Call for Catholic politicians
To campaign on teachings of the Church
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 6 October 2021
First published in Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 5 October
Time and again, Catholic bishops say there is no such
thing as a Catholic Vote. In fact, they do not
even endorse candidates or support politicians during elections.
But they continue to shepherd the flock and enlighten Catholic voters
on the prudent use of their freedom to select the next leaders of
Bishops are often quoted as saying that the faithful should vote
according to their conscience.
Catholics with their informed conscience, they say, are free to
discharge their grave and moral responsibility to vote their own
candidates according to the principles and teachings of the Church,
on the belief that an informed conscience leads to an informed vote.
Its about time the Church should catalog the performance of
Catholic politicians, especially on how they stand on issues of
We Catholic faithful may rather support a non-Catholic politician
who lives a public life reflecting the Gospel values than a Catholic
politician who openly opposes the teachings of the Church.
We therefore challenge Catholic politicians to become proxies of
the living Church and be moral exemplars and leaders of our times.
We ask them to stand by the commitment of the Church regarding the
political, social, moral, and economic issues besetting our society.
Their political actions and decisions should be reflective of their
enlightened faith and the teachings of the Church.
for investigation into Covid-19 vaccination
With empty syringe
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 6 October 2021
First published in the Star, Monday 4 October 2021
Deputy Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali
must be applauded for the quick reassurance he gave to the public
on the case of the empty syringe at a Covid-19 vaccination centre,
Dr Noor Azmi: Empty syringe was an accident, 12-year-old
boy got vaccine immediately after in The Star Saturday
2 October 2021.
He said it was a genuine mistake by the vaccinator, and described
it as an on-duty mistake or human error.
He was referring to a video, which went viral on social media, showing
a vaccinator at the Vaccination Centre in Universiti Malaya plunging
the wrong empty syringe into the arm of a 12-year-old child.
Despite the deputy ministers assurance that action against
the staff had been taken to ensure such an incident would not recur,
some questions still remain, and these must be addressed in order
to restore full confidence in the vaccination process among the
If one examines the video carefully, it can be clearly seen that
besides picking up the wrong syringe, the vaccinator did not press
This fact would cast doubts on the assertion that the episode was
And if she had pressed the plunger, the lack of resistance would
have immediately alerted her to the fact that the syringe was empty.
Having jabbed many a person, it is inconceivable that the health
worker could not have forgotten to press the plunger.
Saying that it was a mistake seems to be a convenient way to avoid
a full-scale investigation into what could be the tip of an iceberg.
It is therefore incumbent upon ProtectHealth, which conducted the
investigation and advised the health authorities, to do a complete
investigation to assuage the troubled rakyat.
We do not wish to see the laudable work done by the Health Ministry
so far sullied by any deliberate despicable act.
It seems to be a good move, as stated by the deputy health minister,
to allow parents to witness their childrens vaccination process,
but this is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
We want to know how many horses are now roaming
free, posing a threat to others as well as to themselves.
The public are concerned.
Did they really receive the vaccines?
Do they now have to go for antibody tests?
These are searching questions that cannot be answered in a cavalier
It calls for a full investigation and for the findings to be made
When we exhort the public to take the jabs, it is incumbent upon
us to keep them fully informed of the benefits and risks, if any,
along the way.
That is the responsible thing to do.
I concur with Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman of Alliance for Safe
Community, when he said incidents of empty syringes being used during
the vaccination process should be viewed more seriously and should
not be swept under the carpet.
He also said these incidents could lead to those who had been vaccinated
doubting the integrity of their jabs.
He has asked, and I support him, that the authorities should quickly
release the results of investigations into previous allegations
of empty syringes.
Supreme Court ruled a hero's burial
For late President
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 4 October 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 30 September
In his column The Supreme Court as historian
in Philippine Inquirer September 23, 2021, retired Supreme
Court justice Antonio Carpio wrote: Those who seek to revise
the historical narrative of the Marcos plunder during martial law
will run against a formidable wall of authoritative decisions of
the Supreme Court which were rendered after the Marcoses were duly
Indeed, numerous decisions of the highest court of the land had
long settled the issue of whether or not the Marcos family was a
bunch of thieves after finding ill-gotten wealth in their Swiss
bank accounts amounting to almost $670 million, and ordering the
same forfeited in favor of the petitioner Republic of the
But not so fast, Justice Carpio.
The same Supreme Court virtually hailed the late dictator, Ferdinand
Marcos, a hero deserving to be buried at the
Libingan ng mga Bayani in its 2016 decision by a majority of nine
votes - three of them by Atenean justices, Arturo Brion, Mariano
del Castillo, both retired; and Estela Perlas-Bernabe, retiring
in May 2022.
That heros burial would never have happened
and Marcos carcass would have remained in a refrigerated coffin
had the latter three justices dissented or at least abstained as
the five dissenting justices had, resisting President Dutertes
importuning to accommodate the Marcoses, who had extended financial
support to his election campaign.
Dahil lang sa pera, niyurakan ang dangal ng Pilipinas.
We became the laughingstock of the whole world.
That 2016 decision being the latest from the Supreme Court concerning
the despicable rule of the late dictator, all those prior pronouncements
adverse or derogatory to Marcos seem to have become meaningless
now in the face of the heroism judicially bestowed
No wonder the Marcos heirs have now found the gall to rewrite history
to conform to the heroism of their disgraced patriarch.
And, to the disgust of many, this is all thanks to the three Atenean
magistrates who should be remembered for having been too confused
to tell the difference between a hero and a world-class thief.
Scarlet S. Sytangco.\,
ban in Thai restuarants
Gives rise to generation of state-at-home
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday October 3, 2021
First published in Bangkok Post, Friday October 1, 2021
As we slowly awaken from this Covid-19 nightmare,
I hope the government will learn lessons from its disastrous and
repeated alcohol restrictions.
Thailand's arcane alcohol laws conflict with its desire to become
a premium tourist destination.
The stupidity of restricting sales for three hours in the afternoon
speaks for itself.
The knee-jerk blanket ban on alcohol in restaurants has served not
only to fuel police corruption, but has also given rise to a whole
generation of stay-at-home alcoholics.
God knows what damage this has done to the health of the nation.
I do not call for a "free-for-all" over alcohol,
but we must stop the process of demonising it.
The recent hint that the tax on wine may be reduced is a step in
the right direction.
Please, no more nonsensical restrictions that continue to blight
Call for investigation
into Thai Airways
Purchase of Rolls-Royce jet engines
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 2 October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 28 September
Re: "Thaksin linked to THAI's losses", in
Bangkok Post, September 18, 2021
It is unfortunate but not necessarily illegal when
national leaders make bad policy decisions.
Surely, Thai Airways THAI was not the only airline in the world
to purchase the A340 aircraft, which are now widely recognised as
The fact that the planes led to Thai Airways THAI losing large sums
of money for years after their purchase is not itself an indication
That said, I'm all in favour of investigating the background of
the purchase of the planes with a view to increasing transparency
and uncovering possible malfeasance. At the same time, it would
be very appropriate for investigators to look into deals that Thai
Airways THAI made for Rolls-Royce jet engines between 1991 and 2005.
If anyone needs reminding, in 2017, Rolls-Royce admitted to British
fraud investigators that bribes were paid to Thai intermediaries.
Sadly, Thai investigators never saw fit to probe the cases or even
request related evidence from Rolls-Royce or the UK Serious Fraud
Call for Covid-19 testing
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 1 October 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 25 September
Re: "Disease law set for change",
in Bangkok Post, September 22, 2021
Instead of requiring all foreigners to be vaccinated before entering
Thailand, which is no guarantee they are clear of Covid 19, why
not just test them before entering the country?
Hell, you could even test them on the airplane.
And if they test positive you can quarantine them until they recover.
My proposal is cost-effective and could help revive the tourism
But any suggestion that doesn't benefit the vaccine industry will
never be considered.
I am convinced that all this obsession with vaccines is about money,
not health. And if I'm wrong then why not go ahead with my proposal?
nations, cultures, customs and traditions
Are all at heart human fictions
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 30 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 28 September
Re: "China's Xi warns of 'grim' Taiwan
situation in letter to opposition", in Bangkok Post
September 26, 2021.
More humans need to realise that countries and nations, along with
cultures, customs, and traditions, are all at heart only human fictions,
as historian Yuval Harari correctly explains in his justly famous
book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2015).
Mindless faith in blind nationalism or spurious ethnic myths notwithstanding,
should be irrelevant to its right to self-determination today.
If the people on the piece of land called Taiwan, or Tibet, or Texas,
or Catalonia, or Australia, or whatever do not want to be Chinese,
or American, or Spanish, or British, or whatever, that is for them
to decide today constrained only by just contractual agreements
Should they wish the people currently occupying some piece of real
estate to remain within the same fiction that is a nation, it is
for China, the United States, or Britain to persuade those citizens
to freely remain in that organisational structure. Force or threats
of force already betray any pretence to respecting the rights of
for deportation of foreigners
In Papua New Guinea with illegal visas
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 29 September 2021
First published in the National, Friday 24 September 2021
I commend the taskforce team that includes officers
from Immigration and Citizenship Authority and police officers for
confiscating illegal visas from foreigners who knowingly abuse the
laws of this country and making a mockery out of it.
While the authority is making money from fines, these foreigners
should be detained at Bomana Immigration Centre and deported to
their home countries.
These foreigners know how weak our systems are.
What are fines compared to them living and running business illegally?
Paying a fine is too easy for some of them.
They will pay you, then what?
It is recommended these foreigners should be detained and be deported
Throughout Papua New Guinea, foreigners operate in groups, so the
more we become too relaxed by just collecting fines, more will take
advantage of our weak system and continue to live and operate illegally.
For example; if you go to Australia and your visa expires and you
continue to reside illegally and work, you will automatically be
deported and blacklisted from travelling back to Australia once
you are caught by Australian authorities.
The same should be done for foreigners in Papua New Guinea.
Our laws should be respected.
Papua New Guinea
Contract awarded to Pharmally
a sweetheart deal
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday September 28, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday September
Congressmen said the Senate blue ribbon committees
investigation of the transfer of COVID-19 funds from the Department
of Health to the Department of Budget and Management is meant to
destroy the President.
Far from it.
The President himself said he requested Michael Yang, a Chinese
national and a long-time Davao businessman, to help Pharmally Pharmaceutical
Corp., a newly organized trading company with a capital of only
P625,000 and with no track record.
The award of the P8.7 billion contract to Pharmally is a sweetheart
deal. One who has P42 billion will not even think of talking to
a new entity with only P625,000 capital, no declared income, and
no track record.
The award to Pharmally is grossly disadvantageous to the government;
it calls for a thorough investigation for violation of the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act.
In a similar situation, Malacañang would say: If
they have nothing to hide, they should let the hearings continue.
J. Ferrer, Jr.,
Manila streets renamed
United States in 1946
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 27 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 24 September
This is not the first time were renaming a street.
We do this rather often.
We renamed Forbes Avenue to Lacson Avenue, Divisoria to Salas Street,
Echague to Carlos Palanca, Morayta to Nicanor Reyes just to name
There are about 170 streets in Manila alone that have been renamed
after we gained independence from the Americans in 1946. Historian
Gregorio Zaide said this is a fruit of bigoted nationalism.
And yet up to now, people still use the name Divisoria, Forbes,
Echague, and Morayta.
This phenomenon shows both a lack of historical sense and collective
memory when we change the name and also the presence of both when
we still use the old names.
It would be good to foster in our people greater historical sense
and true patriotism in contrast to nationalism by preserving the
old names of our streets and using the names of people in our history
to name new streets.
If a street has had the same name for some generations, perhaps
it would be wiser not to change the name anymore.
As we can see, even if we change the name, the old one is still
used by the people.
Other countries seldom change the names of streets, so that some
street names are preserved even for centuries.
For example, the Via Appia in Rome was built about 300 BC.
It still exists, and it still has the same name.
The street and the name teach us a lot of history.
Fr. Cecilio L. Magsino,
day jail sentence for corruption
For Malaysian senior federal council
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday September 26, 2021
First published in the Star, Saturday September 18, 2021
Anti-Curruption campaigners were startled by the decision
of the Sessions Court in Butterworth last month to sentence a senior
federal counsel to jail for one day and a fine of RM130,000 after
he pleaded guilty to three charges of accepting bribes amounting
to RM700,000 last year.
They would have been quick to point out that in contrast, more severe
sentences have been meted out in cases of petty theft, such as on
a labourer in Terengganu who was jailed 15 months for stealing petai,
and on an unemployed man who was sentenced to 10 months jail
for stealing RM50 from a fund belonging to a mosque.
Under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009,
punishment for corruption-related offences are imprisonment for
a term not exceeding 20 years, and a fine of not less than five
times the sum of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
The previous Anti-Corruption Act (ACA) 1997 carried a more severe
punishment, namely a mandatory jail sentence of not less than 14
days and not exceeding 20 years and fines amounting to five times
the bribe amount or RM10,000 (whichever is higher).
In comparison, under Section 406 of the Penal Code, penalty for
criminal breach of trust (CBT) is imprisonment for a term which
shall not be less than one year and not more than 10 years and with
The convicted person would also be liable to a fine.
For cheating, the penalty under Section 420 of the Penal Code is
imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than
10 years and with whipping, and also a fine.
Corruption is far more serious when compared with other offences
such as criminal breach of trust CBT, cheating and even homicide
because it has far-reaching consequences.
Compared to, for example homicide, which generally involves the
offender and the victims family, corruption affects the wider
public as the money could otherwise have been used on healthcare
services or in the building of new schools and roads.
The theory of deterrence developed by Hobbes, Beccaria and Bentham
states that the more severe a punishment, the more likely
that offenders will desist from criminal acts.
Therefore, the one-day jail sentence for corruption cases should
It would be more appropriate under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption
Commission (MACC) MACC Act 2009 to impose a mandatory jail time
of at least two months with a minimum of two strokes of the rotan
plus a fine.
A heavier sentence coupled with a longer prison term with whipping
will open the eyes of the public to the fact that corruption will
surely lead to the ruin of not only the persons involved but their
entire family as well.
Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar,
Malaysia Association of Certified Fraud Examiners,
Senate digs up evidence
of plunder in investigation
Into shenanigans of President Dutertes
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 25 September 2021
First published in the Philippines, Tuesday 21 September 2021
The commentary Politics as farce
by Gino Paje in Philippine Inquirer, September 14, 2021 contended
that the ongoing investigation by the Senate blue ribbon committee
of the shenanigans of President Dutertes friends and associates
known as the Davao group is just politics,
given that the main investigators used to play footsie with Mr.
Duterte and are now eyeing elective positions in 2022.
However, regardless of their motives, the Senate probers are actually
doing a great service to the Filipino people.
They are destroying the myth that Mr. Duterte is an invincible opponent,
by exposing the massive corruption in his administration.
It has now become clear that hundreds of millions of public funds
intended to address a raging pandemic wound up in the pockets of
the Presidents greedy Davao group.
And the farther Mr. Duterte goes out of his way to protect his boys,
the more guilty as hell he looks.
But there is one thing that needs to be reckoned with in spite of
all the compelling evidence of plunder thats being dug up
in the Senate: Only the Department of Justice and the Office of
the Ombudsman are authorized by law to commence criminal prosecution
But with the officials running these government offices afraid of
displeasing Mr. Duterte, who else can hold the crooks accountable?
Thus, its all up to the electorate if they still want more
of the same, or they will finally save this country from going to
Rey C. Escobar,
The military and government
a functioning democracy
Southeast Asian Times, Friday Septemeber 24, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday September 20,
Re: "Coup anniversary fizzer",
in Bangkok Post, Sunday September 19, 2021.
Gen Sonthi said "there are different types of democracy
and Thailand should find one that fits its needs".
It is true that democracy spans a range of institutional arrangements.
But functioning democracies share several principles: the people
elect the government; political institutions support and maintain
their choices; the government serves the country; the military and
the government are distinct, not overlapping, entities; and the
military serves the country, not the government.
Thailand has a long way to go before it can claim to be a functioning
Espionage comes to mind
with Chinese national appointment
As Philippine presidential advisor on economic
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 23 September 2021
First published in Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 21 September
Michael Yang of the Pharmally scandal is a Chinese
national doing business in Davao City.
Mr. Duterte has trusted this man as a friend for decades, and in
fact appointed him at one point as a presidential adviser
on economic affairs.
How that patently unlawful designation was justified by Malacañang
is as clear as mud. Yangs connection with the Chinese Communist
Party is quite evident from the fact that a Chinese ambassador to
the Philippines was said to have had no problem sleeping over in
It would thus be the height of naivete for anyone to believe that
Yang is only a businessman.
Doesnt espionage come to mind?
Never mind the oxymoron, but is that part of the Armed Forces of
the Philippines doing military intelligence
okay with Yang traipsing the corridors of power and getting privy
to practically everything that President Duterte has been doing
all these years?
New normal industrial-era
Will weaken education mafia in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 22 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 20 September 2021
Re: "Classroom enhances the value of learning",
in Bangkok Post Opinion, September 18.
Mr Ferguson makes some excellent observations about the virtues
of classroom or on-campus teaching and learning.
We are the products of the industrial-era model of the brick-and-mortar
system where we had all kinds of experiences the good, bad, and
It is quite possible that in the "new normal," the
industrial-era model of education, focusing on time, process, and
teaching, will be eclipsed by online learning rooted in outcomes.
In the past two years of the pandemic, students have discovered
their potential to learn by themselves.
The drastic changes in their behaviour will not allow them to go
back easily to the usual conformity and compliance most instructors
in Thailand expect.
There is enough evidence to support the idea that the institutional
control of education will decrease, and the power of students will
With near-universal access to digital devices and the internet,
students will seek from the education sector the same things they
are getting from other sectors, such as the music, movies, gaming,
and eCommerce industries.
