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Another Dengvaxia-like controversy in the offing?

“I promise you, by the grace of God, I hope by December we will be back to normal. Let’s just wait for a vaccine. Let’s wait till December, if we can just be patient. We are not going back to a ‘new normal.’ It’s going to be normal again.” That is what President Rodrigo Duterte told the Filipino people during his regular briefing aired last Friday.

Mr. President, thy will be done.

On July 10, after a total of 12 public hearings and testimony establishing the broadcast network had not violated any law, the Legislative Committee on Franchises in the House of Representatives just the same voted to deny the renewal of ABS-CBN’s broadcast franchise.

A ridiculous requirement of the Insurance Commission

When I advised the insurance company with which my house has been insured for years to renew the cover, I was told to provide them personal information before they issue me a new policy. I demanded an explanation of the unusual requirement. In response, the company sent me the letter below.

Only in the Philippines

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man was arrested on a charge of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A white police officer knelt on his neck while he was lying face down handcuffed on the street and repeatedly telling the officer “I can’t breathe.” He died of cardiac arrest caused by the nearly nine-minute neck compression which restricted blood flow to the brain.

Dismounting the tiger

In my column of Feb. 14, 2017, I wrote, “When the chapter on the Duterte presidency is written, would there be a group perhaps known as the Marco Polo 3 (Finance Secretary Dominguez, who is said to have a stake in Marco Polo Hotel in Davao, NEDA Director General Pernia, and Budget Secretary Diokno) or a DU30 Dozen?” It was my way of asking subtly if the Duterte chapter in Philippine history would have the equivalent of Hyatt 10 or of Craven Eleven.

COVID-19 wreaks havoc on a number of industries

In order to prevent the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from spreading uncontrollably all over the land, the country’s health authorities recommended the imposition of social or physical distancing. To ensure the strict observance of the physical distancing protocol, the national government, on the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), ordered the closure of certain establishments while the quarantine was in force.

Keeping COVID-19 in perspective

The results of a study conducted by the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team of the University of the Philippines showed that the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has been effective in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19. The fatality rate of 5.38% as of April 10 is indicative of the effectiveness of the ECQ. Based on data provided by the Department of Health, the team estimates there would be around 9,000 to 44,000 cases by the end of this month. In a best case scenario there would be 484 deaths, or 2,367 in a worst case scenario.

New way of life leads to new way of doing business

The best way to beat the coronavirus is to practice social distancing and to avoid gatherings, say our national health officials. In simple terms, people should stay home in order not to be infected by the virus. And at home, one should keep distance from other members of the household.

Life during lockdown, martial law, and the Japanese Occupation

My daughter Monica, who was less than 10 years old during the martial law years, asked me if life in today’s lockdown is like life in those days. “Not quite,” I said. There was fear and anxiety in the beginning -- fear of indiscriminate arrest and anxiety over what the government in the hands of military officers would be like. But after Marcos had political enemies, journalists critical of him, and militant labor and student leaders arrested, things normalized. Business resumed, schools reopened, and people moved about freely. The shutdown of Congress, the judicial system, and the independent media had little impact on the life of regular folk during the days of military rule.

Case studies of lockdowns caused by COVID-19

Wuhan’s bold approach of restricting travel in and out of the industrial city seems to serve as a model for other cities and even whole countries to copy in combating COVID-19, although the lockdown of Wuhan only slowed down the spread of the virus by three to five days because about 5 million residents fled when they sensed the city government would ban exit from it.

The commemoration of the EDSA Event of 1986 will not inspire...

To Messrs. Juan Ponce Enrile and Gregorio Honasan, Feb. 22 is the day that should be commemorated as the start of the EDSA Revolution because that was when they broke away from the tyrant Marcos.

Has DICT Undersecretary Rio decided to stay on the tiger?

On Feb. 3, Undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Eliseo Rio, Jr. told CNN Philippines, “I filed my resignation and (am) awaiting acceptance of the President.” He said he sent his letter to Malacañang on Jan. 31.

Public opinion survey respondents not competent

The Social Weather Stations (SWS) latest report that 76% of Filipinos see many human rights abuses in President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs and that 78% of Filipino adults believe the accusation that there are “ninja cops” among members of the police force raised many a curious eyebrow. To political pundits, SWS’ findings seem to go against the results of past SWS surveys that show that a great majority of the population find President Rodrigo Duterte’s performance satisfactory. An earlier survey showed that 93% disapprove of his inaction towards Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

President Duterte’s performance and popularity: a contradiction?

Social Weather Stations’ (SWS) survey last December revealed that 76% of Filipinos see many human rights abuses in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs. The SWS report prompted Philippine Star columnist Boo Chanco to ask on Facebook if people are turning a blind eye to these human rights abuses when they give President Duterte a high rating.

