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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, August 7, 2012

In the past few days till today, as the rains pour mercilessly, the question in many people’s minds is: where’s our President? Various officials have appeared on TV and radio to explain the calamity and efforts being made to help people in various places; but P-Noy’s televised appearance this noon was isolated---at a time when his people desperately need to see him with them.





Because of President Aquino's scarce public appearance in our diluvian crisis, comparison is being made to GMA in the mid-morning of Ondoy’s deluge of Sept. 26, 2009. Clad in raincoat and boots and with only one security in tow, she couldn't wait for her officials at the Palace. Instead, GMA caught the LRT to Cubao, where Defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro was waiting with an Army truck to bring her through heavily flooded EDSA, to the National Disaster and Control Center in Camp Aguinaldo. By 2 am. the following  day GMA was still in Marikina with her officials, inspecting the floods and relief efforts, sans a decent dinner.  



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But you might correctly argue that GMA was president and that’s her job. But take a look at former Sen. Dick Gordon, chair of the Philippine National Red Cross. Last night he hosted his annual birthday bash in McKinley Hill in the midst of the heavy downpour, where an incredible number of friends that included Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Chief Justice Renato Corona (yes, they were under the same roof) showed up. But by dawn today Dick was up and about coordinating relief and rescue operations and the PNRC’s amphibian boats were out. NO NOYNOYING FOR DICK.



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Where has P-Noy been? No one really knows, except that yesterday noon, (Monday), he was hosting a luncheon for members of the House of Representatives in a last-minute effort to consolidate votes for his RH bill. P-Noy was invisible in the disaster relief effort but he was definitely hands-on in the RH battle.



P-Noy’s efforts paid off: his appeal to House members succeeded in pushing the voting on termination of the RH debates to YESTERDAY AFTERNOON---ONE DAY IN ADVANCE---so that the period of amendments (Second Reading) could commence. So persuasive was he that he convinced even ranking minority leaders to agree to this advance vote, that was said to have been the idea, in the first place, of a very anti-RH and  Pro-Life solon, Paranaque Rep. Roilo Golez (!). Another staunch anti-RH solon, Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas, tried  bravely to oppose this idea and batted openly for the original Tuesday schedule, but he failed to elicit support. 



XXX



So why the strategy to advance the vote by a day? It's hard to fathom Golez's mind, but I imagine that the Palace strategists must have heard that the bishops had scheduled to meet last night with the anti-RH solons. Hence, pre-emption became the name of the game. The advance schedule caught anti-RH groups FLAT-FOOTED, judging from the fact that their whole-page ads in newspapers appeared ONLY TODAY.



Once the Palace order was given, legislators all scrambled into their cars for the House and within two hours the AYES drowned out the NAYES. The latter vote included that of a feeble-looking GMA, who showed up in flaming anti-RH red in her neck brace and dextrose to have her negative vote counted.



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When news filtered about the instant voting order, radio commentators went to town with nasty insinuations:  e.g., was there a pay-off? Threats of pork to be withheld? Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay tried to plead with colleagues to vote as scheduled today, arguing that moving it would only heighten the image of the House as a complete rubber-stamp of the President. But the majority did not care to listen.  



Worse, Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella allowed majority decision for  a viva voce vote, instead of the nominal voting (where each solon would explain his vote for history) that an issue as serious as this demands. Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco tried---but failed---to argue for nominal voting. Insiders rationalized that the solons preferred to hide behind a collective vote as they feared both P-Noy’s and the bishops’ wrath.



XXX



Some legislators privately spoke of the tremendous pressures on them to attend that luncheon and vote for the RH bill. As a solon recalled, over the days there were calls from the House leaders’ offices, but over the weekend, after the bishops’ rally, these came from high up in the Palace, which was evidently rattled by the bishops’ scathing speeches. A number of administration allies were clearly caught in the squeeze and chose not to show up at the lunch.



Will Monday’s rush-vote presage another, this time on the fate of the bill itself, at the end of this month?  Anti-RH folks have to move and storm the heavens. 



XXX



 As if on cue, last Monday the UN Population Fund made headlines as it plugged for the RH bill---arguing that failure to pass a population control policy would jeopardize Ph's gains. Yet, just two days earlier, two prominent US economists visiting recently, in connection with the setting up of an economic think-tank by Sen. Edgardo Angara, opined that Ph may be on the verge of an economic take-off---the next tiger economy in Asia. 

They cited among the right mix of factors, “human capital.” When economists speak of “human capital” in the Ph context, they usually mean our strong and young labor force---now the envy of many developed economies plagued by “greying” or aging populations. The question is, where do we get this young labor force that's now contributing $20 billion yearly to our economy, if we curtail our population via contraceptives that will be scattered all over the country, as the legislators want to do.



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No less than BSP Deputy Gov. Diwata Gunigundo stressed the same phenomenon recently---that our young labor force is our major asset. UN agencies, in dangling mouth-watering aid funds, want us Filipinos to feel miserable about our “burgeoning” population, when the studied opinions of distinguished economists here and abroad, including our own Dr. Bernie Villegas, is that population is a major asset of our economy (would the SM empire have grown if not for this factor?). As Villegas puts it, “passing the RH bill would literally be killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.”



The prestigious Wall Street Journal of July 26, 2012 put it quite succinctly: “The Philippines doesn’t have too many people. It has too few pro-growth policies.”



But our Pro-RH legislators are so fixated on carrying out P-Noy's order (he just got pikon with the bishops, including Archbishop Soc Villegas, who was so close to his mother but now is the No. 1 defender of Life and against RH) that they close their eyes to this positive factor of a young and well-trained labor force.  Instead para silang mga robot lang---pag-inutusan ni P-Noy, sunod again. How very sad.








