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Aldrin Cardona

‘May nanalo na!’

Wednesday, 21 March 2018 00:00 Published in Commentary


While new generation TV talk exclaim victory through this shriek, Malacañang did so very quietly when it sealed a casino deal through a hand shake in December last year.
There was no canned applause, but Lui Che Woo did not miss the opportunity to a photographed session at Malacañang with no less than President Duterte.
Lui Che Woo, is described as a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Jiangmen, People’s Republic of China and is a Hong Kong gambling magnate.
He is Hong Kong’s third richest man, according to Forbes magazine, and the only casino operator in the Top 10 crowded by mostly real estate magnates. He owns Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited and acts as its chairman.
The next Hong Kong gambling operations magnate to come after him is Pansy Ho, who is at far 15th.
In the first week of November, Lui Che Woo paid President Duterte a courtesy call where he spoke of a casino investment.
He was accompanied by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chairman Andrea Domingo, who declared Lui Che Woo is discussing with Leisure & Resorts World Corp. , which is owned by Negros Occidental Rep. Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, the possibility to open a casino complex in Boracay.
Lui Che Woo’s meeting with President Duterte was swift, but action soon after that was prompt, it sent Boracay and the tourism industry in disarray.
Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia were also present in that meeting between Lui Che Woo’s group and the President.
So, they may have agreed to the President’s declaration in February to close the Boracay Island due to what Mr Duterte claimed were environmental issues as Boracay had become a “cesspool” over years of bad urban planning brought about by the island’s invasion by big business which have sent the local entrepreneurs inward and away from the world famous pure white sand strip.
President Duterte gave Boracay 60 days to clean up. The Local Government Unit responded quickly.
Galaxy seems prepared to start its project, which would have fired off President Duterte’s promised “build, build, build.”
It was only on March 14 when the Pagcor announced that the Boracay casino project would push through.
The following day, March 15, Malacañang’s talking heads said President Duterte would send the Marines to Boracay to blow up illegal structures, even to use dynamites if and when necessary.
These events and statements underscore the seeming haste for the Boracay casino project to push through.
President Duterte, ironically, did not put to task the LGU for what could have been its failure to implement the existing rules on the construction of new structures in the islands, despite the mushrooming of big hotels and resorts which have taken over what used to be a well-maintained paradise before they came.
And yet, here again is a casino that is the least needed by Boracay.
And what could be next?
A bridge connecting the island with Caticlan?
An influx of more tourists than island could handle? More trash?
Possibly more drugs and prostitution?
I don’t see winners here.
Only Lui Che Woo and Galaxy.



Monday, 19 March 2018 00:00 Published in Commentary


What protection have we in these times of uncertainties?
Probably very little, if none at all.
Not a few poor families have asked as their fathers, mothers and children fell one after another at the height of Oplans: Tokhang and Double Barrel, bases for a preliminary examination of crimes against humanity filed against President Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the President’s critcs who have been wanting to get him out of the Palace.
They did not receive answers, except for a few high profile incidents like that very much minor Kian delos Santos’ murder by raiding policemen in a drug-infested area in Caloocan.
Kian’s parents were invited to Malacañang, had a chat with the President who offered them financial assistance. They posed for the cameras with President Duterte’s fist bump gesture, spelling none but submission and withdrawal from the realities of abuse by those who wield power.
President Duterte then went public accusing Kian’s father— a vendor—as being involved in the illegal drug trade, even tagging several family members.
We never heard from them again.
President Duterte no longer mentioned Kian since then, too.
But it helped build up the ICC case.
President Duterte said he was willing to face the ICC music, even claiming he wants a heroic death and shopped for countries which still use the firing squad to kill criminals. It would have been glorious like Rizal’s, President Duterte said.
Like in many other statements that now pile up, including President Duterte’s admission that his vow to bravely ride the jet ski was a joke that drove millions crazy over him; and that vow to end contractualization that made the lowest but biggest of the labor force to cast its lot him; that vow to dismantle the illegal drug networks until self-confessed drug trader Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim were cleared of the charges filed against them, even promoting to RTC judge the assistant prosecutor who did so; that vow to lift the Boracay island from a cesspool for a functioning vacation destination, but would soon be hosting a Chinese casino after all small stakeholders have been bumped out of the island; and what else? They just come, days in and out.
And then of late, President Duterte announced the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC. We have joined South Africa, Burundi and Gambia that did so.
But the Philippine withdrawal does not and would not save him from the case, should there be a case against him, since there is not even a case, since what is being done by the ICC prosecutor is merely an initial step, which is a preliminary examination,
President Duterte’s announcement of withdrawal came too late.
The Philippines only becomes a non-ICC member a year after the court’s receipt of the formal withdrawal letter. It was delivered to the United Nations last Friday, March 16, by Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Teddy Boy Locsin.
Non-membership, however, would not make President Duterte immune from a case should there be a case.
He was wrong in his claim that the ICC has no jurisdiction over him, some lawyers claim. An expert in International Law, presidential spokesman Harry Roque says the ICC has no jurisdiction over the him and the country.
What the President did with his announcement of withdrawal was to expose the common Filipino from possible abuses overseas and at home.
Overseas Filipino Workers are no longer protected from possible abuses in countries where they work, and those which could be, in conflict.
Abuses at home could be committed and the ordinary folks could no longer seek ICC protection.
Abuses by those in power are not uncommon here.
Kian delos Santos was proof.
That rape by four policemen in Bulacan of a pregnant woman is another.
Local farmers have recently filed a case of torture against the implementors of martial law in Mindanao.
President Duterte had stripped himself of his rights before the ICC. It will continue investigating on the charge slapped against him, whether he cooperates or not.
Article 127 of the Rome Statute is clear in saying any withdrawal from the ICC “shall not affect any cooperation with the Court” as it probes criminal investigations .
The Philippines, even if it is no longer an ICC member, is duty-bound to cooperate even before the effectivity of the withdrawal.
It also states: “...nor shall it prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.”
The case would lessen the movement of President Duterte.
But home is where he is most at peace.
He still enjoys the support of the majority, no matter his flaws.
He has four years more to complete his term.
He could survive his term.
But things could and would be different then.