Online learning entities will drive up competition and drive down
The education mafia in Thailand which has been squeezing families
with its deceptive advertising and exorbitant fees for decades will
We should all come to terms with the fact that in the post-pandemic
era the dominance of degrees will diminish.
According to experts, non-degree certifications and diplomas and
"just in time" education will increase in status
and value. In reality, education is all about experiences, not necessarily
confined to schools or classrooms.
The "golden era of ivory towers" is over.
Online learning and students themselves will now drive reforms.
Face shields a symbol
of waste and corruption
Under Deterte administration
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 21 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 16 September
We echo the assertion of some senators that face shields
add little or even no protection against COVID-19 infections.
It adds to plastic pollution aside from being an unnecessary expense
We are outraged to learn in the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing
that the government procured overpriced face shields.
Face shields are important for medical workers, but under the Duterte
administration, these items have become a symbol of waste and corruption.
It is useless to convince the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management
of Emerging Infectious Diseases to reconsider its order for the
mandatory use of face shields, that is why they are now appealing
to local government units to stop requiring the use of face shields
in their respective jurisdictions.
The optional use of face shields will hopefully partially reduce
plastic garbage aside from removing an inconvenient financial burden
on our people.
We ask the government to make a concrete plan on how to properly
dispose of the plastic mess they had created, and to make officials
and so-called experts accountable for legitimizing the improper
use of public funds for an irrational pandemic policy.
Kevin Paul Aguayon,
Nilad Metro Manila Environmental Network,
Elite Card program to attract rich foreigners
to be a boondoggle
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 20 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 19 September 2021
Re: "Govt to entice rich expats,"
in Bangkok Post September 15, 2021
Once again it shows how misplaced the Thai government's notions
If you have to invest $500,000, have a yearly income of $80,000,
buy $100,000 insurance, and have few thousand dollars of loose change
to enjoy yourself, why in the world would you relocate to Thailand?
Why not Portugal, Italy, Istanbul, or Mexico?
I must say that Thai officials do live in some La-La Land thinking
that rich people around the world are ready to flock to Thailand
with a load of money to rescue the Thai economy!
The Thai Elite Card programme touted to attract rich foreigners
has proved to be a boondoggle.
The Covid crisis has already hammered the Thai travel sector.
Sandbox and other novel experiments are not working.
So why come up with more of the same ideas?
Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, "The definition
of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting
Instead, the government must pay more attention to expats who are
already inside. The retired foreigners who live here and own condos,
and are married to Thai women, and spending lots of money supporting
the Thai economy are subjected to 90-day reporting and the annual
pilgrimage to immigration offices.
Why not allow these insiders to own land and provide them work permits
and a 10-year visa?
The Thai government should entice this group to invest more, rather
than coming up with exotic ideas to attract new expats during this
Police torture of supects
Standard practice in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 19 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 16 September
Re: "Anti-torture bill overdue,"
Bangkok Post Editorial,
September 14, 2021"
This bill was written primarily to prevent rogue officials from
But seriously, does the Bangkok Post leader-writer know for sure
that torture involving police is "rogue behaviour?"
Police putting plastic bags over the heads of suspects during interrogation
has been documented time and again.
It was even once demonstrated in parliament.
The group of policemen in the Joe Ferrari fatal torture clip didn't
seem at all surprised at the method being used; just another day
at the office.
Is police torture really rogue behaviour, or simply standard practice?
Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong"
Romualdez Marcos Jr.,
violation of separation of powers
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday September 18, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday September
Bong Go Marcos is an incumbent senator.
Despite his election to that national position, he has remained
the most prominent member of President Dutertes presidential
Former senator Serge Osmeña has derisively called Go Dutertes
But Go is more than a caregiver.
He is, aside from being Mr. Dutertes gofer, a de facto Cabinet
member, right-hand man, enabler, and overall surrogate.
His being all of the above almost all of the time, and on Senate
time from where he draws handsome compensation, is a blatant violation
of the separation of powers. It smacks of out and out opportunism.
By acting as he does, Go demeans his exalted position as senator,
a mandate given to him as a gift by the Filipino people to whom
he owes a sacred obligation that must be discharged with utmost
honesty and fidelity.
Go should stop straddling the legislative and executive divide.
He should realize the blatant anomaly in what he is doing. It is
conflict of interest and corruption of the worst kind.
Go should resign forthwith from the Senate to become Mr. Dutertes
full-time caregiver, gofer, de facto Cabinet member, right-hand
man, enabler, and overall surrogate.
By doing so, he shall have reduced the number of Duterte lackeys
and toadies in the Senate.
US expat in Thailand looks
Chinese and Korean movies
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 17 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 13 September 2021
I see Disney has cancelled Fox Sports Asia as it consolidates
its streaming platform.
The loss of this international sports broadcast outlet just adds
to the frustration of US expats who have already seen the demise
of Major League Baseball, Nascar Racing and NCAA college football.
This Fox channel provided coverage of the four Grand Slam tennis
tournaments, the F1 racing season and other international sporting
Not to worry though, True says we can depend on its eight branded
networks for quality sports programming. Currently being shown are
the NFL pre-season, which ended two weeks ago, the 2020/2021 NBA
season, which ended two months ago, and three tennis tournaments.
In addition, this 76-year-old US expat can look forward to a new
Chinese movie station, a new Korean movie station, a new kids station
and a new gaming-centred station.
We lost HBO and Showtime for Warner and Paramount.
Anyone see a trend here?
Duterte connected with contract awarded to
Pharmaceutical Corp for Covid-19 equipment
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 16 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 14 September
The Davao connection is all over
the transfer of P42 billion COVID-19 funds from the Department of
Health to the Department of Budget and Management in March 2020.
Lloyd Christopher Lao, who hails from Davao, is a fraternity brother
of President Duterte, and is a former undersecretary in the Presidential
Management Staff under Christopher Bong Go, approved the supply
contracts with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
Pharmally had a paid-up capital of only P625,000, and had no declared
income in 2019.
Pharmally officials were personally introduced to Mr. Duterte in
March 2017 by Michael Yang, his former adviser on economic affairs
who is also from Davao City.
The pattern is unmistakable: The Davao connection is entrenched
in government corruption.
All good men and women should stay focused on the Senate blue ribbon
committee investigation to see what other connections it can reveal.
Jose J. Ferrer Jr.,
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 15 September, 2021
With reference to the Reuters report India,
Australia security ties ( 12/9 )
I hope the security ties ( read, military and military intelligence
ties ) will not take away resources and Indian Prime Minister Narendra
Modis plan to build more public toilets for the people of
Mismanagement of Philippines
Trigger protest action from health workers
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 14 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 10 September
As Covid-19 has raged on, corruption in government
has also been exposed.
The report on the health departments mismanagement of P67
billion for the pandemic response has triggered protest actions
by health workers from public and private hospitals.
Their protest actions have gathered tremendous support and sympathy
from different sectors, the public, doctors, and other health professionals.
Even the World Health Organization has recognized the health workers
Who are responsible for the plunder of public funds?
It was to lawyer Lloyd Christopher Lao of the Procurement Service
of the Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM) that Health
Secretary Francisco Duque III entrusted P42.4 billion of the Department
of Health (DOH) funds. President Duterte admitted he had appointed
Lao to the PS-DBM. Lao was Mr. Dutertes election lawyer in
Lao was also the assistant secretary at the Office of the Special
Assistant to the President, formerly headed by Sen. Christopher
What about Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.?
This is a subsidiary company of Pharmally International Holding
Company; its executives are associates of Mr. Dutertes former
economic adviser Michael Yang, and these executives have active
criminal cases in Taiwan for alleged manipulation of stocks.
On March 17, 2017, Mr. Duterte was in a meeting with Pharmally executives
and Yang, as Malacañang video footage shows.
It is a big question why Mr. Duterte has been defending Yang, Duque,
and Lao while at the same time castigating the Commission on Audit
and the senators investigating the P42-billion anomalous transaction
of the DOH. He has admitted ordering Duque to transfer the amount
to fast-track the procurement of medical supplies without bidding.
Duque has also admitted his failure to execute a memorandum of agreement
with the PS-DBM.
Who will be made to account for what is turning out to be premeditated
plunder, in the words of Sen. Franklin Drilon?
As the Senate investigation continues, people are hoping that such
investigation will not only be in aid of legislation, but, more
importantly, will lead to convictions. I am one of them.
Ruth Elio, registered nurse,
National Council Health Alliance for Democracy Inc.,
calls on Philippines for support
Taiwan's participation in the United Nations vision
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 13 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 10 September
The 76th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) is
arriving when the world is still faced with the threat of the COVID-19
As highly-contagious variants of the virus continuously affect us,
the world needs a more effective UN to help recover from the COVID-19.
The UN responds by declaring the theme for this years General
Assembly, which is to be held in New York on 14-30 September 2021,
as Building resilience through hope to recover from
COVID-19, rebuild sustainability, respond to the needs of the planet,
respect the rights of people, and revitalize the United Nations.
The realization of UNs vision requires all of us at the table.
After almost a year of successfully containing the virus, Taiwan
experienced a surge of confirmed cases in mid-May this year.
Nonetheless, it has stabilized the situation with effective anti-pandemic
responses, and emerged as a more reliable partner to work with in
the global community on the fight against the COVID-19.
Taiwan has also dedicated itself to implementing the UN Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs), and joins hands in pandemic response with
like-minded countries, including the Philippines.
Despite Taiwans effective response against the pandemic and
the important role it played in the global supply chain, the government
and people of Taiwan continuously face difficulties when attempting
to take part in the mechanisms, meetings and activities of the UN
This situation erodes the United Nations principle of universality.
Multilateral collaboration requires bilateral cooperation. As close
neighbors and maritime nations, Taiwan and the Philippines are enduring
partners which uphold the values of freedom, democracy, and the
rule of law.
The continued threat posed by the pandemic calls for the spirit
of bayanihan to bring everyone to the table.
We sincerely hope our Filipino brothers and sisters to voice their
support for Taiwans participation in the UN system.
The people of Taiwan need the international community to support
our aspirations and our right to fair treatment by the UN.
At the very least, stop turning us away at the door.
Taiwan can do much to help build a more resilient UN system.
Let Taiwan be Taiwan and it is the right time to bring Taiwan to
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines.
Call for Hon. Senator
Emmanuel "Manny" D. Pacquiqo
To hang up his gloves
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 12 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 10 September
Your August 27 Philippine Inquirer, editorial,
Its time, Manny leads us to look
at the record of the accomplished boxer.
He was a Great Pretender as congressman, contending for Top Absentee.
For our people to elect him as Senator is a form of estafa.
As senator, while he occasionally criticizes the Palace, he had
two months preparing for his latest fight.
That time he could have devoted to proving his charges last June
of administration corruption.
But nothing, while our cynical people may be getting insensitive
to such claims over the decades.
Indeed, being a Great Pretender may be another form of corruption.
We dont advise that if anyone reaches a fork in the road to
Manny should hang up his gloves.
R.A.V. Saguisag Sr.,
People of Myanmar fight
against military repression
For right to live in freedom and human dignity
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 11 September 2021
On the deepening crisis in Myanmar I refer to the
article Call for Australia to make a stand in
The Fiji Times 9/9 ( first published on Devpolicy Blog from
the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University).
Dont count on it.
Australia and the international community are good at paying lip
service on calls for the restoration of democracy following a military
The bottom line is after an initial expression of condemnation for
the takeover they find ways to return to business as usual with
the rogue regime to further their own vested economic interests.
They are driven by whats political expedient for them and
not whats right for the oppressed people of Myanmar and elsewhere.
Six months after the military takeover and brutal military crackdown
in Myanmar if Australia has not taken a solid stand what does that
The people of Myanmar will have to fight against the tyranny of
military repression and for their right to live in freedom and human
police officer accused of murder
mask on at press conference
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 10 September
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 4 September
Ferrari' denies all accusations", in Bangkok
Post, August 29,
Watching from beginning to end on Thursday the press conferences
organised by the Royal Thai Police on the arrest of Police Colonel
Thitisan Utthanaphon - the suspect accused of torturing and murder
of a drug suspect - I couldn't help thinking something fishy was
First, at the first news conference to showcase the suspect in front
of the public, the police generals failed to remove the mask covering
the suspect's face.
This led to speculations and suspicion concerning the true identity
of the suspect. The suspect on display seemed to be smaller and
thinner than he should have been.
Second, during the second press conference late in the evening,
the suspect was not shown, but was allowed to answer questions via
a phone-in - it looks like the suspect has been given a chance to
Also, cross-questioning by reporters was not fully allowed. The
police generals who were present also refused to answer important
questions concerning the case.
Lastly, instead of improving its image through these press conferences,
the Royal Thai Police seems to have plunged to a new low.
It would have been better if this seemingly half-hearted and illusory
press conference never happened.
On waging war against its own people
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 9 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 7 September
Amid the controversy over the Department of Health
and the Procurement Service-Department of the Budget and Management
anomalies that were flagged by the Commission on Audit, the issue
of the P28.1 billion budget being requested for the National Task
Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) has been
lost in the din.
It appears to us that this government is hell-bent on waging war
against its own people who are airing grievances over what they
see as a lack of government support in their hour of need, and even
for simply establishing community pantries as a means to help those
affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz was red-tagged when she asked
the private sector for assistance in preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
The people involved in the community pantries were Red-tagged, too.
Their only sin was to help the needy amid the pandemic.
But while millions are suffering, those in government are swimming
in humongous funds that they allocate for themselves.
The irony of it all is, why is this government waging a war against
what it sees as local communists while at the same time cavorting
with Communist China?
If the government has not been remiss in its job of looking after
the well-being of its people, there will be little protest and few
If there is no corruption in government, there will be fewer poor
people in this country.
And if the problems mentioned above are nonexistent, there is no
need for that white elephant called the NTF-Elcac.
Wanted U.S. resources
in pivot to Indo-Pacific
To balance China's aggression policies
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 8 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 5 September 2021
pivot to free, open Indo-Pacific", Bangkok
Post, Opinion, September 3, 2021.
Yes, after two decades of efforts to build democracy in a tribal
land, the US military has gone home.
There is no doubt that the Afghan clans and tribes will go back
to fighting among themselves.
This age-old pattern will unfold soon.
Any society where one holy book or scripture becomes the basis of
life is doomed. A society where people treat guns as ornaments will
As a consequence, they will hunt down each other and also harm the
It is happening in the USA.
It is quite customary in Afghanistan, tribal areas of Pakistan,
and many other countries.
An enlightened and liberal society can only be built through tolerance
to the diversity of faith, religions, cultures, and opinions. Nation-building
requires educated masses and robust economies.
Preserving the sanctity of human life is what is missing in the
Middle East, Africa, and other parts of the world.
The Taliban and the IS may gather steam from US withdrawal and may
again start new adventures into Southeast Asia.
Once again, Pakistan and Afghanistan will turn into a safe haven
for radicalised and extremist groups.
The whole region from India's northern territories, from Kashmir
to the border of Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and
China, will face the rise of Islamist radicals.
I also doubt the Biden administration will put resources in its
Indo-Pacific pivot to balance China's aggressive policies.
Just like the USA, China's incursions within the region will backfire.
It will also pay the price for its misadventures.
Waiting for Godot
In Pattaya and Phuket
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 7 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 5 September 2021
Re: "Pattaya needs sustainability",
Bangkok Post Editorial, September 3, 2021
I agree: sustainability is the answer.
But is "sustainability" in Pattaya and Phuket only
achieved by resurrecting
"beer bar tourism?"
The current hope of a renewed Walking Street boom is like an expectation
for the return of dinosaurs.
Thailand is like the play Waiting for Godot on that score
an unfounded fantasy that may or may never be realised given the
rapidly changing realities of business/tourism travel internationally.
In the past 18 months of this Covid disaster we have only heard
from the government about restarting tourism.
Never a suggestion that, instead of filling defunct hotels and soapy
massage parlours, that we could build technical colleges as quickly
as temporary field hospitals, that would house and train Thailand's
youth with skills-based education to fill new factories and businesses.
It beats waiting for the beer bars to reopen. There's a future waiting
and a great political opportunity for the visionary.
In a plutocracy the plutocrates
to take care of themselves
Southeast Asian Times, Monday September 6, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday September 1,
shots start 'next month'", in Bangkok Post
August 30, 2021
In countries where every human life is considered to have value,
governments, even those which are otherwise inept, regard it as
their responsibility to keep their populations alive. In the context
of Covid-19 this has meant doing everything possible to vaccinate
their whole population.
Because even the first shot of a vaccine can offer substantial protection,
the length of time between the two prescribed shots was lengthened
from three weeks to up to 12 weeks in some cases.
This was in order to ensure some protection for the greatest number
Compare the situation in an imaginary plutocracy.
There, the plutocrats' first duty is to take care of themselves.
They will handle the contracts for purchasing vaccines and, in the
process, increase their own wealth.
More importantly, they will ensure that they, their families and
friends are at the front of the queue for vaccinations.
They will get their second shots after three weeks because only
their lives are important, never mind the fact that the vast majority
of the population cannot get even their first jab.
Once they learn though that a third,
booster, vaccination can give them still better protection, they
will grab those too. In other words, to hell with the general populace.
So long as the betters, the important people, the elite, hi-sos
or whatever are taken care of, everything is hunky-dory.
Plastic bags drawn over
drug suspect's head
prevent him seeing police officers faces
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 5 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 4 September
Re: "Fears mount cops will shield 'Joe
Ferrari'", in Bangkok Post August 28, 2021.
"I covered the suspect's head with plastic bags to prevent
him from seeing officers' faces," says former Pol Col Thitisan
Utthanaphon, charged with murdering an alleged drug trafficker in
Ah, how we remember our childhood hours, playing games like Blind
Man's Bluff, where one child had to be blindfolded by wrapping multiple
plastic bags around their head!
