Posts from the ‘Only in the Philippines’ Category

Pumapatak na naman ang Pera sa Bubong ng Bahay!


Let us start with the problem:

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Every 21 seconds, a child dies from a water-related illness.

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780 Million people lack access to clean water.

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The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.

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Potable water resources in Saudi Arabia may be depleted by 2050 if nothing is done.

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A liter of mineral water cost around one US dollar.

Now the opportunity….

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The Philippines is not only rich in natural resources like natural gas, minerals (gold,iron,silver, etc), it has an abundance of that one thing that is getting to be the most valuable commodity in the world: Water.

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Unlike Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich gulf nations that are bursting with oil, the Philippines get to be visited by 20 plus typhoons a year that pour millions of cubic meters of rain water.  If only this fresh and potable water is just gathered, stored, bottled and exported to countries that are badly lacking water, the Philippines will be on its way to become a world economic power.

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Water Reservoir Picture

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Imagine if only flood-prone communities in the Philippines will devise ways of gathering rain or pooling flood waters and have these purified (don’t underestimate Pinoy talent, they can always come up ingenious ways of collecting rain water!).  This potable water supply can be supplied  to Saudi Arabia the way the latter supplies the Philippines with crude as if it is flood water in that desert kingdom.  Soon the Philippines will be sending huge water tankers to the Middle East and all the other countries which have oil but no water!  Watta bright future!

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So instead of ranting about the misfortunes every time a tropical depression enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility.  Think again!  rain water coming down can be your source of fortune.

How to Fight Corruption Effectively (Part 1): Corruption-Free Highways.


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BLIND ITEM:  It is simply ironic that in a country where anti-corruption slogans and promises win elections, the home province of a top government official  (well, not President Benigno “Pnoy” Aquino as this one supposedly comes from that tiny province) has a very corrupt public work office.  The province’s major roads are often scraped open and “reconstructed” by multitude of village boys instead of heavy equipments.  Imagine portions of a 3-year old highway (relatively new) being “re-blocked” by manual labor.  No wonder the province’s road and highways become “abortion roads” just before the elections.   This makes travelers wonder if the province’s public  engineers  really finished their engineering decrees as they seem not able to design and build roads that can last more than three years.  Greatest suspicion is these engineers are in cahoots with everybody- from the high level politicians down to the lowest muscle man who work the highways.   They continue to build defective roads (those without provision for drainage or protection from landslides) in partnership with private contractors, for politicians who allegedly get hefty commissions (as much as 25%) while taking advantage of  manual labor to beef up their re-election bids (mind you, most of these road re-blocking projects are done just before the elections).

 

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Well,  this racket of corrupt politicians, inept engineers and lousy private road contractors is not news.  This has been going on for years, if not decades.

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What makes it extra disturbing this time is that the present administration used “Matuwid na Daan” as its anti-corruption banner line. In other words, this does battle cry does not go well with the fact that corrupt road builders still go unpunished in the Philippines.

How can this be stopped?

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Yes. it can.  If only the Philippine government thinks out of the box and changes the way  public infrastructures are built.  The following are three simple and achievable ways to eradicate corruption from public infrastructure development:

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First, the Philippine government should require public work engineers to undergo skill and theoretical examination.    This will determine whether they still have strong grasp of basic engineering skills in road building.  And in the spirit of transparency, these examinations should be conducted by independent groups – such as from those from the academe (UP, Ateneo and Mapua).   Surely, the result of these examinations will reveal the real capability of the country’s engineers.

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Second,the government should establish a strict project completion watchdog that will certify to the proper completion of the infrastructure project before final payment is made.  This body should be composed of engineering experts from the private sector and should use world engineering standards.  A member from the Ombudsman should be a must.

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Third, the government should equip the Department of Public Work and Highways (DPWH) with sufficient construction equipment to do the work themselves.    For many decades, the DPWH relied heavily on private contractors to do their job.  This is simply ridiculous.  This is like the Philippine military relying on private security guards to handle national security.   So if the military is currently acquiring multi-million jets and ships to defend our territory, why not give the DPWH the dump trucks, bulldozers and road rollers they need for road repairs.  At the very least, it will save them from the expenses of public bidding as they can do the work themselves.

There are several other measures available but the government seems reluctant to consider it.  Simply stated, corruption is rooted on efficiency.

 

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What MR. CHEAP JUSTICE really wants to suggest:

 

If it is really impractical for the government to follow the three suggestions above, it can at least try sure shot infrastructure contractors – those who were able to  build enormous world class structures in record time but cost-efficient manner.  Who else but the prolific builders of the Philippine private sectors.

