From champion to goat

What a difference a year make. From last year’s champion to today’s goat.

I really feel sorry for Filipino golfer Juvic Pagunsan. He had a brilliant birdie and eagle finish last year for a -19 to win the inaugural Pertamina Indonesia President Invitational. Today, he had a disappointing four bogeys and a double bogey in his last nine holes for a +6 final round and winded up almost at the bottom.

Last year, he had admirable rounds of 66, 67, 71 and 65. This week, he had a forgettable 76, 69, 72, 77.

Australian Scott Hend came from behind as the 3rd round leaders faltered in the closing holes. Hend, who missed the cut in the Philippine Open last year, had a final 66 for -16 total to win the Indonesian championship.

Mars Pucay salvaged pride for the Philippines by finishing in tie for third, four strokes behind.

Indeed, what a difference a year make.

The same may be said – from champions to goats – of last year’s so-called “heroes,” Jun Lozada and Joey de Venecia.

Lozada has again snitched on his friends. This time turning his back on the Black & White Movement (see post below).

And Joey … oh my gush … he’s eyeing to run in 2010. He might as well write a book on crying over spilt milk in losing a bidding or how not to tell all in whistle blowing.

5:35 p.m.

Now he is an expert on Mindanao!

Ha ha ha! This is interesting.

Former President Joseph Estrada revealed last Friday that Rodolfo Lozada Jr., the Senate’s star witness in the cancelled national broadband network (NBN) deal with ZTE Corp. of China, has sought his help as his relationship with the civil society group Black and White Movement (BWM) has turned sour.

Estrada, who visited The STAR office, said Lozada showed him a PowerPoint presentation of the controversial memorandum of agreement (MOA) on ancestral domain which the Supreme Court stopped from being signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front early this month.

“The Americans have a hand on the MOA on ancestral domain according to Lozada. He visited me with the sisters (nuns) last week,” Estrada said. – Estrada says Lozada sought his assistance (Philippine Star, August 31, 2008)

Ha ha ha! Akbayan Mindanao must be praising high heavens that its “hero” is now also – ha ha ha – an expert on the Mindanao peace process.

Ha ha ha! I say let’s nominate this guy to the London Olympics. We can enter him in at least two events – Finals of scene stealing and Finals of biting the hands that feed him (please see my post on New Olympic events for GRP). He can handily win the gold in the latter event with his vast track record.

To name a few: First, he enjoyed all the pomp and perks while he was in the corridors of power but made an instant u-turn when about to get caught. Second, he turned snitch on his co-conspirators in “moderating their greed” to save his own skin. To him the tongpats is ok kung hindi bubukol until the scandal became too hot to  handle. And now, he is severing ties with the civil society that paraded him before altars and campuses and made him a “hero.”

Ha ha ha!

After squandering public funds, taking advantage of “sanctuary funds,” and enjoying Senate “security funds,” now this guy is turning to the man thrown out of office for gambling “slush funds!”

Ha ha ha!

This guy is not only after fortune and fame. He wants to dip his fingers in Mindanao too! And goes to the president who waged a “total war” in Mindanao.

Ha ha ha! So, this is the “hero” of Akbayan Mindanao!

Incidentally, did I mention that I resigned from Akbayan last April due to this “fake hero?” Aw, but that’s another story.

Let me just state that I simply cannot stay a minute longer in an organization that prefers fake heroes and attacks persons like me for standing up for our overseas workers whom I described as our “genuine national heroes.”

Ha ha ha!

Let me please enjoy my last laugh. Ha ha ha!

6:41 a.m.

My job today

Arrggghhh!

There’s no net service in my house this morning. I was disgusted.

I left early to kick off the cycling race from City Hall to Calinan, the fruit orchard district nortwest of downtown Davao. The bike race is part of the Kadayawan festival with a number of other sports tournaments also widing up this weekend.

A little past 8 this morning, I was at the lobby of the City Council building where a two-day BPO jobs fair will commence today. I led the cutting of the ceremonial ribon in behalf of Mayor Rody Duterte.

I am now at the office of AFRIM (Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao), one of the oldest NGO in the city, for our special board meeting today. It’s about to start and I took this chance to post.

I hope the net service would be back in my house by the time I return tonight.

9:36 a.m.

Queensland: SP no, Mayor yes

Mayor Rody Duterte appeared jolly last night as he met members of the City Council for a consultation. Tagging along with the mayor were members of the local media. So, much of what we discussed at the Grand Men Seng Hotel from 9 p.m. to midnight would surely be in the news in the coming days.

Here is a quick view.