Former Pol Col Thitisan is clearly not aware and as a high-ranking
police officer. How could anyone expect him to be aware that placing
a plastic bag over a suspect's head has been adjudicated by the
courts as attempted murder?
May I suggest that if the police wish illegally to hide their identity
in future interrogations, they wrap each other's heads in plastic
This may of course lead to the accidental suffocation of a few officers.
But then again, the loss of would-be anonymous torturers might actually
benefit the police in the long run.
World Bank reports that
the Philippines education system
Has much room for improvement
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 4 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 3 September
The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) working
paper titled Foundational Mathematics and Reading Skills
of Filipino Students Over a Generation, which corroborates
the dismal findings on our basic education contained in the World
Bank (WB) report, WB apologizes for PH education report;
Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) echoes findings,
in Philippine Inquirer July 10, 2021 that aggrieved the Duterte
administration, particularly the Department of Education (DepEd),
has resurfaced on the internet after around a month of disappearance.
Was the temporary removal perhaps prompted by the reaction of the
government to the World Bank report?
It was taken down a few days after the World Bank bowed to the demand
of Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Finance Secretary Carlos
Dominguez III for the bank to apologize over the report and take
down the report from its website.
The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) paper then reappeared
under the name of main author Takiko Igarashi and is no longer on
the website of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI).
Most interestingly, the last paragraph of the conclusion, which
contained the verdict of the authors on the effectivity of our education
system to impart foundational skills, has been deleted.
The missing paragraph is as follows: Considering the Philippines
status as a low-middle income country, improving the quality of
the education system must remain a matter of national priority.
The likelihood for the country to achieve high income status would
be determined, first, by its ability to ensure that all students
master foundational skills. Our findings, together with the results
from international assessments, show that the Philippines educational
system still has much room for quality improvement.
Before the arm-twisting of the World Bank, the DepEd leadership
went all out to discredit the article 70,000 Bicol pupils
cant read DepEd in this papers Feb. 17, 2020 issue.
It branded the report as exaggerated, inaccurate,
even malicious and shoddy.
In a press conference in Malacañang on that same day, Briones
argued that there could not be 70,000 nonreaders in Bicol because
the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI), the reading
diagnostic test that surfaced the nonreaders, is supposedly a tool
that determines if a student is reading and comprehending at his
grade level, and since the purpose of the Phil-IRI is to place reading
levels, all the takers are already readers.
Apparently, Briones did not read the Phil-IRI Manual 2018 which
she herself issued. Pages 6, 8, 696, and 697 of the manual say that
nonreaders are identified by their classroom teachers, with the
information passed on to the administrators of the Phil-IRI.
Not knowing how to read is different from being illiterate,
Briones also stated. No comment needed on that one.
Similarly, Undersecretaries Diosdado San Antonio and Nepomuceno
Malaluan questioned the data of the DepEd-Region 5 on the ground
that the Phil-IRI is only intended for Grades 3 to 6, and included
in the report are Grades 1 and 2 and high school students.
The two officials forgot that the subject of the report is the number
of nonreaders and not the classification of the entire Bicol studentry
into the different reading levels, thus the kind of tool used is
Like Briones, they, too, dont seem to know that nonreaders
are not identified by the Phil-IRI but by the classroom teachers
prior to the Phil-IRI process.
San Antonio and Malaluan were trying to say that in order for the
DepEd to detect that a child cant read, it needs an official
reading diagnostic test when any printed text, even that on candy
wrappers, can separate the literate from the illiterate.
Unfortunately, the unseemly, unprofessional, and immature reaction
of the top brass of the DepEd was effective in stopping the circulation
of information on the countrys reading crisis.
No subordinate official has dared to report to the media on the
subject since then. Given the ADBIs action on the working
paper, it also appears that our international partners were put
on notice by the vehement reaction of the government to the WB report,
and are now wary of putting out helpful findings and assessments
that could ruffle the feathers of the DepEd.
VIP's to recieve third vaccination
Millions of Thai's yet to recieve first
Southeast Asian Times, Friday Septemebeer 3, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday September 1,
shots start 'next month'", in Bangkok Post,
August 30, 2021.
Starting in September through October third shots will be given
to the 3 million Thais who already received two doses of Sinovac
at least three months ago.
What about the 7 million Thais who thus far have only received one
dose and are being told they cannot get their second shot until
October and November?
My wife, who owns a restaurant in Bangkok, has her second shot of
AstraZeneca scheduled for late November, as do her entire staff,
and cannot open her place of business which has been closed for
now going on the eighth of nine months in 2021 because this government
has not provided the ability for her and her staff to be vaccinated
as they need to do to open.
And yet here they are giving third shots to all these others.
And what about the 40 million Thais who have not received their
first shot, let alone their second or now third?
The plan to use the precious Pfizer vaccine as a third shot booster
vaccines for anyone other than frontline workers, medical doctors,
nurses and hospital staff, is just another move by this obtuse government
out to please their hi-so ultra-wealthy VIP friends, themselves
and their oligarchy cohorts.
Making regulations that they themselves, this government, make impossible
for the average Thai business owner of eateries, restaurants and
pubs to meet, and then using the needed vaccines that will allow
them to meet these requirements as third shot boosters instead of
making sure all have at least one vaccine and getting those who
do not have, their second vaccine must be the priority of this government
Stop playing a life and death game with the people of Thailand in
order to please yourselves and your VIP friends and take care of
the Thais and foreign residents.
For once, do what is right for the people
Philippine President Duterte
the best communicator"
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 2 September 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 1 September
In her column A
legacy of bad communication in Philippine
Inquirer August 16, 2021, Kay Rivera wrote: Among the
many legacies of this administration is one of truncated, illogical,
false, unhelpful communication, and it is a legacy that will continue
to color spokesperson Roques career, long after the need for
this blatant sycophancy has receded.
One would think a former University of the Philippines (UP) College
of Law professor would still have the slightest dignity to distance
himself from blatant lies. Yet Harry Roque found the gall to say
that President Duterte is the best communicator
What planet is he from?
Indeed, just when we thought nothing could beat the anecdote about
an ultra-loyal general during martial law who was said to have replied
from what floor, sir? when his commander in chief
ordered him to jump from a tall building, now comes Roque who would
probably sky-dive from a plane without a parachute if his boss told
him to do so.
Danica Monica R. Mortiz,
Call for Thailand to accept
to live with Covid-19
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 1 September 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 29 August 2021
Why are we still locked down if covid-19 has become
I can no longer comprehend why we remain in lockdown into month
five if you start from April, and month six if you include January.
I won't even speak to pre-2021 as this experiment made sense then,
when clearly it is doing nothing to curb numbers now.
Yes they fluctuated slightly down these last few days but this is
based on opaque information given that many people are now self-testing
and not reporting their cases otherwise they have steadily increased
from April to now in a de facto lockdown.
If we all agree on a few points. Covid-19 is now endemic and is
not going to disappear no matter how hard we try, look at China,
Australia, and New Zealand the strictest of all nations.
We believe in the vaccines as an effective method of prevention
from serious illness last report was 81.4 percent of people in Bangkok
had received at least one dose of a vaccine according to the Centre
for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) English briefing on
Vulnerable populations should isolate if they choose until we have
Why are we still locking our children at home and not educating
them, let's not pretend virtual school is a reasonable method any
longer, closing our restaurants, hotels, and shops; blatantly wreaking
financial havoc for no reason at all?
We are now killing people with Covid-19, along with a widespread
mental health disaster, and financial challenges.
The world is collapsing around us and we persist like little mice
to think we can stop an unseen virus from entering our space when
we should be learning how to live with it.
Does Thailand really want to continue letting the baht devalue to
the point that we will be in an economic recession worse than the
Tom Yum Kung crisis of 1997? Let's accept the reality.
Let's focus on how to stay healthy to be ready for when we are,
in fact, infected, while continuing to engage in safe practices
such as mask wearing, hand washing, and some distancing, but not
at the behest of our lives, our education, our livelihoods, or our
mental and physical health.
for protection and promotion of rights of women
In Papua New Guinea Parliament
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 31 August 2021
First published in the National, Friday 27 August 2021
The Government has so far passed eight new bills in
Parliament, including the Oil & Gas Act Amendment Bill 2021
and MVIL Third-party Insurance Bill among others.
The decision to revert to the first-past-the-post voting system
which was abolished in 2007 in preference for the limited preferential
voting (LPV) system was voted against through a bipartisan support.
The LPV system was adopted because it minimised problems including
vote rigging and other inequalities that were identified in elections
prior to 2007.
The LPV system ensured that the elected MPs had wider mandate from
the electorate and province by redistributing second and third preferences
of losing candidates in each rounds to the leading candidates.
However, in a culturally diverse country such as Papua New Guinea,
inequalities often exist regardless of the voting system and its
often difficult for the election officers and security personnels
to mitigate vote rigging and the disenfranchisement of different
groups of voters.
One of the agenda to address inequalities in general elections in
the country has been alluded to the reserve seats for women in Parliament.
This agenda was tabled in Parliament by Dame Carol Kidu in 2009
after her observations of the limited number of female candidates
being elected into Parliament since 1975.
Despite the push to have reserve seats for women in Parliament,
the Government saw that the move was untenable due to an absence
of a supporting bureaucracy and the lack of financial capacity.
Since then the agenda has become a trivial agenda but discussions
are still continuing between different groups and the government
to ensure that the agenda is brought to fruition.
At this juncture, the Government should also consider amending the
Organic Law on Political Parties and Candidates (Olipac) to ensure
that more female candidates are endorsed by the political parties
as an alternative means to elect more female candidates into Parliament.
The Olipac has been recently amended to instil compliance, efficiency
and transparency, however, the practice of electing more male candidates
than females continue to be an issue with less women being elected
Hence, the Olipac should be amended to allow political parties to
endorse equal number of male and female candidates with the result
of increasing the probability of voting more female candidates into
The Government has been passing bills in its endeavour to fulfill
its Take back PNG slogan so importantly it should
consider the protection and promotion of the rights of women in
Parliament and elsewhere.
Papua New Guinea
Call for reform of Thai
To respect indivual right
Southeast Asian Times, Monday August 30, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday August 27, 2021
Re: "Custody death clip sparks storm,"
in Bangkok Post, Wednesday August 25, 2021.
It comes as no surprise that the policeman accused of masterminding
the torture and murder of a drug suspect at a police station is,
in fact, "regarded as one of the best drug suppression officers".
It must be wondered for how long such extortion has been going on
in that police area.
It must also be wondered, given the prevalence of such accounts
of brutality and extortion, how widespread such practices are in
Thai society in general.
I also wonder what other evils lie secreted in closets protected
by repressive censorship from healthy public knowledge and open
Had the video of the man being tortured by these upstanding men
of law and order waging war against druggies not gone public, would
there have been even a pretense of seeking justice?
Perhaps if Thailand's drug laws, which have conspicuously failed
to reduce drug use, were reformed to respect individual rights,
we would see not only no big increase in drug use, but savings in
tax money and police resources.
Philippines general election
a catch-22 proposition
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 29 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 27 August
With no less than President Duterte perfunctorily
exonerating high-profile crooks in his government who squirreled
away or by their sheer incompetence, if not collusion, helped squirrel
away billions of public funds, juxtaposed with his boast that he
has sackloads of money to bankroll the election
of his candidates in 2022 Duterte to campaign for PDP-Laban
bets; to bring sackloads of cash, in Philippine
Inquirer July 17, 2021, it takes no rocket science to figure
out where that filthy lucre might be coming from.
And this, coming from the man who used to say he hates corruption
and cannot stand even just a whiff of it?
How is it that voters still give Mr. Duterte the highest approval
rating despite his colossal failures?
Can we really blame it on the mediocrity of the vast majority of
If that be the case, are not Vice President Leni Robredo and some
of the really brilliant members of Congress also products of that
We were trying to understand this dilemma from Richard Heydarians
The foolish myth of bobotante voters
in Philippine Inquirer August 10, 2021 in light of the inequality
in our society between those wealthy enough to buy the
electorate and those too poor to have qualms about selling
Alas, not much help there.
A great thinker like him seems just as bewildered.
Its a catch-22 proposition: Only an enlightened electorate
can produce good government.
But only good government can produce an enlightened electorate.
So where do we go from here?
Yvette San Luis-Petrocelli,
Thai protesters against
Don't have pro-civil rights administration
to turn to
Southeast Asian Tines, Saturday 28 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 27 August 2021
As an American I'd like to respond to Burin's letter
August 25 in which he notes the non-violent tactics during the civil
rights movement in America worked better than the violent tactics
of protesters in Thailand.
He overlooks one important point - although America has a racist
history it is still a democracy and the governments in power during
that era the Kennedy and Johnson administrations were pro-civil
President Johnson, the Senate and the Congress used their government
power to enforce civil rights in the Southern states which resisted
In Thailand, it is the oppressors who rule.
Unlike the civil rights protesters of the 1960s, the Thai protesters
don't have a higher power to turn to.
While I am not promoting violence, non-violent protests are much
more effective in a country that has a Western-style democracy.
Bishops accuse Philippine
President Duterte of muzzling
Investigation into Department of Health
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 27 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 23 August
Instead of reproaching the independent state audit
body for doing its job, President Duterte should have called for
an investigation on the alleged deficiencies of the Department of
Health (DOH) in the use of its P67.3-billion pandemic funds.
The Commission on Audit (COA) said the deficiencies in
the handling of the P67.3-billion pandemic response fund were caused
by noncompliance with pertinent laws, rules and regulations, and
undermined the timely and efficient response to the pandemic last
It said the DOH failed to utilize P59.124 billion of its
2020 budget and was unable to use as much as P11.8 billion of the
COVID-19 funds, which meant that these were not translated
into much-needed health supplies, equipment and services that could
have benefited both the health workers and the general public during
the critical times of the pandemic.
But what was more appalling was the reaction of the President who
said on national television that Commission on Audit (COA) report
The President even told Duque to ignore the COA report,
obviously unmindful that Commission on Audit (COA) is an independent
constitutional body whose mandate includes publicly disclosing expenditures
by state agencies.
One of Mr. Dutertes avowed commitments at the start of his
presidency was to rid the government of corruption.
He declared that he would fire officials with just a whiff
of corruption on them. Why is he now muzzling the agency that
guards against corruption, and shielding those who committed irregularities
in using public funds?
What all these reek of is colossal mismanagement, even clear and
present signs of corruption, that should warrant the resignation
In the best interests of the suffering Filipino people, he must
resign immediately even if his boss tells him not to.
And if the President cannot or will not rid government agencies
of corrupt officials, he must resign, too!
Bishop Emeritus Deogracias S. Iniguez Jr.,
Ft., Revd. Rex B. Reyes Jr.,
Bishop Joel E Tendero.
Bishop Ciriaco Francisco,
Bishop Dindo Ranojo.
calls on government
To manage sale and distribution of Covid-19
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 26 August 2021
First published in the Star, Saturday 21 August 2021
The Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) is concerned
about the unregulated sale of Covid-19 self-test kits especially
via social media platforms including WhatsApp.
We are particularly concerned about the rampant sale of fake kits
as well as sales by unqualified sellers who are neither pharmacists
Fake Covid-19 self-test kits and wrong use of these kits would produce
inaccurate results such as false negatives that would not help in
combating the pandemic. Moreover, with more cases of brought in
dead (BID) being recorded, the government must act immediately.
Ideally, self-test kits should be provided free to the public.
But if the government is not able to do this, a mechanism to subsidise
the cost should be activated.
Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) urges the government to manage
the sale and distribution of self-test kits efficiently via a subsidy
or price control mechanism. This would immediately curb and eventually
stop the sale of fake kits as well as sales by unqualified sellers.
Should a price control mechanism be the way, Malaysian Pharmacists
Society (MPS) urges the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry
to allow a grace period of one month before implementation.
This would assist pharmacists who have already purchased the self-test
kits at a higher cost to clear the more expensive stock.
If a grace period is not granted, Malaysian Pharmacists Society
(MPS) wants a subsidy or refund mechanism to be put in place to
prevent losses to pharmacists who purchased the stocks in good faith.
To benefit the public, the ministry must ensure that the price control
mechanism includes not only standardisation of the sale price but
Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) also control of the cost price
from the supplier.
Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) has received numerous complaints
from both the public and pharmacists of self-test kits that are
being sold online and via WhatsApp at extremely low prices and with
no guarantee of the product being genuine.
Currently, as the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry only
has a general complaints page on their website Malaysian Pharmacists
Society (MPS) would like to suggest that a dedicated page be set
up for complaints against fake products and sales by non-pharmacists
This would enable turnover of complaints to be handled quickly and
efficiently by the enforcement arm of the ministry.
It is critical that a mechanism to identify fake and genuine stock
of self-test kits be implemented to further protect the public.
Suppliers of self-test kits, the ministry and the Medical Device
Authority (MDA) should work on this immediately.
The ministry should also help to enforce the Medical Device Authority
(MDA) policy on conditional approval for importation and distribution
of Covid-19 self-test kits, which allows only licensed pharmacies
and healthcare facilities to sell the kits online.
President Malaysian Pharmacists Society,
payment required in Philippines
For Covid-19 admittance to Intensive Care
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 25 August, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 20 August,
A close relative of ours in Quezon City who is over
60 years of age recently had her vaccine shots.
But some weeks later, and contrary to expectations, she was found
positive for COVID-19.
It was so severe that she needed to be hospitalized.
Her son drove her around as they looked for any hospital in Quezon
City that would admit her.
None could be found.
He had no choice but to bring her back home.
On the second day of her illness, her son brought her to the Philippine
General Hospital (PGH) in Manila and got her waitlisted
at the emergency Room (ER), which was already full.
On the third day, she finally got a room, but her condition so deteriorated
that she was immediately waitlisted for admission
to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which was also full.
At around noon of the fourth day, her son inquired how much was
required to get his mother admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
the moment a vacancy would occur.
