Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Originally, Pacquiao’s contract was with Solar Sports, when he abruptly announced that he was signing a deal with media giant ABS-CBN. This set off a firestorm as Solar Sports executives said that Pacquiao had an existing contract with their company, and for Pacquiao to sign with ABS-CBN amounted to a breach of that contract. After about a week or two of heated exchange, Pacquiao finally said that his contract with Solar was valid, and that he would not be signing with ABS-CBN.
The ongoing media battle is a big distraction for Pacquiao, considering that his battle with Hatton is a little more than a month away. Just when he needs to concentrate on his preparations, he is now forced to explain his actions.
Even worse is the stain on his image. Before this incident, Pacquiao was the People’s Champ, looked up to by all walks of Philippine life. With the tussle between Solar and ABS-CBN, he has been exposed as having clay feet, particularly when it comes to money matters.
We’ve seen this before, in the negotiations for his fight with de la Hoya and the upcoming bout with Hatton, where he refused to fight unless he got a favorable (for him) share of the prize money. From the looks of it, Pacquiao seems to have a hunger for money.
Columnists William Esposo of the Philippine Star and Recah Trinidad of the Philippine Daily Inquirer scored Pacquiao for his apparent greed in their respective columns. In his column, Esposo takes Pacquiao to task for his greed, and questions Pacquiao’s entry into politics, asking whether he’s any different from the traditional politician. Trinidad, on the other hand, tries to take the pulse of the everyman, and his findings aren’t very positive. One of the vendors Trinidad interviewed even wanted Pacquiao to lose, so that it would knock some sense into him.
Unfortunately for Pacquiao, he misjudged how people would view this newest flap in his boxing career, and the backlash that would result from it. The people who once admired him now appear to be against him, and it will take more than just an apology to win them back.
It’s not sure how Pacquiao will deal with this blow to his image, and what effect it will have on his fight with Hatton. If he humbly owns up to his mistake, he may yet regain his lofty status. If he doesn’t, he’ll just be one of a number of Filipinos who were blinded by the allure of wealth.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
One of the problems about focusing on current events as a writer is that once I fall behind in writing about various issues, they become stale news, and have already been commented on to death. In the past few weeks, a number of issues have cropped up, and all I’ll do right now is to make quick comments on some of them, and hopefully, I’ll have time to write about the other issues.
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If Bernard Madoff was convicted in the Philippines for his massive Ponzi scam that decimated the savings of thousands, he would probably be immediately pardoned. You see, Madoff is already 70, and, given the automatic nature of Presidential pardons, he would not spend much time in jail, if at all. Just look at former President Joseph Estrada. Even though he was convicted of the crime of plunder, he wasn’t sent to Bilibid Prison, as he was almost pardoned at the same time he was convicted.
Thank goodness for his victims that Madoff is in the United States, where he faces up to 150 years in prison. At least, over there, he stands a chance of actually serving any prison time at all. Here, in the Philippines, justice is truly blind, as the big criminals slip past its grasp.
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The report this morning of the near tragedy caused by the son of the local Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) shows how lax our law enforcement is. Luis Sto. Domingo, son of CAAP official Frisco Sto. Domingo, thought that the airport tarmac at Legazpi City would be a great place to teach his girlfriend how to drive. Unfortunately for the younger Sto. Domingo, a Cebu Pacific flight carrying Tourism Secretary Ace Durano and his family was touching down at that moment. Only pilot Christopher Nowioki’s quick reflexes averted what could have been a tragic disaster, as he managed to get his plane aloft once more.
According to the younger Sto. Domingo, he did not hear the siren or see the incoming plane, but that is beside the point, as he has no business being on the tarmac in the first place. Both the father and son should be charged with reckless endangerment for their willful disregard of basic aviation safety rules.
