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Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Palace spinmeisters pooh-pooh NTC's call for P-Noy to step down as a "non-issue," yet all of them are pouncing on it simultaneously. PH's top soldier sees the Lipa and Cebu Declarations as "the people's freedom of expression." Young idealistic Filipino leaders in NTC give hope for the future of our country.





Nothing has stirred up the Palace in recent days as much as last Oct. 1's Cebu Assembly of the National Transformation Council (NTC). Witness how all three Palace spokespersons, namely, Secretary Sonny Coloma, and Edwin Lacierda and Abigail Valte are outdoing one another in pooh-poohing the Cebu Assembly and the call for President Aquino to quit as a "non-issue." But if it were a non-issue, then why are all three top Palace communications officials all hyped up trying to explain seemingly nonchalant reactions from the Pasig and its adjuncts in Congress?

With reason Coloma et al should be disturbed. For since the Cebu Assembly, where many hundreds of delegates travelled from Manila, Leyte, Samar and Northern Mindanao---it's remarkable that so many Mindanaoans showed up in both the Cebu and Lipa Assemblies---commentators have not stopped analyzing what kind of animal the NTC is. Kabayan Noli de Castro launched the first salvo over radio by reading the "Cebu Declaration" the day it broke out in the front pages of newspapers and commentators continue analyzing this new socio-political phenomenon since.  

This morning, Fr. Romeo Intengan, S.J., a key pillar of the NTC along with bishops from various faiths, was interviewed over radio about the Cebu Assembly and response of majority of listeners was most positive.

XXX

In the wake of all the dust kicked off by the Cebu Assembly, what caught the commentators' and citizens' attention most was the reaction of AFP Chief of Staff Gregorio Pio Catapang to the Assembly's call for P-Noy to retire from the scene. Catapang was quoted last Friday, after a Senate hearing of DND's nearly P300 billion modernization program for the next ten years, as even asserting that the Cebu Declaration was part of "the people's freedom of expression"  and that "it's not destabilization." 

In fact, the Manila Standard quoted Catapang as opining that "calls for the President's resignation is a sign of a vibrant democracy and a vibrant politics." Everyone is free to say what he feels, asserted the AFP Chief, "for as long as they will not bear arms," adding that "We also acknowledge the freedom of the press."  

The recognition by the country's top soldier that freedom of expression is at the core of our nation's democratic values is heartwarming to us citizens, and most especially to the rank and file military who are monitoring political developments as assiduously as you and me.  As in other sectors, there are idealistic military who are deeply worried about how this country they have sworn to die for is being run.

Indeed General Catapang will not find the Cebu Declaration wanting, for it urged the pursuit of "all necessary and available LAWFUL MEANS to compel President Aquino to step down at the soonest possible time" and to "Immediately organize an ALTERNATIVE GOVERNMENT consisting of men and women of integrity and proven worth, in order to assure the nation and the international community that President Aquino's removal and the PROSECUTION AND IMPRISONMENT OF EVERY  CULPABLE member of the government for corruption WILL NOT CREATE A POLITICAL VACUUM." (all emphasis mine---BOC).

XXX

Palace spin-meisters have sought to shoot down a key figure of the NTC, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop emeritus of Cebu, by twisting an interview to make it appear that he was just pinch-hitting for Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma (who was on official trip to the Vatican) and that he never called for the resignation of P-Noy. But the spin-meisters forget that Cardinal Vidal is a veteran mover in two presidential political demises and cannot easily be daunted or intimidated. For one thing, this holy man never loses his cool.

As Vidal himself narrated at the Aug.27 Lipa Assembly, he, as CBCP President in the mid-1980s, operated behind the scene at Edsa 1, while the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, the outspoken Archbishop of Manila, summoned a million people to Edsa to surround and protect the break-away officials of the Marcos regime. Sin even ordered the Carmelites at Gilmore, some of them aging ones, to REMAIN PROSTRATE before the exposed Blessed Sacrament during those hours of crisis and pray for the safety of the throngs in Edsa, until he ordered them to rise.

