find the reactions to Duterte even more reprehensible than his actual speech.

Duterte is a breath of fresh air. Here is a guy who doesn't give a damn about politicking. He's very vulgar like most of us. And like all of us, he has a basket full of flaws pulling him down. His style is certainly more palatable to me than the clean-cut trapos spewing generic gibberish in their campaign rallies.

In saying that, I will not endorse Mayor Duterte for president. It's not because he's a foul-mouthed old man who has four women satisfying his sexual needs. It's because he prefers to have bilateral talks with China and in doing so, killing our political leverage. It's because I can't see him handling International Policy effectively. It's because I don't agree with his style of enforcement where civil liberties are not respected. It's because his reasoning can be flawed sometimes like how he justified his adultery by saying if he can love an entire city, he can surely love four women. It's because he has yet to speak of certain issues I feel strongly about like the PPP law this administration is silently getting done. It's because he changed his stance on taxation from calling for the exemption of poor families in June to being against lowering tax rates in late November

Hopefully, people voting for him don't see a tough guy who will solve all our problems. Hopefully, they vote for him because of his stance on same-sex marriage or feudalism or iron-fist enforcement. Hopefully, they vote for him because they are willing to compromise some of their beliefs because in their view, Duterte's ideas can lift our nation instead of Duterte himself lifting our nation.

Mayor Duterte can call Pope Francis whatever the hell he wants. If there is a God and He decides to banish Duterte to hell for his remarks, that's on Duterte. But that should not have any weight on his style of governance.

Politics is the art of making people believe in what you are saying. It is up to us, the people, to judge ideas based on their merits and not on the merits of the ones who came up with them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bad Reporting on a Mechanical Fan Invention

Posted by Bayan Bangon at Alamin on Friday, 13 November 2015

Here's an example of news reporting that can make my blood boil. If you watch the report, you'll notice the slow humanization of our creative hero. It started with how to use the fan. But that's the deepest it would go with regards to the product. These sentences would follow:
"Ito ang Salfan, ang imbensyong bentilador ni Mang Ramon Salva mula Lucena City na sagot aniya sa mahal na singil sa kuryente. Hindi kasi ito gumagamit ng kuryente dahil sa mekanismo ng Salfan. (This is Salfan, a mechanical fan invented by Mr. Ramon Salva who hails from Lucena City. According to him, it is the answer to expensive electricity bills because it doesn't use electricity because of its mechanism.) "
So, it doesn't use electricity. Ok. But how effective is it? If I crank the mechanism, how long will the blades spin? If it can last a suitable amount of time, is it possible to enlarge the prototype? How long did it take for Mr. Salve to build his small machine? None of these questions were answered.

The report went on to share that Mr Salva has 10 kids.  He's still persevering as a watch repairman so that 2 of his kids could study. The report also shared that the family supports Mr. Salva in his endeavors. This is basically the entire report.

My question now is why would the report focus on something that has nothing to do with Mr. Salva's product? It's like the product of his creativity took a backseat to his current situation. Yes, Mr. Salva is like a lot of our countrymen who strive to make an honest living. But Mr. Salva is of the different breed. He potentially did something awesome. Why focus on how hard his life has been? Why focus on how his family supports him? Why not focus on his machine? It's like the report dismissed it.

I don't think Mr. Salva is some poor schmuck with a stupid child's play thing that the report portrayed. To me, Mr. Salva is a creative man who was able to translate the gears he repaired in watches into something that could be really helpful.

Hopefully Mr. Salva finds an investor. Or at least, he finds a proper avenue that would focus on his creation instead of how he his life has been.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pharmaceutical Companies Should Not be Allowed to Advertise

I'm sure most of us here watch prime time soaps being offered up by the major networks. I myself have watched Dream Dad, Juan Dela Cruz and whatever ABS-CBN offers up after TV Patrol. What can I say. We have one communal TV and my mom's the boss. So while being forced to watch these shows, I can't help but notice the amount of promotions for medications. Although I don't mind seeing Anne Curtis flying around as she promotes Enervon, it's still not something I encourage having in our country.

Medical costs in the Philippines is pretty significant considering a citizen's purchasing power. Oscar Picazo wrote a detailed article about it for the Daily Inquirer. The significant cost of medication is compounded by the fact that many don't care for insurance. People tend to see insurance as something for the already weak and feeble and only go for it when it's too late.

Due to the high cost of medicine in the Philippines, the government has written laws and constructed policies to solve the issue. The Generics Drug Act and the hotly debated and  apparent watered-down version of the Cheaper Medicines Act come to mind. But even with these policies, a major flaw is being ignored within the economics of our pharmaceutical industry.

I don't claim to be an economist. But as a guy who loves to relax on his couch, I can't understand the use of promotion for drugs. As I mentioned, I don't mind seeing as the art form they are. It's just that they serve no purpose worth serving.

The purpose of advertisements is to inform. There are products out there that need persuasion to be consumed. For example, when choosing the best snack, we have tons of choices. We have Snacku, Mr. Chips, Chippy, Mang Juan and a whole host of other stuff. It's important for these manufacturers to invest in advertising because all of them have the same thing to offer which is the pleasure of eating they're product. The pleasure derived from consuming these products differ though from person to person. So having a famous face eating their product or a catchy theme song is important. These advertisements remind us that these products taste good because of the models' facial expressions in commercials or the lyrics of the theme song. I see no problem with these manufacturers trying to persuade us, regardless of how cheap their attempts are.

