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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.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chinese tell VP Binay: seeking clemency for condemned drug mule useless. Must PH fight for citizens who transgress other countries’ laws? Most drug mules have long lost their options to syndicates. NAIA face-lift should be sensible and functional, sans melodramatic flair. Tandem/Bagumbayan to file charges vs. two Comelec admins, PPCRV Chair Tita de Villa and Smartmatic-TIM before Ombudsman. More 60-30-10 charts.



Vice President Jejomar Binay was asked by Chinese authorities to back off from his earlier plan, on orders of President Aquino, to appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping  for clemency on a Filipino drug mule’s impending execution this Tuesday. In stopping Binay the Chinese leadership's message is unmistakably clear: it’s useless at this point. 

The Philippines has been trying, with diplomatic encouragement from the US, to stand up to Chinese saber-rattling and militarization build-up in the West Philippine Sea, which our bully neighbor doesn't like one bit. Thus, its refusal to back down on the impending execution of the Filipino national is its way of retaliation. This leaves us even more off-balanced than before.

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At the height of frantic PH efforts a few years back to save the life of a Filipino woman convicted to hang in China as a drug trafficker, a Japanese friend asked me why our government keeps engaging in such mercy mission periodically. He said there are also Japanese nationals caught in various criminal activities in other countries, but the Japanese government would not lift a finger to try to save them from punishment.

My Japanese friend opined that the assumption has always been that these indicted citizens know what they’re getting into when they transgress laws of the host country, that they deserve punishment. He felt that the Japanese government has no business humiliating itself internationally by pleading for the lives of its citizens convicted abroad. 

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I thoroughly agree with this view---and apparently outgoing Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto is of the same mind: leave the drug mules to their fate.  Politically it’s brave and gutsy of Sotto to publicly utter these words.  I also find this self-imposed task of our interceding government distasteful and humiliating for our people.

I recall that when we were in Guangzhou in December 2010, a PH consular official told me there were over 100 Filipinos languishing in that  city’s prisons for drug-trafficking, and looking after their welfare has kept the consulate busy.

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By way of explaining our position to my Japanese friend, however, I stressed that our national psyche is different from that of the Japanese---that we are, as always and in everything, more emotional and that our government would be perceived as too pitiless and heartless---a thoroughly exploitable political disaster---if it does not seek to reverse a Pinoy’s conviction abroad.

Recall that the Ramos administration teetered on the brink of enormous political disaster over the Flor Contemplacion hanging in Singapore and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Roberto Romulo had to be sacked to appease the populace's anger over it. Contemplacion was meted capital punishment for slaying a fellow OFW. 

Recall too, that when former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was on a state visit to Spain years back, a Filipino national was due at the same time to be executed in Kuwait for a crime against its citizen. This report reached King Juan Carlos of Spain who was a good friend of the Kuwaiti Emir and before anyone realized it, His Majesty called up the Emir to plead for the life of the Filipino convict. It became the highlight of PGMA’s state visit.

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But there’s another angle I failed to consider until my driver spoke about it. He said that quite possibly many of those caught as drug mules had gotten involved with drug syndicates early on in their lives, due to their dire poverty. At some point perhaps they may have wanted to call it quits, except that these syndicates wouldn’t allow it---the alternative could be to find their family members killed.

The drug business is no laughing matter and from reports, syndicates are getting more powerful and insidious, and vicimizing younger and younger schoolchildren. What's government doing about this?

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Reports say that NAIA 1 is scheduled to undergo a P2.8 billion facelift in preparation for PH's hosting of the APEC Summit in 2015.  The architectural renovation will be undertaken by Leandro Locsin and Associates, the firm that constructed NAIA decades ago, while interior designers Kenneth Cobonpue and Budji Layug have volunteered to undertake the interior design for free.

I have several comments.  Cobonpue is known as the designer to the stars such as Angelina Jolie and Layug has his own reputation too. But a word of caution ought to be stated here.

The NAIA facelift has to be regarded as temporary inasmuch as our present premier airport with its single runway has to be transferred to Clark at some future date. But this can only be done if the hideous traffic to and from Metro Manila to Clark can be rendered more manageable. This means, as in all modern cities, INTERCONNECTIVITY by more efficient mass transports such as trains, buses and LRTs such as one sees in HK’s New Territories and other areas; without such mass transport passengers are destined to miss planes in Clark. 

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What we need is a facelift that should put a premium not so much on melodramatic flair but on creating functional designs and clean facilities. Throw out the dirty carpets at NAIA 1, install better lighting, construct clean fully functioning toilets (sans smell, the ubiquitous plastic tabo, artificial flowers, brooms and mops on display, etc.---and please, running water, no drums or pails).

My model is not Singapore’s Changi Airport whose orchid gardens we cannot copy, but Hongkong’s International Airport, a.k.a. Chek Lap Kok Airport--- no nonsense, antiseptically clean and very functional.

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Tanggulang Demokrasya and Bagumbayan-VNP Movement of senatorial candidate Dick Gordon will file a complaint this Wednesday before the Ombudsman for violations of the AES Law by the Comelec of the 2010 elections under former Chair Jose Melo and the Comelec of the 2013 elections under Chair Sixto Brillantes, PPCRV Chair Henrietta de Villa and officials of Smartmatic-TIM led by Cesar Flores.

The violations are all enumerated in the complaint. But more telling as far as citizens are concerned are the notorious 60-30-10 charts of the 2013 elections in various provinces and cities that Tandem professionals and IT and Math experts have painstakingly captured from data labored over for many nights and days. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. As promised earlier, here are more charts:

Barangay New Era, Quezon City






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