No information came until way past 6 in the evening, when he was
told that the bill was over a hundred thousand pesos.
He didnt have that kind of money on him, so would Philippine
General Hospital (PGH) accept his credit card, the credit limit
of which was more than enough to cover the bill?
He got the shock of his life: Philippine General Hospital (PGH)
does not accept credit cards, only cash!
A vacancy in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) finally occurred later
But no hard currency, no admission to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
was the final word.
The son only had P20,000 with him at that time, and he tearfully
pleaded with the hospital because banks were already closed.
Had people in charge of billing informed him much earlier that only
cash payment would do, he would have had no problem getting the
money from the bank before it closed.
Private hospitals do allow settlement of bills through credit cards.
So why cant Philippine General Hospital (PGH), a public hospital
funded mainly by taxpayer money?
Perhaps because a lot of its patients are not able to pay after
treatment, hence it needs to be segurista?
But Philippine General Hospital (PGH) losses are practically covered
and insured by Congress, which appropriates taxpayer money to keep
it going no matter what. On top of that, it is constantly the recipient
of hundreds of millions in donations from philanthropists here and
Its really no skin off its back if destitute patients abscond.
There is a hard and inconvenient lesson to be learned here for those
not familiar with Philippine General Hospital (PGH) protocols.
Anyone taking any sick relative to Philippine General Hospital (PGH)
that could potentially require Intensive Care Unit (ICU) treatment
had better bring along a bagful of hard cash because the countrys
premier public hospital appears to have not heard of the payment
facility known as credit cards.
Stephen L. Monsanto,
Duterte's communications skills
Revolve around the word "kill"
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 24 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday August
Of all the shameless lies Harry Roque has been dishing
out to the public, this one must surely take the cake: President
Duterte is the best communicator
he has no lapses
in his way of communicating
Roque asked: If Duterte good communicator why
do you have to explain him?" in Philippine Inquirer August
A "good communicator," indeed, whose vocabulary
practically revolves around the word "kill"?
Well, come to think of it, with tens of thousands already killed
under his regime, can anyone still doubt Mr. Dutertes "communication"
How the heck can Roque, the former human rights lawyer whose heart
used to "bleed" and eyes "shed tears"
for the downtrodden, live with those atrocities?
How he would worm his way back to the University of Philippines
(UP) academia to teach young idealistic students after Mr. Duterte
is gone would be one eyebrow-raising spectacle to watch.
Dino M. Capistrano,
to include concept of accountability
Thai education system
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 23 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 22 August 2021
During the past few years, I've been advocating a
wake-up call for Thai society to try, learn and accept the concept
of "accountability" and simultaneously oppose,
reject and segregate "the conflict of interest".
Admittedly, I've not seen a light at the end of a tunnel.
There are two simple routes for us Thais to consider:
It's time that the government, Ministry of Education and those concerned
agencies ought to seriously start and include the concept of "accountability"
including responsibility in our education system, beginning as early
as elementary schools and up to higher levels.
The issue of "conflict of interest" should start
at a higher level because of its complexity.
We've been taught to follow "the phuyai" elders
It's time the phuyai in the government Education Ministry included,
judicial, congressional and business sectors, including those in
the "high social" echelons, must act in this regard
for the younger generations "to follow".
No less important is the leading role of the families, parents in
particular, in this regard.
It should be noted here that the adoption learning of "accountability"
and opposition to rejection of "conflict of interest"
will surprisingly put down the problems of injustice and corruption
in our beloved country.
By the way, the appointment of the current 250 senators in the Senate
and the Red Bull saga are clear examples of these two subjects accountability
and conflict of interest.
But it's the reverse.
The conflict of interest is clear-cut but there's no accountability
Please think about this my dear senators, police and Attorney-General
officials. Also, the Minister of Education.
Call for Philippines
adopt China's development model
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 21 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 20 August
This is regarding the commentary Learning
from an awakened dragon in Philippine Inquirer, July
21, 2021 by Roland Simbulan.
The transformation of China from an impoverished nation into a global
economic power in a matter of four decades was made possible by
the Communist Party of China (CPC), which enjoys monopoly under
a one-party system.
This enabled the Communist Party of China (CPC) to launch a strategic
vision that conceptualized policies and long-term plans and programs
through a combination of authoritarian rule and a market-oriented
economy based on state-led capitalism.
Our country, on the other hand, is under a democratic system of
government with a multiparty system characterized by personality
politics, with policies and long-term plans and programs that change
every six years.
The challenge is for us to call for strong leadership from our leaders,
especially the members of Congress which is the policy-making body,
and for them to institutionalize a strategy that envisions long-term
plans over 50 years.
Such plans will undertake reforms in the economic, social, and political
order to address the socioeconomic inequality and mass poverty in
the country, by adopting the mechanics of the Chinese model of development
into our democratic system of government.
for new Malaysian PM
people are counting on you to deliver
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 21 August 2021
First published in the Star, Thursday 19 August 2021
I have a message for the incoming prime minister:
Do not reset the good progress to date towards achieving
national herd immunity and the ongoing financial assistance to the
suffering rakyat and ailing businesses.
Whoever is selected, do not rejoice.
Instead, roll up your sleeves and take loads of vitamins because
you will be living on borrowed time and have nightmares even during
your daytime naps.
Your appointment letter will come with a mother lode of problems
that must be addressed and solved as soon as possible.
I would advise you to retain the Science, Technology and Innovation
minister and Finance minister, who are instrumental in driving the
vaccination and financial relief programme respectively.
You can also retain those ministers in charge of Youth and Sports,
Agriculture and Food Industries, etc, who can be entrusted with
supporting roles in the vaccination and financial assistance programme.
Please get rid of the non-performing ones.
You must quickly set up a unit in the Prime Ministers Office
comprising technocrats who have excellent problem-solving skills
to quickly devise sound plans to reduce the Covid-19 mortality rate
once herd immunity is achieved.
Until we reduce the mortality rate to an acceptable level, dont
waste your time and effort in developing plans to reopen the economy
or set up travel bubbles.
The months of September and October will be crucial in gauging whether
Malaysia is on track to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and economic
I wish you the best of luck and we, the rakyat, are counting on
you to deliver.
Mohd Shukri Abd Aziz,
calls for solar power
Instead of nuclear power
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 20 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 17 August
Last July 8, Peter Wallace wrote in his column about
nuclear power plants being safe and that there are many countries
operating their nuclear power plants safely over the last 50 years:
the United States, Germany, Taiwan, Japan. etc.
I agree about recommissioning the Bataan nuclear plant.
As a chemical engineer, I can say that we have enough controls to
operate it safely.
However, reviving the Bataan plant will take at least five years.
Why not recommend the use of solar panels instead, per Republic
Act No. 11285 or the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, which
requires building owners to use renewable sources like solar?
The Philippines is the only country in the world with 2,000 hours
of sun per year.
Germany went on to use solar panel systems on roofs and, in a short
period of time, four million houses have been generating power,
resulting in the shutdown of many coal plants.
In the United States, New York appointed an energy czar to speed
up the use of renewable energy.
Australia gives incentives to households that use solar batteries.
lberdrola Spain has made tremendous progress on the use of renewable
energy, becoming one of the top five electric utility companies
in the world.
Portugal and Spain have invested in photovoltaic battery storage
In the Philippines, solar energy can be a solution.
We can follow the Iberdrola strategy to use this renewable energy,
along with wind and hydroelectric plants.
Cesar V. Campos,
Cenel Development Corporation,
Philippine President Duterte
That he was bankrolled by China to win 2016
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 19 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 17 August
In Duterte scoffs at claim that China
made him president in Philippine Inquirer,
July 21, 2023 President Duterte was said to be really pissed off
at former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario who virtually accused
him of having been bankrolled by China to win the 2016 election
and now becoming its puppet.
Mr. Duterte lashed out at Del Rosario and accused him in return
of being the one liable for treason, because
it was during his watch as top diplomat under the presidency of
the late Noynoy Aquino that Philippine ships withdrew from Scarborough
Shoal during the 2012 stand-off with China, which resulted in the
country losing control of the area to Beijing.
A little fact-checking is called for to see whose sense of history
got skewed. Aquinos former ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia
Jr. was the point man involved and, therefore, knew whereof he spoke.
Mr. Duterte was then just mayor of Davao City, who knew nothing
and didnt give a hoot about international politics.
Cuisia said it was a US-brokered deal for China and the Philippines
to mutually withdraw from the contested area to avoid a potential
shooting war and pending a more peaceful solution to the conflict.
The Philippines complied in good faith, but China did not.
So how is that treason in the mind of Mr. Duterte,
who keeps reminding everyone he is a lawyer?
He has been pushing the narrative that it was wrong for the Philippines
to withdraw. Look whos talking. Hasnt he himself been
withdrawing even from mere conversations adverse
to China, out of fear of what China might do at the slightest provocation?
Ramon Norman Torrefranca,
Call for outdoor activities
In Covid-19 dark-red Thai provinces
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 18 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Saturday 14 August 2021
The risk of infection from Covid-19 is high but the
risk of dying from it is very low: 99.17 percent of those infected
in Thailand were cured as of August 12.
The danger is not of dying, but of getting infected.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that Covid-19 spreads
mainly through the air not surface infection.
At the Tokyo Olympics, with full vaccination, etc, of the 299 Covid-related
cases, very few involved athletes despite the inability to mask
or social distance in many sports. Even with no herd immunity, political
protests here or elsewhere have not resulted in super-clusters probably
due to the outdoor ventilation and fleeting contact between participants.
Let's experiment with outdoor activities in a few dark-red provinces
like dining, jogging, selling products or going to parks and zoos.
Some classes can be held outdoors, with teachers and staff being
fully vaccinated. If it works well, expand those activities and
Call for anyone for PM
But for former PM Najib Abdul Razak
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 17 August 2021
First published in the Malaysiakini, Friday 13 August 2021
I nearly choked on my lunch today when I read the
news that an Non-Government-Organisation (NGO) has submitted a memorandum
asking the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to pardon Najib Abdul Razak and
appoint him as interim prime minister.
Do we want a Prime Minister who has been sentenced to 12 years in
prison and a fine of RM210 million, not to mention still facing
a litany of criminal charges?
Are we so bereft of prime ministerial candidates that we have to
shamelessly elevate a convict to become the most powerful man in
The current administration may not be perfect.
But to even entertain the notion of Najib's return is to scrape
the bottom of the barrel.
Even if we were to rule out Perikatan Nasional leaders as successor
to the prime minister, surely we can think of other leaders than
Lest we get carried away by the Bossku's rapid-fire daily social
media posts, a former "Malaysian Official 1" is
the man who led a nation the US labelled as kleptocratic for being
party to one of the most brazen heists of public funds in recent
The shenanigans sparked investigations by over a dozen countries
with the money trail littered with his fingerprints and that of
his fugitive co-conspirator, Jho Low. This is the same man whose
conviction was described as "the worst case of abuse of
position," by the judge who presided over and meted out
the sentence against Najib.
Do we still want to become a global laughing stock for bringing
back a convicted PM?
Have we not been shamed enough by the international media's reports
on how brazen the grand larceny was carried out right under our
noses during his administration?
Imagine what he will do upon his return.
Remember how ex-AG Abdul Gani Patail was unceremoniously removed
just as efforts were underway to charge Najib between July and August
2015 for corruption and abuse of power?
Not only was Najib spared from prosecution, but his enemies became
victims of a witch-hunt.
Who can forget the sight of boxes and boxes of designer handbags
seized by enforcement officers from posh condominiums?
Or the list of assets like luxury yachts, Monet paintings and prime
addresses in New York bought using money from 1MDB?
Can we trust this man again with our public funds which have been
running short due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
We certainly will not fall for tall tales about how his family's
fortunes were amassed from menabung sejak kecil (savings since young).
Or that Najib's family wealth was from his father's inheritance.
So please, we can have anyone as prime minister but not him.
I'd rather settle for a cat to be the Prime Minister than to see
Chai Xin Seng,
Bar calls on PM Muhyiddin Yassin
act in accordance with Federal Constitution
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 16 August 2021
First pulished in the Star, Saturday 14 August 2021
The Malaysian Bar takes the view that in light of
the ongoing political impasse in our country, the honourable thing
for the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to do, is to act
in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
In his public address on national television on 13 August 2021,
the Prime Minister admitted that several Members of Parliament (MPs)
from the governing coalition had withdrawn their support for him,
casting doubt on whether he still commanded the support of the majority
of the Dewan Rakyat House of Representatives.
He went on to say that under such circumstances, he had two options
according to the Federal Constitution - namely to seek the consent
of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament and call for
a general election, or to resign.
It is thus clear that he himself acknowledges that his position
is no longer tenable.
He, however, went on to say that this situation notwithstanding,
no other Member of Parliament MP has shown that he/she commands
the support of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
As such, if he were to resign, there would be no one to replace
And if he resigned, he would also have to tender the resignation
of the entire Cabinet, which would leave the country without a functioning
government at this crucial time of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
He expressed concern for the future of the nation. In order to avoid
this vacuum of governance and political leadership, he announced
a detailed list of constitutional and Parliamentary reforms, as
well as pre-legislative procedural and practical changes which he
was prepared to offer in exchange for support from Members of Parliament
from the Opposition in the upcoming vote of confidence.
With all due respect to the Prime Minister, the questions raised
by him reveal a misunderstanding of his position under the Federal
Constitution. The provision of Article 43(4) is clear:
If the Prime Minister ceases to command the confidence
of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives,
then, unless at his request the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolves
Parliament, the Prime Minister shall tender the resignation of the
The words are clear and the meaning and intent are beyond doubt:
If the Prime Minister no longer has the support of the majority,
unless at his requests the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament,
the Prime Minister must resign.
The Federal Constitution also does not provide that the Prime Minister
shall only tender the resignation of the Cabinet if there is another
MP that has emerged who can demonstrate that he/she commands the
confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
The question of who else might be called upon to try to form a government
and whether he/she has the requisite Parliamentary support and confidence,
is one that is accorded under Article 43(2) of the Federal Constitution,
to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
It is therefore not the place of the Prime Minister to usurp that
consideration to himself, or to pre-empt the decision and discretion
of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Neither is it the place of the Prime
Minister to make that question the condition for his future actions.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that he wants to comply
with the Federal Constitution and take the honourable route. In
his announcement, he stated that he believes that we will
heal this nation together and bring back its glory.
The Malaysian Bar is of the view that the best way that the Prime
Minister can begin the process of healing this nation and bringing
back its glory, is to honour and respect the words, spirit, meaning
and intent of the Federal Constitution, and to abide strictly by
When the Prime Minister does not command the support of the majority
of the Dewan Rakyat, the honourable and gracious route that the
Prime Minister should take is to step down, because that is the
right thing to do.
We further call upon all Parliamentarians to carry out their duties
in accordance with the Federal Constitution to ensure a functioning
government for the well-being of our beloved nation.
death toll in Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 15 August 2021
First Published in the National, Thursday 12 August 2021
During the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, there were
fears that Papua New Guinea would be hit hard because of our poor
health system and our Melanesian way of congregating.
Thousands died from the Covid-19, which caused Papua New Guinea
to impose lockdowns and strict measures.
Businesses, schools and peoples way of living were disrupted.
The economy stopped.
A year and a couple of months later, the since Covid-19 penetrated
our shores, our cases now stand just above 17,700.
However, what doesnt make sense is the Covid-19 death toll
in Papua New Guinea.
The death toll doesnt correlate to the fears and expectation
we had for the virus.
We were told that we would die in thousands, our health facilities
would be overwhelmed and our country would be in chaos.
But, so far, our death toll is just about 200.
I am not a medical expert, but from what Ive learnt through
the media about the rate of Covid-19 death tolls around the globe,
a 190-plus deaths in Papua New Guinea is confusing.
We have thousands dying per day with cumulative death tolls skyrocketing
to hundreds of thousands in the developed nations that are more
advanced in science and medical facilities with cutting edge technologies.
But a small country with a poor health system is recording less
deaths than expected.
This doesnt make sense.
Can we find out why were recording less infections and deaths?
Papua New Guinea
Whitewash in the works
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 13 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 13 August 2021
Thailand's curse is its continuing lack of accountability
in the halls of power.
Juntas commit high treason by overthrowing elected governments by
force - then pardon themselves.
Vicha Mahakun submits two reports to fight the graft that allowed
Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhaya to get away with killing - and
PM Prayut hides them from the media.
Another whitewash is in the works - for PM Prayut plans that as
long as they "act honestly and decide based on empirical
evidence", those involved in procuring anti-Covid medical
equipment, medicines and vaccines cannot be sued.
If so, Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) head
Donald Duck and Minister of Public Health Mickey Mouse could not
be sued even though they lacked the competence to evaluate evidence
presented and so made gross errors.
In a special cabinet meeting in April, PM Prayut took on the authority
to manage any aspect of the Covid-19 fight himself.
Thus, no matter what anybody does related to Covid-19, PM Prayut
bears ultimate accountability - which cannot be washed away.
Thai Government advised
to help large companies
provision of Covid-19 test kits
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 13 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 12 August 2021
Re: "Uncertainty continues",
in Bangkok Post, Business, Monday, August 9, 2021.
The chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) proposes
that the government helps companies to pay for Covid rapid antigen
We are only a small company with 12 employees but of course the
company pays for the test kits.
But the big shots - the richest 10 of them just added almost a trillion
baht to their assets in the last 18 months - need government support
to buy test kits for their staff?
This is a small snapshot of what is wrong with the existing Thai
political and economic system.
Meanwhile, protest leaders are put in jail.
I would propose putting some of the sycophants and bad advisers
to the government in jail.
They do enormous damage.
But the real problem are of course the "important"
people they act up to.
Dont change the
Just kick out the failed captain
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 12 August 2021
First published in the Star, Friday 6 August 2021
Last year, as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold of the
world, the countrys democratically-elected government imploded.