Now, as for medicine, pharmaceutical companies are adapting the same concept. The problem here is that unlike the pleasure we get from eating Snacku or Mr. Chips, the efficacy and the suitability of drugs is not up to us. We have doctors who should be the ones saying we need atapulgite or telmisartan.We should be spared from these cheesy commercials of Skelan or Xenical.

Now, aside from the fact we shouldn't be urged to take stuff without doctor's consent, there's still one more bad effect of pharmaceutical commercials I haven't tackled. This is actually the more economically sinful thing.

The biggest difference between medicine and snacks is this: the different brands for snacks differ in flavor which is where we derive it's effectiveness in benefiting us while the brands of medicine we have don't differ in curing illness. What I mean is, loperamide will always be loperamide whether it be labeled Imodium or Diatabs. As long as the dosage is the same, it will have the same effect. So now I ask, what's the point of advertising the products which in turn will drive the price up? What's the point of paying medical representatives P200,000/year to promote the brand to doctors? How does that help the consumer?

In the production of goods, every step needs to benefit both the producer and the consumer. The cost of the plant for snacks production is beneficial to both parties because without it, the producer can't earn and the consumer can't get his hands on some snacks. Advertising snacks is the same way. Advertising increases the demand, or for economic geeks moves the demand curve to the left, thus increasing profit for the producer and it also informs/reminds the consumer of the awesomeness of Snacku and its effectiveness in pleasuring our taste buds or, again for econ geeks, move the supply curve to the right. Sure, it drives the price up, but we don't need to eat Snacku. Unlike medicine which we need to take if the doctor says so.

So yeah, I am calling for the stoppage of the pharmaceutical ads like the Skelan and Enervon ads. But, wouldn't that make less receptive to seek medication? No, because what that will do is lower the price of medicine. Instead of buying Imodium or Diatabs outright, you can go to a pharmacy and they can sell you the cheapest loperamide or activated carbon which you wouldn't have known about because of the brand loyalty instilled by advertising Aside from that, Generika and other approved drugstores selling cheap medicine would only have to compete against other drugstores instead of the drug manufacturers. Drug manufacturers in turn will focus on increasing their productivity to increase profit. What will set them apart from other manufacturers will be the cost of producing the drug instead of the creativity of their commercials.

Medical advertising should no longer be part of the consumers' lives. Having brand loyalty for a medical brand will not benefit the consumer. Advertising of drugs should only be done if the drug is new. And it should be limited to the doctors.

A lot of us have clamored for universal healthcare. Philhealth and normal HMO's do not include medication in their benefits. With the price so needlessly bloated, I can't blame them.

Having to pay P70/tablet of Micardis is insane especially if both your parents are taking them. In the US, it's around $1.50/tablet which is roughly 20% of a minimum wage earner's hourly rate. Medicine is too expensive here. My suggestion may be drastic. But don't we need drastic results?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What's Up with the Laglag-Bala Issue?

The laglag-bala issue has been brewing for close to a couple of weeks now. People like me who haven't even experienced riding on an airplane have been fixated with the issue.Within the time-frame of the issue, news programs have failed to report on several topics. Lumad struggle... what's that? Otaza... who? Samal kidnapping... hmm? Duterte... meh... he's been quiet on his own anyway.

For the past few weeks, calls for the immediate resignation of the MIAA GM have been voiced. A full reshuffling of the security staff has also been voiced out in social media and by Win Gatchalian. Abaya, as usual, is in hot water. Everybody who has power to fix all of this has been antagonized. But is it fair to call for the resignation/dismissal of the head officials? Is it fair to uproot the lowly security teams and assign them to different locations?

Crimes within airports is not exclusive to our country. Johannesburg seems to be the most infamous judging by a browser search. But even one of the most paranoid nations in the world has experienced baggage breaches in their airports. From Miami all the way to Los Angeles, the United States has consistently been bugged by this problem. So this is nothing new internationally speaking.

That being said, the laglag-bala issue should not be swept under the rug. NAIA was known as the worst airport in the world a few years back. And even though the airport is still one of the worst, it was at least making small strides to better itself. But with the advent of the laglag-bala issue, we can safely assume that whatever minimal upgrades the airport has done lately will be overshadowed. There's something about the UN's distrust with the airport security that aids in making this assumption.

With the APEC summit approaching, this issue has been regarded as economic sabotage. Businessmen are growing wary and are not happy with what world leaders may perceive with the issue. With the airport being the gateway to our country, investors may be turned off by the rampant corruption that welcomes our balikbayans, tourists and guests. This is not something that potential investors, world leaders and industry think-tanks are willing to deal with considering the competition our neighbors pose.

With all this, 2016 candidates have attached themselves with the issue. Both Grace Poe and Miriam Santiago have filed resolution in the senate. Binay has called for the dismissal of the OTS personnel. Alan Peter Cayetano, NITAS and the VACC have filed administrative charges against Abaya and airport officials for neglecting their duty. Aside from this, all vice presidential candidates except for Trillanes who is out of the country have chimed in on the issue. The laglag-bala issue is being forced-fed to us by the media and everyone gunning for something in 2016 wants to be included in what's being fed.

Now, back to my question earlier, is it fair to call for the dismissal of MIAA GM Honrado as well as DOTC Sec. Jun Abaya?