US senators see PH justice system differently from PH officials

US President Donald Trump’s approval of the Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill which included a provision prohibiting the entry of Philippine government officials found to be involved in the “wrongful imprisonment” of Sen. Leila de Lima drew various comments from key Philippine officials. Here are some of them.


Typhoon Tisoy (international name: Kamurri) left 17 people dead, isolated several provinces, and destroyed infrastructure and agriculture worth billions of pesos. Torrential rain submerged hundreds of villages in the Bicol region as well as in Isabela and Cagayan, floodwater rising to as high as the roof of most houses in those provinces.

Quid pro quo is standard practice in Philippine politics

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that literally means something for something. It is used very often in reference to an exchange of favors.

Did Vice-President Leni Robredo just make a bad judgment?

In accepting the job of co-chair of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD), Vice-President Leni Robredo said, “In the end, the most important consideration for me is simple: if this is the chance to stop the killings of the innocent and to bring to account those responsible, I will take upon this challenge. They are asking me if I am ready for this job. My question is: Are you ready for me?”

Lucas Bersamin leaves an indelible mark of subservience to the powers...

“This is something that I will tell you -- I wanted to delay the vote because I did not like to take part in it, because I did not like the public like the media speculating that I cooked or orchestrated the result. I always told you, rigging in the Supreme Court is not possible because there are so many involved,” retiring Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin told reporters after the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), deferred once again the voting on whether to dismiss Mr. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s electoral protest or to proceed with it.

Why President Duterte is ‘popular’

Baffling to many Filipinos is that despite his lack of decorum, dignity, and statesmanship, President Rodrigo Duterte remains popular. They ask why the majority of the Filipinos, including those who did not vote for him, are not bothered when his “canto boy” demeanor, vulgar language, and plebeian sartorial style are way below the dignity of the President, whose official residence is called a palace.

Why are they so enraged?

Political allies of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Senate are enraged by the approval by the US Senate Committee on Appropriations of an amendment on the Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that prohibits entry to any Philippine Government officials involved in the imprisonment of Sen. Leila de Lima.

What now Gilas Pilipinas?

We are all familiar with the story of David and Goliath, the Biblical account of a shepherd boy beating with a mere sling shot a giant warrior. How did a boy not trained for armed combat defeat in battle a giant of a veteran warrior?

The making of a Politician

On the night of July 13, 1966 a jobless merchant seaman, after having consumed several drinks, entered a student nurses’ home in the southeast side of Chicago. Armed with a revolver and a switchblade, he demanded money from the residents. Terrified, the nurses obliged. Drunk, he lingered in the house for an hour. Then he decided to kill the nurses. He led the women in singles or pairs to other rooms where he stabbed or strangled them.

The psyche of the Filipino voter

In her column last Wednesday, my friend Tess Abesamis attempts to understand why we seem to “elect so many undesirables.” She is no psychologist, having taken only the basic three units in college, according to her, but she came across Abraham Maslow’s paper on the Hierarchy of Needs. Tess finds in Maslow’s theory the explanation for the “atrocious kind of leaders we have today.”

Two empires in epic battle

Disappointed at how Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano distributed committee chairmanships among congressmen who supported him in his bid for the Speakership, 30 PDP-Laban congressmen, among them presidential son Paolo Duterte, bolted the party and joined the National Unity Party. But as the new alliance still has to take aggressive action against Speaker Cayetano, I take the lull in political hostilities as an opportunity to turn my attention to an epic battle that is already raging.

A monumental slip of the tongue

In her effort to express fittingly her profound gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for making possible her acquittal from plunder charges, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo got so carried away as to make a monumental slip of the tongue. Said she: “I thank you that when you became President, you provided the atmosphere in which the Court had the freedom to acquit me of the trumped up charges of my successor and your predecessor, so that the Court voted 11-4 in my favor, including half of those who were appointed by my successor.”

The next Speaker

In my column of June 11, I asked: Are the current aspirants for Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress men of gravitas? Are they presidential timber like a number of previous speakers? Or are they lightweights who can be pushed over the top like Pantaleon Alvarez, who is again an aspirant for the Speakership?

Slam of party-list system a mere sham

“The party-list system has become one evil,” bewailed President Rodrigo R. Duterte at the oath taking of the newly elected officials of Cagayan de Oro City on June 13. He accused the rich of using their money to insert themselves into Congress. “They (party-lists) are named after laborers, but their nominees are millionaires,” said he.

Lightweights for Speaker

“I am the Speaker, I can always impeach the President,” Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was supposed to have boasted, according to the President’s daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio. If he did, he must have considered himself in a position of power. However, Mr. Alvarez denied he made such a statement.

The Senate a rubber stamp?

With the 12 candidates endorsed by President Duterte elected to the Senate combined with his allies among the holdover senators, there is speculation that it would be easier now for the President to push his agenda through the Senate.