Then, in 2001 Vidal also coaxed President Joseph Estrada to peacefully leave Malacanang in order to avert bloodshed, which  paved the way for VP Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to take over. Interestingly, it was Vidal again who pleaded for Erap's pardon by President Arroyo soon after his conviction by the Sandiganbayan, in the interest of peace and reconciliation. 

Today it's not lost on many that Vidal is again behind the scene, with the outspoken Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, a true Batangueno, playing the overt role, much like Cardinal Sin did in 1986.

XXX

An internet letter writer speculated that after the "Lipa Declaration" of  Aug. 27, the NTC seems to have died a "natural death" (this was before the Cebu Assembly). 

Indeed, as Manila Times columnist Yen Makabenta noted, there is this skepticism among Filipinos as to how far this motley group of church and lay people demanding the stepping down of P-Noy and talking about an alternative government would get. Yen correctly argues, however, that history is replete with magnificent episodes of civil resistance, among them our own Edsa 1, that have toppled corrupt governments. He's also on track in asserting that NTC is no joking matter.

The NTC is far from dead, for after the successful Cebu Assembly it will move to various cities around the country, gathering steam and followers tired of the current regime and desperately seeking moral transformation for this nation embroiled in a socio-political-moral crisis. At the base of these assemblies is the church whose bishops are now discovering the essence of NTC's reform agenda, leaders of other faiths, such as Bishop Pio Tica and Pastor Art Corpuz of the Protestant churches, and many Muslim clerics. 

But the NTC also thrives on the support of professionals, and here I must mention three outstanding young men whom I consider an honor to be associated with.

XXX

Former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong


There's former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong, a lawyer-accountant, who has been battling the Comelec's rotten PCOS system since he lost to these machines' vicious machinations in 2010, in the most documented record of PCOS cheating in the country. Glenn should be in the unicameral legislature in valid and genuine elections one day soon.

Greco Belgica, lead petitioner vs. PDAF and DAP before the Supreme Court

Then there's Greco Belgica, lead petitioner against the PDAF and DAP, whose position on their unconstitutionality was handsomely upheld by the Supreme Court. An ordained minister of the Gospel, president of ReformPH and entrepreneur, Greco graduated from San Beda College in marketing and management, and went on to a post-graduate degree in international trade and commerce at the University of California in Berkeley, as well as special studies on biblical law, biblical economics and biblical principles in civil government; now he's a law undergraduate at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

There's also Christian Seneres, who holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence in US Constitutional Law, and graduate of Northwestern University in Illinois.

With idealistic young leaders like Glenn, Greco and Christian ready and willing to fight for their beliefs out of love of country, we need not worry about our nation's future. But first, OUT WITH THE UNWANTED AND UNDESERVING.

XXX

It has been grist for the rumor mills that the CBCP has kept distance from NTC and that a CBCP official has emphasized that the current involvement of a sizable number of bishops in this mass-based organization is strictly their own individual decisions. The distancing of the CBCP as a group from the NTC is understandable, but it's also a fact that at least four former CBCP Presidents are involved in the NTC, all of whom still carry tremendous weight with the faithful.

Aside from Cardinal Vidal, the former CBCP presidents involved with NTC are incumbent Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, the immediate past president of CBCP, Davao Archbishop emeritus Fernando Capalla, whose continuing influence with Muslim leaders in the big island is no secret, and Bishop Nereo Odchimar of Tandag, Surigao del Sur.  

In addition, it's good to keep in mind we have an activist Pontiff in Pope Francis, whose admonition to the clergy is to go out and be "street-fighters for Christ"---no peaceful easy life for them. That's what the bishops involved with NTC know only too well.

XXX

In Cebu City 83-year old Cardinal Vidal spelled out the role of the clergyman in today's political reality: ".....the political dysfunctions we are witnessing...are mere symptoms of a more profound moral and spiritual crisis," for which the entire nation must find a cure. Although priests and pastors should not get involved in partisan politics, they must launch into the deep (much like Christ's admonition to his apostles---BOC) and help resolve the moral crisis, and all its political manifestations and consequences."

