Category: erap

walang kamatayang pork barrel

so, we’ve been had, we who rejoiced when the supreme court declared the PDAF unconstitutional last november and thought we had heard, seen, the last of it.

Pork Barrel is very much alive and kicking! warns prof. ben diokno.  and, like Dracula, the pork barrel is alive, in another guise, bewails neal cruz.

as it turns out, only 15 of the 24 senators gave up their pork barrel.  9 senators — the cayetano sibs, the estrada-ejercito sibs, lapid, trillanes, recto, and miriam — did not, and instead “realigned” their PDAFs with the budget of one or another line agency, or the calamity fund, in the bicam- and senate-approved 2014 budget that the prez signed into law last december.

senator chiz escudero, chairman of the senate finance committee, and very much the pilosopo lawyer, justifies it thus:

Is the realignment legal or constitutional in the light of the high court’s decision on the PDAF?

Yes, says Sen. Francis Escudero, chair of the Senate finance committee. The realignments (Escudero calls them “amendments”) came before the implementation of the P2.265-trillion national budget, he says.

The high court had declared unconstitutional all provisions of the law that allowed legislators “to wield any form of post-enactment authority in the implementation of the budget.”

But Escudero says the identification of beneficiaries of the realigned PDAF “does not violate” the high court’s ruling. “It’s well within our right to review and approve the budget,” he says. “This is preenactment intervention.”

say rin ni bayan muna partylist rep neri colmenares:

“The Supreme Court was not clear on whether lawmakers could realign the funds or not because it is clear that Congress has the power of the purse and has the prerogative where government money should be spent,” says Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares. “What it was clear on was that lump-sum items should be discontinued and that everything in the budget should be itemized.”

Members of the House had realigned a much bigger amount—P930 billion, including the PDAF. 

at parang tuwang-tuwa lang si senator chiz, as in, tipong naisahan nila ang presidente?

“In accordance with the powers of Congress, all of us can introduce an amendment. That’s our legislative power. If the President submits the budget, we can’t skirt our duty to amend it. What are we, a rubber stamp?” Escudero said by phone, chuckling. 

more like, naisahan ang anti-pork people’s movement, as in, nakahanap sila ng legal loophole (salamat sa supremes?) and it’s as if the people’s outcry against all pork-n-patronage fell on deaf ears.  it’s as if two of the nine senators, estrada and revilla, were not facing charges of receiving substantial kickbacks from fake NGOs identified with the notorious accused napoles.  and it’s as if the other seven senators were themselves untouched by any suspicion of similar kickbacks in the past.

of course, it might be that these realignments no longer allow kickbacks of any sort in any way.  if so, i wish they’d come right out and say it, assure us na, wala na pong kickback.  but of course they won’t because it would be to admit na oo nga, dati ay may kickback.

but, hey, jinggoy estrada, who aligned half his PDAF to the budget of the City of Manila of which his tatay, ex-prez erap, is mayor, is the most unrepentant, defiant, shameless, and brazen of them all.  hiyang hiya naman ako for the senate, who allowed him to gift his tatay’s city hall with a hundred million bucks.  hiyang hiya rin ako for erap, who had no idea daw that it was coming, and who doesn’t have the sense to say no-thanks, kahit out of delicadeza man lang.

*

pahabol.  say ng grapevine, the supreme court is poised to rule vs erap in the disqualification case filed by ex-mayor fred lim.  if true, it would serve jinggoy right.

Open letter to Erap: Stop Manila Bay reclamation

By Katrina Stuart Santiago

The votes are in and it is not surprising that you won, Erap.

I imagine that as the congratulations poured in, so have the countless proposals and suggestions on how to run Manila. I’m sure you’re aware that many of these suggestions are premised on hidden agenda and private interests.

I am hopeful about how you might navigate the corruption and palakasan that is intrinsic in offices of power such as yours. You used to say walang kaibi-kaibigan, walang kama-kamaganak. I voted for you then for President. That the city of Manila has elected you into office now is telling of how we all might still believe that you hold in your hands the possibilities for change.

And while there is so much to change, there is no reason at all to change the landscape and seascape of Manila Bay.

Your office has said that you are still studying the reclamation project of the Manila Goldcoast Development Corporation (MGDC), that one that promises to create the Solar City in two years, making land out of water, from the Cultural Center of the Philippines to the US Embassy.

That is the expanse of what we see of the sunset of Manila Bay, every day. That is what this development will be covering up, even as it insists it will create a viewdeck for the public to watch the sunset from.

