I wrote a piece “Smuggling at its worst under Aquino” November 15, 2012 in the Philippine Daily Inquirer when I was still a columnist there.
The analysis used data from the International Monetary Fund’s Direction of Trade Statistics, and compared the value of imports as reported by the Philippines and the value of exports to it as reported by the exporting countries. Discounted for the exports’ cost of freight and insurance, the difference between the two figures roughly indicates the magnitude of smuggling in a particular country. Many economists have used the technique, even as early as 1965 in an analysis of smuggling in our country at that time. (more…)
Our tourist industry, that is.
Tourism in most countries in Asia of course would likely grind to a halt if ever a war in Asia triggered by North Korea’s utter stupidity. (more…)
In this, the country’ age of narcissism and with the youth of our time, a “Me”-generation, Letran graduate Kevin Villanueva’s internet gesture is a sudden cool breeze in our parched land.
Five days after his graduation last March, Kevin went all the way from Pasig to a memorial park in Laguna where his parents were buried, donned again his commencement-exercises’ outfit, and had a cousin take his photo as he sat by his father and mother’s tombstone with even three roses for his Ma. He posted the photo in a social media site with the caption, translated from Pilipino: (more…)
President Benigno Aquino’s government has spent nearly half a billion pesos in its obsession to lobby credit rating agencies to upgrade the Philippines’ sovereign ratings from its speculative category.
To project an image that Aquino’s becoming president alone boosted the country’s credit ratings, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisma right after his boss’ inauguration June 30, 2010 asked Fitch Ratings’ and Standard & Poor to rate the country’s sovereign risk. (more…)
Even as President Aquino boasts that under his leadership the country’s credit status has been upgraded, Fitch Ratings’ actual statement as well as its data shows that the upgrading has nothing to do with improved governance.
“Governance standards, as measured in international indices such as the World Bank’s framework, remain weaker than ‘BBB’ range norms, “ Hearst Corp.’s Fitch Ratings said in its statement on its upgrading of the Philippines’ long-term debt issues to BBB-, or “entry-level” investment grade. (more…)
The Manila Times, March 27, 2013
WHAT makes the suicide of University of the Philippines student Kristel Tejada so tragic is this:
While she got so despondent that her family couldn’t afford her tuition fees, the university has actually been subsidizing children of the Philippine elite.
The UP’s “full tuition” fee (imposed for students whose families ostensibly make P1 million or more a year) is P54,000 for 36 units, for a year’s maximum academic load. That’s a preposterous 5 percent of their income that they’re allocating for their son or daughter’s college education, really the best in the country.That’s peanuts for the rich, not even close to what they spend in the year eating out.
The populists and Leftists at UP would protest that this—or any tuition level actually—is too high for a state university. But this is a subsidized rate: There have been studies that the actual cost for UP’s quality college education would be three times that, about P150, 000.
The Manila Times, March 25, 2013
Unless President Aquino and even most Filipinos have become so dense to realize it, the recent release by the Abu Sayyaf bandits of Australian Warren Rodwell is a huge red neon sign for the world to read:
“Visit the Philippines, Asia’s Ransom Republic, if you want to be kidnapped by bandits and then pay millions of pesos to be released. Hassle-free arrangements will be made for payment of the ransom by our police and local governments.”
While we rejoice that a human life has been saved, “government’s handling” of, or rather, total inutility over the kidnapping diminishes our integrity as a nation, unless Mr. Aquino himself goes on a televised press conference to deny that P7 million in ransom paid was paid for the Australian ‘s release.
But it was Basilan Vice Gov. Al Rasheed Sakalahul who told one newspaper that he witnessed the payment of P4 million to Abu Sayyaf leader Pujuri Indama. The Abu Sayyaf got only P4 million of the ransom, the paper said, as “local officials and middlemen” took their cut. (more…)
Sunday Read: Book Review
The Manila Times, March 24, 2013
You’d probably be aghast that I devote a column to what seems to be preposterous question.
But it has been asked starting way back in the 18th century by scholars. In recent years, interest on the question has intensified with probably a thousand doctoral and masteral theses, books as well as articles both from Christian and secular universities touching on the issue. In past few years a slew of books – both academic and popular – by scholars and authors called the “mythicists’”. They argue that Jesus Christ is a myth, concocted in the first and second centuries to become the core of a new religion.
The mythicists claim we cannot simply accept the myths and even legends of pre-scientific superstitious societies but examine them in the light of science and humanity’s bank of information. This is obvious in the case of the Greek gods. Less obvious are the cases of Santa Claus, Robin Hood, even St. Christopher who turn out not to be real historical people but amalgams of persons mythicized over the centuries (e.g., Santa Claus a confused mix of a 4th century German bishop St. Nicholas and the pre-Christian Viking god Odin.)
The mythicists claim that elements of the Jesus story have been common in myths during that era and in that part of the world. The theme of a dying-rising God has been common in ancient religions: Osiris, Attis, Heracles, Baal. The Persian God Mithra (who was popular among Roman soldiers) was also born to a virgin. (more…)
The Manila Times, March 22, 2013
Last of Three Parts
The allegations that Muslim youths were massacred in 1968 in Corregidor in a plan gone awry to take Sabah from Malaysia, as I explained last Wednesday, effectively buried our county’s claim to that territory.
Then Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. in his speech on the controversy March 28, 1968 claimed the Malaysians had a hand in creating conditions for what was hyped in media as “the Jabidah Massacre. ”
But behind the controversy was, as Filipinos term it, “pulitika”, politics in its most pejorative sense. “Jabidah” was a propaganda weapon in the political war between two warlords for the control of Cavite in the 1971 elections as well as for the Philippine presidency.
How exactly did the allegations of a “Jabidah massacre” break out? (more…)
The “Jabidah” question
Second of Three Parts
Malaysia’s leadership have been probably laughing their heads off reading about President Aquino delivering a speech in the event commemorating the alleged 1968 “Jabidah massacre” of Muslim youths initially recruited to form a commando unit codenamed to infiltrate Sabah.
It was the “Jabidah” allegations that hugged headlines for several days in 1968 that buried our claim to that territory in Borneo.
This was due to three of its consequences:
- The publicity over the alleged massacre enraged thousands of Muslim youth to swell the ranks of the fledgling Moro National Liberation Front. Malaysia after “Jabidah” not only gave it substantial finances, but also even militarily trained its first officers and provided sanctuary to its leaders. President Marcos’ Operation Merdeka (“Freedom”) was intended to create a Tausug rebellion in Sabah. Instead, because of allegations of a massacre of Muslims by Marcos’ army, it was a Muslim rebellion that broke out in Mindanao, aided by Malaysia.
- The Malaysian involvement proved to be crucial to the MNLF’s strength that by 1976 Marcos declared that the only way to end the insurgency is to give up the Sabah claim so that Malaysia would stop its crucial support of the secessionists.
- In the public consciousness, the allegation of such an atrocity as a “Jabidah massacre” was tightly linked to the Philippine claim to Sabah. Indeed writers who have been passionate in claiming a massacre occurred expectedly denigrated the claim as merely due to “Marcos expansionist tendencies.” It therefore became an unpopular agenda to champion. Since 1968, no politician would touch with a ten-foot pole our Sabah claim. That attitude ended only as a result of the bold but bloody expedition to Sabah recently by the Sulu of Sultan’s fighters. (more…)