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Autopsy of a Debacle: Clerical Extremists, Timid Liberals, and the RH Debate

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The bishops should have realized it was only a matter of time. The surveys were unanimous in chronicling a steady rise in the majority supporting family planning and government support for it. More and more from all classes had come to accept that family size had a direct bearing on poverty and that medical science provided them with the means to do something about it, if they had financial assistance. And the spread of plural sources of belief and ethics that came with secularization was eroding the Church’s claim to a monopoly on morality.

Posted: April 13th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion,Viewpoints | Read More »

Countering Beijing’s octopussy diplomacy

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The recent brazen moves of Chinese maritime surveillance vessels operating over 1,100 kilometers from China’s coast to prevent Philippine civilian vessels from resupplying the tiny marine garrison aboard the BRP Sierra Madre beached on Ayungin Shoal, 200 km from Palawan, are steps in the execution of the so-called “cabbage strategy” articulated last year by Chinese General Major General Zhang Zhaozhong. The aim is to surround Bajo de Masinloc, Ayungin Shoal and other Philippine territories in Spratly Islands with a massive Chinese naval presence to starve Filipino detachments and prevent reinforcements from reaching them.

Posted: March 31st, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

Hot emerging markets? The curious case of the Philippines and Mexico

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The Aquino administration has very good press these days—outside the country. In two major international publications, the Philippines under President Aquino has been the toast and talk of the town. In early February, Keith Bradsher recently gave a heads up in a much-read New York Times piece where he wrote: “Political analysts say that his administration has fought and reduced the corruption that played a role in holding the Philippines back. In one practical measure of that change, the country has been able to pave more roads per 100 million pesos in spending (about $2.2 million) than before — when funds were lost to corrupt officials and incompetence — finally addressing an impediment to commerce.”

Posted: March 22nd, 2014 in Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

The Rice Fiasco: How smugglers, bureaucrats and naïve economists are mugging our farmers

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These lines come to mind as one observes the awful debacle that has overtaken the fate of the most important item in the Filipino diet. In a controversial recent judgment, a court in Davao recently ruled against the Bureau of Customs and ordered the release of 4.2 million tons of seized smuggled rice. Now the smugglers are shouting with glee at an unexpected development: Secretary Leila de Lima is on their side.

Posted: February 26th, 2014 in Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

Nature abhors a vacuum: SC as industry regulator, consumer watchdog

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While Congress and the Supreme Court have moved with alacrity on the scandalous Meralco rate hike, the executive’s response has been extremely slow and disjointed.

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

Thailand’s Edsa 2: from civil conflict to uncivil war?

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There are occasional references to the Edsa Uprising, with one speaker saying, “The Filipinos did it in nine days. We can do it, too.” The event to which he was comparing the Bangkok mass protests was the original Edsa Revolution that toppled Marcos in 1986, not to the more appropriate middle-class rebellion that removed Joseph Estrada from the presidency in 2002.

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

Converging Interests: Hanoi and Manila Confront Leviathan

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“They were really unprepared for that and were really embarrassed by it,” one of Vietnam’s top experts on Chinese diplomacy told me during my recent visit to Hanoi, referring to the Philippines’ bringing its case against China’s aggressive illegal actions in the West Philippine Sea to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal.

Posted: January 12th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

Missing in Action: President Aquino and the Meralco rate hike scandal

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The stunning Meralco power rate hike of P4.15 per kilowatt hour—the highest single increase in that utility’s history—has aroused such anger among the consuming public that it is puzzling that it has not brought the wrath of the president down on the power monopoly. Mr. Aquino is quick to scold businesses that evade taxes, as he showed last March when he shamed many magnates attending a speech he delivered at the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Why not pour the same presidential vitriol on a shameless price gouger?

Posted: December 21st, 2013 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Viewpoints | Read More »

Spineless in Bali

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During the national debate on whether to join the World Trade Organization in 1994-95, the promoters of the move promised that joining the organization would result in a net of 500,000 jobs a year added in agriculture and the Philippines becoming a powerhouse exporter of high-value added crops like broccoli and cut flowers. In fact, [...]

Posted: December 12th, 2013 in Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

Beacons of hope in troubled times

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These days negative examples of clean and competent governance dominate the news.  Yet we do not lack for people who exemplify the finest tradition in service to the people.  These people serve as beacons of hope in these troubled times, if only the media can give them an eighth of the space they give to [...]

Posted: November 27th, 2013 in Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

Yolanda: the Messenger

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It seems these days that whenever Mother Nature wants to send an urgent message to humankind, it sends it via the Philippines.  This year the messenger was Yolanda, a.k.a. Haiyan. For the second year in a row, the world’s strongest typhoon, Yolanda, barreled through the Philippines, following on the footsteps steps of Pablo, a.k.a Bopha, [...]

Posted: November 10th, 2013 in Columnists,Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

The invasion of Bt talong and other GMOs

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It’s Farmers’ Week, and it’s the appropriate occasion to call attention to the dangers posed by genetically engineered crops in the Philippines.

Posted: October 22nd, 2013 in Columns,Viewpoints | Read More »

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