Various protestant and born-again leaders as well as many Muslim Ustadz have also opted to participate in the NTC's program, which an ideologue termed the "revolutionary societal change." What's attractive here is that NTC spouses no political candidate whatsoever, the only guidelines for political involvement in the government of the future being that the person is of good moral character and proven competence.  

If you folks have time, read the Cebu Declaration (BOC's blog Oct. 4, 2014) and you'll be amazed at the depth of understanding of our nation's problems spelled out in this document, together with proposed solutions---be it righting the "utterly corrupt Comelec or forming a Truth Commission to pinpoint guilt in the wanton wastage of public funds that were the PDAF and the DAP, or setting up a study group to probe in-depth our gargantuan energy problem and forge solutions. Please read the Cebu Declaration. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Cebu Declaration of Oct. 1, 2014: a document for all Filipinos to read, ponder and subscribe to.




Late last Tuesday evening, right after the beautiful concert of 24-year old classical violinist Chino Gutierrez, accompanied by noted pianist Corazon Kabayao, at Ayala Museum, I rushed home to pack my  bag and try to catch a few winks, before heading off to NAIA 3 for my  5:30 Cebu Pacific flight the following morning. With Star's Carmen Pedrosa, civic leader Ma. Luisa Fatima Nebrida and former Ramos economic adviser Joe Alejandrino, we were in Cebu to attend the Cebu Assembly of the National Transformation Council (NTC)---the  sequel to the Lipa Assembly that kicked off in Lipa City, Batangas last Aug. 27 to launch the NTC.

As I headed toward NAIA 3 to catch my early morning flight, my thoughts raced back to the exquisite concert of Chino Gutierrez and Corazon Kabayao and the sublime feeling one gets from classical music beautifully interpreted. I thought, what was I doing being again in a "revolutionary mode," just like in the dying years of the Marcos regime. Those past years were alright for a fortyish journalist then, but I had just turned 74 last week---a grandma of six.

In a tempting moment of musing, I queried myself whether I'm not entitled to just confining my aging being to the sublime and the beautiful---ignoring the plight of our poor countrymen and women who have to clean toilets and serve foreign masters abroad because there are not enough jobs to be had here. Then too, how can we ignore the many national institutions that have been damaged through bad and incompetent governance and worsened politics? How can we live down the Filipino's image abroad as corruption personified?

XXX


But the temptation to escape into excuses of advancing age was  quickly doused when I encountered in Cebu the likes of Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, one of the leading lights of the NTC---stooped and a bit more feeble now at age 83, but his patriotic heart still beating to the summons of the Motherland in her hour of crisis, as well as the other bishops gathering age, such as Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla of Davao, and prelates still very active in serving their people----such as Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz and Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, as well as patriotic leaders from various other faiths. All of them were there to face the challenge of helping our hapless people regain our dignity and self-esteem through a geniune TRANSFORMATION.

XXX

The Cebu Assembly was the second phase in the current---tortuous perhaps----journey of brave patriotic Filipinos  to reclaim the noble heritage we have squandered over the decades, most especially in the past four years of the Noynoy Administration that has done more than its fair share to destroy institutions, and the corruption that has now synonymous with our race in the eyes of the world.  

And so, here is the Cebu Declaration that proposes a new moral order for our people, through a series of reforms based on the overhaul of the entire system of politics and governance. The document is well-thought out and marked with utmost sincerity and utter lack of political ambition---just the distilled concern of true patriots eager to translate grave misrule into a golden opportunity for the country to replace a tired old system and the public servants who pitiably lost their sense of mission.


Read this Declaration and feel the patriotic fervor of the authors who drafted it---and rejoice that patriotism and love of country is very much alive. And come, be a part of this new sweeping revolution to redeem the country we all love---Ang Bayan Natin.