Earlier today (Nov. 4,2015), Jun Abaya held a press briefing regarding the Laglag-bala issue. He laid down several statistics as well as rules and regulations that should be followed with regards to the issue. Summarizing what he said, bullets being found with passengers in our airports is a normal thing. That being said, they have had reports dating back as far as 2008 where security personnel were asking for money from passengers who had bullets with them. He also shared the number of passengers being caught with bullets, be they be live or amulets/anting-antings, within the past few years. By his calculations, only .004% of all passengers have caught the attention of security due to bullets. He also shared several instances were the passenger admitted that they brought the bullets knowingly like the Japanese tourist last October who brought a bullet as a souvenir from a shooting range. As for the rules, he cleared up that only live bullets would result in a charge being filed while bullet parts will only result in confiscation.

As for GM Honrado, GMA News TV was unable to catch up to him as he was hurriedly getting in an elevator. Apparently, he was being summoned by the president. MIAA spokesperson David de Castro did say that it would be best to go after those directly involved with the issue rather than the ones trying to solve it.

Abaya and Honrado are in a tough jam here. If you've read some of my earlier posts, you'd know I hate Jun Abaya's performance as DOTC secretary. But in this instance, he is not the problem. The problem here is the insistence of a government to trust its people who clearly are unable to do their job. I hate Abaya and he should have been fired a long time ago. But to let Honrado continue on as MIAA GM is crazy. He's been there since 2010 and he has been its GM through the "worst airport in the world" title. At least, Abaya has the cushion of antagonizing the MRT's private partners and the Arroyo gov't. Aside from that, Aquino has lauded Abaya for some maritime accomplishment during his last SONA. He has supporters willing to support him regardless of how useless and corrupt he may be. Honrado on the other hand, is just a name. His is a name synonymous to "the worst in the world". How he was not fired then is astounding. It's not like he's the grandson of Aguinaldo. The only reason not to fire him is if he has Aquino by the balls. Sure, he was Aquinos' security consultant in 2010 and Cory's aide-d-camp. But to keep him for these reasons is completely unethical and unprofessional.

The laglag-bala issue shouldn't have gotten this big. The crazy thing with this issue is that it is apparently continuing despite the constant media coverage. Is it because the perpetrators know they won't be caught? Or is it really sabotage being done by powerful people trying to undermine the government? Or hey, maybe Filipinos just plain forget whenever they have bullets in their bags. Who knows? Certainly the people trying to solve it don't know.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Nuisance Candidates and Their Place in Philippine Elections

Well, there we have it. After a week, we now have a list of individuals and party lists vying for the right to serve our nation. All in all, we have 172 individuals looking to gain a seat in the senate, 19 for the vice presidency and 130 for chief executive.

The week was filled with excitement, anticipation and drama. Excitement filled the air as the major candidates brought, what it seemed like, entire barangays to witness them file their COC's.  

The biggest surprise came from Miriam Defensor-Santiago who decided to run for president after taking an extended leave of absence from the senate these past few months due to her cancer. This definitely topped Jamby Madrigal's surprise filing in 2009. The rumblings started when a post from the senator's Facebook page spread throughout social media indicating an urge to run for the top post. Apparently, all she needed was the support of society leaders to go for the presidency.

The biggest drama, on the other hand, came from the Duterte camp. On Monday, he announced he would definitely not run. His filing for Davao City Mayor was then followed by the filing of his own daughter who proceeded to shave her head killing the rumors that she was against her father's potential presidential bid. People were on the edge of their seats last Friday as they waited to see if Duterte would file. Alas, it was not to be. But it's not the end of the world for you Duterte fans. A Duterte campaign is still possible with Martin Diño filing for the presidency under Duterte's party. PDP-Laban can decide to substitute Duterte in for the VACC chairman.

Aside from candidates who actually have good shots at winning, a number of relative unknowns and long-shot candidates flooded the Comelec office in Intramuros. Alleged NAIA bomber and perennial nuisance candidate Ely Pamatong started the week by burning the Chinese flag. Former Tesda chief Augusto Syjuco also joined in the fun in what seems like a bid to avoid the graft charges he is facing.

The whole week, the news revolved around the filing of the COC's. Unfortunately, based on social media, certain aspects of the filing of COC's did not sit well with our brothers and sisters.

One of the biggest concerns brought up in social media is the torrent of nuisance candidates that flooded Comelec. We witnessed a good chunk of people claiming that God asked them to run. We even had a guy going by the name of Arcangel Lucifer joining the presidential race. A guy came out with his kids who claimed that he was some kind of Intergalactic Ambassador. And with all these craziness unfolding, we now ask ourselves, are these nuisance candidates making a mockery of our elections? Should they be denied filing?

Nuisance candidates have been a staple in our elections for generations now. Filipiknow.net shared an informative piece recently regarding Valentin Delos Santos who was Eddie Gil before there was Eddie Gil. The notion that the nuisance candidates issue is new is wrong. In fact, only 9 of the 99 people who filed for the presidency reached the ballot in 2010. Vetellano Acosta was supposed to be number 10 but he was disqualified after KBL disowned him and claimed they've never heard of him. Apparently, that did not discourage him since he filed once again.

Nuisance candidates are good for a few laughs. But is that all they're good for?

Last week, a man named Romeo Plasquita officially filed his bid to be our nations next president. Sure, there's no way he's gonna make the ballot. But maybe in his case, he may have already provided us with good service.

Plasquita, by showing up in front of the media and filing his COC, gave us a face we can recall when talking about the sorry state of our retirees. Being the son of both government employees, my parents have shared stories about their colleagues who got screwed out of their pensions. Mr Plasquita's case is not special. But at the same time, when was the last time we've talked about it?