The mayor started by notifying the councilors that he received a letter from the Philippine Reclamation Authority on the controversial Queensland reclamation along Times Beach, part of which is a city government reservation. He told us that the City Legal Office has just referred the matter to the City Council. And this was the reason he called for the meeting.

He explained in no uncertain terms his personal position on the issue: “no objection” to the Queensland application with PRA. He emphasized, however, the need to set aside as another matter the issue on Queensland’s encroachment on the city government’s reservation.

The mayor’s stand is contrary to the position of most members of the City Council, including Vice Mayor Sara Duterte, who are not keen to grant the Queensland’s bid. For many and various reasons.

A second public hearing on this issue is set next week. It would indeed be very interesting how this new development would play into the final verdict of the City Council.

The other issues taken up by the mayor were as serious yet he was able to elicit a number of good laughs from us with his no-holds-barred remarks. Sorry folks, most of these are unprintable.

On the peace and order – he affirms his support for a political settlement with the MILF; and that the city is not threatened by the conflict in central Mindanao;

On the crash of the C-130 Philippine Air Force cargo plane off the Davao Gulf – it was an accident likely caused by the bad weather Monday night;

On city government projects – the need to establish bus terminals outside the city center, installation of CCTV cameras in major city streets; and privatization of the city-owned slaugther house;

And a final poser on what to do with the offer of a state bank for a new credit line to the city government of P3 billion.

7:26 a.m.

Halal food ecozone

I sent this letter to the Sultan of Brunei last year:

February 22, 2007
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah,
the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
Warmest Greetings of Peace!
Re attached News Item on Brunei’s plan for a Halal Food Processing Plant:
Allow us to offer Davao City as the site for this investment.
Davao City is the largest city in southern Philippines and acts as the de facto center of the BIMP-EAGA. The Asia Institute of Management (AIM) has named it as the most competitive metropolitan city in the country.
It has excellent supply for halal meat products. The city has a Halal Food Council. The city is free from hoof-and-mouth disease and free from bird flu virus.
It has excellent labor force in the food processing industry manifested by the presence of big food processors with ISO standards.
It has air and sea links with its neighbors in the BIMP-EAGA region.
Moreover, the city government offers fiscal and non-fiscal incentives on top of the tax holidays provided by the national government through the Board of Investments. Part of our non-fiscal incentives is to help potential investors look for suitable sites, local suppliers, local managerial and labor force, process various government regulatory permits, among others.
Should you wish to come to see what our city can offer, feel free to contact us. We shall be most happy to assist you.
Thank you very much.
Councilor Peter Tiu Lavina
Chair, City Council Committee on Trade, Commerce & Industry
Room 3, SP Bldg., Davao City

I cced Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

I am glad that his office is pursuing the plan for the halal food processing center here in Davao.

5:56 a.m.

New Olympic events for GRP

In the midst of finger-pointing and the blame game

it’s back to square one for Team Philippines as the debacle in Beijing takes center stage at next week’s sports summit of sports leaders.

I strongly suggest that the country, aka GRP (to align with GB, host of the 2012 Games), concentrate in the following events where I am certain our sports leaders can easily take podium positions:

Finals of the sleeping on the job race:

Finals of scene-stealing event:

Finals of the sweeping our problems under the mat:

Finals of easily giving up on peace and love:

Finals of not taking full responsibility:

And lastly, please do not blame poverty, in the Finals of biting the hands that feed us and eating the goose that lays the golden medals:

I’m pretty sure that the GRP would win hands down in these six events in London.

(Thanks to the wonderful “Celebration time” and “Weird Olympics photos” from www.guardian.co.uk)

5:06 a.m.

Tits for tat

Kosovo declared its independence early this year with the backing of the EU and the US to the objection and consternation of Serbia and Russia.

Yesterday, Russia supported the independence of not one but two breakaway regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – to the objection and condemnation of the EU and US.

Russia had its tits for EU’s and US’s tat.

The conflict in Georgia has strained relations between Russia and the EU and the US to a point that a new cold war has begun. And it is getting hotter.

Kosovo is now recognized by 46 countries but is not yet a member of the United Nations. Russia is certain to veto its membership in the world body.

The same can be said of Abkhazia and South Ossentia. Even if more countries, particularly allied with Russia, would give it recognition, its membership at the UN would be blocked by EU states and the US.

Hhmmm. My mind is playing tricks on me due to this issue.

What if the Bangsama Moro nation declares its independence and Abhkazia and South Ossetia recognize it? What if Taiwan calls for the formation of the United Countries (UC) to rival the UN and invites Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the Bangsa Moro, and perhaps Kosovo as its charter members?