THE CEBU DECLARATION:
DEFINING THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION


ENCOURAGED BY THE SUCCESS OF THE FIRST OPEN ASSEMBLY CONVENED IN LIPA CITY, BATANGAS BY THE NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL ON AUGUST 27, A.D. 2014 / DHU AL-QA’DA 2 A.H. 1453, WE WHO BROADLY REPRESENT THE CITIZENRY, UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF DELEGATES FROM THE VISAYAS AND MINDANAO, HAVE GATHERED IN CEBU CITY ON OCTOBER 1, A.D. 2014 / DHU AL-HIJJAH 7 A.H. 1453 TO PROCLAIM OUR SUPPORT FOR THE LIPA DECLARATION AND TO PROPOSE CONCRETE AND IMMEDIATE STEPS TO TRANSLATE THE DESIRED OBJECTIVE OF NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION INTO A VIABLE PROGRAM OF ACTION.

WE NOTED WITH GREAT PAIN THAT WHILE THE MORAL AND SPIRITUAL CRISIS AND ITS POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS CONTINUED TO DEEPEN,  THE NATIONAL POLITICAL LEADERSHIP CONSISTENTLY FAILED TO SHOW THE WILL OR THE CAPACITY TO RESPOND TO THESE ILLS IN ANY APPRECIABLE MEASURE.

ASIDE FROM THE GRAVE PROBLEMS WHICH PROMPTED THE LIPA ASSEMBLY TO CALL ON THE PRESIDENT TO IMMEDIATELY STEP DOWN,  VARIOUS NEW ISSUES HAVE SINCE EMERGED, TO WHICH THE INCUMBENT ADMINISTRATION HAS FAILED TO ADEQUATELY RESPOND.  THESE INCLUDE:

1) THE DIRE SECURITY SITUATION CREATED BY THE SO-CALLED ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND SYRIA AND THE REPORTED CONTACTS BETWEEN THIS EXTREMIST FORCE AND ELEMENTS IDENTIFIED WITH THE MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT, FOR WHOM PRESIDENT BENIGNO SIMEON C. AQUINO III IS TRYING TO RUSH A BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW THAT WOULD CREATE A NEW POLITICAL ENTITY FOR THE MILF, TO REPLACE THE AUTONOMOUS REGION IN MUSLIM MINDANAO, WHICH HAD BEEN CREATED EARLIER BY LAW FOR THE MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT; UNDER THE PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES, THIS COULD PUT THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IN GRAVE PERIL.

2) THE TOTAL FAILURE, IF NOT DOWNRIGHT REFUSAL, OF THE AQUINO REGIME TO COMPLY WITH A DIRECT ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT TO FILE CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST ALL THE LAWMAKERS AND MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT AND THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THE GRAVE MISUSE OF THE PRIORITY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FUND (PDAF) AND THE DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM (DAP), BOTH OF WHICH THE COURT HAD UNANIMOUSLY DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL;

3) THE TOTAL ABSENCE OF ANY OFFICIAL EFFORT TO REFORM THE AUTOMATED ELECTION SYSTEM, WHICH WAS THOROUGHLY CORRUPTED AND DEBASED BY THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS IN ITS EFFORT TO PRODUCE “MACHINE-MADE” AND “DE FACTO” HIGH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS DURING THE 2010 PRESIDENTIAL AND THE 2013 SENATORIAL ELECTIONS, BUT WHICH THE ADMINISTRATION IS ONCE AGAIN PREPARING TO USE IN THE PROJECTED 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, WITHOUT RESTORING THE SAFETY FEATURES AND ACCURACY MECHANISMS, WHICH THE COMELEC HAD ILLEGALLY REMOVED IN THE PREVIOUS TWO ELECTIONS;

4) THE UNPRECEDENTED YET UNPROSECUTED AND UNPUNISHED CORRUPTION IN THE TOP LEADERSHIP OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE (PNP), WHICH HAS THOROUGHLY DEMORALIZED THE PNP RANK AND FILE AND SUBSTANTIALLY ERODED PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR AND CONFIDENCE IN THE LAW ENFORCERS;

