Political will or plain discernment?

“WITH all the pressure coming from different directions against the signing of the Anti-Terrorism bill into law, at the end of the day, it is President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s strong political will that mattered most,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the bill’s principal author, said in a message to reporters on the day the law was enacted. “I cannot imagine this measure being signed under another administration.”

Indeed, Duterte in the four years that he has been leading the country has done crucial things that obviously required much political will, all of which you can describe exactly with Lacson’s “with-all-the-pressure-coming-from-different-directions” phrase.

Among these: the prosecution and incarceration of Benigno Aquino 3rd’s Justice secretary Leila de Lima for connivance with drug lords; Ferdinand Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani; the war against drugs; ending the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) owners’ illegal but lucrative hold on a Makati commercial center; the siege of Marawi; the collection of P30 taxes owed by tobacco manufacturer Mighty Corp. and the P6-billion unpaid aviation fees by magnate Lucio Tan’s Philippine Airlines; the “pivot” away from the United States and the country’s rapprochement with China; his refusal to reopen peace talks with the communists; the six-month closure of Boracay island; the clean-up of Manila Bay and Pasig River; and the four-month quarantine (of different intensities) of many major cities in order to contain the coronavirus.


Continue ReadingPolitical will or plain discernment?

The low-tech way that Japan managed to tackle coronavirus quickly

ON our 110th day of different degrees of lockdown, any unbiased observer would rationally conclude this administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic could be graded 7 to 8, in a scale in which 10 is perfect.

I didn’t pull this grading from out of the blue. Going by worldometers.info’s data and tabulation, the number of Covid-19 cases for the planet’s 7.7 billion population is 1,386 per 1 million population. That’s four times of ours, which is 351. For deaths per 1 million population, it is 67 for the world; ours is just 12.

Check out the accompanying table and we’re obviously doing much, much better than the United States, United Kingdom, Italy as well as most of Western and Eastern European countries.

We’re doing better than Indonesia. But Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and, of course, Vietnam’s performance have been spectacular. Can you believe that Vietnam has only 355 cases and no deaths?

These figures, however, all mean that the government’s performance is not just average but at least two notches higher than average, which would be 7 to 8. The 9 and 10 grades are obviously for Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and Vietnam.

Which brings up to what should be the top concern now of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), which is to determine — and tell the public — why we still haven’t been able to contain Covid-19 on the level that Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and Vietnam have done.

Reprinted below is a June 24 article from the Japan Times titled “The low-tech way that Japan managed to tackle the virus quickly” which I hope could contribute to the IATF-EID’s efforts.

What I found promising is that the “low-tech” way discussed in this article is simply contact-tracing, undertaken through Japan’s 450 community-level “public health centers.”

We have a similar institution, called the Barangay Health Center, which had been mandated to be set up in each of our over 40,000 barangay by a Marcos letter of instruction in 1973. While I cannot find data on how many such centers have been set up and actually running, these are ubiquitous in Metro Manila and its adjacent provinces, functioning as most barangay residents’ first point of health service.

Covid-19, July 2, 2020 Source: worldometers.info

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Ressa, Coronel and Rappler concocted false ‘27,000 killed’ number in anti-drug war

IT was astonishing to hear Rappler Chief Executive officer Maria Ressa claim in her recent interview with BBC’s Stephen Sackur — which was disastrous for her credibility — that “27,000” Filipinos were killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.

She said that figure was according to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights.

I had thought that figure had long been proven wrong and buried six feet under. In fact saner anti-Duterte critics had stopped using that outrageously  exaggerated figure.

Indeed, “human rights violations” has receded as an issue for  the Yellows to beat President Duterte with since they couldn’t prove that the number of casualties in the anti-drug war has been excessive.

But Ressa’s insistence is an indication of delusion, a syndrome of insisting on a particular thing even if she is presented with concrete evidence that she is totally wrong.

The Philippine National Police’s (PNP) figures — done by an independent unit within the organization — reports only 5,655 “persons who died during anti-drug operations” from July 1, 2016 to March 21, 2020.

How credible is this figure? 


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Red nun: Not just a communist ally

COMMUNICATIONS Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy was wrong to have referred to Sister Mary John Mananzan as a “longtime ally” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

I suspect she is a ranking official of the Communist Party and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she is a member of its central committee. Of course, I don’t have access to the Communist Party’s “personnel files” or to military intelligence dossiers, but I’ve known her since the mid-1970s when she often visited us political prisoners at the military detention camp called “Ipil Youth Rehabilitation Center.”

Did she deny that she is a Communist Party member? No, certainly not. If she’s not a party cadre, her achievements in furthering the advance of the communist insurgency are more important than an official membership.

Just another one of those rallies: Sister Mary John Mananzan

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Bitanga: The magnate behind Ressa

MY fellow columnist Ramon Tulfo reported yesterday that Wilfredo Keng, the businessman libeled by Rappler, disclosed to him that it was  tycoon Benjamin Bitanga who invited him to invest P100 million in the internet-only news site. That wasn’t surprising at all.