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For the Maguans, the transfer of Rolito Go, the convicted murderer of their son Eldon, to a live-out facility must’ve been a bitter pill to swallow. Go, who shot and killed Eldon 18 years ago over a traffic altercation and subsequently escaped from prison and evaded authorities for three years, was transferred to the facility toward the grant of a possible pardon.
Go’s transfer, along with the many criminals who benefitted from the President’s almost automatic pardon, highlights what’s wrong with our justice system. Before being pardoned, criminals should show remorse for their actions, but, more often than not in this administration, they are simply released once they reach the required age without rhyme or reason.
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One of the perks of being a loyal official in the Arroyo administration is that, despite questionable actions, the official can expect to be rewarded with a cushy position as long as he or she keeps his or her mouth shut.
Romulo Neri was appointed as head of the Social Security System in exchange for invoking executive privilege over his role in the aborted ZTE-NBN broadband deal. Ignacio Bunye was appointed to the Monetary Board after serving as the President’s Press Secretary who helped obfuscate the “Hello Garci” scandal. And now Deputy Executive Secretary Manuel Gaite will replace retired Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Jesus Martinez, after being embroiled in the same issue that Neri was.
Gaite, who is described as a “dedicated and committed (e.g. doggedly loyal) public servant” by presidential mouthpiece Lorelei Fajardo, gave P500,000 to whistleblower Jun Lozada to purportedly help the embattled former official. Gaite claimed that he felt sorry for Lozada, and got the money from his family’s egg business.
This administration has shown tremendous capacity in practicing corruption, disdaining public opinion and acting with impunity. The appointment of Gaite shows that this capacity will not diminish anytime soon.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Last Wednesday, ABS-CBN ran a feature on open parties. While I thought that this was a little late, considering that the case of Marcel Piezas occurred back in January, it appears that a new wrinkle has come up.
Apparently, another boy, this time a junior from
The news report, filed by Ces Orena-Drilon, showed clips of people drinking all sorts of alcoholic drinks at an open party. It then showed an interview of Marcel’s mother, whose letter blew the issue wide open. It then showed a supposed parent of a Good Fraternity member, and the parent claimed that his son, who was apparently tagged as a participant in the incident, came home early on the night of the said incident.
It also showed snippets of the STOYA blog response to what happened to Marcel, so now the whole nation, at least those who managed to tune in last Wednesday, could see the immaturity of the writers, as ABS-CBN played up the more colorful comments of the blogger. I’m just thankful that the network didn’t identify the writer as coming from the Ateneo, as, coming off the heels of the tragic death of Amiel Alcantara, the grade 4 student killed in a freak accident in the Grade School area, it’s just more negative media for the school.
I wonder if the STOYA boys managed to catch the news report, and whether the report will have any impact on their activities. It might be even better if the phenomenon of open parties was reported in the newspapers, although I haven’t checked if such a report came out in any daily publication. As it is, I hope that the report helps curtail the proliferation of open parties, or, if they cannot be completely banned, the negative aspects of such events can be better supervised, particularly the serving of alcohol, and the presence of gangs who may target individuals for torment.
At any rate, the report emphasizes the need for parents to be more aware of their children’s activities, and for school officials and parents to investigate what is causing the youth to resort to activities such as open parties to release whatever stress they have of life in general. It also suggests that parents need to be more active in the value development of their children.
One of my friends noted that one of the causes may be the Westernization of our culture, wherein our youth try to emulate what their peers in the Western world are doing. If so, it’s a sad commentary on our own culture, that our youth adopt the ‘bad’ elements of Western culture in order to feel ‘cool’ or ‘in’. In a way, it’s ironic: we used to decry the colonial mentality that some of us adopted, and now our youth seem to embrace it, particularly the negative aspects of our former colonial masters.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
With Alan Moore’s split with publisher DC, and the difficulty of translating the rich, multi-level storyline of “Watchmen” to the big screen, the book soon became known as the “unfilmable book”, passing through a number of directors and screenwriters before finding its way into the hands of Zack Snyder, the director of Frank Miller’s “300”.