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Why don’t Pnoy rely on Shoemart Development Corporation (SMDC) or Robinson’s Land to build public highways and bridges following their fast and efficient ways of building their shopping malls?

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If SMDC is able to build extraordinary structures (like the mall on stilt SM Marikina or the gargantuan SM Aura Mall in Taguig), building bridges and highways is chicken feed.  Furthermore, Pnoy will be assured that Henry Sy or his children will destroy their billion dollar empire over a “tong pats” of let us say 10%.

Woman of the Year: BIR Commissioner Kim Henares


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Once in a blue moon, a ultra-straight, no-nonsense, and decisive individual finds his or her way to the government to bring about genuine change.  One such person is  Atenean lawyer and Georgetown alumna Kim Henares who is considered  a precious gem in President Benigno C. Aquino’s treasure chest.  True to her value, Atty. Henares continues to prove that she can bring about change in what is considered one of the corrupt bureaus of Philippine government, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

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No doubt about it, Atty. Henares is one tough cookie and is not afraid to go after the untouchables and  big fishes that evaded former BIR commissioners.  Her latest move -some say is a social suicide – even pit her  against her companeyos and companyeras in the legal profession, doctors and professionals who are not paying the proper taxes.  This is one concrete proof this iron lady  is does not fear any opposition or hurdle along the way.

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Salute to you, Atty. Henares!

Chief Justice Suggestion:  While it is true that having a fearless and honest BIR Commissioner  will set a new feat at the BIR by making taxpayers like the professionals pay the right taxes,  President Aquino should realize that tax collection will be effortless when taxpayers are convinced that taxes collected will be used wisely and properly by the government.

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As such, he should put somebody at the other end of the process –  the post audit of government fund in order to make sure that taxes collected are properly spend and not pocketed by corrupt government officials.  Stated simply, President Aquino should also put somebody like Atty. Henares at the Commission on Audit (COA).  Without a strong reviewer of how government funds are used, admirable effort by honest officials like Atty. Henares will be frustrated.

Presumption of Innocence, Stupid!


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To those who seemingly sidestepped common sense and elementary logic by crucifying instant celebrity Jeane Lim-Napoles:  can they actually find any distinction between her and other “children of gods?”

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Daughters of god  No. 1:  Imee and Irene Marcos, children of so-called “Marcos Conjugal Dictatorship” whom opposition leaders (including parents of President Benigno C. Aquino III) have accused of  emptying the government’s coffers.

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Daughter of god No. 2:  Jackie Ejercito-Lopez, daughter of convicted plunderer-and-now-Manila mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada.

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Daughter of god No. 3:  Luli Macapagal-Arroyo, daughter of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is currently facing multiple graft and corruption cases.

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Daughter of god No. 4:  Camille Villar, daughter of former Senator Manny Villar who was allegedly involved in the controversial C5 extension project.

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Daughter of god No. 5:  Senator Nancy Binay,  whose mother former  Makati Mayor Elenita Binay was accused of plunder for the alleged anomalous purchase of furnitures amounting to 72 million pesos.

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…..and espeysal mention, Daughter of god no. 6, pa-socialite Divine Lee, daughter of  businessman Delfin Lee  of Globe Asiatique who is accused of duping the Pag-ibig housing fund in the tune of 7 billion pesos.

Although some of these “children of gods” have not flaunted their riches online, it is public knowledge that they enjoyed “social latitude” at some point of their lives.  But to assume that they have any hand in the wrongdoings or alleged unscrupulous dealings of their parents, self-righteous individuals have clearly trampled their right to be presumed innocent (a right that even the worst specie of criminals are entitled to).

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In the end,  Jeane Lim-Napoles’ only mistake could be her propensity to post photos on social networks such as Tumblr and Instagram.

I wish I were Jeane Napoles.


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It seems that the Philippines does not run out of juicy controversies. The latest even outshined (or outclassed) those who are supposedly involved in a graver scandal – distinguished members of the Philippine Senate who allegedly allowed a lady-businesswoman to spend their “pork barrel” (Senator’s discretionary funds otherwise known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund) on dubious non-government organizations (NGOs).

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Jeane Lim Napoles

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The frenzy and rage over the flaunted riches of young designer Jeane Lim Napoles (daughter of pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles) are misplaced. This is sadly the proverbial “barking at the wrong tree” case. While the public is castigating Ms. Napoles, the real evildoers (who allegedly include her embattled mother) are slipping away from the clutches of lady justice (just like how Delfin Lee of the Globe Asiatique scam seemed to fade away from the public’s memory).