What if the likes of Iran and North Korea which are pestered by a UN atomic agency or Palestine which is fed up with UN Resolutions that Israel does not respect suddenly bolt the UN and join the UC?

What if liberation fronts all over the world seeking their own homelands are given observer status at the UC?

The possibilities playing tricks on me are endless. Thank God they are only in my mind.

Tit-for-tat, the cold war is indeed getting hotter!

5:20 a.m.

Aug 26 City Council Agenda

The City Council will resume its session today after the Kadayawan break last week. We have following calendar of business:

First Reading – Item Nos. 1340 – 1358 (19 Items) e.g. Item No. 1354 on my proposal for an emergency stockpile of food, fuel, medicines and other essential materials as part of our disaster preparedness program;

Second Reading (Deferred Committee Reports) (17 Items) e.g. Item No. 165 Proposed New Price Appraisal for the SIR Projects;

Second reading (New Committee Reports) ( 18 Items) e.g. Item No. 280 Request of Maligaya Plant Growers Association for reclassification of their site from “low density residential” to “commercial zone;” Item No. 26 Deed of Donation by Alsons Dev. Corporation of a 9 hectare property at Barangay Lasang; Item No. 1300 Application for PALC of Hacienda, a proposed 9 hectare subdivision project of DMCI Urban Property Developers Inc at Barangay Catalunan Grande; Item No. 1301 Application for PALC of Villa Monte Maria, a proposed 11.6 hectare subdivision project of the Francisco Soriano & Co, Inc. at Barangay Catalunan Grande; Item No. 271 Proposed Ordinance to implement the “Food Fortification Act of 2000″ requiring the selling of iron-fortified rice and Item No. 791 Board Resolution of the Confederation of Grains Retailers Association seeking a moratorium in the implementation of the iron-fortified rice program.

5:36 a.m.

Heroes day

I just came from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beside the City Council building where we held the commemoration of today’s National Heroes Day.

I represented Vice Mayor Sara Duterte and delivered the welcome remarks. Our guests include the consuls from Japan and Malaysia, government and police officials, war veterans and representatives from many civil society groups.

Our keynote speaker was my colleague 6-term city councilor Nilo Abellera. He paid tribute to our heroes and extolled their virtues that we should emulate like courage, patriotism and sacrifice.

As I sat beside the Malaysian consul-general Nik Mustafa Kamal Nik Ahmad, we had a quiet conversation while the flower offering was going on. We covered quite a lot in the short span of time. Foremost on my mind was the stalled peace process where Malaysia plays a crucial role as both a mediator and a member of the ceasefire monitoring group.

The consul expressed concern that their mandate of being in the monitoring body would lapse at the end of this month. He said both parties, the GRP and MILF, must come to terms asap with regards this international monitoring mechanism.

He thanked Mayor Rody Duterte for lending a voice of moderation in the on-going conflict in Mindanao. He was also elated that the Kadayawan festival last week went without a hitch.

We likewise touched on the current political situation in Malaysia where former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim is seeking a parliamentary seat in tomorrow’s by-elections in Penang. We talked about the wind of change sweeping Malaysia akin to the Obama mania in the US.

I also had the chance to congratulate the consul on Malaysia’s silver medal in badminton at the Beijing Olympics where our own local sports heroes brought home none.

My hero today is war veteran Sotero Palabyab who noticed the list of “distinguished national heroes” printed in the program. He remarked that most of those in the list were heroes of the Spanish era.

He said we should pay attention too to contemporary heroes. His suggestions: Manuel Quezon, father of the Wikang Pilipino and president during the Commonwealth period, who once said he would rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than one run like heaven by the Americans; and Ninoy Aquino martyred for freedom and democracy 25 years ago who said the Filipino is worth dying for.

9:07 a.m.

Perfect score for China

I salute China for the successful Beijing Olympic Games. What started on a lucky date 08-08-08 ended up for the host getting another lucky number – a perfect score, 100, – for its total medal haul. It has the most number of Olympic champions at 51 gold medalists. It also earned 21 silvers and 28 bronzes.

The new sports powerhouse has bested perennial medal leaders the US and Russia.

I doubt if China could have achieved this feat had it been awarded the hosting of the Summer Games four years earlier in 2004. The added four years gave China time to prepare well to be crowed today as the champion of the 2008 Olympics.

5:58 p.m.

Vice President

I received my Barack email about his VP choice at 9:37 a.m. ET.

Friend –

I have some important news that I want to make official.