Judging by the way Mr. Plasquita talked in front of the media, it's obvious he's not really aiming for the presidency. He just wanted someone to listen to him. Hopefully, filing his COC gave his concerns a louder voice because his plight is shared by millions of retirees around the country.

Aside from Mr. Plasquita, we have also heard other ideas worth discussing from other nuisance candidates.

Victor Quijano who is running for senator opened up the discussion for a highly devolved government. The Local Government Code of 1991 has devolved certain powers to the local government like maintaining tricycle routes and slaughterhouses. Aside from that, the law has decentralized departments so that services are more accessible.

Mr. Quijano wants to take it a step further where the national government is reduced to monetary/fiscal policies, defense, foreign policy and macro-level responsibilities. It seems like his model is the US government. Sure, it may not be feasible. But our diverse culture and geographic situation does make decentralization and outright devolution attractive solutions to our problems. How often have we blamed the national government for things that the local officials can handle? These national roads are handled by the national government so when we see potholes in one area, the mayors can only call the DPWH's attention.

Mr. Quijano may not have the actual blueprint to improve our government's way of handling things. But neither does the supposed legitimate candidates.We've been voting for legitimate candidates and our bureaucracy is still screwed up. I mean, to get a business going, you have to get a permit from the mayor, barangay captain, BFP, BIR and, in some cases, an ECC from DENR and whole lot of other stuff that will take forever. I doubt Quijano holds the key to improving our bureaucracy. But he's the first one I heard touch on the issue.

You may say that Duterte was the first to call for federalism. And I may agree with you in some point. But what Quijano brings that Duterte can't is a clear slate. We wouldn't have voted for Duterte had he decided to run. Had he run, he would've said it's the overwhelming support that forced him not his belief in federalism. Quijano, on the other hand, is all in with extreme devolution. If he makes the ballot, we're gonna vote for him for his ideas and not for who he is.

The great thing about nuisance candidates is that they're just like you and me. We're not great speakers who can make people hang on every word we say. We're not graduates of prestigious institutions. Nuisance candidates may not be worth our vote. But just like us, their words could be worth the listen.

People in the internet have questioned why the Comelec even allows these people to file COC's when we all know they're gonna lose. I understand it's added work. But is the freedom to run and talk get the discussion going on ideas not worth the work? Sure, a lot of potential candidates turn out to be complete wackos. But the same can be said about the people we eventually elect.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not advocating for the inclusion of all the people who filed for their candidacy in the ballots like the writers at Uniffors.com. I mean, I believe that for a democracy to be effective, ideals should be shared by our eventual leaders so we know what we're getting ourselves into. Nuisance candidates are incapable of sharing their ideals. They just don't have the resources What's the point of bombarding the electorate of names they can't connect with an ideal?

Nuisance candidates should be welcomed during election seasons. By all mean, file your COC's. Look at the camera and talk to us. Hopefully, when you speak of important issues we tend to forget about, more ears will be willing to listen.

It's easy to dismiss the ideas of ordinary people. But doing what's easy can get you somewhere you don't want to be.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sexism and Philippine Politics: Liberal Playgirl Party

It's funny how the smallest things make the biggest impressions on people. I remember as a kid in the 90's, men staring and catcalling at women meant nothing and was considered playful. Nowadays though, pulling that sort of crap will turn you into the subject of a viral Facebook post overflowing with feminism. I guess it's better that way. Catcalling, whistling and staring at women are dick moves. They're just a few steps away from rubbing your elbows at a woman's breasts in the MRT. It's because of this attitude change that some people say sexism is fading the country. But then again I ask, what is sexism in the Filipino context?

I'm not really an expert in the field of sexism. I never took a single unit in college that tackled the issue. Heck, I haven't even been in a sexual harassment seminar. Do they even offer those things in companies here? I'm not even entirely sure.

Sexism has been a focus here in the country thanks to the Liberal Party who decided to throw a little soiree here in Laguna. Apparently, the now ex-Chairman Tolentino was the culprit of the mess. Even though he and his allies have denied the allegation, the public backlash has resulted in his desire not to be included in the party's senatorial slate. This doesn't mean he's no longer running. He's just distancing the party from the scandal. Aside from that, a complaint has been filed against Tolentino by a group led by aspiring senator and attorney to the stars Lorna Kapunan.

But I ask though, was it really sexual exploitation as many claim? Don't get me wrong. I don't share the sentiments of Rep. Benjie Agarao who is just too damn hetero to see anything wrong with the performance. I'm just curious as to where do we draw the line?

Sexism and sexual exploitation has been a long-standing issue the Philippines. From the sex dens that sprouted near the US military bases to Jennifer Laude, it's been a constant issue. The underground market of prostitution has turned our country into a destination for sex tourists. There have also been reports and raids of internet-based sex violations. Aside from that, normal days are also littered with inappropriate remarks brought about by sexism. Even the revered field of medicine doesn't escape this reality.

But there are instances that make me stare in confusion when people say something is sexist. One of the incidents that come to mind is the Coco Martin controversy with Bench.

People cried foul because they saw a woman being dragged around the stage by a man. Of course, Gabriela got into the fray. Netizens were pissed and could not understand how a show where a man walking a woman like a dog was allowed to be showcased. But then again, they were not trying to show a woman in a leash. She was portraying some sort of feline and Coco Martin was supposed to be some kind of lion tamer. I don't see anything sexist about it. For one thing, the woman was bending like no woman would. She was obviously trying to portray something completely different from a woman.

