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What happened to the P12B allocated to modernize sugar industry?

THIS is another case of what I always thought has been one of the biggest problems of our nation: Yes, we are a nation of laws, but we seem to pass laws and then forget about them.

In the case of the Sugar Industry Development Act passed in 2015, we forgot that a huge P2 billion was allocated to the industry yearly to improve its productivity.

Whatever happened to the P12 billion allocation in six years, that there is not an iota of evidence to show that our sugar industry is improving its productivity?

All the dire armchair pontifications about the sugar industry, that it is so unproductive it should be allowed to die a natural death upon the government’s lifting restrictions on importations — that it is a zombie industry, dead but unburied, one columnist declared — miss one important thing: there is a state policy that it is an industry that will be made competitive with massive government financial and organizational help. That policy hasn’t been changed.

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We have no heroes: Reds and Yellows have debased our concept of ‘heroes’

TODAY is National Heroes’ Day. What is strange about this holiday, so important that the country gives up a full day of working, that workers paid daily suffer, is the law that ordered it. Commonwealth Act 3827 of Oct. 28, 1931 did not specify who were the heroes the day was celebrating. The Act consisted of only three sentences:

“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in legislature assembled and by the authority of the same:

“Section I: The last Sunday of August of every year is hereby declared as an official holiday to be known as the National Heroes Day.

“Section II: This Act shall take effect upon its approval.”

Succeeding laws merely reaffirmed its date of celebration. However, we owe our being able to sleep late today to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, an economist by training and very practical-minded, who moved it to the first Monday of August, so we’ll have a long weekend, which she thought would be a boost to local tourism.

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Why Ateneo has gone to the dogs intellectually

I CHANCED upon a Facebook post that helped me understand why the Ateneo de Manila, one of my alma maters, has become so Yellow, so rabidly anti-Marcos that it has gone to the dogs, intellectually as well as politically. This was a post by Dr. Christina Astorga, considered one of the leading academics of Ateneo, having served as chairman of its theology department from 1994 to 2003.

Her post and curriculum vitae reveal that despite her being an academic supposedly trained to rely on data for her claims, she hasn’t researched on a single aspect of the Marcos’ martial law regime. Her views on the martial law years are based entirely on the website Rappler, the Philippine Star and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, certified propaganda venues of the Yellows. Kudos to Rappler for being able to brainwash academics.

Well, if Ateneo’s academic leaders are such biased persons who rely not on data but on biased media, then what would you expect of its faculty and students?

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A billion pesos worth of sugar hoarded

“DISPOSE for markets to sell at P70 per kilogram, or we’ll see you in court.”

Mobilizing several different agencies, the Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. administration has raided and found in several warehouses mainly in the National Capital Region and a few other provinces 401,000 50-kg bags of sugar. If half of these were raw sugar (P3,200 per bag) and half refined (P4,500), this hoarded sugar would be worth P821 million.

The figure would likely pass P1 billion when reports after “inspections” in other warehouses in the Visayas come in, government officials said.

The raids were undertaken, jointly and separately, by the Bureau of Customs, using its visitorial powers on warehouses keeping imported commodities, aided by the National Bureau of Investigation, the military’s intelligence service, and even the Presidential Security Group.

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This is a hero?

Aug. 21, 1983: Fatal miscalculation? PUBLIC DOMAIN PHOTO

DID Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. risk his life to liberate the country from a dictatorship or did he mainly see it as an opportunity to succeed Ferdinand E. Marcos, well worth the risk of returning to Manila?

His candid conversation on Aug. 13, 1983 with his close friend, the late Steve Psinakis — the husband of Presentacion Lopez, the only daughter of the “Don” Eugenio Lopez Sr. — would seem to point to the latter motivation.

In Ninoy’s last interview with foreign correspondents inside the plane in the wee hours of Aug. 21, 1983, he portrays himself as the opposition leader who decided to return to the Philippines, as he put it, “to help the opposition rebuild its grassroots organization” for the 1984 Batasang Pambansa elections. Ninoy says: “I no longer crave for political office. I would like to reiterate: I am not out to overthrow Marcos.”

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SRA issue shows Marcos should appoint ASAP full-time agri sec

WHEN President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. announced even before he assumed the presidency last June 30 that he would not appoint an Agriculture department secretary and instead assume that portfolio himself, I immediately expressed serious doubts in my column whether this was a wise decision.

I pointed out that while it sends a message that his administration would make agriculture a priority, in actual practice, it really means his holding two jobs, with both the presidency and the agricultural department being led by a part-time official, and therefore their performance compromised.

In fact, in the post-war period, only two presidents have headed a department, and this was only the defense portfolio, I suspect, because they wanted to make sure the military was solidly behind them. President Marcos Sr. assumed the defense post when he became president on Dec. 31, 1965. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became Defense secretary for a month in 2003 and two months to Feb. 1, 2007.

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ES Rodriguez: We asked SRA to justify imports; they couldn’t

‘Sugar Order was not approved by Marcos’

EXECUTIVE Secretary Victor Rodriguez said yesterday that he had asked the board of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to justify their plan to import 300,000 MT of sugar. “They couldn’t, and without the President’s approval went ahead to issue Sugar Order No. 4 that would have authorized accredited traders to import that huge amount of sugar,” Rodriguez said.

The executive secretary spoke with me yesterday over the phone after I texted him a set of questions, asking him to comment on reports that it was he who had prodded the SRA, mainly through the Agriculture department’s undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, to issue the sugar order.

“Sebastian didn’t even inform the President or me that the Sugar Board will meet to approve that importation,” Rodriguez said. “We found out about it only when my staff reported that the SRA posted the order on its website.”

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Marcos govt faces first serious controversy, over sugar imports

LESS than two months in power, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s administration faces its first crisis that could dent the public’s confidence in his capability to lead.

At best, the issue reveals a chaotic, amateurish Malacañang bureaucracy — where officials are elbowing each other, as an insider described it in Filipino (nagbabalyahan).

At worst, it points to corruption at the highest levels since the issue, whether to import sugar or not, involves the opposing interests of elite groups — sugar planters who hate imports because they bring their prices down vs food and beverage manufacturers, whose margins increase with lower prices for the sweetener. None of these elites are beyond offering bribes for government to go their way, with their industries set to lose or make billions of pesos depending on the regulatory body’s decision.

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Reagan confirmed Cory asked US to take Marcos out of the country

US PRESIDENT Ronald Reagan, longtime personal friend of Ferdinand Marcos, himself confirmed that Cory Aquino asked the Americans to take the strongman out of the Philippines, despite his demand to be brought to his home province, Ilocos Norte. Reagan’s narrative is the fifth account* debunking the Yellow version of events.

The movie “Maid in Malacañang” has quite suddenly raised this in the public’s consciousness. Historical trivia it may seem, but it is a major revelation that should prod us to reevaluate how Cory captured power and what really was the EDSA event that brought Marcos down.

Ironically, it is the historian of the very strong Yellow bent, Lamberto Raymundo (“Ambeth”) Ocampo, who first reported Reagan’s account of this in his column of Aug. 10, 2022. His column though, as we shall see, is a case study of how even purportedly objective historians cannot accept reality even if it stares them in the face.

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