5) THE ARBITRARY IMPOSITION OF UNREASONABLE TAXES ON THE POOR, INCLUDING THE SMALLEST SARI-SARI STORE OWNERS AND SIDEWALK VENDORS, ON THE VARIOUS PROFESSIONS AND ON ALL RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS, WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC HEARING OR ACCOUNTING, OSTENSIBLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF RAISING REVENUE TO SUPPORT GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS,  BUT IN EFFECT FEEDING THE POLITICIANS’ INSATIABLE APPETITE FOR CORRUPTION;
 
6) THE UNRESOLVED ELECTRIC POWER CRISIS WHICH HAS BROUGHT ABOUT THE MOST EXPENSIVE ELECTRICITY RATES IN THE WORLD AMID EXTENDED POWER OUTAGES THAT THREATEN TO THROW BACK THE COUNTRY INTO A LITERALLY DARK AGE, AND FOR WHICH THE ONLY IMAGINED SOLUTION BY THE PRESIDENT IS THE GRANT OF EMERGENCY POWERS TO HIMSELF.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THESE, AND RECALLING ALL THE POINTS RAISED IN THE LIPA DECLARATION, WE CALL UPON THE NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL:

1)       TO NOW PURSUE ALL NECESSARY AND AVAILABLE  LAWFUL MEANS TO COMPEL PRESIDENT AQUINO TO STEP DOWN AT THE SOONEST POSSIBLE TIME;

2)       TO IMMEDIATELY ORGANIZE THE EQUIVALENT OF A GOVERNMENT IN WAITING, CONSISTING OF MEN AND WOMEN OF INTEGRITY AND PROVEN WORTH, IN ORDER TO ASSURE THE NATION AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY THAT PRESIDENT AQUINO’S REMOVAL AND THE PROSECUTION AND IMPRISONMENT OF EVERY CULPABLE MEMBER OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR CORRUPTION WILL NOT CREATE A POLITICAL VACUUM;

3)       TO INITIATE EXTENSIVE CONSULTATIONS WITH THE ISLAMIC COMMUNITY IN SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES IN ORDER TO ARRIVE AT AN AUTHENTIC CONSENSUS ON HOW TO SOLVE THE LONG-FESTERING MULTICULTURAL PROBLEM IN THE AREA, FREE FROM ANY POSSIBLE INTERVENTION BY ANY FOREIGN INTERESTED PARTY, BEGINNING WITH THE COUNTRIES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA, AND INCLUDING THE NEW EXTREMIST ENTITY CALLED “ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ AND SYRIA” BY THOSE WHO CONTROL IT;

4)       TO CAUSE THE IMMEDIATE FILING OF CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST ALL THE SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN, MEMBERS OF THE CABINET, THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT AND THE VARIOUS GOVERNMENT AGENCIES  INVOLVED IN THE MISUSE OF THE PDAF AND THE DAP FROM 2010 TO DATE, AND TO USE WHATEVER PUBLIC PRESSURE IS NECESSARY TO MAKE ALL THOSE INVOLVED IN THESE CASES TO IMMEDIATELY VACATE THEIR RESPECTIVE POSITIONS;

5)       TO ORGANIZE A PANEL OF EXPERTS WHO WILL UNDERTAKE A COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF THE COUNTRY’S ENERGY PROBLEM AND PROPOSE SOLUTIONS THAT WILL BE FREE OF ANY POLITICAL BIAS FOR OR AGAINST ANY PARTICULAR ENERGY SOURCE, AND TAKE INTO PRIMARY CONSIDERATION THE INTERESTS OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND THE CONSUMERS RATHER THAN THE VARIOUS ACTORS IN THE GENERATION, TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION CHAIN;

6)       TO ORGANIZE PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR THE PNP RANK-AND-FILE IN THEIR CALL FOR A THOROUGH CLEANUP OF THE PNP AND AN IMMEDIATE CHANGE IN ITS TOP LEADERSHIP; AND

7)       TO INSTITUTIONALIZE A PUBLIC FORUM, WHERE AGGRIEVED INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS COULD AIR THEIR JUST GRIEVANCES AND MOBILIZE PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR SUCH GRIEVANCES WITHOUT BEING SUBJECTED TO THE ARBITRARY CENSORSHIP IMPOSED BY GOVERNMENT AND THE CONSCRIPT PRESS.