I’d been looking forward to the movie version since last year, when I saw the stills of the characters on the film’s website. I was even more thrilled when the first trailer came out; it whetted my appetite.
I managed to catch the film last Thursday, when various theaters were showing it in an advanced screening (It was officially due out Friday.).
The opening took my breath away. Set to the music of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’”, the images onscreen were practically lifted from the novel; the montage of the Minutemen’s various fates were also quite vivid and real.
As the movie progressed, I realized that Snyder had been almost Biblically faithful to the book, from the delivery of the lines to the various scenes and images. This presented a problem, especially for me since I had read the book. I found myself expecting and anticipating certain scenes, only to be disappointed when they didn’t materialize, or were radically changed.
Two scenes which I think came out better in the novel were the manner by which Rorschach, wonderfully brought to life by Jackie Earle Haley, disposed of the child murderer; I think the original rendition, wherein Rorschach handcuffs the guy to the stove and then sets him on fire, had more visual impact than Rorschach simply burying the cleaver in the guy’s head.
The other interpretation is the manner by which Ozymandias, played by Matthew Goode, executed his plan. In the novel, he planned for the world to believe that it had been invaded by an alien, which killed millions of New Yorkers upon its arrival in the city by teleportation. In the movie, the culprit would be Dr. Manhattan, played by Billy Crudup, whose energy signature Ozymandias had duplicated, and used in a massive explosion that vaporized a chunk of Manhattan. My guess is that maybe the alien angle would be too difficult for viewers to swallow, and it would create another layer of storytelling, which would make the already-long movie even longer.
In addition, I felt the movie lacked the emotional buildup that the novel had, maybe because since I already knew what was going to happen and wasn’t surprised by the turn of events. Or because of the slavish connection of the movie to the book, it’s possible that the buildup in the movie became a little pedestrian, or even forced.
Still, “Watchmen” is a good movie. There are a lot of moments for fans to take in and enjoy, and the acting is fair for a superhero movie. It just falls a little short if you hold it up to the likes of “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight”. But, it’s still a lot better than some of the other superhero movies out there.
It’s possible that neither individual would have gotten away with their crimes if the regulatory bodies were doing their jobs. Both country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) failed to investigate Madoff and de los Angeles, respectively, and thus, both men were able to get away with their crime, leaving thousands of investors with nothing. And in this age of recession, where one’s savings would go a long way in keeping afloat in these hard times, that’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow.
For the victims of Madoff, at least there’s the knowledge that he’s been caught and is likely to serve jail time. For the victims of de los Angeles, it’s not clear whether de los Angeles will be brought to justice. As it is, the investigation is still continuing, and it seems that it’s casting its web even wider, what with the allegations of bribery against SEC Commissioner Jesus Martinez, and Representative Ed Zialcita. It’s unlikely that we will see the conclusion of this sorry case anytime soon.
As columnist Alex Magno noted in his column today, “When regulators fail to do their jobs well, bad things happen.” And in our country’s case, with the weakness of the regulatory bodies, it’s important for us to remain vigilant about what is going on in our country, from the appointment of individuals to these bodies to the corrupt practices of our officials. Otherwise, we will be easy prey for the next Madoff or de los Angeles to come around.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Score one for the little guy.
The Court of Appeals yesterday reversed the decision of a lower court, and found the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) liable for destroying what was a legally-situated store in its sidewalk-clearing operations.
The Court of Appeals upheld the complaint of one Gloria Fenol, whose sari-sari store was demolished by the MMDA in its sidewalk-clearing operations. The CA decision noted that Fenol’s store was on private property and shouldn’t have been demolished. Thus, the MMDA must pay P50,000 in damages to Fenol.
I’ve long criticized the MMDA for overstepping its authority in its clearing operations. For one, according to the law that created it, the MMDA has no power to confiscate goods. While it’s true that the sidewalk vendors are hard-headed and continue to violate city ordinances, bullying them and taking away their goods doesn’t seem to be the right approach. But, then again, that’s MMDA tactics for you: the single-minded use of brute force in tackling a problem.