I don't see a hint of sexism in this example. It was just a performance. Provocative as it may be, it's a performance.

But let's return to the liberal party and this little mess they made. What made this wrong? If you use my explanation for the lack of exploitation and sexism of the Bench fiasco, I wouldn't blame you if you'd think I see nothing wrong with the performance in Sta Cruz, Laguna. I mean, they're just portraying some oversexed women looking to screw anything that moves. Their not generalizing women. They're just portraying fictional versions of themselves when onstage. Plus, they're doing it willingly and they're happy with the cash. It's common practice here and abroad. There can't be anything wrong with that, right? WRONG!.. well for me...

Before I start discussing the difference between the two incidents, I'd like to let you know that I'm not a big fan of the Liberal Party or "Tuwid na Daan". It's a fair assumption that I'm just pulling them down. But sexism and sexual exploitation are not isolated in the LP. A lot of politicians regardless of their party have been linked to mistresses. Child rapist, Romeo Jalosjos is even supporting Grace Poe.

Returning to the Liberal Party incident, there are a few things that set it apart from the Bench incident or even bold movies.

The occasion in Laguna was attended by people just looking to support their candidates and celebrate with their congressman. Unlike the Bench incident where only the fashion world was meant to spectate the event or bold films where people of right age are the intended viewers, the event in Laguna was meant for all who supported the LP. Some of the crowd were even under-aged. What happened in Laguna was a form of sexual exploitation because these women who performed were exposed to people who were not conditioned to appreciate their performance. Sexism is a form of hasty generalization brought about by a trigger and that trigger can be a sultry performance. And I doubt the dirty old men in the event thought of that.

A defense given by a lot of people in the internet was that the members of the Playgirls were not exploited since they happily accepted the gig and the cash they were given. But if a drug addict happily snorts meth, is that okay? The Playgirls, like addicts, were conditioned not to realize what was happening. They are not like a twerking Maja Salvador because if Maja stopped twerking at ASAP, she is still going to get paid. If Coco Martin no-showed that Bench event, he'd still be a star today. Unlike Maja Salvador or Coco Martin, they need to grab every opportunity to perform. Even if they saw the kids and thought it was inappropriate to perform, it's unlikely they would deny the officials there of their performance. I mean, had they not performed, they wouldn't get paid and get this media exposure.

There are a ton of things in this event that can piss me off. But after going through everything connected to the issue in my head, the main thing that irks me is the fact that come May, this event won't matter. Those politicians in the event will easily get pass this. This has happened before, especially in local government. And it will happen again. Their electoral fate won't be determined by this incident. The LP's electoral fate won't be determined by this incident.

We can draw the line on sexism for the average schmuck. But as far as politicians are concerned, that line can be pushed as far back as they want.

Sexism is alive and well in the Philippines even if we may think it's fading away. We may think we are slowly shifting the tide. But taking into consideration the leaders we elect, we can't fathom the amount of damn we don't give.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Are Elections Derailing Our Long Term Development?

Infrastructure development is a key cog in economic progress. At least, that's what we are taught. If you think about it, what kind of an investor won't take into account the traffic situation of an area in determining where to place a business? No sane businessman would willingly deal with constant water shortages or power outages, right? These are things that even a normal, high school kid would know. But why is it that the government constantly fail to address looming or current infrastructure problems?

I've written about traffic and one of possible steps that could be taken to lessen it on this blog. But recently, traffic is not the only infrastructure concern popping up on TV news broadcasts.

Lately, a problem with water supply is being felt by our friends under Maynilad. But the government has assured that they're on top of it. Fears of hoarding are apparently unbounded as the air force is ready for cloud seeding operations and a "water czar" will be ready to quench our thirst in the coming months. 

Cloud seeding and forming special agencies to help with the water problem is all well and good. The same can be said about the HPG manning EDSA, truck bans being halted to prevent port congestion and the Interruptible Load Program to lower electricity demands. But why did we have to come to this? Why hasn't the government been planning for the EL Niño? It's not like this is the first time it happened. Why did we have to wait until now to address the traffic problem? LTO should have known and alerted the president or whoever of the increasing number of vehicles, right? Shouldn't the DOE have an expected power demand data sheet or something?

Why did we have to come to this?

It is easy to blame the present administration for our problem with infrastructure. I mean, they are the ones in charge. But to say it is all Noynoy and his stooges' fault is not enough. 

The Philippines has not been the best when it comes to devising and implementing long term plans. It's not this administration's fault that a person from Bulacan needs to get a job in the Metro to gain "decent" salary. It's urban planners of past generations that gave us this setting. The power crisis we had last summer may not have been an issue had the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant been running. But of course, Cory and succeeding presidents allowed that plant to rot. The blame is not solely on this administration. But of course, they are not free of responsibility.

One of the most noticeable trait of our politics is how our leaders refuse to acknowledge the great things being handed down to them by their predecessors. This trait is not exclusive to the national level as I'm sure all of us have noticed how projects in our towns are stopped once a new mayor comes in. This behavior is due to the need for politicians to hog the glory and credit. 

Voters attach a certain project or policy to an individual politician. A good example of this is how Marcos supporters point to the expressways to legitimize the dictator's rule or how the Aquinos brought democracy back to the Philippines. But aside from being too simplistic, this behavior can be a deterrent to progress.. 