Pakatan Harapan could not hold back from prioritising their politics,
positioning their heir-apparent to take over the seat of Prime Minister.
Then-Prime Minister Tun Mahathir lost his calm and tendered his
resignation after Dato Sri Anwar Ibrahim and his close supporters
kept pushing for succession.
This serves as a reminder, the cohort of politicians we have are
hard-wired to the fact that they need to consolidate power.
This has proven dysfunctional for the country as the oppositions
motivation is to add more political weight to sink the Perikatan
But these manoeuvrings are short-sighted ventures.
Our Prime Minister was the first to announce in November 2020 that
a General Election will be held once the Covid-19 situation is brought
This is the constitutionally right way to correct the political
error that has wounded our democracy.
Now, do we hear of any calls for that from any other leader? Very
little, if any.
The current rhetoric against the government is - dont change
the ship, just kick out the failed captain.
This will take us back to the uncertainty that we saw in the Sheraton
It takes a lot to remove the Prime Minister.
What will happen to the Cabinet then?
Some politicians are happy where they are.
Some political parties think they are underrepresented despite their
Some have ambition.
While these concerns may have their time and place, this certainly
isnt the right time to pursue politics.
A political stalemate is the last thing we need in Malaysia right
As we approach close to 20,000 cases a day, we have to admit that
we are all guilty of politics.
But we can also be guilty of pursuing peace.
But what is the cost of peace?
Perhaps, it will be at the expense of our politics.
No amount of politicking and jockeying for positions of power will
change the fact that we are in a race against time to suppress the
pandemic before it further mutates and claims more lives.
We need to remain focused on the task at hand to combat Covid-19,
protect livelihoods and secure a future where we can still have
a stable and safe society to return to.
We need to deliberate on what this stable and safe society means
If it is eradicating the pandemic to finally bring this matter to
a vote, then perhaps all we see with our politicians is unnecessary.
There are plenty of opportunities in the pipeline for our MPs to
make a political stand in the coming months.
The tabling of the Budget 2022.
The reading of the 12th Malaysia Plan.
The vote of confidence that was announced by the a Prime Minister
yesterday. These are the opportunities that politicians can take
to determine our future.
But right now, our people are falling sick and dying.
Right now, many are left jobless.
Right now, some even dont have enough to eat.
So as we are all guilty of our politics, we should use our energies,
resources, and influence to fight the pandemic.
This way, we can win this battle and all be guilty of peace.
Chan Quin Er,
Bounty from Chinese tourists
Could buy elections for President
Southeast Asian Times. Wednesday 11 August 2921
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 9 August
The editorial Hollow fight,
August 5, 2021 in Philippine Inquirer took note of a report
from the Ateneo School of Government which showed that President
Duterte miserably failed to do the one major thing he promised during
his 2016 election campaign - to eradicate corruption in government
by the end of that year. The fact of the matter
is, it only got worse thereafter and is much worse today.
That Ateneo paper posited that such failure followed from
the presidential approach to governance that removed or weakened
the guardrails already proven necessary to control corruption.
Having institutionalized impunity, Mr. Duterte has grown very fond
of talking tommyrot, frequently saying he has fired corrupt officials
here and there when in truth he would just recycle
his favorite appointees to other lucrative posts.
The editorial failed to mention the one thing that made the Duterte
administration more prone to corruption: Ombudsman Samuel Martires,
who obviously continues to look after Mr. Dutertes interest.
Take the case of that continuing airport heist
by some 43 or is it now 86? Bureau of Immigration personnel in the
form of pastillas bounty from Chinese tourists
reportedly amounting to P40 billion.
Everyone is wondering why that scandal never got any prosecutorial
attention from the Ombudsman. Mischievous minds cant help
That kind of money could buy elections for president, vice president,
senators, and congressmen this 2022.
When will Filipino voters quit thinking like they were born only
Poverty could transform
Into a national tourist sandbox of danger
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 10 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post Monday 9 August 2021
Re: "The shame of Thai tourism",
Bangkok Post, Editorial, August 7, 2021.
I agree with the Bangkok Post's editorial on recent tourist deaths
and murders in Thailand, but I think the writer missed one point.
The article seems to place the burden for tourist safety almost
entirely on the government, and better policing.
Yet I must ask if tourists really will be as safe as they used to
be among the Thai people themselves, given the massive escalation
in Thai poverty brought about by Covid-19.
Poverty always escalates violent crime, and videos are emerging
showing starving Bangkok residents fishing in dirty canals for their
meals, or Thais going hungry in displays of blatant poverty elsewhere;
people waiting in breadlines, and many sleeping on the street.
Given these scenes, I ask if it really is possible for the government
to keep tourists as safe as they once were, as poverty usually breeds
desperation and increased violence.
So, with so much of Thailand steeped in abject poverty, I can't
help but wonder if those mounting levels of poverty might eventually
transform Thailand into a national tourist sandbox of danger.
Jason A Jellison,
Sedition Act denies Malaysians
Right to voice opinion
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 9 August 2021
First published in Malaysikini, Wednesday 3 August 2021
Being born and living in Malaysia for 22 years, the
current political instability truly disappointed me. I couldnt
see an end to it.
The economy is going down, and people are suffering. But the government
remains useless to cope with the ordeal.
So here we are, fighting for the future of Malaysia.
But the authority wanted to silence us with Sedition Act.
One of the founders of Misi Solidariti, Sarah Irdina Mohammad Ariff,
was arrested by the police a few days before the #Lawan protest.
She was released afterwards, but the motive is clear: to deter the
people from protesting the Perikatan Nasional government.
If voicing out discontent toward the government is deemed wrong,
does democracy still exist in Malaysia?
People should have the right to voice opinions.
However, the existence of the Sedition Act has denied us the right.
People should be the watchdogs, but who dares to speak loud when
there is a law to shut down the voice?
However, the government could not silence the people forever.
If they silence one, there will be others.
Like the case of Sarah, the arrest does not stop the youths from
attending the #Lawan protest.
We will unite even stronger against oppression.
I stand strongly with the #Lawan movement and the protesters.
Chong Xin Yi,
concrete will come out of appointment
Of ASEAN special Envoy to Myanmar
Southeastasian Times, Sunday 8 August 2021
To go through the ritual motions under its
five point consensus plan we are informed ASEAN
appoints Brunei diplomat Special Envoy to Myanmar ( The
Southeast Asian Times 6 Aug 2021 ).
Nothing concrete will come out of that. Just ask any pro-democracy
person in Myanmar.
A brutal military regime does not understand the language of democratic
engagement. That is not the way it operates.
Its not its modus operandi. Rule by dictatorial fiat and fear
The tentacles of the military junta needs to be cut to liberate
the people of Myanmar from ruthless repression and restore democratic
How to hold Philippine
Accountable for handling of pandemic
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 7 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 5 August
While the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge that has
to be overcome, it is also an opportunity for us as citizens to
reflect about what we do as a society, what we value as a people,
and, more importantly, what we can do to change the social mechanisms
and our priorities as a nation.
This pandemic underscored the source of our collective misery and
disappointment: inefficient and corrupt leadership, disinformation,
and social inequality.
These factors have made it difficult for the country to manage COVID-19
better than our Asian neighbors.
There has been a shortage of testing kits and personal protective
equipment, as well as slow distribution of relief goods.
Disinformation has bred anxiety and panic.
Social inequality has highlighted the limited access of the lower
classes to health facilities, transportation, and digital technology
during lockdowns when movements are limited.
With the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine anew,
we have a limited window to make immediate changes.
We can monitor the actions taken by our government officials in
managing the crisis, and check the reliability of information that
we see and share on social media.
Through these, we can ensure that checks and balances in government
We have to reflect as a society:
How do we hold government officials accountable for the lousy handling
of the pandemic, poor health care facilities, and backward digital
For change to happen in our country, we have to take collective
Otherwise, any future crisis will remain a challenge to be overcome
and never an opportunity for ourselves and our society to transform
into something better.
University of the Philippines
Antigen rapid test kits
Repackaged at Thai Pharmacy
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 6 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 3 August 2021
importance of testing",
Bangkok Post, Life, July 26, 2021.
Recently I went to my pharmacy to purchase a Covid-19 Antigen rapid
I asked for two kits and was given two clear plastic zip top bags
each with a sealed kit, sealed swab, solution tube and drip attachment.
I was charged 400 baht for each.
When I arrived home, I realised there were no instructions enclosed
so I searched the manufacturer and found, to my amazement, that
this kit normally came packed in a small cardboard box containing
two complete sets.
It would appear the pharmacy was buying the kits as packaged, opening
them, and repackaging them as individual units.
This increases the chance of cross contamination from handling and
allows them to sell the kits at a ridiculously high price.
If this is common practice it places the kit out of the reach of
Like failing to price control the green chiretta herb this opens
the door to price gouging.
Victims of pandemic in
Dumped at temple
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 5 August 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 4 August 2021
Re: "Death rites pose deadly risk",
in Bangkok Post Saturday 31 July 2021.
I agree with the idea that monks, undertakers and other temple workers
should be among the first to be inoculated with anti-Covid vaccines.
In any ordinary situation, temples are a place where people normally
dump their pets such as dogs and cats which they no longer love.
But in a situation such as we are having today, as appeared on television
news a few days ago: a woman and her husband drove her octogenarian
father who was seriously sick with Covid-19 to a temple in Korat,
left him there, and quickly disappeared.
Hence, temples are not just a dumping ground for discarded animals
at the moment but live humans as well.
Time to ponder if the
Is truly Gods gift to the Filipino
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 4 August 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 29 July
Regarding the tangled web Stephen
Monsanto wrote about The question of succession,
Letters, July 26, 2021, it really started on the day more than 16
million Filipinos were first deceived by a small-time mayor who
became president of the entire archipelago with promises of better
things to come, which he now admits are impossible to fulfill after
almost 6 years in office.
President Duterte has been prone to making palusot
But his even darker side was his profanity, which was evidenced
by his total lack of respect for the leader of more than 1.2 billion
Catholics around the world when he denounced Pope Francis as a son
of a bitch for clogging up traffic and disrupting his
presidential campaign due to that once-in-a-blue-moon papal visit
in November 2015.
Anyone who might have thought Mr. Duterte would at least start minding
his tongue once he got elected to the countrys most exalted
post got it all wrong.
He has turned out to be the most incorrigibly foul-mouthed president
this country has ever had.
Its our misfortune that he speaks for all of us here and abroad.
This country prides itself in being the only Christian
nation in Asia, with around 86 percent of the population being Roman
So, what, dear Lord, have the Filipinos done to deserve this miserable
state of the nations affairs?
Well, for one thing, despite the unmitigated insult Mr. Duterte
had hurled at Pope Francis, people still voted for him.
The President later proved he had no problem calling their God stupid.
As incredible as it may seem, Mr. Duterte is said to have bagged
the highest approval rating more than 90 percent!
in recent surveys, a record no president before him had even come
close to obtaining.
And given the convoluted succession Monsanto
was talking about, Mr. Dutertes dynastic misrule may stay
longer than anyone is expecting.
Evangelist-turned-party-list-representative Eddie Villanuevas
fear that Mr. Dutertes unbridled blasphemy
may bring curses to this country should give
everyone pause, and time to ponder if the Duterte family is truly
Gods gift to the Filipino people.
Will Hail Marys work for any opposition candidate?
Jeremias H. Tobias,
Call for Papua New Guinea
ratify results of Bougainville referendum
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 3 August 2021
First published in the National, Friday 30 July 2021
I want to raise this concern in relation the recent
Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) consultation between Prime Minister
James Marape and his counterpart Bougainville President Ishmael
Both parties resolved to find a political settlement for Bougainville
by 2025 and not later than 2027.
The question is whether this Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) resolution
is consistent with the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Papua
New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) constitutions.
The two governments should cease discussing political settlement
They should continue discussing the shortest possible time frame
for Parliament to ratify the results of the referendum.
Fix a time for this current parliament to ratify the results of
Propose an act of parliament to specify a manner in which parliament
will ratify the referendum results.
Get parliament to convene to ratify the referendum results.
If parliament fails to master enough numbers to ratify the results
of the referendum, the people of Bougainville should accept the
If none of the above takes place, Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) needs
to reconvene consultation that will result in reaching a political
settlement similar to the ones enjoyed by Palau and the United States
or the Cook Islands and New Zealand.
This is the settlement that will cater for 98 per cent for independence
in which Bougainville and Papua New Guinea will remain as associated
Papua New Guinea
Duterte wants to be successor-president
God save the Philippines!
Southeast Asian Times, Monday July 2 August 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday July 30,
We have known all along that President Duterte has
very little respect, if at all, for the Constitution.
Not content with blatantly betraying the public trust reposed in
him to protect Philippine sovereignty by warmly welcoming China
to come in and trample our sacred shores, he also mocks the constitutional
mandate limiting his term to only six years and absolutely no more.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has put in black and white what everyone
was already saying:
Mr. Duterte is shamelessly lusting for a power grab, Lagman:
Duterte wants to be successor-president with VP bid,
Philippine Inquirer July 18, 2021.
Knowing as a lawyer that the vice presidency is just a spare
tire post and there is absolutely nothing in it for him,
what in Gods name is Mr. Duterte really up to?
This is very ominous.
Since a VP bid for Mr. Duterte seems to be a sure thing
if the surveys are to be believed and they usually come true and
could carry his presidential manok or dummy to
victory with him, it is a foregone conclusion that he will have
the latter step aside pronto to give way to his succession.
And it will all be legal, albeit totally immoral.
God save the Philippines!
Jan Vincent L. Martinez,
Philippine President Duterte
obliged to cooperate
With International Criminal Court (ICC)
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday August 1, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday July 30,
The Supreme Court has ruled: Withdrawing
from the Rome Statute does not discharge a state from the obligations
it has incurred as a member. Consequently, liability for the alleged
summary killings and other atrocities committed in the course of
the war on drugs is not nullified or negated here in Inevitable
fate, Philippine Inquirer, Opinion, July 27, 2021.
It was a unanimous pronouncement by the highest court of our land.
No one, not even any of President Dutertes appointees, dissented.
Only Palace spokesperson Harry Roque dissented
in defense of his boss, lamely arguing that it was obiter
dictum or, to his way of thinking, empty words in a 101-page
The petition questioning Mr. Dutertes unilateral withdrawal
was itself dismissed for being moot and academic
following the United Nations acceptance of that withdrawal.
The withdrawal was Mr. Dutertes desperate attempt to escape
criminal prosecution for his alleged crimes against humanity in
the conduct of his war on drugs, which has seen the slaughter of
tens of thousands of suspected drug users and pushers, including
Bottom line is, between 15 Supreme Court justices who were one in
ruling that Mr. Duterte is obliged to cooperate in the criminal
process, and Roque by his lonesome who disagreed that his boss is
not so obliged, is there ever any doubt in any right-thinking persons
mind whose word carries more weight?
So, is this really now the absurd, ridiculous extent to which the
former University of the Philippines College of Law professor is
willing to go in his obsequious service to his principal?
Angeli O Marconi
Morrison says 'sorry'
For his failings as PM of Australia
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 31 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 26 July 2021
PM 'sorry' for slow vaccine rollout", in Bangkok
Post July 23, 2021.
It's refreshing to see the rare instance of a leading politician
actually take responsibility for his shortcomings.
While most leaders around the world are deflecting, pointing fingers
at others, and making excuses for poor outcomes related to the Covid-19
pandemic, the Australian prime minister has taken ownership of his
decisions and mistakes, including apologising for the slow pace
of vaccinations in his country.
The world needs more leaders who assume responsibility for their
decisions and actions and work to correct them rather than simply
make excuses for failings. It takes a real leader to accept responsibility,
admit errors, and move swiftly to remedy mistakes.
Neutral polling organisation
to evaluate police
More credible than police reporting on police
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 30 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday 27 July 2021
Re: "Deal struck to cut police graft",
Bangkok Post July 24, 2021
I laud new police chief Pol Gen Suwat and National Anti-Corruption
Commission (NACC) head Pol Gen Watcharapol in working together to
reduce graft in 88 Metropolitan Police stations in Bangkok.
This is to elevate operational quality and encourage better budget
allocation in hiring and human resource management.
But rather than stressing just self-assessment by the cops, Pol
Gen Suwat and Pol Gen Watcharapol should focus on the citizenry
whom they are supposed to serve in each precinct.
The reason is simple: if you want to know how delicious the food
is, you ask the diners - not the chefs. Asking anybody to evaluate
themselves is an obvious major conflict of interest.
A major and neutral polling organisation, such as the National Institute
of Development Administration (NIDA) or Suan Dusit polls, could
design and carry out the survey, and their reports would be far
more credible than if the police reported on themselves.
Also, the police and National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC)
should not reinvent the wheel.
Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn's panel proposed in-depth police reforms
to then-Prime Minister Abhisit, and Khun Vicha Mahakun's committee
recommended thorough changes at the police and Attorney-General's
Office to PM Prayut.
Their work provides an excellent starting point in cleansing the
police of graft and should be used.
Duterte's bid for presidency
be for real
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 29 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 27 July
In his column Isko vs Sara: The battle of
mayors July 20, 2021, Richard Heydarian seemed to make
the argument that presidential daughter Sara Dutertes reported
bid for the presidency with her father as running mate could be
for real, given that her philosophy of governance stands
in sharp contrast to her fathers, who is more visceral and
top-down in his decision-making.
Her independent-mindedness may therefore be her strongest suit against
critics who see her as no more than a dummy being used by her father
to extend his term and gain immunity from prosecution for another
six years via succession.
If Sara becomes - and stays - president, we may yet see the difference
and breathe a sigh of relief.
Or, she may just follow her fathers advice to step down and
be spared from all the hurtful political intrigues that come with
So if she dutifully resigns and her father takes over, who then
becomes vice president?
