There is hope


By Ermin Garcia Jr.


I AM beginning to feel assured that there is finally hope for the campaign against the drug lords, in both local and national levels.

Even with the obvious reluctance of presidential wannabes VP Jojo Binay, and Senators Mar Roxas and Grace Poe – and VP wannabes, Senators Chiz Escudero, Bongbong Marcos, Leni Robredo, Gringo Honasan and Sonny Trillanes – to declare war on drug syndicates operating in the country, Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano are attracting solid support for their shared advocacy to go hammer and tongs against drug syndicates.

They found unexpected and strange allies to their side – the New Peoples Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. For the first time in the country’s history, the two insurgent groups found common interests with the government to promote – to stop the illegal drug trade that has since began to thrive in the country that have ruined future of nearly millions of youngsters and broke bonds among members of thousands of families.

The latest to declare that he shares the same advocacy is Manila Mayor (and former President) Erap Estrada!

I don’t believe the architects of Daang Matuwid will ever come to their senses to be part of the national consciousness to stand firm against the drug lords but having seen how they stood in the Mamasapano Massacre, any belated attempt will no longer make a dent.

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DESIRABLES FOR THE SENATE. Former DILG Sec. (and former Tourism Sec.) Raffy Alunan was in town over the weekend to renew ties with friends and fellow government workers spanning two administrations – Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos!

He filed his certificate of candidacy for the senate (together with Red Cross chairman and former senator Dick Gordon) in this year’s election. Having had the privilege of collaborating with both under different circumstances in the past, I’ve know these two gentlemen to be made of the same stern stuff that epitomize good government on whom you never have to doubt or ask – “Bayan o sarili?”

Raffy and Dick are both articulate as they are both quick to action. During the attempted coup by Honasan and company, Raffy was quickly in the middle of the fighting, helping direct government operations to the extent of exposing himself to real danger as bullets whizzed by him, and until the negotiation for the surrender of the coup soldiers. And he did it because as Tourism secretary he knew that an extended firefight in the middle of Makati would not only be catastrophic to the country’s tourism program but to the stability of government.

Dick, on the other hand, invited me to set up a Sunday Punch in Olongapo City the first time he became its city mayor. His motive? He want a Sunday Punch to help establish a credible and transparent government. I couldn’t believe my ears when he said that. But I had to decline and explained that I had limited financial and manpower resources to be able to meet his expectations. Then he went to organize and rebuild Subic Base that was promptly deserted by the US Navy without any preparation on the part of the PH government when it ousted the Americans from the military bases. Whatever you see in Subic today was part of Dick’s vision. He again proved his mettle as Tourism secretary of President Arroyo.

It will certainly be a boon to the country if the two will be elected to the senate together as a team. Between their credentials as government leaders in the past and their shared vision, (in spite of their educated separately by Ateneo and La Salle), and the no-nonsense leadership of Duterte-Cayetano at the helm, the country will finally find its rightful and revered place in the world as an Asia’s fierce tiger with forward-looking economy that can approximate the gains of Singapore and Malaysia.    

To round up, the anticipated return of Ping Lacson as senator in 2016 will complete the A-Team for PH! I’ll have more of desirables for the senate in future issues.

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LESSONS IN NEGOTIATIONS. After all that whining and moaning over the past weeks from all sides over Dagupan City’s 2016 budget, the last word from Mayor Belen Fernandez is: All’s well that ends well.

Hopefully, this last escapade on the budget would have already taught everyone who matter that budget issues, sensitive to both legislative and executive, should be threshed out in serious discussions and caucuses on budgets should already be settled before a committee report is submitted.

Negotiations are a normal part of the process in governance – win some, lose some. But at the end of the day, all sides must realize that the process must come to an end after all possibilities are discussed. But holding an annual budget hostage can never ever make any side a winner, and most certainly not the oppositors.

Worst, the last attempt did nothing constructive but expose the lack of maturity on the part of the councilors who held back on their votes. They could have been made better impression for themselves by simply voting “no” instead of resorting to vanishing acts each time a call to vote is scheduled. By voting “no,” and derail the passage of the budget, it would have meant they were prepared to face the political consequences of their act even knowing they could not possibly justify their positions to their constituents. But they made a stand nonetheless.

So, ok… all’s well that ends well. I don’t want to be a spoilsport. Let’s move on with valuable lessons learned.

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WHO’S LEADING WHO? When I asked our reporter Dada Austria to check on the status of the dismantling of illegal fish pens, I had expected her to return with a positive report after her interview with City Agriculturist Emma Molina, including a timetable for the cleanup of the city’s rivers.

After all, Mayor Belen Fernandez already aired her stern warning to the pen owners if they choose to ignore the terms of the final grace period extended to them. This was topped by the support manifested by the city council and it approved the ordinance banning the use of fish pens.

I was aghast, therefore, and almost fell off my chair when I read Dada’s draft that quoted Ms. Molina as having said there would be no demolition or dismantling until her office has issued the “Implementing Rules and Regulations” for the ordinance! What temerity! Has she no shame, not even for the sake of Mayor Belen whom she actually made to appear like her own minion, a mayor who must do as she’s told.

By Ms. Molina’s directive, she virtually confirmed what we heard but initially doubted, that the illegal fish pen owners were celebrating their new “agreement” with city hall, about being authorized to operate until after the May elections, notwithstanding Mayor Belen’s December 31 ultimatum!

At any rate, I was informed that the mayor will finally have a meeting with Ms. Molina this week for an update on the enforcement of the ordinance and her directive to ban all fish pens. Let’s see if, indeed, Ms. Molina is right about her chief. More on this next week.

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Don’t look now but we have reason to believe that the case of ousted Basista Mayor Manolito de Leon will have a bearing on the disqualification cases vs. Sen. Grace Poe now pending before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court upheld Comelec in annulling the proclamation of Mr. De Leon. The case involved the use of his American passport while his case for reclaiming Filipino citizenship was being deliberated.

Didn’t Ms. Poe “mistakenly” use her US passport as well under the same circumstances? Tsk-tsk. I tell you, the 2016 presidential election is about the most problematic yet in history. It’s not about political turncoatism, but the very basic about what and who can be our president, never mind if the candidate is affiliated with all the political colors one can find in the country.

(For your comments and reactions, please email to: punch.sunday@gmail.com)

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