The North Rail Project that the Arroyo administration tried to initiate may have proved valuable to us. But since there were anomalies in the project, it's been thrown to the back burner by its successor. The same happened with the Nuclear Power Plant. Politicians are discouraged to look through the ideas of their predecessors because they don't want their names to be attached to these ideas because if it ends up being good, they have to share the credit. And if it doesn't end up well, they get all the blame. This lack of cooperation within succeeding leaders is why our development on all aspects has not caught up with our neighbors'.

"Ipagpapatuloy ko ang Tuwid na Daan"

Ever since the fall of Marcos, presidents have usually been succeeded by the opposition or by someone who they did not endorse. The only presidential winner who had his predecessor's endorsement was FVR.

From 1986 to the present, the older generation have said that life was better in the 50's or 60's. The Martial Law era may have been a major cause of that as people like me maintain it had a negative effect on our development. But at the same time, why haven't we been able to at least return to that period of optimism? Maybe we have now. But why did it take us so long? Was the Marcos era that devastating or have the quality of leadership regressed? Remember that that time of supposed prosperity came a decade or two after World War II. It's been three decades since the supposed slump of the Marcos administration. Even with the help of the Americans, I can't see Martial Law having been worse than a war.

Maybe the ever-present call for change has done more bad than good? Maybe it's because of how we understand "change". News programs keep saying change starts with us. "Ako ang simula" has been the saying in TV Patrol since 2010. But what do we change? Some think that merely changing the leaders is the thing. Some say the ideology needs to be changed like how a Duterte federal government, tighter leash style is needed. Some say the way voters think needs to change. Whatever the case may be, some sort of change will occur in 2016. Whether it be a change for the better or a drastic enough change is the question.

As of writing, three major candidates have officially declared their candidacy for president. Grace Poe has said that she will rule with her own version of "Tuwid na Daan". Mar Roxas has said he will continue Aquino's "Tuwid na Daan". Binay on the other hand has criticized this "Tuwid na Daan". While all these have been happening, we can only assume Duterte is riding his bike around Davao like the apparent bad-ass he is. (It's official; Duterte has joined the presidential election along with Miriam Defensor-Santiago)

Change is a coming folks. Like a storm heading our way, we can't stop it. I just wonder how Aquino's successor behaves with regards to things Aquino's administration started. If long term projects don't get awarded to bidders by March, will they get another chance with the next administration? Long term projects like the Manila Flood Control Plan may not reach the deadline. If no bidders are awarded for projects like this, will they be forgotten by the next administration? Will Aquino's high approval rating affect the decision?

The lack of long term planning is one of the reasons why we are still under the "developing country" label. It does sure take a lot of time to develop. And with another sort of change coming this 2016, we can only imagine what that change would mean to our "development".

Monday, September 14, 2015

EDSA Traffic Solution: Buses

The traffic problem in the metro has been at the forefront of the news for quite some time now. I remember back then when news programs would only allot a few minutes of their airtime. Nowadays though, it's the first thing they talk about and the last thing they rant about.

People in Manila just can't stop talking about traffic. I myself have ranted about traffic in the past. I ranted when the Skyway was being built when I was in college. Although I have to say that that construction has really helped alleviate traffic here in the south. I was pissed at how Bayani Fernando's enforcers constantly bugged buses for a few hundred bucks. This was a constant occurrence in Edsa-Ayala southbound. I was angry at how Tolentino's MMDA forgot about the bus lanes and their inconsistent style of management. And now, I'm still pissed at Tolentino as well as Abaya.

I've been pissed at the traffic situation in Manila ever since I went to college in 2008. It's been seven years and EDSA has remained a constant source of disappointment, hate and anger. I'm sure a lot of people can relate. And I'm sure that a lot of you readers have harbored the same emotions even longer.

As I've said, I've posted about traffic before. And since traffic in EDSA is still a hot-button topic, as well as a thorn in my side, I'm gonna talk about it again. But now, I'm gonna offer up a solution and try to justify a few believes with regards to EDSA and public transport.

This particular post will focus on the bus system. I'm a commuter. I don't know how to drive and I don't plan to learn because it doesn't fit my lifestyle. And let me also say that I'm not an expert. I'm just a dude with a keyboard.

There are three main destinations for city buses going northbound. They are Fairview/Lagro/S.Palay, UE Letre/Monumento/Karuhatan and Novaliches Bayan/Malinta. Some Novaliches buses use Mindanao Ave. and not Malinta. There are also a few buses going to SM Marilao as well as San Mateo. 

For southbound city buses, they usually go to LRT Ayala/Leveriza, Pacita/Alabang/Sucat/Bicutan, FTI, Tramo/Coastal and Baclaran. There are also some suspicious buses going to Dasma in either Ayala or Ortigas. 

Many people have said that there are too many buses in EDSA. One of the more prominent websites who adhere to this belief is TopGear.com.ph. Just this April, they offered up a photo that they claim proves that there is an overpopulation of buses in EDSA. Of course, this wasn't met with unanimous applause.

As a lot of the comments on the page said, this is a private vehicle owner's perspective. As a commuter, I know for a fact that during the rush hours in certain locations, it's impossible to get on a bus without having to stand up. Sometimes, it's impossible to get on a bus PERIOD.

But in agreeing with the comments, I am not saying that these buses operate in a perfect setting.

Some people have long alluded to the "boundary" system as the major cause of traffic. According to them, drivers swerve and turn EDSA into terminals because of passengers. With that going on, people find it less appealing to ride the bus. Part of me agrees with them. But I don't see the "boundary" system as the root cause of the problem.

