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Like It Is

Some pet peeves

/ 12:10 AM March 13, 2014

I’m going to clear my desk a little (you should see the mounds of paper on it; I think there’s a desk underneath) with some notes I’ve made as events happen.

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I’m gratified I get quite a bit of support for the points I make. But I get opposition, too, and that’s healthy and welcome. I just wish there were a forum where we could argue it more. What I will not accept is the attack against my being a foreigner (one who has been here for 39 years, probably longer than most of the critics), and white at that, who has no right to criticize. When you sink to attacks on race, you have no stand. Who or what I am is irrelevant; what I say is what you should focus on.

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Jinggoy’s threat to block approval of the Commission on Audit and Department of Justice chiefs at the Commission on Appointments (CA) is a perfect example of what I’ve long argued: This commission should not exist. He’s using personal pique to decide on something that should be made based only on what’s good for the nation.

The Constitution mandates three coequal, INDEPENDENT branches of government. Congress should have no say in who the President wants to appoint to his team. Comment by all means on their performance, but not on who they are. If Congress insists on retaining the CA, then the President should have the equal right to approve committee chairs in Congress.

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What we should all realize is that if the normal (historical) processes of law prevail, not one of the politicians involved in the Napoles scam will go to jail in my lifetime. Possibly not even in yours. Principal suspects in the Ampatuan case, the Philippines’ worst political massacre, have yet to be convicted after more than four years.

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I have a suggestion: If a politician is killed before or during an election (as 70 were in 2013), ban ALL his opponents from seeking that position. Then there will be no point in killing someone. Declare the election a failure and hold a special election with none of those who were running, or their relatives to the third degree of consanguinity, allowed to run.

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President Aquino should not be making the same mistake that his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, did. Yet it seems he is. When she expropriated Naia-3 due to alleged anomalies, she promised to recompense Piatco a fair value for the work done. She never did. So for over 12 years the terminal was tied up in litigation, mired in controversy, and became an international embarrassment to the nation.

The Court of Appeals has decided that $371.43 million is fair compensation and should be paid. I agree. To drag it through court all over again to possibly save (and possibly not) some cash now will cost the nation far more, both directly and indirectly, as it has in the past.

The courts have decided; let’s accept that decision. Let’s send a message to the world that the Aquino administration accepts responsibility for obligations incurred. Let’s put the Naia-3 controversy behind us, and let’s get it fully operational as the primary terminal. Let’s get over the shame of the world’s worst international airport. Let’s pay our obligations.

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May I suggest that the bishops listen to their Pope and consider the important tasks of their ministry. Perhaps if they put as much effort to instilling the concepts of morality and honesty into their brethren instead of opposing the Reproductive Health Law, we might not have had a Janet Napoles, and various lawmakers and undoubtedly many other public servants, stealing our money. We would not have to restructure customs and would have had money to lift the poor out of poverty instead of tax cheats putting it in their pockets.

Christ taught the importance of an honest life and mandated it (No. 8 of the 10 Commandments) if Christians were to go to Heaven. I don’t believe he mentioned anything about contraception (but I could be wrong). The priests have failed to instill this admirable characteristic in their adherents. I agree with this remarkable Pope: It’s time for the bishops to take time and reflect on what is their real responsibility to their people. Voluntary access to family planning services is not of overriding importance, and should not have become the obsession it is now. Instilling honesty in society is what should be their overriding passion and concern.

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Cardinal Chito Tagle says lawmakers should go to the slums to see how the poor really live. If the cardinal goes, he will find the slums full of the stunted, malnourished children of mothers who wanted no more, and can’t support them. Or view the coffins of the 30 kids (out of 1,000 live births) who died before they reached their fifth birthday. If he has a truly Christian heart, he will stop the opposition to family planning for those who wish it and ask those who’ve filed opposition in the Supreme Court to withdraw it. Family planning is not mandatory, it’s optional. If the Church is against family planning, it should convince its flock: Don’t dictate to non-Catholics in a secular society.

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Whether China or the Philippines owns vast areas of the South China/West Philippine Sea (and it’s not China), the Chinese government should not condone, as its inaction implies, the removal of coral from the sea. It takes at least 5,000 years to grow coral; to remove it is an environmental disaster. Killing rhinos, elephants and sharks for a small part of them is equally reprehensible. I’d like to see the Chinese government ruthlessly crack down on these unscrupulous people. And convince its own people not to desire ivory or shark’s fin soup or coral jewelry, to explain to them the irreversible damage their purchases are doing.

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A headline: “The Philippines has the 3rd worst mining regime.” You can blame this government. ‘Nuff said.

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TAGS: Cardinal Chito Tagle, Commission on Audit, Like It Is, opinion, Pet peeves, Peter Wallace, Pope Francis, Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, West Philippine Sea
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