A manufactured city within the city of Manila will mean disenfranchising the masses, the ones who voted for you. Those masses – and every one of us – can currently sit on Baywalk and watch this same sunset every day, without having to pay a cent, or without needing to get dressed, or being made to feel poor.

But there are countless other reasons to refuse this MGDC reclamation. That it didn’t push through in 1992, the first time it was proposed, speaks of how laws were put in place to preserve Manila Bay and treat it as part of cultural heritage. It speaks of how the task since then has been to save it from further environmental degradation and restore it to its old glory.

It is glory that is about our history, too. Manila Bay is “not just an ordinary waterfront” says Ivan Henares of the Heritage Conservation Society: World War II battles were fought there and galleons docked there 300 years ago. Cultural Center of the Philippines chairperson Emily Abrera has said that the fight is about “preserving a place for our children.” Doris Magsaysay Ho, who fought this same project in 1992 – and with a broad coalition succeeded at stopping the reclamation then – sees Manila Bay and its waterfront as a sacred public space, where Roxas Boulevard “is a promenade accessible to both rich and poor, the space belongs to everyone,” as urban planner Daniel Burnham had envisioned it.

This space as such brings the rich and poor together, and anyone who has even gone to Baywalk to watch the sunset would know how true this is. Here is where the manong selling taho and balut sits with you as you take photos of the bay. Here is where anyone at all might stop and watch the moment pass.

MGDC claims that they will make things better. They claim that they will only improve on things and nothing else. They claim that the bay is dead, and there is no livelihood to be had there. They claim that there is no other way to create development in Manila but by reclaiming land, and Solar City will be a “new economic zone.” In mid-April MGDC threw around numbers like employing 250,000 to 500,000 individuals, as they have been wont to use big words: tourism boom, urban renewal, cultural renaissance.

These are nothing but big numbers and big words that can only be empty if one is to consider that there is no transparency here, and no one knows of how exactly MGDC plans to even engage with the city in this manner.

In fact all we have are their words, and your predecessor’s approval of this plan Erap, – a plan by the way that is so confidential that we are kept in the dark about it.

Meanwhile what is as clear as day is the fact of Manila’s congestion and flooding. What we know is that the lightest rain means an accumulation of water on Roxas Boulevard. What we remember is how homes and families were adversely affected in the Habagat rains last year, as they were by Ondoy and Sendong.

Architect Jun Palafox has said that the disadvantages of doing a reclamation project are many: “it can worsen flooding, block the views of existing waterfront development, harm aquatic resources, environment and heritage historic sites.” Lory Tan of the World Wildlife Fund says that given how “highly vulnerable we are to the worst impacts of climate change” having a reclamation project such as this one can only be dangerous.

Dr. Kelvin S. Rodolfo agrees that this is a bad idea. Given how Metro Manila is subsiding rapidly. The growing population has meant the over-extraction of groundwater, and as such “the local sea level is rising 10 times faster than the rate of sea level rise due to global warming.” This has meant worsened flooding and storm surges, which can only become worse given the threat of stronger typhoons due to climate change.

Dear Erap, it seems to me that no matter the promise of employment, or development, or profits, the lives of the Manileños are more important. There is no proof whatsoever that a reclamation project like MGDC’s will mean no more floods. In fact given how secretive they are about their plans, it seems easier to think that MGDC is hiding something. At the very least, the lack of transparency in the process of signing this contract with the previous Manila government, and the lack of a clear plan, points to a refusal to be held liable for how things might turn out, and the probable adverse effects of the Solar City on the rest of Manila.

Pre-elections, MGDC was full of itself, talking about how no matter who won between you and Alfredo Lim, that they would have the cityhall on their side, and all their plans would push through. MGDC Vice Chair Edmund Lim also blames politics for the delay in the reclamation project, and a recent MGDC press release talks about the project languishing since Cory Aquino’s presidency, and now there is hope in PNoy.

I hope you prove them wrong, Erap

Your office has said that you have yet to study the MGDC proposal, and will take a stand about it when you formally take office.

But studying the proposal is beside the point, Erap. Because to begin with, that contract should not have been signed, that contract not entered.

The MGDC contract was signed with Alfredo Lim’s Manila government, after the latter revoked a 1993 City Council of Manila Ordinance prohibiting any form of reclamation along Manila Bay from the US Embassy to the CCP Complex. Alfredo Lim as mayor had the City of Manila sign that contract with MGDC despite the fact of RA 7586, which states that Manila Bay “should be among areas considered as protected landscape and seascape of national significance.” Resolution 20120-04 of the National Historical Commission also declares Manila Bay and Waterfront as National Historical Landmark which would mean it is protected by the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

Your predecessor ignored all these laws when his government signed the Solar City contract with MGDC. The previous Manila city government also ignored both common sense and science in its refusal to believe that between climate change and congestion, storms and floods can only get worse. That Manila government was blinded by the possibility of huge profits, and refused to work at improving what it already had. It also decided to forget how nationally valuable Manila Bay is, not just for those who go and watch the sunset, but also for those who live off and around it.