Personally, I see the free-market system being employed in public transportation as the root of the problem. I'm not against the free market system. It's just that I always thought that the system worked better for innovation and discoveries of new technology. For example, I believe that the car manufacturing industry works best in a competitive market because manufacturers have profit as an incentive to create the best car. What does profit give incentive to in public transport? Reckless driving? Collusion? It's not like the demand for transport is elastic that a change in service would result in us actively waiting for a particular bus. People don't care if their riding a Dela Rosa Transit or a Pascua Liner. There is no point in innovating or developing technologies for these companies.

When in comes to public transport, I believe the government should heavily regulate it or simply own it.

Now, owning the transport system may not be a good idea in the Philippine setting. I mean, directly controlling the movement of millions of people leads to opportunities for corruption. And it's not like we trust the government completely. No matter how many times Noynoy Aquino shoves "Tuwid na Daan" down our throats, we still know there are a lot of hocus pocus going on in the government. Aside from that, the political will needed to attain the sector is immense.

So, I guess heavy regulation is where I am heading.

The MMDA has implemented a few prohibitive actions when it comes to the buses. Aside from the number coding scheme, they also implemented the bus segregation scheme where buses are assigned letters which would tell them where they are allowed to drop off and pick up passengers. There was also the express bus to the airport as well as the express bus plying the Fairview-Backlaran route. Of course, there's the bus lane system which to a point, some time in 2013, prohibited the buses from using all the flyovers/underpasses. 

Sure enough, these regulations ended up sucking. It's either because of lack of political will and succumbing to the interest groups immediately, enforcement stinked or the regulations were merely patch work.

Eventually, the MMDA gave up on EDSA and left us with worse bus system compared to that of what Bayani left us. But we can't blame the MMDA fully for the traffic. I mean, it's not like they have a full grip on public transport and the local governments along EDSA. That being said, there's no way in hell I'm going to praise Tolentino for doing his "best".

Now, as a dude with a keyboard, what regulation enters my mind whenever I'm stuck in a bus in EDSA?

The main problem I see in the bus system in EDSA is how insensitive the supply of buses are compared to the demand. 

The government is just now seeing this.

If you are waiting for a bus in Crossing at around 6 PM on a Friday and you are heading northbound, there is no way you are sitting down. Heck, there is little chance of you actually getting on a bus. If you're going Southbound at around the same time in Ayala, it's the same thing. On the other hand, if you are waiting at around 12 PM, you have enough time to smoke or have a quick snack since the buses are flying by with empty seats.

I believe the absence of the response time of the demand is caused by a profit-driven company dispatcher. The dispatcher doesn't care if the passengers are standing. He'd actually be happier. There's no incentive for him to add any costs. He also doesn't care if the buses he is dispatching are inefficient and causing unneeded traffic. He'd rather have two half-full buses making EDSA their terminal as they jockey for more passengers than send out one bus with every seat occupied speeding pass the stops.

If we want a solution to the inefficient bus system we have, the government needs to be the one determining how many buses are plying through EDSA at a given time. It's not as if it's really difficult. I mean, they know where the buses are coming from and going to. They have traffic cameras and enforcers that can relay real-time situations. We have police/MMDA outposts everywhere that can serve as spotters/counters that can make sure the bus companies are sending out the right amount of buses. And, government is starting to really take the bus lane seriously basically guaranteeing a steady flow of buses. I don't know. It's one of those "easy" things that I think about whenever I find myself stuck in a bus; whether it be a crowded or almost empty.

With this thing I'm thinking about, traffic should be affected for the better. When it is not rush hour, the government can lessen the volume of the buses. This improves the traffic not only because of the lower volume, but also in behavioral change. With less competition, buses are less inclined to turn EDSA into a terminal or swerve since they should have more passengers in theory. And during the rush hours, the bus system can accommodate more passengers thus making it more appealing to someone who would otherwise use his car.

With this hands-on approach, some may argue that the government may be encroaching too much on a privatized sector. But if you think about it, the government would only be doing what it has already been doing in the first place. The government already controls the routes. It's the government that controls the competition already. With what I've written here, the government is just furthering its control of a vital strategic component of the state. The buses are still free to put silly advertisements on their units as they please.

I don't know. Maybe I'm oversimplifying/overthinking whenever I'm stuck in traffic. But if there is one thing I'm sure of, it's that the bus system in EDSA needs to improve.

Well, actually, Metro Manila traffic management needs to improve as a whole. There are a few things that cross my mind whenever I see the congestion of trucks in Magallanes as they head for the port area. There are also things that cross my mind when I'm in an MRT as some guy stares at the ceiling trying to avoid looking into my eyes.

Maybe I'll get to write about them. But I have to go to sleep now. I have to go to Valenzuela City from San Pedro, Laguna... and EDSA is in my way.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Jun Sabayton's Bayaw Gives a New Perspective on Philippine Politics

It's funny how comedy paints the reality of a serious condition. In the US, popular TV shows like Jon Stewart's The Daily Show or SNL  routinely mock the shortcomings of their leaders through sketches, exaggerated clips or, in the case of Stewart or Stephen Colbert, outright commentary. Here in the Philippines though, comedy and politics are not seen as a match made in heaven. Jun Sabayton and rest of his crew are looking to change that.