The line of succession allows the Senate president and the speaker
to succeed to the presidency only in default of the president and
the vice president.
There is no succession to the so-called spare tire
Section 9 of Article VII of the Constitution provides: Whenever
there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice-President
President shall nominate a Vice-President from among the Members
of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume
office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all Members of both
Houses of Congress voting separately.
Unlike the US Constitution which gives the new president the prerogative
of appointing anyone to fill his old post with the approval of Congress,
our Constitution limits the presidents choice to the members
Thus, if President Duterte does get recycled as president, he can
nominate either Sen. Bong Go or Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte to
fill the position he vacated, thereby placing any one of them in
the position to succeed him in the event he feels hes too
sick or tired to continue running the show.
And with either his son Paolo or best friend Bong as president,
Citizen Duterte can remain just as powerful and untouchable,
and may continue to dictate the terms of our elections even beyond
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice
Stephen L Monsanto,
Thailand fines rapper
for accusing government
Of bungling Covid-19 crisis
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday July 28, 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Tuesday July 27, 2021
Re: "Rapper fined for govt slur",
in Bangkok Post, July 23, 2021
Rapper Danupa Milli Khanatheerakulat has been fined 2,000 baht for
"accusing the government of bungling the Covid-19 crisis".
She said the mismanagement has led to surging infection and death
Freedom of expression is guaranteed by our Prayut-drafted constitution,
and she was exercising that right.
Not only that, during the recent past, the curves of our confirmed
Covid-19 infections and deaths have been rising almost vertically,
ICU beds are almost full, and three bodies lay in Bangkok's streets
for hours before being collected.
Was she telling the truth?
Duterte to jet-ski in West Philippine Sea
defiance of China's claim over South China Sea
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 27 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 16 July
President Duterte has idiotized the Filipino voters
like no past president had, as shown by his "high approval
rating" to this day.
This is precisely why he has become so bold as to announce that
he is available for a second term by running for vice president,
with the obvious intention of immediately eliminating the dummy
he picks to run for president.
If the voters bought his improbable bravado about "jet-skiing"
to the West Philippine Sea in defiance of China, they would most
likely believe more of the false promises coming out of his mouth.
The framers of the Constitution had fixed the term of the president
to be no more than six years.
But they clearly failed to reckon with the shamelessness of a president
who wants to cling to power longer by any means, fair or foul.
Didnt they ever see how mischievous many of our politicians
have been - going up and down the ladder ad nauseam as they reached
their term limits, and getting away with it?
There is a saying:
If the letter killeth, the spirit that giveth life should prevail.
Now, is it the other way around?
The spirit killeth Mr. Dutertes bid for another term, but
the letter giveth it life!
The plain language of the Constitution does not prohibit his run
for vice president, and therefore allows itso scr*w the "spirit"?
God, please spare this country from more COVID-19 misery - and especially
from more of Mr. Duterte, who was said to be "praying"
for divine guidance if he should run for vice president or not,
despite having called Thee you-know-what. Let not his blasphemy
cause us all this suffering.
Hirap na hirap na po ang Pilipinas. Parang awa Nyo na po!
Nimfa Rina Ricafort,
loses another case
In recovery of Marcos ill-gotten assets
Southeast Asian Times. Monday 26 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 20 July
As if the 2019 Sandiganbayan decision dismissing the
case for recovery of P200 billion in ill-gotten assets against the
Marcoses was not jaw-dropping enough, comes now the report that
the government has lost another Marcos case.
This makes people wonder:
What the hell is wrong with our judicial system?
It seems that when it comes to the Marcoses, Philippine courts are
more fixated on the hole in the donut rather than whats on
the dough - conveniently finding evidence that does not suffice,
instead of finding evidence that suffices.
Rogelio S. Candelario,
Can cause cost and value to diverge
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 25 July 2021
First Published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 23 July 2021
Re: "Three months on, govt inks Pfizer
deal," in Bangkok Post, July 21, 2021
"The government has signed a supply agreement for 20 million
doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine - the delivery is expected
in the fourth quarter of this year."
We've heard this before.
Public Health Minister Anutin also "expected" AstraZeneca
to grant Thailand more than its contracted supply so the government
could meet its jab target.
I don't trust what the government expects any more.
What is the specified delivery date in the contract?
Furthermore, "The value of the deal was not disclosed."
Why the big mystery?
The value should be public knowledge.
After all, the article references the US embassy website as saying
the 1.5 million doses of donated Pfizer vaccine are worth US$30
million about 984 million baht. That works out to 656 baht per dose
or 1.312 billion baht for the 20 million doses purchased.
But perhaps it's the cost of the deal that the government does not
wish to disclose - since it is often rumoured that ministerial "leakage"
can cause cost and value to diverge.
Is saying anything that
is positive about
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 24 July 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 22 July
We thank Solita Monsod for recognizing that there
are large benefits in our relationship with China in The
costs of appeasement, Get Real, July 17, 2021. She
also brought up the need to study net benefits vs costs.
Our difference then in outlook is in the valuation of these contributions
and the attribution of intentions.
Is saying anything that is positive about China necessarily appeasement?
We briefly share some alternative views.
The value of timely assistance in times when we confront life or
death is incalculable.
The quick ending of the Marawi siege is by no means attributing
this to Chinese or Russian donation of arms alone.
But planeloads were donated at a time when the US initially blocked
arms delivery but later released, just when we were at risk of becoming
an IS-run state.
The early donation of billions in lifesaving personal protective
equipment, medical supplies, and vaccines protected our frontliners.
It also allowed the start of our turnaround - value in the hundreds
of billions a month, with the help of medical workers, private donors,
and public servants.
For months, the US hoarded all vaccines, and countries like India
that waited suffered immensely.
Yes, we have to control poachers.
Why do Antonio Carpio and Albert del Rosario never mention that
the most frequent poachers are Vietnamese, or that Indonesians blew
up dozens of Filipino boats they claimed were poachers, or Malaysians
physically punished arrested Filipinos?
Yet we manage those issues and expand cooperation.
Has Professor Monsod calculated the million Filipinos dead in the
war with the US, the millions killed in wars worldwide, the various
sovereignty violations, including the US abandoning our claims on
Sabah - are these already justified by US benefits?
To calculate lost income as billions of dollars yearly is based
on theoretical potential and has no bearing on our practical reality.
Why do our children not dream of becoming fishermen?
Over 90 percent of our own coral reefs and coastal fish are endangered
as reported by World Resources Institute, the UN Environment Program,
our own fishermen.
Yes, we need to help and work together.
We are also in a deficit to Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, South
Korea, etc., because we consume more than we produce, and our people
and educated class dont have much interest in manufacturing.
Trade is mutually beneficial, we have the choice to not buy from
Industry players know Chinas technologies have enabled millions
of our people to afford smartphones and broadband.
Much of our improved internet coverage recently allowing our lives
to resume online is due to Chinese tech companies partnering with
our Filipino telecoms and upgrading the skills of our engineers.
How we approach issues productively rather than emotionally, to
uplift our people, is the goal of IDSI.
The first step is obtaining accurate facts, then using proven frames
of analysis that give good results.
Integrated Development Studies Institute (ISDI)
secession from Papua New Guinea
Ploy to salvage Government plunging popularity
Southeast Asian Times. Friday 23 July 2021
First published in National, Wednesday 21 July 2021
Gone are the days of Sir Noel Levi, Sir John Kaputin,
Kilroy Genia to name a few of our very own Henry Kissingers, who
graced the world of statesmanship with an aura of dignity and proudly
wore Papua New Guinea on their sleeves.
Those who ardently followed the Bougainville reconciliation and
peace process right from the beginning wouldnt miss former
Foreign Affairs minister Genias remarkable skills of negotiation
and statesmanship in finding a diplomatic solution.
Secession was never on the agenda.
Our leaders and negotiators at the time were so mindful in the peace
talks to never compromise the sovereignty of Papua New Guinea.
In every way possible, our unity in diversity as one nation, one
country and one people was defended right up to the hilt.
Not until in 1997 former prime minister, the late Sir William Skate
opened the flood gates to Bougainville self-determination.
Notorious Sir William with alleged connections to Port Moresbys
criminal underworld soon brought the country to its knees.
His erratic fiscal mismanagement jeopardised Papua New Guineas
standing with international aid donors and investors.
Coupled with economic mismanagement the country suffered in his
two-year rule through a prolonged drought, a tsunami that killed
some 2,000 people and the Asian financial crisis hurting the countrys
exports, Sir William needed something to salvage his dying popularity.
He set foot on Bougainville as the first Papua New Guinea prime
minister since the conflicts started in 1988.
Sir William committed to fast-track the peace process.
In mid-1999, he resigned to avoid a no-confidence motion.
Former United States president Abraham Lincoln once said: The
central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.
Now it is stomach churning when lesser men, men not
grounded on smart statesmanship are attempting the Bougainville
Today, Prime Minister James Marapes government is no different
to Sir Williams.
Papua New Guinea is confronted with a worst ever economic recession,
now heavily relying on tax with the closure of all revenue streams,
blatant economic mismanagement killing off investor confidence,
public debts racing pass manageable thresholds, mine and business
closure leaving thousands out of job and an over sensitised Covid-19
pandemic with billions of emergency funding becoming the Governments
milking cow while imposing unnecessary restrictions.
Bougainville may again pose as a perfect sacrificial lamb to salvage
the Governments plunging popularity.
It is best for the country that Marape, a man standing at the very
shadow end of the statesmanship pool to not try grandstand the Bougainville
issue for political expediency.
Papua New Guinea
Call for lawyer to be
disbarred for defending
against Philippines fishermen
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday, July 22, 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday July 19,
Palace Pinocchio Harry Roque should
Once lawyering on behalf of some fisherfolk in Zambales and Pangasinan
who were being harassed in the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese
Coast Guard, he now brazenly lawyers for China in the fishermens
complaint against the bully that keeps on doing what it has been
doing all these years, to the detriment of their livelihood.
The editorial Whos parroting whom? July
16, 2021 took note of the fact that this time around, Roque has
taken up the cudgels for China despite evidence-based abuse
and bullying of those whom China considers interlopers in the South
China Sea, like his own former clients.
Many years ago, Roque had no problem branding China as a rogue
state for claiming that the West Philippine Sea is its
lake and, hence, part of its internal waters.
He vehemently denounced that claim as utterly bereft of
Now, in exchange for the dubious fame and fortune attached to his
main duty of sanitizing all the codswallop that President Duterte
spews in constant praise of China, Roque has no problem eating his
Lawyers have been disciplinarily dealt with for lesser instances
George Del Mar,
Russia is providing strong
To Asean's guiding role in Myanmar
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 20 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 18 July 2021
Re: "Russia is back and it's a little bit
better," in Bangkok Post Opinion, July 13, 2021.
In his commentary, journalist Kavi Chongkittavorn said that "for
unknown reasons, Moscow has attracted admiration for its strong
tactics and unwavering support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and besieged Belarus President
Alexander Lukashenko, not to mention the annexation of Crimea".
Let me make these reasons clear.
Unlike other great powers' inconsistent double standards, and hidden
international manoeuvres, Russian foreign policy insists on observing
international law, adherence to governing rules, principles and
due procedures that accompany them.
Attempts to overthrow a legitimate government with the assistance
of illegal foreign military intervention, however motivated, correspond
to none of the above.
On the contrary, a limited Russian military presence as well as
support of Syria were entirely legitimate, since both had been requested
by the Syrian government.
Belarus is a Russian ally and closest partner.
Russia is engaged in building an allied state in accordance with
Threats to its stability by mobs in defiance of political procedures
are naturally detrimental to immediate Russian security and economic
For the same reason, the support for Venezuela was aimed at opposing
overthrowing an elected leader bypassing due political process rather
than helping Mr Maduro alone.
As for Crimea, before calling annexation, Khun Kavi forgot to mention
a referendum that won the unequivocal support of the peninsula's
entire population to reunify with Russia.
Russia is providing strong support to Asean's guiding role in Myanmar.
The Russian position is consistent with the provisions of the association's
five-point consensus; first of all, provisions regarding the cessation
of violence and the exercise of utmost restraint by all conflicting
parties and the development of a dialogue among them aimed at stabilisation.
Together with Asean, Russia shares the view that unilateral sanctions,
rhetoric of threats and any attempts to interfere in Myanmar's internal
affairs will have destructive effects and further polarise its society.
Hopefully, the expected appointment of Asean's special envoy for
Myanmar will be the next big step that provides necessary momentum
to Asean-Russia's joint efforts to settle the situation in that
It is for consistency, predictability and adherence to principles
that Russian foreign policy attracts admiration worldwide.
Court in Hague ruling
on South China Sea
but a piece of waste paper
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 20 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 16 July
The news item Govt urged to act immediately
on latest issues concerning West Philippine Sea, July
14, 2021 left us wondering whether we should laugh or cry.
There was supposedly public outrage over the Chinese ambassadors
remark that the Arbitral Award in favor of the Philippines was nothing
but a piece of waste paper, but seriously, whats
the fuss all about?
The Chinese envoy was just repeating what President Duterte had
said months ago Duterte on PH win over China: Thats
just paper; Ill throw that in the waste basket,
June 5, 2021!
Mr. Duterte himself saw no value in the Philippines victory,
so why blame China for agreeing with him totally?
Thanks to their duly elected president, our people deserve this
utter humiliation. Yet, despite knowing now that they had voted
for a president who couldnt care less about the public outrage
his subservience to China is causing, they continue to give him
very high approval ratings, which has only emboldened him to go
for another six years, by hook or by crook.
Duterte-Duterte tandem leads in Pulse Asia survey,
July 13, 2021 reads a recent news item.
Is there still any doubt what lies ahead for this country?
For the love of God, are there no more Filipinos in the current
regime decent enough to say enough?
Marcelo JR Garcis,
for investigation into misappropriation of funds
for PNG islander resettlement program
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 19 July 2021
First published in the National, Friday 16 July 2021
We have been following the news about the investigation
into the misappropriation of funds marked for the Manam Restoration
It is sad that the millions of kina allocated were allegedly misappropriated
by people in authority in Madang while the islanders suffered and
did not benefit from the funds that were released by the Government.
We in East Sepik are asking if an investigation of some sort can
be done into funds that were released for the Kadovar islanders.
They are currently temporarily settled at the care centre at Dandan,
along the Wewak eastern coast.
We ere told that K5 million was marked to help the islanders in
a possible resettlement programme.
However, we are not sure if the money has been released.
We have been asking questions for people in authority in Wewak and
East Sepik to tell us how the islanders could be helped.
So far, no one has responded to our questions.
We, the people in Wewak, are asking too about the long-term plans
for the islanders who are settling in Dandan.
Are they going to be living there forever?
If so, have the landowners agreed to this.
We want the people in authority to tell us that.
We are aware of the problems faced by Manam islanders who have been
resettled on the mainland.
We do not want our Kadovar islanders in Wewak to face the same issues.
As a start, we want an investigation into the money that was marked
to help with the Wewak islanders.
Was K5 million from the Government given?
If so, where is it?
How was it used?
Papua New Guinea
Military dynasty in national
monopoly of power in Philippines today.
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 18 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Sunday 18 July
Since 1986, the entire national security apparatus
of the nation has been sick.
The 1986 Edsa Revolution started it all.
The Air Force of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff who came from
the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (Philippines) (ROTC) was replaced
by Fidel V. Ramos, a US military academy graduate.
Thereafter, graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) succeeded
him to the position of chief of staff.
Down the line, Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates started
occupying key positions in the national security apparatus.
Was there anything wrong?
Not at all, after all Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates
were well trained and well selected.
They came from the best of our youth, trained by the best military
But however good it was, there was a bad side.
It was the beginning of the military dynasty in the national security
apparatus that holds the monopoly of power today.
That monopoly of power has placed Philippine Military Academy (PMA)
graduates in almost all key positions, which has split the officer
corps in two: one for them and the other for the second-class officers
who came from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (Philippines)
(ROTC) but occupy 70 percent of the officer corps.
With this structure, it is easy to see that morale had become a
rooted problem. Such a problem erodes the efficiency, effectiveness,
and efficacy of the organization. The indicators are there to see.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has an unwholesome reputation.
Their generals go to jail.
The rank and file dont report for duty.
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) flight safety record is not something
to be proud of. Their mistah system doesnt work well.
I know. I was there for 35 years.
The Air Force of the Philippines (AFP), managed by Philippine Military
Academy (PMA) grads, has been fighting the insurgency for 70 years.
The public can judge for itself how well or unwell it has gone.
The truth of the matter is that in any organization where there
is monopoly of power, elitism will rear its ugly head.
Competition becomes extinct. Camaraderie disappears.
People lose the elan to strive for excellence.
It is as true today as it was in the days of Lord Acton.
That is why there is always the need for checks and balances as
enshrined in our Constitution. Seven years ago, there was a bill
in the Senate filed by five senators to establish separate academies
for the Air Force and the Navy to produce officers in the Air Force
of the Philippines (AFP) that would serve that all-important doctrine
of checks and balances.
Instead, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) was reinvented to
become a tri-service academy.
The result: more of the same.
The graduates have continued to flood the entire security apparatus.
The monopoly of power is for us to see.
It is from one mistah to the next like a revolving door. The military
dynasty enshrined elitism in the entire national security apparatus.
Let it be said that the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is not
an elitist school. Most of the cadets come from the middle class
and poor families.
Elitism is never a doctrine or policy in the Air Force of the Philippines
I sent two of my sons there, and we are not by any means an elitist
But the course of human events led the organization to what it is
Truly, the Air Force of the Philippines (AFP) Officers Corps is
now too powerful. It is a monster.
The public knows that. Sadly, there is nothing to provide checks
Lt., Gen. Antonio E. Sotelo,
the Air Force of the Philippines (AFP) (Ret.)