I’ve chosen Joe Biden to be my running mate.

Joe and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois — the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago.

I’m excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can’t do this alone. We need your help to keep building this movement for change.

Please let Joe know that you’re glad he’s part of our team. Share your personal welcome note and we’ll make sure he gets it:

http://my.barackobama.com/welcomejoe

Thanks for your support,

Barack

It was about eight hours late than my first news alert

But the second email I got from the Obama campaign was quite as fast as Usain Bolt. They asked me to donate for the newly minted Democratic team. For $15, I get the first edition Obama-Biden car magnet.

Oh, how about a round of applause? Yeah, standing ovation? Ooh, oh yeah!

The above line incidentally is from Rihanna’s hit Take a Bow.

I think I would stick to my first choice and go for the Paris-Rihanna tandem.

6:55 a.m.

Feeding our future

During the food crisis early this year, we batted for one common sense solution, that is, to plant more food crops to increase supply and stabilize the spiraling price increases.

The national government responded with a number of measures to address the crisis including massive subsidies and reviving the so-called “corporate farming” to entice big corporations – just like during martial law – to help in food production. Among those that responded was the San Miguel – Kuok Group combine which promised to put in $1 billion for the “Feeding our Future” program.

The Department of Agriculture is now identifying at least 1 million hectares for this project.

Davao city is the largest city in the country with over 244,000 hectares. Only about 10 percent of this vast land, however, is urban and urbanizing; the rest are forestal and agricultural. In the case of the forestal areas, much is actually grassy lands not yet classified as alienable and disposable. Thus, they lie idle and unproductive. Much of these lands are in Paquibato and Marilog Districts.

Marriz Agbon, who heads this national government program, once edited a local paper here and knows the city’s many potentials.

Unfortunately, Davao city s not in the priority list of areas for the “Feeding our Future” program. It is truly a waste of our vast land resources, our abundant water supply and excellent weather not to be included in this food production program.

I’m upset that the national government is not using its common sense in implementing this project.

7:38 a.m.

Holiday economics?

It’s another holiday in Davao today due to the Kadayawan Festival. This is the second non-working holiday since Monday, which marked Ninoy Aquino Day. This coming Monday, August 25, is also a non-working holiday to commemorate Heroes Day on August 30.

So, in the ten-day period between August 16 to 25, we have only three working days from August 19-21.

In spite of the festive Kadayawan atmosphere, however, I just feel lazy this whole time.

This so-called holiday economics of the national government is not doing us any good. It makes people idle, lazy, unproductive.

The rationale behind these many holidays is to give people time to travel and be tourists in their own land. Bright idea it seems except for one fatal flaw. People simply do not have money to travel. So, most just stay wasting time in their homes and earning nothing. We are definitely not contributing anything to the economy.

High time to review this policy.

7:20 a.m.

Ninoy: hindi nag-iisa

The Liberal Party is leading the commemoration of three significant events today – Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971, Ninoy Aquino assassination in 1983 and honoring living heroes via the Ramon Magsaysay awards.

Here are today’s activities as announced by LP Secretary-General Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya:

8 a.m. – Wreath-laying at the tomb of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. at the Manila Memorial Park, Paranaque;

1030 a.m. – Mass on the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Ninoy with former President Cory at the Don Bosco Chapel, Makati;

12 nn. – LP Press Conference on the 25th assassination of Ninoy;

3 p.m. – Commemoration Rally for the 37th Plaza Miranda bombing in Manila;

7 p.m. – Testimonial Dinner for Ramon Magsaysay awardees from the ranks of the LP:

US silent on MILF terrorism

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney is one of the most active enyoys in the Philippines and a favorite of the media. She openly expresses her ten-cents’ worth on almost all major issues in the country not just the bilateral relations between Washington and Manila.

In the on-going strife in Mindanao, she has a mouthful of things to say. Almost all major Manila papers carried her statements made yesterday.

Curiosly, none of it condemns the recent armed attacks of the MILF rebels in several provinces in Mindanao including killing of hapless civilians, burning houses and vehicles, toppling power lines, and taking hostages among them six Catholic priests.

From where I sit, these atrocities are no different from those committed by Russia in Georgia. And yet in the case of the conflict in the Caucasus, the US has a barrage of condemnation. Yesterday, the US State Department also “strongly condemned” terror attacks in Algeria.

Why the US is not condemning the MILF abuses and terrorist action is truly intriguing.

Incidentally, the MILF is not in the list of “terrorist organizations” of the US unlike these totally innocent Americans who are unfortunately on a terror watch list.

5:02 a.m.

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