8)       TO ACTIVELY SUPPORT THE CALL AND EFFORT OF the concerned citizens of the country to establish a People's Truth Commission to discover and reveal the accountability and any consequent liability of the administration of President Benigno SIMEON C. Aquino III, arising from its massive MISUSE of public funds through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that has been ruled unconstitutional by unanimous vote of the Supreme Court

INVOKING THE AID OF ALMIGHTY GOD THE MOST GRACIOUS AND MOST MERCIFUL, AND REPOSING OUR TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN THE FILIPINO PEOPLE, WE PRAY THAT ALL THESE MAY COME TO PASS SOON.



DONE IN CEBU CITY, THIS 1ST DAY OF OCTOBER A.D. 2014 / 7TH DAY OF DHU AL-HIJJAH A.H. 1453.s

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Boycott Bench



Much ado is being made, finally, about the trash emanating from “Bench,” which has been featuring more naked bodies than clothes in its advertisements---funny from a supposed apparel manufacturer. 

The supposed "fashion show" that Bench produced recently, titled “The Naked Truth,” just went over-bounds---after years of having been out of bounds with its advertising---when, as shown in the internet, it featured a fully clothed male dragging a skimpily  dressed woman on a leash, much like an animal, across the stage. Another scene showed two scantily dressed women kissing lips to lips on the stage. Many more offensive scenes over the internet, but the wonder is why name actors and actresses would get involved in such a show.

Public reaction to these clips was bad, with two female politicians protesting the degradation of women and the assault on ethics and acceptable public norms and standards---in a show for the general public, not in one of those porn shops. It had to take such boldness and daring on the part of this clothing company notorious for such exploits, to bring down public wrath on them.

Sen. Pia Cayetano is said to be quite upset about this sex show masquerading as a “fashion show”  and wants an investigation. About  time, Pia.

XXX

Frankly I have long been offended by the out-sized advertisements of Bench showing male bodies next to naked and at times in suggestive poses---from a company that’s supposed to be selling clothes!  These photos of near naked men, as tall as two stories, line both sides of the Pasig River by Guadalupe Bridge and over time they have gotten bigger and bigger, and bolder and bolder.  There used to be half naked women in those ads, but these probably got the ire of civic-minded groups and since then Bench has  featured mainly male models.

XXX

I had occasion some weeks back to attend the birthday of my friend Teresa Villegas-Daza, who was once president of the Outdoor Advertising  Association of the Philippines (OAAP), and one of her guests was Joe M. Vale, also past president of the OAAP. I queried him about these gigantic advertising billboards and in fact I told him that in the many years I have been travelling around the world, I have never seen such huge billboards as we have here. Not only do they constitute traffic hazards, as motorists  could be mesmerized by such advertising, as well as danger in typhoons, they also fail to conform to acceptable public norms and standards of decency (emphasis on PUBLIC norms).  

In a prolonged stay in Guangzhou, China, for instance, I noted sensible uniformity in the size of advertising billboards and how they never detract from the landscape.  I also want to emphasize that I have no cause against people who want to indulge in or watch pornography in private---this is a free country---but once it involves the public, then there’s every question all decent citizens must make and raise against what’s obviously slavish imitation of the lifestyle and values of the seamy side of Western culture. 
  
XXX

Former OAAP prexy Joe Vale stressed  that his association does have regulations governing outdoor advertising, but he admitted that policing violating companies is difficult, given that they can bribe their way to local governments. Enforcing the limitations of advertising is an entirely different thing, he said. I promised to continue the dialogue with the OAAP people perhaps in Cecile Alvarez’s DZRH show, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I promise I will.