Considering that the MMDA personnel takes their cue from their Chair, Bayani Fernando, who has long voiced his desire to run for the Presidency next year, one has to wonder what sort of leader he’s going to be should he win. By looking at the tactics he employs in ‘managing’ Metro Manila, one really doesn’t have to wonder.
Of course, Fernando has no recourse but to go to the Supreme Court to try and reverse the CA decision; if he doesn’t, it will call into question the manner by which the MMDA conducts its sidewalk-clearing operations. I’m hoping that the Supreme Court will uphold the CA decision, and slap down the MMDA’s operations.
Fernando claimed that his men made a judgment call. Well, Mr. Fernando, your men erred in this case, and, if the Supreme Court upholds the CA’s ruling, then you and your men are going to have to go about another way to clear the sidewalks.
Granted, the problem of illegal sidewalk vendors is a big headache, but there are win-win solutions to the problem. Instead of employing bully-boy tactics, what Chairman Fernando and his men need to do is to shift their paradigm, and figure out ways to help these vendors find legitimate areas where they can hawk their wares.
There are two ways of looking at the recent release of the remaining 10 soldiers convicted for the assassination of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino.
On one hand, it’s a slap in the face of the Aquino family by the administration, considering that the Aquinos are currently at odds with the President. Despite the conciliatory words, it’s clear that the release of the 10 will not bring closure to the wounds of the past; in fact, the release is effectively rubbing salt in old wounds, especially since the release comes very close after the EDSA I Revolution. The case of Ninoy has not yet been resolved; the mastermind remains unidentified and scot-free. By releasing the 10, it appears that the Arroyo administration is no longer interested in finding out who was behind the former Senator’s assassination.
On the other hand, it’s possible that, while the soldiers were probably guilty of having participated in the murder of Aquino, they themselves are clueless as to who gave the order to have Aquino killed. If such is the case, there is no point in holding them any further, considering that they have behaved like model prisoners, according to their jailors. Holding them in jail will not produce the names that the Aquino family members are looking for, to pin down the guilty.
However, there is a snag regarding this side. The soldiers have not wavered from their initial story that the assassin was the lone gunman Rolando Galman, who was killed almost immediately after Aquino was shot. This means that they do not admit their own guilt, considering that the courts pronounced them guilty for having murdered Aquino. This lack of responsibility on their part shows that they are not sorry for what they did; in fact, one of them, in their statement reacting to their release, stated that they were innocent of the crime. If this is the case, there is no valid reason beyond the President’s prerogative to release prisoners for the remaining 10 to be released.
As we move farther and farther away from the tragic events of August 21, 1983, it becomes more and more unlikely that we will ever know the criminals behind this heinous deed. The release of the 10 won’t bring any closure, as Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita supposes; instead, it leaves the door wide open, and no closure is possible until Ninoy’s killers are brought to justice.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Of the various issues that have made the headlines this week and the last, there is none as heated as the debate over the right of reply bill currently being deliberated by both Houses of Congress. As far as I can understand it, the bill, a brainchild of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, requires media to allow aggrieved parties the opportunity, in terms of print space or airtime, to reply to what is said about them by the media.
Pimentel’s argument, which is supported by fellow Senator Joker Arroyo, is that the bill simply seeks to give people the right to reply to what is said about them in media.
Media’s argument is that there are already forums for people to air their side, or even prosecute, through the libel law, those who write negative things about them. Furthermore, it’s possible that people in power would use the bill in order to cow or intimidate the media from writing negative press.
I agree with those who oppose the bill, and wonder why Pimentel and Arroyo are such staunch supporters of the bill. Both were staunch opponents of the Marcos dictatorship, during which time the media was bullied and controlled. Why would these two support a bill that seeks to do something similar to what happened during the Marcos regime? It’s very baffling.