For people like me who watched UNTV in the early 2000's, Jun Sabayton is one of the constant bit players in the show Strangebrew. He, along with Ramon Bautista, played weird characters in the querky show that rose the late Tado Jimenez to prominence. A few years later, you may have seen him in Radioactive Sago Project's widely successful video "Astro". Nowadays, he is seen with Astro and Strangebrew director RA Rivera, Ramon Baustista and Radioactive's Lourde de Veyra in another comedic news and commentary internet program called Kontrabando. He is also a prominent cohort of Lourd de Veyra in Word of the Lourd, History and Wasak as well as in TV5's morning show.

Judging by his past and present roles, Jun Sabayton is not the conventional guy to turn to when it comes to politics. And this is what makes this BAYAW campaign effective. This is what makes it fresh. He is like Pugad Baboy's Cabalfin except that he uses actual lines and gimmicks of current presidentiables where Cabalfin is simply a generalization.

Think of it this way: Whenever Binay goes around and eats with the "masa" or hand feeds kids in a wet market, some say it shows how he is a working man's man while some may say he's just being a "trapo" and campaigning early. But whenever Jun Sabayton goes around and  does the same thing, what would the same people say? Or when Mar Roxas said something like "tinatanggap ko ang hamon ng aking mga boss!" when Aquino endorsed him, what did we say? Compare that to when Sabayton said the same thing last week when he came out in a balikbayan box to "declare" his candidacy.

People tend to focus more on who is speaking instead of what is being said. A good example of this is how Binay's "TSONA" was quickly dismissed by many simply because it was him who said.what he said.

With Jun Sabayton's Bayaw, it is easy for me to see how ridiculous it is to see a guy like Binay try to make himself look like a part of the masses. With Bayaw, it's easy to see just how ridiculous it is to see Roxas say "tinatanggap ko ang hamon ng aking mga boss" when we all know he's been trying hard to climb the political ranks for a long time. I mean, he would've been the LP candidate in 2010 had Cory not died. It's as if he's telling us he's only running because we want him to run.

I've long criticized the media whenever election season comes. I feel as though they don't really make people want to think about the important stuff. They flaunt their slogans about how change starts with me without recognizing that if they really do want "change" they have the power.

I've always believed that the media's call for change is a mere advertising plot by the massive corporations backing them. And this "Bayaw" thing may be no different. But hey, Jun Sabayton, once the world's most useless celebrity reporter, has never been known to let corporate competitions get in the way in doing what he wants.

Hopefully, Bayaw stays with us all the way tot eh elections. Hopefully, he continues to look like a complete tool/idiot as he mimics the people running for office. And here's hoping he dances like a complete nut job the same way our candidates do during political rallies.

And with that, let's give it up for Bayaw:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Filipinos Distrust the Justice System

With the influx of news regarding the INC movement calling for the separation of church and state, I can't help that one of the key issues here is being ignored; we don't trust the justice process here in our country. I can understand the calls of our INC brothers and sisters. Though, I don't see the rallies being caused by the violation of the constitution. I see it more of a fear of having the stability of one's religious institution in the hands of an ineffective judiciary. They may say it's the former that forced them to rally. But if you look at one of their statements, it's more because they think the DOJ is not doing its job properly since their prioritization is all out of wack.

This is just one example of our distrust of the due process here in the Philippines. A few weeks ago, 4 men suspected of raping a Maranaw girl in Marawi City were apparently killed after being released. They were released because there were no complainants. The killings of the suspects were done with consent from their respective families to avoid a family feud. This shows a complete lack of trust of the judicial practice from the victim's side. But you may say it is more about their culture than a distrust of the system we have in place. But further evidence of our distrust can be seen in the comments section of the reports pertaining to it.

They can't all be Maranaws, right?

But can you really blame our countrymen for having little faith in the system we have in place?

I mean, take into account several high profile cases that have been swept under the rug. Andal Ampatuan died even before being convicted/proven innocent. And this is after the president himself promised the case will be looked at with great interest and that the case will be resolved before he steps down. We have the Vizconde Massacre case that led to nowhere. Marlon Villanueva's case finally yielded a decision after 10 years. And of course, the extrajudicial killings/abductions that are still prevalent with Jonas Burgos' story at the forefront.

And I barely researched these. I just looked for proper links so you can check them out for yourself. I just remembered them at the top of my head. And for a guy like me who never attended law school to blurt out these deficiencies, it shows that these are normal occurrences. Atrocities are being carried out and the system seems to be unable to keep up.

The distrust and the hesitation to go through the process may be justified. And this should serve as a wake up call to our leaders. We need to revamp our system of justice. I don't just mean the judiciary. Police investigations also need to be looked at. I mean, how can you file a drunk driving case if you don't have the breathalyzers with you?

I was in college when Noynoy promised that the Maguinadanao case will get a resolution by his term's end. Back then I thought that the impeachment of Corona and the installment of new Ombudsman would improve things. I subscribed to the idea that changing the people would prove we have great laws and regulations in place and the system would be proven to be adequate. Fast-forward five years and it feels like we're still in the same place we have always been. The names just changed.

In 2016, Noynoy's term will end. And with it, we elect a new leader. We are eager to watch debates and the news. It's crazy how some people rave about a guy who admitted he is connected to a vigilante group. It's further proof of how we detest the justice system. But I digress. Hopefully, the process of placing new names in elected offices isn't the only process we concern ourselves with.

Ask yourselves this: How can we be comfortable with a system that allows a rich old man to post bail on a non-bailable case while a poor illiterate suspect rotted in jail for falsification of public documents?