Some FB folks, protesting Bench’s recent  “Naked Truth” show, have invoked boycott of this companies’ products. I fully support the well-meaning and concerned citizens’ call for this boycott of Bench even though it has already apologized for the gross vulgarities and degradation in its recent show. For without public indignation, Bench will just be back to violate on a larger scale, because it seems to have an obsessive preoccupation with sexual perversions.   

Indeed, boycott Bench and this is where all well-meaning citizens’ organizations should come in. And let's pressure OAAP to apply more teeth to the restrictions on advertising, both in size and content.

XXX

Poor President Aquino---all he seems to be doing nowadays is defend his officials, even while he’s on official visit abroad.

When DAP first erupted, it was obvious that Agriculture Secretary Alcala should have been given his walking papers, but instead the Palace tapped him on the back publicly. 

He defends Dinky Soliman, under attack for the over P700 million in DSWD funds for Yolanda asleep in bank accounts while typhoon-stricken Eastern Visayas is still far from recovered, or for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) that cannot be accounted for in large chunks. The Palace has also ignored all the mess that has befallen the MRT under DOTC Chief Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Lately P-Noy has been shielding PNP Chief Alan Purisima, the former chief security of P-Noy’s mother, from charges of unexplained wealth with his Nueva Ecija mansion. Compounding it is DILG Secretary Mar Roxas’ admission that the refurbishing of the PNP Chief’s Camp Crame residence was courtesy of several wealthy businessmen---which is unacceptable as it would compromise the PNP Chief’s independence in the event he has to move against those benefactors.


XXX


But of all his officials it was DBM Secretary Florencio Abad whom P-Noy defended the most---way before the physical anger that the UP students vent on Abad in protest against the P144 billion that he conceptualized to corrupt Congress and local officials  in various issues involving crucial votes.


Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco has discovered, while combing through the incomplete list of DAP recipients submitted by Abad, how---not surprisingly---the biggest funds went to top Administration allies:  former Rep. and now DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo, P408 million; Speaker Sonny Belmonte, P297.48 million; Majority Leader Neptali Gonzalez, P263 million, Cavite Rep. Ayong Maliksi, P217.89 million, and former An Waray Rep. Florencio Noel with P179.5 million.

In 6th place as biggest DAP recipient is Abad’s spouse herself, Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad, who received P176.61 million for a province with 15,000 inhabitants and 5,000 voters.

In the Senate, the biggest DAP recipients were Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, P360.51 million; former Sen. Kiko Pangilinan (now Food Security Chief) P310.8 million; Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III P258.1 million; Sen. Loren Legarda, P250 million; Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, P249 million; Sen. Francis Escudero, P235.5 million; Sen. Ralph Recto P233.2 million, and Sen. Vicente Sotto III, P214 million.

XXX

Certain developments, however, show how corruption in the handling of public funds compromises legislators' behavior. 

In the House of Representatives, the 2015 budget, suspected of containing huge lump sums in the nature of another DAP, is being steamrolled despite absence of quorum. The impeachment and conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona with the aid of DAP funds by Congress are too recent to forget.

On the other hand, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has subjected opposition leaders, namely, the three senators now in jail, as well as Vice President Jejomar Binay, to inquisition-like investigation obviously aimed at crippling the opposition ahead of the 2016 elections.

Meantime, the administration-dominated Senate has been postponing investigation into the multi-billion Malampaya Fund which is entirely at the disposal of the President, as well as anomalies associated with LP allies, such as the Globe Asiatique that would expose Rep. Miro Quimbo, former Pag-Ibig Chief Executive and chief defender of the prosecution in the Corona trial.

XXX

In the light of all the apologies P-Noy has had to make in recent weeks for his officials, a seemingly orchestrated defense of him is that these characters are the ones manipulating him. It's as if to say that only these officials are to blame for all the ills bugging the administration, and not the President who has remained uncorrupt. 

What aggravates matters is that he seems incapable of firing any one of his officials despite their corruption or lousy performance (and none of these officials is patriotic enough to resign. Kapal muks talaga!). But it's obvious that in ending up with poorly-performing officials, P-Noy has shown that he is not a good leader of men and manager of government. The buck stops right at his desk.