Call for US donated vaccines
To include vaccination of US citizens in
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 17 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, July 8, 2021
set for 1.5m US doses", in Bangkok Post,
July 8, 2021
While the US donation of vaccines to Thailand is welcome support,
many Americans are wondering why some of the vaccines being sent
here cannot be explicitly earmarked for US citizens residing in
China can do it.
France can do it.
Why can't the US do it?
Is the provision of vaccines to Americans too costly?
Is the operation too difficult?
Or, are American officials simply too uncaring?
Dismissed court justices
recieve retirement benefits
Despite justices found guilty of corruption
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 16 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer Tuesday 13 July
Once again, the Supreme Court has demonstrated how
generous it can be when it comes to dispensing taxpayer money like
an ATM in favor of people deemed more equal than
the rest of us.
Special people like former Sandiganbayan justice
Gregory Ong and the late chief justice Renato Corona have been allowed
to enjoy the whole package of retirement benefits despite having
been both found guilty of corruption during their public service
time in the bench (SC shows mercy for ex-justice
who fixed Napoles case, July 7, 2021; SC vindicates
Corona, grants full retirement benefits, February 9, 2021
If the Supreme Court has no better use of surplus cash in the tens
of millions being showered on those former magistrates, it could
have thought of the millions of Filipinos wallowing in abject poverty,
misery, and sickness amid this raging pandemic, now without much
help from a supposedly bankrupt government.
Not to be insensitive to the miseries of the
Ong and Corona families, but what greater acts of corruption did
the millions of Filipinos do to be treated to the spectacle of being
denied even just a sprinkling of similar financial aid from the
highest court of law and justice?
Chin Chin Katigbak,
Call for moral excellence
In 2022 Philippines
Southeast Asian Times Thursday 15 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 July
President Duterte has turned our country into a topsy-turvy
land defined by a culture of violence and lawlessness; extrajudicial
killings and human rights abuses; a crisis of confidence in institutions
such as the Supreme Court, the Senate, House of Representatives,
Commission on Elections, and local government units; wanton violation
of the Constitution and democratic system; suppression of the freedom
of speech and of the press; historical revisionism, political patronage,
and rampant militarization; jarring mass poverty, widespread corruption,
unaccomplished benefits for workers and the poor, and inferior health
programs; complaisant subservience to China; and the betrayal of
our country and people with his divisive, incompetent, autocratic
Such ills must not describe the next presidency.
We have a chance at real change in 2022.
Lets not elect/reelect the self-advancing wreckers of the
nations hard-earned democratic institutions - those mutilators
of our political-social-moral-economic fabric.
Miriam Defensor Santiago said that academic, professional, and moral
excellence are needed for the presidency. Vice President Leni Robredo
has these qualities, and more. We, the 1,000 plus-members, families,
and friends of Mga Apo Ni Tomas are ready for her presidency.
Pit M. Maliksi,
Call for differentiation
and state in Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 14 July 2021
First published in the National, Monday 12 July 2021
I am against the move by the Government to declare
Papua New Guinea a Christian Country.
I know some people are against it as well.
This move seems to be a practice of dictatorship.
We need to embrace the type of governance this country adapted since
Were a democracy.
Democracy promotes citizens rights to freedom of choice in
voting Members of Parliaments, rights to education, and rights to
choose to follow whatever religion that suits an individuals
Section 45 of our Constitution is one of the basis of democratic
laws and it guides the citizens rights to religious beliefs
So long as the creed and practices of a particular religion are
morally right, they can be allowed to practice their faith.
If we successfully declare Papua New Guinea a Christian country,
what would be its limits, restrictions or implications?
The non-Christians in the country should be advised on this.
As it is now, the move sounds dictatorial to non-Christian religions
such as Bahai, Islam and Judaism, which are already in Papua
In the case of Islam, I am a follower of Islam (reverted Muslim).
It was established in Papua New Guinea in 1982 as The Islamic Society
of Papua New Guinea Inc.
Currently, Islam in Papua New Guinea has nearly 6,000 followers
and is one of the fastest growing religion.
As the saying goes: You can take a horse to the river,
but cannot force it to drink the water.
The Government cannot deprive our democratic right to choose whatever
religion we want to follow.
Its a conviction that comes from the heart and cannot be replaced
with whatever external physical means. When we have to look at the
Bible, some teachings are yet to be understood.
Different people have different interpretations when it comes to
understanding certain messages in the Bible.
Different denominations have different practices. All in all, there
are so many bible versions (roughly more than 40 versions today),
which differs in so many verses.
Therefore, when we want to uphold certain agreed concepts or values
and practices, it will be much more complicated to come to a better
resolution. The Constitution itself is enough to provide a better
community, promotes individuals prosperity and our interactions
with other countries, if properly enforced.
It encounters every facet and dooms of morals and values that can
prompt a better and peaceful living.
Just look at Australia, it is better off with a democratic system
Religion and politics are two different controversial topics and
should be dealt with separately.
Political leaders should make a distinctive decisions as political
leaders and not religious leaders so as to minimise conflicts of
interest and opinions and to represent people well.
Abdul Ahemed (Muslim brother)
Papua New Guinea
Tons of used Covid-19
Getting into waterways
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 13 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 9 July
Dr. Wong Chen Seong of the National Centre for Infectious
Diseases of Singapore said that improper discarding of face masks
that are soiled or have a large amount of respiratory secretions
is a potential health hazard.
The virus on such masks that are left exposed is said to survive
for a few hours to a few days and even for months to years if kept
in a cold place.
According to Dr. Wong, one should wash his or her hands before taking
off the mask.
Remove it not under the chin but rather through the ear loops.
Next, fold the mask in half inward so the droplets from the mouth
and nose will not be exposed.
Fold it again to another half, then to another half until the mask
looks like a roll. Finally, wrap it with its ear loops and put inside
a piece of tissue before throwing it into a rubbish bin.
Associate Professor Alex Cook of National University of Singapore
also said that those infected with the virus should be
more mindful of where they discard their mask. It would be a good
idea to put it in a bag and throw it immediately in the trash rather
than leave it sitting exposed.
Experts say used face masks are getting into waterways, where they
reach fresh water and the marine environment.
Oceans Asia reported in February 2020 the presence of face masks
in waters off Hong Kong.
BBC has also reported that in Anilao, Batangas, scuba divers found
numerous face masks in sea corals and in other marine areas, posing
a danger to fish and other sea animals.
In my morning walks, I have seen face masks on streets, dogs biting
into face masks, and children playing with dirty masks.
Just recently, a friend forwarded a plea from garbage collectors
asking that homes segregate their face masks from other waste.
A study conducted by the University of Phayao, Thailand last year
showed that in 49 Asian countries including the Philippines, 16,659.48
tons of medical waste, mostly face masks, were being generated daily
during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In India, its 6,491.49; Iran, 1,191.04; Pakistan 1,099.30;
the Philippines, 353.03.
As we continue to grapple with the pandemic, we must do our share
to protect the environment.
We should also kneel harder in prayer that our garbage collectors,
like our other frontliners, may do their job well and will not get
Mario D. Dalangin,
Kapatirang Bihiya treasurer,
Call for Integrated Bar
of the Philippines
To redress death of Filipinos due to China's
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 12 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 8 July
While admitting that there is no law prohibiting President
Duterte from running for vice president, former Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) president Domingo Cayosa seemed to make the
argument that a challenge can be lodged with the Supreme Court in
case Mr. Duterte makes good that threat.
He warned that the process can be tedious and drawn out
No legal obstacle to Duterte VP run, but will his 16 million
voters back him again? lawyer, July 5, 2021, suggesting
it may not be resolved during Mr. Dutertes extended presidency
Our own takeaway is that the challenge will not be long and drawn-out,
but will be quickly disposed of for being pointless.
Take the case of former president Gloria M. Arroyo who ran for Congress
after her term expired. Has any lawyer ever doubted her right to
The Constitution plainly bars any president from seeking election
again to the same office, but not to any other office regardless
of his or her ulterior motive.
It all simply boils down to how the electorate will view such "lust
Cayosa should find better use of his influence and time by rousing
his colleagues in the currently moribund Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP), whose only proof of life is felt in its vigorous effort to
collect the annual dues from its members.
He could rally them to do something more patriotic: to seek redress
in a court of law on behalf of about 1.5 million Filipinos sick
and the heirs of about 25,000 dead due to Chinas COVID-19.
More evidence is already coming to light, pointing to the military
arm of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as having ginned up the
virus in its Wuhan lab to make it more lethal and highly transmissible
to humans - a biological weapon, many are convinced, for all intents
The task is no doubt herculean and unprecedented.
There might arise the need for a special tribunal composed of the
best legal minds in the country to preside over a class suit that
could be deemed sui generis, as it seeks indemnification amounting
to an astronomical sum.
Suing a foreign political party or organization running a foreign
government whose satellite companies are doing business and holding
enormous assets in this country is fraught with extreme difficulties.
Only the cachet that the members of the Supreme Court hold can lend
credibility to such proceedings.
And while, as a rule, our Supreme Court has been declaring itself
not "a trier of facts," the truth of the matter
is it can disregard that rule any time it needs to. Indeed, if it
can take time out to act as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal
to receive evidence of electoral fraud as in Ferdinand Bongbong
Marcos vs. Vice President Leni Robredo, surely it can deviate from
its regular role and become a peoples tribunal
of sorts for a matter of so much more transcendental importance
and higher public interest than any case in its docket.
Isnt it time this course of action is put on the table for
Given their talent to think of the often unthinkable, has any group
of lawyers hereabouts ever thought of finding ways to hold the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) accountable for what could well be the crime
of the century?
Or, are we all resigned to just suffering in silence and rolling
over as this pandemic continues to ravage our people and country
with no end in sight?
Elite Filipino lawyers and statesmen once found the great patriotism
and guts to go after China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration
(PCA), despite knowing that any judgment in the Philippines
favor was going to be unenforceable.
The message was what really mattered: The Philippines was not going
to be pushed around by a bully.
And yet, the ripple effect of that judgment has seen powerful countries
challenging Chinas ambition to exercise dominion over all
the islets, the waters, and resources within its nine-dash
line in the South China Sea, a claim the Permanent Court of
Arbitration (PCA) has ruled to be bogus.
We wont be alone.
More enterprising lawyers around the globe have commenced COVID-19-related
class actions against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its
surrogates in their respective jurisdictions since last year. In
around 40 countries including the United States, Great Britain,
Canada, litigations are ongoing for punitive damages aggregating
hundreds of trillions of dollars against the Chinese Communist Party
(CCP), with an eye on its businesses and cash-rich assets in their
What will it take for our own former Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) to wake up and start lawyering for the Filipino people? Or
is anybody even home?
Stephen L. Monsanto,
Permanent peace on Bougainville
When Bougainville gains independence
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 10 July 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 7 July 2021
As the second consultation between Bougainville and
Papua New Guinea leaders progresses in Wabag, Enga, the people of
Bougainville are wondering whether Papua New Guinea will honour
their wishes for an independent Bougainville.
The people unanimously voted for independence in the recent Bougainville
The right to determine a political destiny by the people is a human
right, which is recognised under international law.
It is known as the right to self-determination.
Through that right, people can freely determine their socio-economic,
cultural and political future.
Through that right, the people of Bougainville were given the opportunity
to determine their political future of which they voted for separation
from Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea, on the other hand, as a sovereign state, will
always want to safeguard its territorial integrity just as any other
It does not wish to see disintegration.
In fact, as a general principle under international law, no territory
within a sovereign state is allowed to disintegrate itself without
the consent of the mother state.
However there is an exception to this.
Where the mother state conducts itself in a manner that is contrary
to human rights practices or where the right to self-determination
of a particular people within the mother state is being deprived,
the mother state can no longer protect its sovereignty and territorial
In the case of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
lost its cause for protecting its territorial integrity and sovereignty
when it declared war on Bougainville and used its military to kill
20,000 Bougainvilleans and caused thousands to suffer for 10 years.
Human rights atrocities in Bougainville committed by the Papua New
Guinea Governments agents were serious that any state can
cause to its own people.
The pain and suffering that the people went through is still fresh
in the minds of the people.
About 20,000 Bougainvilleans who perished remain uncompensated while
Papua New Guinea compensated those soldiers that lost their lives
The Papua New Guinea Government needs to understand that it can
no longer preach about protecting its national unity when it already
lost its obligation to protect its territorial integrity over Bougainville.
Permanent peace on Bougainville and in Papua New Guinea will only
be attained when Bougainville gains independence.
South West Bougainville,
Papua New Guinea
creative arts industry
In desperate need of help
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 9 July 2021
First published in the Star, Wednesday 7 July 2021
The performance arts industry is facing a catastrophic
crisis because of Covid-19. This pandemic has reshaped the arts
world like it has never before.
As the post-pandemic future of the arts looks bleak, we end up with
the vicious question we keep asking ourselves How
do we move forward at least for the next three months?
When a performing arts centre plans to stay afloat for the next
three months instead of planning productions for the next one to
two years, it is a clear indication that things are beginning to
fall apart and yes, we are beginning to crumble.
With our governments lack of enthusiasm to address the pandemics
effect on the creative arts industry, what more to safeguard us
from tumbling over, we can only rely on ourselves to keep us alive.
This is nothing new to us, for we are all very much aware of the
situation unfortunately knowing does not make things any
easier to swallow.
Like an old wound, we continue to bleed.
As we lower down our anchor, we have decided on drastic changes
to stretch the duration of our survival.
After one year of struggling with a 30 percent salary cut, our team
is forced to endure another round of salary cuts, effective June
Also, the employment status of our team has been transformed from
full-time employment to contractual employment.
We are doing everything in our power to survive, unfortunately we
also need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
We still need to brace for further impact if the economy doesnt
rise up soon enough or no assistance is found.
If that happens, we may be forced to make a follow-up salary cut
even when we find our salary barely enough to survive at the moment.
We are grateful to have a wonderful team who are in this difficult
journey with us. However, as the journey gets harder, we may have
to part ways with some of them.
It wont be easy to say goodbye to family, but this pandemic
has not made anything easy either. In fact, we have informed our
team that we will accept their decision if they do receive better
employment offers elsewhere.
We just cant drag them along as we sink.
We are doing our very best to stay alive, however we do not wish
to sugarcoat this very difficult situation.
Our survival is very much in a limbo; we do not even know if we
can make it past August.
Our fund is depleting and we are working very hard to get donations
and sponsorships in.
Unfortunately, nothing is helping much at the moment.
We are in desperate need of help.
Performing Arts Centre of Penang (penangpac)
China has become as capitalistic
As the United States of America
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 8 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 7 July
Randy Davids column America and
China: A tale of two systems, Public Lives, July 4,
2021 strikes me as a challenge to our Filipino youth who are easily
swayed by the communist ideology for whatever reason - youthful
idealism, patriotic fervor, extreme poverty.
China has become as capitalistic as its biggest rival, the United
States of America, and even as imperialistic as shown by its bullying
of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries in the South
It has been using its economic muscle to impose onerous and predatory
loans on developing countries that leave them dispossessed of their
patrimony in case of default.
It is quite perplexing, therefore, that our left-leaning youth movements
are still captivated by the Chinese model of development which,
as Randy David observed, only remains viable if fueled by an authoritarian
and highly centralized system of government and a fiercely market-driven
It is quite amusing to hear our street activists continuously denounce
US imperialism when our existential problem today is in fact Chinese
imperialism, a superpower encroaching on our territorial seas backed
up by military might.
How I wish the talents and energies of our young activists were
directed toward exploring solutions to our national problems that
harness democratic and Christian values and instincts and not those
driven by deep ideological conflicts, hatred, and class struggle
that leave no room for enlightened dialogue and peaceful coexistence.
Instead of constantly organizing mass actions and engaging in political
activities to create the revolutionary situation
that will tip the balance in favor of a new political order,
would not the intelligence, creativeness, and moral courage of our
youth be better put at the service of the country through productive
and nonviolent ways?
For instance, by being engaged in their chosen professional careers,
whether in business, industry, government, or even in the political
arena, our youth can channel their drive for excellence and patriotism
to redressing existing structures of injustice, inequality, and
discrimination, alleviating mass poverty, and helping build a better
Our society is fast collapsing under the weight of political corruption,
socioeconomic inequality, and decades-long armed insurgencies.
All these will fall on the laps of our youth, the next generation
of Filipinos, so that it is critical that they discern very carefully
the pathways that will save our nation from endless strife and social
There are a number of alternatives to choose from, but five decades
of debilitating and fruitless armed struggle modeled on a foreign
ideology has not worked, and we need to look elsewhere for the solution.
Former President Benigno
Simeon C. Aquino III
a narrative that could be used in next elections
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 7 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 1 July
So much has been said about former President Benigno
Simeon C. Aquino III in light of his untimely passing.
The various testimonies made us see a man who served his country
well the best that he could.
The accounts of a number of people who worked with him when he was
the chief executive offered the public a narrative that could be
used as a reference next year.
This should open our minds to what the presidency should be.
We have already seen 16 presidents - from Emilio Aguinaldo to Rodrigo
Duterte. The country has been offered a myriad of presidential styles.
There were those who managed the government well and there were
others who left office with controversies hounding them, even to
The presidency is still the office where we place our collective
aspirations as a country.
And it is in this perspective that we the electorate should envision
the kind of leader we need.
One who would help us achieve our goals and address our problems.
This discussion is very timely as we go to the polls next year to
elect a new president.
Names of potential presidential candidates are already floating
Some appear to be reluctant while others are
just waiting for the right time to throw their hat in the ring.
The electorate needs to vet each one of them thoroughly.
Go over their respective platforms and consider their stand on various
Once these are satisfied, vote for who you believe is best qualified
for the job.
A reminder: Please choose wisely.
Mark Jerome T. Bongalon,
President Noynoy Aquino
eye for an eye
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 6 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 5 July
When I interviewed Noynoy Aquino end of August 1983,
just days after the assassination of his father, for Celebrity magazine,
I recall now what he told me then:
I am a biblical eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth guy.
