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Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind

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The fire trees are beginning to bloom—no better sign that summer is here in full force. Along the highways and roadsides, in parks and in private yards, you see them from a distance, a red streak on top of the tree line. As you come nearer, you see the reason for its name: The whole tree seems to be on fire. Moses probably witnessed a similar sight when he saw the burning bush on Mount Sinai.

Posted: April 23rd, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Chiz marrying Heart before 2016 polls

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Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, former senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., and former elections commissioner Augusto Lagman talked politics, graft and corruption, and the 2016 polls at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday. But the tidbit that perked the ears of the people in the audience was the admission by Chiz that he will marry actress Heart Evangelista before the elections are held. It will be a private family ceremony, he joked, because he is afraid someone in the crowd may shout, “Stop the wedding!”

Posted: March 14th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

PPA to blame for congestion in Port Area

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It is turning out that the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is to blame for the traffic jams in Manila. Huge truck trailers that haul container vans to and from the Port Area use the narrow streets of Manila, thus contributing to traffic jams. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno conducted a four-month study of the problem. They concluded that if the trucks were confined to nighttime hours when traffic was light, daytime traffic would be free of the huge trucks and there would be less congestion. So they expanded the existing truck ban to start at 5 a.m., when most students and office workers go to their schools and offices. But the truckers, not used to changing their ways, protested and declared a strike. No cargo left the Port Area during the strike, thus denying manufacturing companies their supplies.

Posted: March 7th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Why the Charter should not be amended

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The reply of the Supreme Court to my Feb. 24 column on a 26-year-old homicide case was published here last Monday, with no comment as requested by Theodore Te, court administrator and public information chief. Still, I cannot help but be curious about why eight Court of Appeals justices inhibited themselves from the case one after another. The eight brave and honorable justices did not say why.

Posted: March 5th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Don’t blame Manila, blame the truckers

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Commuting in Manila has been a breeze in the last four days since the city imposed the expanded truck ban. The drive from Quezon City to Manila, which used to take me almost two hours, now takes less than an hour. My route crosses some of the streets used by the trucks in going to and from Port Area. If you ask the commuters their opinion on the truck ban, they would say that it is heaven-sent. But if you ask the truckers, they will say that it is evil itself.

Posted: February 28th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Love the environment as you love your lover

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Today, Valentine’s Day, love not only your spouse and/or your significant other but also the environment. Your life and happiness—and theirs, too—depend on it. You can change your significant other and even your spouse, but not the environment we all live in. We are all stuck with it.

Posted: February 14th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Legislators question QC business district project

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How did Ayala Land manage to have a joint venture agreement (JVA) with the National Housing Authority (NHA) to develop the North Triangle area into a business district? That’s government property, and the law mandates the conduct of a public bidding before it can be assigned to a private developer. Was such a bidding held? If it was an unsolicited proposal by Ayala, was it subjected to a Swiss challenge by other developers, as the law requires? The task of the NHA is to provide housing for the poor. Why has it entered into a deal to construct expensive commercial, residential, and business buildings for the rich in the remaining open space in Metro Manila?

Posted: February 12th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Luck—or influence?

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The Ayala Group of Companies is either very lucky or very influential and persuasive. In less than a week, it has bagged two billion-peso projects—the unified ticketing system for LRT 1, LRT 2, and MRT 3, and the development of the 7.7-hectare prime property of the Negros Occidental provincial government in Bacolod, adjacent to the provincial capitol. And only last January, the Quezon City government and the National Housing Authority broke laws to eject the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation from a 7-hectare property on Quezon Avenue, over which the MSBF has a 50-year usufruct which will be in effect for 14 more years, in order to hand it over to Ayala Land.

Posted: February 5th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

P35.2B for just one law in 2013

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Do you know that we taxpayers spent P35.2 billion last year for just one insignificant law? That’s how much we spent for Congress, including the Commission on Appointments (CA) which is composed of senators and congressmen, and their pork barrel, which had not yet been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last year. In return, Congress last year passed only one minor law: the one-page Republic Act No. 10632, which suspended the 2013 Sangguniang Kabataan elections. For that one law, Filipino taxpayers spent P35.2 billion! That merits a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Posted: January 28th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

QC gov’t illegally demolishing MSBF gardens

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Storm troopers of the Quezon City government are on their fifth day of demolishing the nurseries, gardens, and stalls at the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation’s Environment Center—without benefit of a court order.

Posted: January 24th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

A business center in North Triangle is a bad idea

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Seventeen months after failing in its first attempt to unlawfully grab the seven-hectare Environmental Center of the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation (MSBF), the Quezon City government, without any court order or legal document, again swooped down on the property before daybreak of Dec. 9, 2013, on the pretext that it had been forfeited in favor of the QC government.

Posted: January 21st, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Featured Columns,Featured Headline,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

Even if legal, GOCC bonuses are immoral

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Actually, we do not need the Commission on Audit to tell us that the officials of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) abused their authority by giving themselves lavish bonuses.

Posted: January 17th, 2014 in Columnists,Columns,Editor's Pick,Inquirer Opinion | Read More »

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