 He (Bitanga, left) bankrolled Rappler, and made Ressa the Duterte-basher, its CEO and executive editor.

In short, Bitanga is behind Rappler, and without Rappler, there wouldn’t be a Ressa. He is therefore the tycoon behind Ressa.


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After 108 days: Time to end lockdown

IT is definitely time to end the lockdowns that started March15, modified in various ways, aimed at containing Covid-19. It will be the 108th day of the quarantine on June 30, and we’re setting some record on the longest such lockdowns.

The Wuhan lockdown, the first such measure to contain the pandemic, lasted only 79 days. European countries with much worse outbreaks — with total deaths more than 35,000 — have either totally lifted their quarantine or eased restrictions drastically.

In our case, deaths have totaled “only” 1,177. The richest and most developed nations on earth like the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy have had 122,610; 43,000; and 35,000, respectively. Our ranking in terms of number of cases has been the same since March, in the 39th-40th slot (No. 1 being the worst, the USA), going by Worldometers’ data.

While perhaps morbid, it is the statistics on number of deaths — and the nature of Covid-19 — which I think are important to determine whether we have contained the pandemic, enough to lift the quarantine that has frozen much of economic activity and made Filipino’s lives miserable.

The course of Covid-19 has shown its two major features. First is that it is highly contagious, unlike its coronavirus cousins like the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and even the common cold. Second, it is not as deadly as SARS (10 percent fatality rate) and MERS (34 percent), with a fatality rate for the Philippines of 3.9 percent, lower than that for the world of 5.2 percent.


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Libeled businessman ‘invited’ to invest P100M in Rappler

A major stockholder of Rappler invited the libeled businessman Wilfred Keng to invest P100 million in the firm in 2014, according to a source close to the businessman. Keng recently won the libel case he filed against Rappler’s Executive Editor and Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa and the purported writer of the piece.

Keng declined the offer to invest in the website A few weeks after that meeting, on Feb. 19, 2014, the original article that came out in May 29, 2012, that was part of the Yellow regime’s vilification campaign to remove Chief Justice (CJ) Renato Corona, was republished.

Why was it republished in 2014? This article explains one possible reason.

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Save the nation, and your own skin: Tell the truth

An open letter to Reynaldo Santos, Jr., ‘author” of the libelous Rappler article.

DEAR Rey, I am reaching out to you through my column as I have been unable to communicate with you through your email and Facebook page, both of which seem to have been inactivated and I wouldn’t know what office to contact at the Araneta City where you currently work.

‘Author’ of the libelous Rappler piece: He could be the patsy. PHOTO BY ENRIQUE AGCOIL

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Rappler’s criminal article part of plot to remove Chief Justice Corona

IT is quite despicable that Maria Ressa and her Yellow crowd have been shouting to the world that her criminal conviction for libel for a Rappler article was suppression of the press. It is infinitely disgusting that they have claimed that President Duterte is behind it and that the Philippines has degenerated into a country where freedom of the press no longer exists.

The late chief justice (left); Ressa of Rappler that besmirched him (right)

I have never seen such hypocrisy on such a scale.

If there is any president involved in this issue, it is former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, whose Yellow Cult to this day has been a fan and, I strongly suspect, even a financier of Rappler.

That Rappler article, which was ruled criminally libelous by Regional Trial Court Judge Rainelda Estasio-Montesa the other day, was part of the most odious, immoral and depraved political campaigns in our history.

This was Aquino‘s assault on the Supreme Court in 2012 that removed then-Chief Justice Renato Corona and replaced him with Maria Lourdes Sereno, the most unqualified chief justice ever but the most servile to the president and the Yellows.

Aquino mistakenly thought that with Corona’s removal, the court would reverse its ruling on the fate of his clan’s Hacienda Luisita, and that would give it P2 billion more in agrarian-reform compensation.


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He tried to stop Indonesian’s capture of PLDT

In Memoriam: Perfecto R. Yasay Jr. (Jan. 27, 1947 – June 12, 2020)

First of 2 parts

WE have such short memories, and only a few will remember that Perfecto “Jun” Yasay Jr., President Rodrigo Duterte’s first Foreign Affairs secretary, audaciously tried to block the Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim’s 1998 takeover of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), which violated the constitutional ban on foreigners controlling a utility firm.

Jun passed away on June 12. Our deepest condolences to his wife Cecile and his family. He was a bold man of integrity.

Jun would have been saddened by the turn of events: even with the ignoble fall in 2001 of President Joseph Estrada, who helped that takeover, Salim’s First Pacific group, using PLDT as its base, expanded to become the country’s biggest telecommunications and infrastructure conglomerate, its foreign ownership de facto camouflaged by the high profile of the Indonesian’s top executive Manuel V. Pangilinan. Foreign money in ABS-CBN Corp. is loose change compared to that of PLDT and the Salim conglomerate: their Hong Kong-based holding firm has received a least $1 billion in profits remitted from the Philippines since 1998. Such is the enormous power of corporate lawyers in our country.


Continue ReadingHe tried to stop Indonesian’s capture of PLDT