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Magna cum laude Jeane –no matter how tasteless, classless or careless netizens think she is – should not be made the target of any public uproar. She is just at the receiving end. If indeed charges against her mother are true, it does not concern Jeane (unlike Delfin Lee’s pa-socialite daughter Divine Lee who is Vice President for Sales of their beleaguered company). The government and all its “matuwid na daan” powers should pounce on the real perpetrators of the Pork Barrel Scam before they get away or their popularity (or notoriety) wanes.

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tumblr_lfkku2eW4i1qgb6fqo1_400 (photos from jean napoles’ tumblr account)

There is nothing wrong in having rich parents. Children of ridiculously rich people cannot be faulted for the riches gifted to them or they merely inherited (right, Senator Bong-Bong Marcos?). All they do is to receive the moolah and spend it as if there is no tomorrow. And lucky them, there is no law against spending all your money on a whim.

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(photo from Jean Napoles’Twitter account)

That is why a lot of Filipinos actually want to be Jeane Lim-Napoles: young, supposedly talented, apparently happy, no doubt filthy rich and….. sadly innocent. The problem is that they cannot just shake off the fact that they are just envious of her.

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The Future Philippine First Lady – Who will it be?


First Choice: Heart Evangelista

imagesSecond Choice: Jinky Pacquiao

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Third Choice: Korina Sanchez

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Fourth Choice:  Elenita Binay

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Vote now!!!

 

How We can All Be Rich!


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In a recent report, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB)  reported that the percentage of Filipinos living below the poverty line has remained almost unchanged in the past six years.  Meaning despite the “matuwid na daan” programs and the robust economy of the country,  President Benigno Aquino, III, most Filipinos are still in utter poverty.

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It is ironic that on one side of the country  exists a totally different social strata that is  wading in an ocean of money.  To prove this,  mega-buck car brand Rolls Royce opened its Manila branch with funny man Willy Revillame as its supposed first customer.

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The presence of billionaires and millionaires in the Philippines is only a testament to the fact that while  the majority  is poor, there is still  chance for them to get rich.  Yet, a genuine “get rich” formula is still elusive.  As all the best economic minds (like Georgetown-educated Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) seemed to fail in solving the poverty crisis in the country, it is time to hear “out of this world” suggestions on how to get rich.  Who knows these may just do it.

Here are some suggestions:

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1.)  Relax Taxation.  The Philippine government should do something about the business sector’s biggest torn: taxes.  If it is not going to totally close down the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), it should reduce taxes with the condition that whatever  big businesses will be able to save, it should use the same to increase  the salaries of its employees.  This will shortcut the delivery of benefits to the people by avoiding   inefficient management, partisan politics, and “un-remedied” problem of corruption.

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2.)  Relax the Labor Code provision on minimum wage.  Through the years, our manufacturing sector cannot compete with cheap labor cost of other countries like China and Vietnam.  The burden of  monetary and non-monetary benefits required by the Labor Code from employers and investors are actually crippling our manufacturing sector and its export potential.  The government should allow the private sector to establish “Free Trade Zones” where labor code provisions on minimum wage is relaxed thereby giving market forces a free hand.  This way, Filipino laborers can bargain with capitalists and factory owners just like a simple “pakyaw” transaction.  This is giving both parties more options.

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3.) Scrap government requirement for  overseas workers.  The government should allow overseas workers to work abroad without too much regulations and requirements.  For example,  if a Filipino is willing to work in Iraq for example, the government should not meddle.  What it should do is just to bolster the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA)’s capability to rescue or assist stranded workers.

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4.) Glamorize Domestic Helpers.  If only the government will change the mindset that working as domestic helpers abroad is demeaning, then millions of jobless Filipino women can work abroad as professional domestic helpers without the stigma of shame.

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5.) No Work No Vote Policy – To up employment in the countryside and urban area, a work/employment  record must be made a requisite in exercising the right of suffrage (right to vote).  In this manner, politicians will make sure that their constituents and supporters will have work in order for them to vote.

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6.)  Gambling Only to Foreigners.  The government should follow Macau’s gambling policy: gambling is strictly for foreigners.   This will not only bolster employment opportunities (imagine the demand for  dealers, waiters, waitresses, GROs, massage therapists, entertainers, security guards, drivers, hotel workers once casinos around the Philippines will be opened).  Since the government has thoroughly marketed the country as a tourism destination to beat its neighbors, why go further  by making gambling tourism  a  priority.