For comments/reactions, please email:
polbits@yahoo.com

15 comments:

  1. Bravo!.. Very well said ma'am! Keep rockin'

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  2. Uhm.. PNoy was in the news this morning. Not a PNoy supporter, in fact I really think his accomplishments for PH are not yet that significant.. but get your facts straight madam.

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    1. hmmmmm to the writer, nice opinion, but i guess you better start packing some relief goods and help our fellow kababayans... with that sasaludo ako sa inyo...

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    2. that's practically what we've been doing the whole day sir, we are religious who were at EDSA last Saturday and now attending to the needs of our flooded parishioners as well. Si P-noy, nasaan?

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  3. to Pink 5ive and Looking Forward
    accomplishments that are measured by man, not God's!

    kanya kanya tayong ways to help.

    Let's not wait for this country to be cursed by GOD, with the passage of RH Bill, THE GATEWAY TO ABORTION and damnation!

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. She could have helped before or after she wrote the article. Let's not jump to conclusions.

    Great article, by the way.

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  6. Let us not be pathetic. This storm and flooding is mainly because of global warning, eratic weather changes and condition and due to dying forest and mountains caused by illegal loggings, leveling of mountains to form land to give way to high class golf course and subd. People should not be mislead, they need to be educated. Do not right something that is misleading. Obviously we know the root cause, RH bill has nothing to do with this but mis used and taking advantage of mother nature

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  7. I admire the way you write your column. You just made me a fan. I take my time trying to convince people specially the youth. However, I fear that the Pro-RH have gotten most of the youth. I am very troubled that even my own alma mater(DLSU) seem to have been misguided. We are now a country of PRs and false stories. I hope and pray that we can still overturn this irresponsible but irreversible idea of freedom without responsibility. My Facebook page is swarmed by hate messages every time I quote even the bible.

    Sickening as it seems, let us hope and pray that all Pro-life groups unite and that people start listening.

    There are still a lot of young people with morality and would fight for what is right for the country and for everyone. And if that diminishes, even to 95%, I will gladly try to save the rest...FOR OUR COUNTRY AND FOR OUR PEOPLE - ALI ATIENZA

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  8. Do more relief article first b4 this kind of article which leads to pointing fingers ... help first people.

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  9. Problem with people like the author is that they all think the President is a hero. From Cory's time up until today.

    The LGU's and essential departments of the government are doing their job properly. Ikaw Ms. Cunanan, what have you done? Crab mentality na naman tayo eh.

    And to those commenting, stop connecting the RH Bill to the heavy rains. I guess this isn't an entertainment article to begin with.

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  10. If we all want population control now is the best time! I challenge you Pro RH, This is all you want. Let the people on the affected flooded areas float on river and streets! For sure many will die, many will be vanished in Manila, if thousands will die it will help control other ppopulation, it will help decrease population! Why saving? There's no use of saving Lives! But because it's not what the Gospel is teaching us! If the fruit of the teachings of the church is true love, we share it to others. It's one of the reason we wanted to help! We save lives because we value it! And most of us does! If you value life support Life! Do not support corrupt officials in the government. Enough is enough! Billions of funding for contraceptives? Come on! Why not fund it to education and employment? Improve classroom and medical facilities? Wake up! Do not be mislead of this useless RH bill!

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  11. Good read Ma'am. It's just fair enough to ask that question these times.

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  12. Hi folks, many thanks for all your comments. It's gratifying to an online columnist to know that she is read---and the diversity of opinion in this page is a healthy sign that we are all thinking and weighing the issues. First, a message to Ali Atienza: do not be disheartened by the "opposite" mails/reactions you get. Ganyan talaga. As Miriam said, she eats death threats for breakfast. Tayo adverse (to us) reactions lang. Just persist in your beliefs and maybe you can convince others.
    A reaction to Kim, Edgar Son, Jaxtex and the others who ask what exactly I'm doing by way of helping the less fortunate. If I may be permitted to be immodest, plenty. In the first place I work w/o pay as PR for Erda Foundation, founded by a saintly French-born priest named Pierre Tritz S.J., who put up this foundation to provide five-year academic/ tech-voc education for free to the poorest of the poor youths in Pandacan, Mla. since the early '90s. Ang dami na naming nai-ayon sa kahirapan dahil sa training ng mga ito. Secondly I have my own scholarships (see, I invest heavily in education for young people, as I believe that this is the only TRUE way to help them. May scholarship ako sa Erda mismo yearly, and in a depressed area in Pasig I have already graduated two (a brother and sister, children of myh manicurist) who are now working in a Japanese firm and a hotel, respectively; I also have two orphaned kids whom I support in second year high and fourth grade in the same area. A number of mothers there whose husbands are on and off in jobs I helped with a couple of thousand pesos each, to start a little sari-sari store for their everyday gastos. One of them gets uling by the sacks from Bicol and repacks them into P20 bags to see in the neighborhood. Their lives are all so heroic. If anyone of you want to visit this area in Pasig (ngayon nasa evac centers sila dahil lubog ito) or want to help out some families there, I would be glad to take you folks. Education is the only way to go---we don't need an RH bill if we can meaningfully educate our young people. Sila na mismo ang mag-cocontrol sa sarili nil a. This is the lesson of South Korea's progress. We are wasting such energies in the RH bill which is skewered from beginning to end. Have a good day, folks, and keep reading my online column. Take care and thanks for the dialogue.

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