A number of House Representatives support the bill, which is not surprising, considering the quality of our Representatives. While I’m surprised at Senators Pimentel and Arroyo, I’m not surprised at the Representatives’ support, as they are more likely to abuse the provisions of the bill, especially on local media in their fiefdoms.
I don’t think that the bill has a chance of passing; as it is, the administration mouthpieces have stated that, even if the bill passes, the President will likely veto the bill. Still, like the other issues brewing this week, this is an issue worth keeping an eye on.
Two days ago, a group of concerned civil society members, led by former Senate President Jovito Salonga, filed an impeachment case against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, accusing her of failing in her duty as the country’s graft buster, instead becoming the coddler of the corrupt. The complaint was immediately endorsed by Akbayan party-list Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baracquel, to be followed by the leftist bloc of party-listers, such as Bayan Muna’s Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiňo.
I say it’s about time. Starting with the Mega Pacific case, where Gutierrez effectively overturned a Supreme Court decision by declaring that no one in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was criminally liable, the Ombudsman has failed to do anything with the various scandals that have plagued the administration. No case has been filed against any individual or groups for these cases.
Gutierrez’s reaction to the complaint was that of denial and arrogance. She asserted that she has not done anything wrong, and that she was looking into the filing of perjury charges against her accusers. As Senators Mar Roxas and Francis Pangilinan have pointed out, wouldn’t that be seen as intimidation tactics, as Gutierrez would be using her position of authority to bear on her accusers?
It doesn’t help that First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, around whom a number of the cases pending at the Ombudsman see his influence at work, has spoken out in support of Gutierrez, because it is perceived by many that she came to be appointed namely due to her close connection to Arroyo, a law classmate. By showing his support, Arroyo merely punctuates that connection with an exclamation point, and shows how beholden Gutierrez is to the administration, making it easier to question her impartiality as the graft buster.
However, it’s unlikely that Gutierrez will be impeached, for the same reason the President has avoided impeachment. Impeachment, as it has been pointed out, is a numbers game, and the administration controls the House of Representatives, where the impeachment complaint is tackled. Whether Gutierrez will be impeached or not will depend entirely on how expendable she is to the administration. At this point, that probably means that the impeachment complaint will not prosper, and Gutierrez will be insulated from another complaint for a year.
It’s equally unlikely that Arroyo will ask Gutierrez to step down, considering how valuable a flank of the administration the Ombudsman covers. With Gutierrez as Ombudsman, corruption in this administration will continue to be unchallenged.
It’s been a pretty busy week as far as local issues are concerned. Let’s try to take a look at each issue, and see where each appears to be headed.
For the longest time, our elections have been plagued with massive cheating, with the three G’s: guns, goons, and gold dominating the political landscape. One of the means to combat this, at least according to its supporters, is to automate the elections. By automating the elections, they argue, the time for canvassing and tallying the votes would be shorter, giving the cheaters less or even no time to manipulate the ballots in their favor.
Our Congress, however, don’t seem to agree, considering they’ve held up the release of the P11 billion supplementary budget for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) until the very last minute. Our Representatives have argued for a hybrid election, wherein the results of the national elections (for the President, Vice-President and Senators) would be automated, while those of the local elections would remain manual.
It’s clear that the Representatives, while voicing their doubt to the effectiveness of the automated system, are more concerned with the system’s effect on their ability to manipulate the vote. We’ve seen what’s happened when manual counting is done. Do we want more of the same in 2010? Certainly not.
Fortunately, as of yesterday, the House has managed to approve the supplementary budget, while, as of this writing, the Senate has promised to approve the budget before the night is over.
Now that the Comelec appears poised to modernize our electoral system, we voters can only wait and see whether Comelec Chairman Jose Melo has the political will to make this a reality.
It doesn’t mean, however, we can just sit back and relax. If anything, we need to be more vigilant to protect the election results, and ensure that the cheaters will not prosper.