Myles and other women

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 00:00 Published in Commentary

I came to know about the International Women’s Day celebration during my early adulthood, when I was a student activist at the Lyceum of the Philippines, where all shades of political colors seemed to have thrived.
Coming from a Catholic school, there was none of that in my pre-college years, when the only woman we venerated was the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.
We may have held dear our mostly female teachers and section advisers, but none of them taught us the ways of the world our political awakening has exposed us to, outside of the predominantly yellow years of Edsa and the post-Marcos cries for change.
Cory was the woman president then. The first woman to lead the country, which was thirsty for change then after two decades of uncertain future under Marcos dictatorship.
Cory was not a messiah. She had her faults, many in fact. And her leadership was not one that lived up to promise and expectation. But she paved the way for women to shine in Philippine politics.
The next woman to lead the country, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was a strong leader. But she never had the charisma of Cory.
And even with women as presidents, leadership was still marred with corruption, not much difference was seen between genders among leaders.
Cory and Gloria would have been symbols of the advancement of the Filipina. But women leaders and several female members of the media have been under fire of late, we seem to have taken many steps backwards from where we were just years ago.
More than a hundred years since the first International Women’s Day was observed on February 28, 1909 in New York, and exactly a century since the modern International Women’s Day every March 8 was introduced to honor the first time women gained the 1910 right to suffrage in Russia following the Bolshevik victory in 1917, the world has finally honored women more than their old homemakers’ role.
After years as a celebration among socialist countries, the United Nations adopted the International Women’s Day celebration in 1975.
The Philippines has gone further by observing the whole March as Women’s Month.
But developments of late have revealed how backwards still we regard our women.
Sexual harassment cases remain a hot topic among young women, who often become victims of abuse by powerful men in their circles.
Of late, a male radio commentator was called for victim blaming.
Another female radio disc jockey was also cited a group called Youth Against Sexual Harassment (YASH) and by the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) for victim shaming.
Spark, Gabriela and other women’s groups have also called on President Duterte over his statements they deemed as a misogynist statement, including his actions like wolf-whistling a television news reporter, joke or not.
It is also interesting that the President has mostly women for enemies: the Vice President whom he has effectively sidelined, a Chief Justice whom he wants out, a senator whom he sent to jail, etc.
He had also declared war on rebels. But he put much focus on women members of the Maoist New Peoples’ Army.
Myles Albasin, a 21-year-old mass communication graduate of the University of the Philippines-Cebu, who was recently arrested in Negros Oriental, for allegedly being a member of the NPA, is facing that risk.
Albasin, along with five other young people picked up by the military for allegedly in possession of several high-powered rifles, ammunition, explosives, plus some “subversive documents” were “immersing” with the local farmers to conduct a social investigation on their plight. The farmers attested to Albasin and her group as unarmed at the time of their arrest and are not NPA members.
Albasin is powerless to counter the accusations against her, unlike say Leni Robredo, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Leila de Lima, who have positions in government that make them heard when they speak.
She was shamed already in social media memes, worse than a victim of rape, harassment, cat-calling and wolf-whistling.
Selfless, Myles only tried to empower others by dreaming of changing their lives.
Her activism is not a crime. She may have her leanings, but it’s a totally different matter. She may not be an NPA.
Other women may have appreciated receiving greetings for the last International Women’s Day. But not Myles.
She was arrested on March 3 and remains in military custody despite calls for her freedom.
Myles is an activist, in the same mold of the men and women who gave us March 8, International Women’s Day.
Only her involvement in activism had empowered her, gave her voice to heard, her actions to count. She does not deserve to be stifled.






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