I’d like to think yours will be a government that will not forget, Dear Erap. Very simply, the task at hand is to cancel that contract altogether, and refuse to sign off on something that your predecessor irresponsibly pushed for.

Dear Erap, kill the Manila Bay reclamation, and you would be making the best first decision as mayor of Manila.

attention, mayor erap! why dan brown chose manila

i was curious about the context, as in, why manila in particular as “gates of hell,” and no one who has ranted about it seems to know, or if knowing, cares to mention it.  so, having received two digital copies in two days, and finding myself home alone, i decided to go for it, i like bestsellers anyway, i like to know what the world is reading, and if i don’t like it, or it’s not my thing, i can always stop, and i do, occasionally.

so i sped through the book — brown’s prose is not for savoring, actually makes me cringe now and again, but he tells a good story.   and Inferno is a good enough story that i could only speed through so much because it’s not only a thriller, cliff-hanger, whatever (brown’s formula works), but also it’s good science fiction, and, heads up, manila, anti-vatican to boot.  population control  (malthus reborn) is brown’s advocacy this time.  so siempre contemptuous of the church’s stiff stand vs contraception, abortion, and euthanasia.  manila, philippines, isn’t that you?

the brief mention of manila comes toward the end of the book na, as part of a flashback telling partly why the character was turned on by the population-control talk of her lover, a “transhumanist” guru.  (post-humanist, more like.)  and, of course, manila, the cradle of christianity in asia, where the bishops have come out fighting, seeking the repeal of the recently passed reproductive health law that women’s orgs had long struggled for, with the support of 7 out of 10 filipinos…  manila, the cradle of christianity in asia, capital of the only country in the world na walang divorce law for the majority, and the rich buy annulments instead…  yes, it makes sense that brown zeroed in on manila, where more and more babies are born into poverty and squalor, no end in sight, and the church dares preach submission to god’s will, or is that, the oligarchy’s will.

of course government officials and bishops are upset, defensive, totoo kasi, hellish naman talaga ang life in the bowels of manila.  not surprisingly new manila mayor joseph estrada is the only one who dares agree with brown, sort of: “Manila is really going to hell. That’s true.”  and i guess only because it reflects, immediately, on the former mayor that he trounced in the last elections.

but you have to wonder what erap has planned for manila.  is it a go for the gold coast reclamation project?  still more “development” for the rich, never mind serious, nay, deadly, environmental concerns for the whole of metro manila?  that would be like throwing the gates of hell wide open, and nowhere to go but the pits.

it’s no way to redeem yourself, erap.

*

read Isko Moreno vs. the Manila Bay Sunset, and  Goodbye, beautiful sunset: Groups protest Manila Bay reclamation project, and Manila Bay: Sunset and the law.

 

mug shots

in the time of erap’s arrest in april 2001, it would seem that his mug shots were not meant to be released to media.  or so i gather from this bulatlat.com article i found while googling edsa tres for my next (and last, promise!) EDSA book:

Pres. Arroyo was flabbergasted when an “enterprising Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) official” sold a video of a humbled Estrada to the local and international media. Estrada was shown in police custody and grim-faced as his mug shots were taken. A noted TV commentator said that the sight was enough to move people to take the deposed president’s side. And, certainly, this was supposed to have given the “EDSA III” instigators the spark needed to start an uprising.

there was another link that named the PAOCTF official, but can’t find it now, kainis, so guess who na lang, public figure din.

what’s interesting now is that the gma camp is begging the authorities not to release her mug shots to the media.  i suppose they’ve given up on the paawa strategy, which is smart of them.  it would seem there is little sympathy from the masses anyway, i guess because they can’t relate to the notion of, because they could never afford, medical treatment abroad.

which is not to say there is no sympathy for gma.  there is, especially from her own class, but who are not wont to expose themselves unnecessarily.  more likely they’re just storming the heavens with prayers that the supreme court regain the upper hand in the unfolding constitutional thrilla in manila.

meanwhile, media must be on tenterhooks:  heed this tweet…

Marvic Leonen @ANCALERTS there is no public interest in the release of the mugshots except to degrade the accused. Her pictures should not be released.

…or be scooped by the competition.  abangan.