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7.) Affordable hourly lotto raffles.  To give hope to the common man, lotto draws should be made frequent – in an hourly basis if possible.  Furthermore, to make it affordable, the government should make bets as cheap as 50 centavos (which can make a bettor win the top  price).

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8.) Encourage technical education.  State universities should  re-asses  their priority.  It should focus on high-demand professions and skills.  On the other hand it should discourage  8-year courses like medicine and law, it should train the youth in short term courses like call center operations, culinary arts and hotel management, home management (for domestic helpers), care giving courses and other technical skills with  high demand abroad.

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9.)  Make the elections an annual event.  Since rich politicians seriously spend to buy votes during the elections (sometimes in thousand of pesos per voter), the government should make the national elections an annual event.  It should also remove the cap on election spending.  This will bolster re-distribution of wealth.

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10.) Spend on a nationwide fashion designing, singing and boxing development programs.  With the recent success of Filipinos in the fields of fashion design (Michael Cinco), singing (Charice) and boxing (Manny Pacquiao) in the international market, the government should launch a nationwide talent search for the next fashion designer, singing sensation and pound for pound boxer.  Another Manny Pacquiao who brings in the bacon will also bring in money to his constituents either as “balato” or bonafide assistance to kababayans.

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11.) Require all TV variety programs do a Willie Revillame.  In order to improve the chances of  the common man to  become a  millionaire, the government should mandate that all TV variety shows should have a “Pera or Bayong” portion where simple folks can join and win the grand prize daily.

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12.) Encourage and support inter-marriages.  The government should play matchmaker and help Filipinas (and Filipinos) to find their ideal mates abroad.   The government should help set up internet connections in far flung areas where there are lots of dreamy eyed Filipinos who are looking for sweethearts abroad.  This does not only bring in the foreign currency but also improves our race.    The government should not worry as the last say would be on the brides (and grooms).

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13.) Allow Tambays (homies) to moonlight as traffic enforcers.  By following this suggestion, the government not only alleviates traffic (that delays production) but also gives jobs to street urchins that litter Metro Manila streets.  What more for those who want more challenging (and high paying jobs), they should be allowed to moonlight as “trainees” at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs (BOC), or Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

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14.) Ask Japan, China, and other Asian neighbors to dump their garbage here.  Don’t get me wrong.  Our government  trained our scavengers well.  Through the years of encouraging garbage segregation and recycling, Filipino scavengers are the best in the world – even coining the word “May Pera sa Basura” (There is money in waste).

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15.) Encourage the people to eat Grass! Green and leafy vegetable,  I mean. To save on food expenses, Filipinos should change their diet.  From expensive staple of pandesal and coffee in the morning to simple tea (like the chinese). Instead of meat and fish for lunch and dinner, they should be encouraged to eat salad made up of usual backyard vegetables like alogbati, talong and sitaw, etc.

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16.) Bicycle everybody.   The government should put more bicycle lanes at all thoroughfares.  Like domestic helpers, bikers should be glamorized.  This suggestion does not only solve the traffic problem, save gas but also save the environment.

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17.)  Recycle hotel and restaurant food.  Every day, hotels and restaurants in Metro Manila throws away good food for the fear of food poisoning.  These tons of nutritious and delicious food are left to rot.  What if these were recycled and distributed to soup kitchens? That is one less meal expense for the masa (masses) who cannot afford 5-star hotel food.

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18.)  Allow  Chinese poachers and fishermen who fish in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – Since the Philippine Navy seems helpless in preventing illegal entry and poaching  by Chinese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese fishermen within our EEZ, why don’t we just charge them a “fishing fee” or better yet a “entrance fee.”  So that this will not really be hard to swallow for the government, it should remit whatever they earn from the poachers to the local fishermen so that the latter need not risk their life and limb catching fish in their pathetic tiny fishing boats.

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19.) Send our Police and Soldiers on UN abroad.  It is rumored that members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine military would go to lengths to be included in the United Nation (UN) Peacekeeping Force regardless of the theater of war they are sent to and the danger that awaits them (like being kidnapped by Syrian rebels).  It is because these assignments are paid in green bucks!

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20.) Negotiate (strong arm) like the  MILF.  Just by looking tough, parading a bunch of fully armed men and using the plight of Muslim brothers as their only leverage, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which was a spent force during the time of President Erap Estrada was able to demand a chunky “wealth share” from the supposed Bangsa Moro provinces of Mindanao.  Gee whizz.  If only the Ilonggos, the Warays or Ilocanos have wise guys like Alhaj Murad and  Eid Kabalu to bargain for them.

Heck there are others of suggestions in how to get rich! All you have to do is to have an open mind.

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