If you hurt my mother, if you hurt my sisters, Ill get back
Amadis Ma. Guerrero,
raises safety concerns
Over pre-colonial buildings
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 5 July 2021
First published in the Star, Tuesday 29 June 2021
The collapse of the 12-storey beachfront condominium
building in Miami, Florida on June 24, killing at least nine people
and leaving 100 people still missing as of Sunday, should raise
concern over the safety of buildings in our own country.
Could a similar incident occur in Malaysia, where there are many
pre-colonial buildings that are still being occupied?
The Uniform Building By-Laws (UBBL) 1984 enacted under the Street
Drainage and Building Act 1974 stipulates that all new buildings
require submission of plans for approval prior to construction.
The plans must be submitted by a principal submitting person (PSP)
such as a professional architect or professional engineer.
UBBL 1984 stipulates the buildings structural requirements
related to the design and specifications of materials, loadings,
foundation and superstructure. It also governs the design, specifications
and construction of walls, floor and building structure and fire
requirements of a building.
Section 85A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 states
that for buildings exceeding five stories, the local authority may
by a notice in writing served on the owner of a building,
require the building to be inspected after the 10th year
commencing from the date the first certificate of fitness for occupation
in respect of the building was issued; and thereafter at intervals
of not more than 10 years from the date of the completion of the
last inspection of the building under this section.
The inspection must be conducted by a professional engineer registered
under the Registration of Engineers Act 1967.
Section 85A(6)(c) states that if, after having considered
the results of the visual inspection, the engineer reasonably suspects
or is of the opinion that there is a defect, deformation or deterioration
in the building or its structural elements as will or will likely
endanger or reduce the structural stability or integrity of any
part of the building he shall request for permission from the local
authority to carry out a full structural investigation on the building
including investigation in respect of its structural elements...
Furthermore, the Fire Services Act 1988 requires designated premises
to undergo an annual fire inspection before they are issued with
a Fire Certificate (FC) by the Fire and Rescue Department.
This shows that we have stringent laws and regulations in place
to ensure the safety of buildings, and it is of paramount importance
that they are strictly implemented and enforced.
All designated premises in Malaysia must be mandated to display
the Fire Certificate and all buildings that are more than 10 years
old must display proof that the periodic inspections have been carried
In the era of big data technology, it should be easy to compile
information on all buildings that are more than 10 years old. Compliance
with the regulations will ensure that buildings in Malaysia are
safe for occupancy.
TS. IR. Wong Chee Fui,
Thailand calls for flexibility
In purchase agreements with China
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 3 July 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 2 July 2021
Re: "China confirms purchase of 20,000 tonnes
of rice," in Bangkok Post, Monday June 28, 2021.
It's reported that China agreed in 2015 to buy 2 million tonnes
of rice from Thailand.
The buyers later reduced the volume by half, to only 1 million tonnes
- and to date only three-fourths of that amount has actually been
When Thai officials speak of purchase agreements with China for
dubious items such as submarines, tanks, and high-speed train systems,
they emphasise the sanctity and rigidity of agreements made previously.
It seems that China is able to alter the terms of purchase agreements
quite easily; why is the same flexibility not possible from the
Duterte candidate for
Turned out to be the Manchurian candidate
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 2 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Thursday 1 July
Reading the news item Duterte on 2022 VP
race: If theres space for me there, then maybe
June 29, 2021 left us feeling like puking over the sheer hypocrisy
of it all.
Doesnt President Duterte ever tire of speaking with a forked
Sobrang pa-cute! Kunyari ayaw, pero sige na nga!
Hes recycling the same gimmick he used in 2016: Pakipot.
Sir, tama na po, kumita na po yan! He really has no choice but to
stay in power. Despite all his bravado about
taking full responsibility and bluster about going to jail himself
for the alleged EJKs committed by his minions, he now seems more
like desperately seeking a continuum of his immunity
as president, by hook or by crook, to escape criminal prosecution.
A win by the opposition in 2022 is for him not an option.
Mr. Duterte badly needs an absolutely reliable president
who will have no problem stepping aside for his immediate succession.
Only his daughter, Sara, fits the bill; or alternatively, his gofer,
Bong Go - both already seen to be positioning for the greatest hoax
this country has ever known.
Only Vice President Leni Robredo can beat Sara, if only she could
stop being so wish-washy about her intentions.
Shes said to be just thinking of running for governor in her
hometown instead. Seriously?
Now is the time for her to show what stuff shes made of.
Sara has already been brazenly campaigning.
So what the heck, shouldnt Leni be?
The stark contrast between the decency a Robredo brand of governance
offers and the unbridled vulgarity the Duterte brand has demonstrated
should now open the eyes of the more than 16 million Filipinos who
put their trust in a macho candidate in 2016
who turned out to be more Manchurian - more beholden
to a foreign country than to his own.
of Noynoy Aquino a foreshadowing
Of return to a respectable president
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 1 July 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, 29 June 2021
Im sure Im not the only one who has observed
that whenever our country is ruled by a corrupt, abusive, and tyrannical
president, an Aquino dies and rouses individuals and democratic
forces to fight for democracy.
During the Marcos dictatorship, the Left consistently fought for
the rights of the people, but it was only after the assassination
of Sen. Ninoy Aquino that thousands of Filipinos, especially the
middle classes, became active in the so-called parliament of the
streets and in the 1986 presidential election.
In 2004, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cheated her way
to the presidency Hello, Garci?.
Corruption became a way of life and repressive measures were implemented
by her Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff and
the Philippine National Police (PNP) to quell the various forces
opposing her administration.
The death of President Cory Aquino swept to victory her only son,
Noynoy Aquino, who instituted various social,
political, and economic reforms when he became president.
Today, we are led by a president under whose rule billions of shabu
still manage to slip in, thousands of petty pushers have died, fake
news abound, and servility to China is the norm.
Is the death of Noynoy Aquino a foreshadowing of the return of a
respectable president who will assert our rights against China,
open up the democratic space, and provide medical and health solutions
instead of police or military ones to the drug problem and the pandemic?
Raffy Rey Hipolito,
Not safe to be caught
up in traffic
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 30 June 2021
First published in the National, Monday 28 June 2021
The rise in crime in Port Moresby is a challenge for
the police .
In recent weeks, there has been a lot of crime.
People are living in fear
What are our authorities doing to address this?
It is not safe to be caught up in traffic.
It shows the city has become lawless and our leaders have not done
anything to address it.
The city is growing fast causing a lot of issues with traffic.
Vendors and thugs are taking control of the traffic.
We have to address this before it gets worse.
When you study the success of cities such as New York, the fastest
way to reduce major crime is to stop petty crimes.
Please hear the calls of our people in the city.
We are frightened.
We are worried.
If we want the country and our capital city to move towards a positive
future, we need to eliminate these elements that are holding us
Lets stop petty crimes now before we implement curfews and
other drastic measures to slow it down.
Concerned City Resident,
Papua New Guinea
Philippine President Duterte
Who are not vaccinated thrown in jail
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 29 June 2021
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 29 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 28 June
During the incumbency of United States Republican
president Donald J. Trump, he submitted himself to a cognitive ability
test in response to critics who excoriated him about his competence,
i.e., to see if he is crazy or not.
He aced it and the doubt was settled, except for the hardliners
of the rival Democratic Party.
President Duterte wants Filipinos who have not been vaccinated against
COVID-19 be thrown in jail Amid scarcity, Duterte wants
COVID-19 vax refusers jailed, June 23, 2021, despite the
fact that there are not enough vaccines available to millions of
He would need to build the biggest jail in the world to contain
more than 100 million Filipinos.
Doesnt anyone think its time for Mr. Duterte to undergo
that same cognitive test?
Asking lang po.
Yvette San Luis-Petrocelli,
About the plight of indigenous
In Thailand's national parks
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 28 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Thursday 24 June 2021
hampers Unesco park quest", in Bangkok Post,
Opinion, June 17, 2021
I'm sure for many expats in Thailand the plight of indigenous forest
dwellers in Thailand's national parks is something of a mystery.
I had to study a map to, vaguely, discover where some of the disputed
lands were located.
It is not easy to understand what lies behind labyrinthine forest
affairs or state-sponsored policies of violence against the Karen,
or why laws were passed in 2019 enabling forest authorities to further
destroy their property.
In one's efforts to make sense of this murky business, what little
I have gleaned is thanks to the dedicated research and reporting
of Sanitsuda Ekachai.
It is reassuring that this senior Bangkok Post columnist recognises
her role entails more than rearranging pro-China hand-outs or acting
as a state sycophant in defence of the regime's persecution of members
of the pro-Democracy movement.
Forces of the Philippines
no mercy for Lumad children
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 27 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 25 June
We, an association of consecrated women in Mindanao,
express both lamentation and rage over yet another spilling of innocent
lumad blood on ancestral lands.
The blood of Angel and Lenie Rivas, and Willy Rodriguez, cry
out to the heavens for justice.
It is the same cry of Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, and Datu Bello
Sinzo who were massacred in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in 2015 by government-sanctioned
We grieve with their families and community and with the Diocese
of Tandag under the Most Rev. Raul Dael, who held a Dialogue
of Life with the Manobo of Lianga earlier this year.
Angel was a Grade 6 student of the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao
del Sur (TRIFPSS) lumad school.
Willy and Lenie were members of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang
sa Sumusunod (Mapasu or Sustainable Struggle for Future Generations).
They were gathering abaca hemp to sustain their livelihood especially
in these dire pandemic times when they were mercilessly shot by
military men belonging to the 3rd Special Forces of the Philippine
The lack of mercy from their attackers is shown by the fact that
before they went to their farm, the victims had sought
permission from the military - an ironic situation because
as lumad they are supposed to exercise sovereignty and self-determination
in their own land.
The military fired upon them with full knowledge of their being
civilians going about their daily living.
This is, therefore, murder most vile.
Angel, Lenie, and Willy were presented as New Peoples Army
rebels as the militarys justification for the treacherous
It reflects the state policy of Red-tagging that leads to extrajudicial
killings, and extrajudicial killings justified by the Red-tagging
of its defenseless victims.
The Lianga massacre of 2015 is an example of the former, the Lianga
massacre of 2021 of the latter.
We are witness to this ever-widening policy of death and destruction
in the many communities where we live out our missionary work, especially
among poor farmers, the Moro, and the lumad. Land-grabbing of ancestral
lands, killings, forced evacuations, economic and food blockades,
forced and faked surrender of civilians, the
slander and harassment of community leaders, advocates, and support
groups these are clear transgressions against human dignity and
Our witnessing comes with the realization that the fullness of life
for the Manobo as envisioned by the Most Rev.
Ireneo Amantillo, the Bishop of Tandag during the dark days of martial
law when he pioneered the TRIFPSS school, necessitates a sustained
work for justice, the same principle lived out by the malahutayong
pakigbisog of Mapasu.
As consecrated women, we commit ourselves to this work of justice
for the Lianga massacre victims.
We affirm Gods love, mercy, and justice for them and their
We are not dismayed in the face of this violation of justice and
righteousness against the poor.
We take comfort in the certainty that the high officials who perpetrate
this violence and terrorism shall be made accountable to yet Higher
Ones over them.
The instrumentalities of human rights nationally and internationally
are higher levels of accountability.
The upcoming elections provide another arena for accountability
in terms of raising awareness and providing guidance in choosing
leaders that uphold life and human rights.
The peoples movement for social justice, while vilified and
violently repressed, journeys on even more resolutely to bring about
And, above all, we are strengthened in faith in our God of History,
who walks with the people in building the kin-dom of
solidarity, peace, and justice.
Sisters Association in Mindanao (Samin),
Call for Philippines nuclear
power plant to be converted
Into center for manufacturing organic oil
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 26 June 2021
First published in the Philipine Inquirer, Thursday 24 June
It is good that the Noynoy Aquino administration did
not consider reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
Yes, we all agree, it is economical to operate a nuclear power plant.
But if it fails, it is also expensive and destructive.
If the power cost is only P1 while the cost of repairing damages
is P10,000 in case of failures, you dont need to study economics
at UP or Ateneo to know the difference.
I am not a licensed engineer to say that the strength of materials
has a certain period to remain unbreakable, or what we call in laymans
terms metal fatigue. But what about other factors
that cannot be seen by the experts like meteorites
dropping from the sky, or if Chinas relationship with
the Philippines changes and it decides to bomb our nuclear plant,
or we lack uranium because China and other suppliers do not want
Former president Ferdinand Marcos cronies - like Herminio
Disini - got fat commissions from Westinghouse.
Cory mothballed the plant, and to prove to the world that the Philippines
has integrity, she honored the countrys liabilities with Westinghouse.
Meanwhile, scrap scavengers, in connivance with people inside, had
methodically stolen most of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)
essential parts, like titanium condenser tubes.
The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) can be converted into a center
for manufacturing organic oil, because it is
very near Pampanga, Bataan, and Zambales that have millions of hectares
suited to plant jatropha, cassava, sugar cane, and malunggay.
Millions of jobs will be created, too.
About time we do something to erase the image that the Bataan Nuclear
Power Plant (BNPP) is a showcase of world-class corruption.
Isidro C. Valencia,
Support for criminal investigation
into Thai MP's
Conviction for smuggling herion into Australia
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 25 June 2021
First published in the Bankgok Post, Thursday 24 June 2021
Re: "MP takes legal action over Thamanat's
Aussie jail time", in Bangkok Post, 22 June
I fully support Seri Ruam Thai leader Sereepisuth Temeeyaves' demanding
a criminal investigation over Thamanat's conviction for smuggling
heroin into Australia: if the drugs came from Thailand, his offence
should have been illegal in Thailand, and he may not be eligible
to be an Member of Parliament or cabinet member.
Can Thamanat deny his handwritten confession - and was he really
smuggling "flour", as he vehemently told parliament?
Or should he come clean, confirm his heroin smuggling, but say that
since he's served his sentence, he should be given a second chance?
To uphold the rule of law, as he's vowed to do, PM Prayut should
move Capt Thamanat to an inactive post until the investigation is
over and appoint an impartial probe panel.
Call for Catholic church
To speak out against injustice
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 24 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 22 June
I read with interest the letter Amid violence
and injustice, Church and media are no longer game changers
I agree that the Catholic Church since the passing of the
Cardinal Sin era has been reduced to a whimper in a vast howling
wilderness of violence and injustice with only a few prophetic voices
that are hardly heard or even disregarded by its very own constituency.
The Catholic Church must strongly speak out.
Those who think the Church should not get involved against the social
evils in our country have missed the Churchs teaching of prophetic
The Church is the conscience of the state.
When the state leads a wicked societal life, the Church, its conscience,
afford to become cowed and silent.
The Church is the states best critic.
The Church is not just called to issue a reflection of the evils
in society, but also to instruct the faithful on what to do when
confronted with such in light of the Gospel values and teachings
of the Church.
The Church is called to share the Gospel values to all and to shape
society when it is not following the path consistent with these
The Church is never called to popularity, but to faithfulness.
The Church can never be silent about social evils.
When it is or chooses to be, it ceases to be the real Church.
Reginald B. Tamayo,
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 23 June 2021
We read in The Southeast Asian Times ( June 22 ) that
citing " the situation in Myanmar " the United
Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said " we cannot
live in a world where military coups become the norm ... it is totally
He is absolutely right.
Just how totally unacceptable military coups are is something only
people who have lived through military coups know.
Military coups result in the deaths of innocent citizens.
The lives and livelihoods of the living are ruined.
People live in perpetual fear of the military mob in power and their
ruthless modus operandi which has no regard for human rights and
The country is taken backwards.
The tragedy is that often when a military coup happens after an
initial perfunctory condemnation the rest of the democratic world
return to business as usual with the post coup regime, including
the sale of military arms.
Will that change ?
That's the big question.
Port Moresby pokie machine
government to increase shared revenue
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 22 June 2021
First published in the National, Friday 18 June 2021
A number of site operators of pokies machines in Port
Moresby have taken offence to the National Gaming Control Board
(NGCB) bragging about increasing its revenues when its not
sorting out the long-outstanding issue of an equitable sharing of
current pokies revenues in the the National, June 15.
At the moment, the monthly revenue is shared 75 per cent to the
NGCB and 25 per cent to the site operators.
A further two per cent is taken out of the operators 25 per
cent share, leaving the operator with a mere 23 per cent or so each
The operator then has to pay for staff wages, security, rent, electricity,
water and repay bank loans.
That leaves a tiny 5 per cent or so of gross monthly revenue for
This has been raised to the NGCB chairman and chief executive so
many times in writing and in meetings but the board has not done
anything about this.
The issue of equitable sharing has not even been placed as an agenda
We, the operators, demand that the NGCB immediately address this
issue and make a determination.
A fairer equation is that 60 per cent of gross monthly revenue should
go to the site operators who bear all the costs of making this money.
Some Papua New Guinean businesses are operating pokies machines
and it is the Governments job to assist them with better revenue
so that they can grow family-owned businesses.
Even if the NGCBs 75 per cent is seen as taxation, it is massively
excessive by any standards in any country in the world.
Indeed, it may be argued that the Government, through the NGCB is
using site operators, some of whom are citizens of this country,
as slaves to increase its revenue.
Any forensic analysis of the boards costs of regulating the
pokies machines in this country will show that they are killing
Before the NGCB talks about casinos and any other forms of gambling,
it should deal with the pokies site operators issue for a
fair and equitable share of the monthly pokies revenue.
The site operators demand 60 per cent share of the monthly revenue
and 40 per cent to the NGCB.
Pokie machine site operator,
Papua New Guinea
for world to return to normality
For economic well-being of all
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 21 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 16 June 2021
Re: "Sandbox shambles",
PostBag, June 8, 2021
Rocket Scientist touches on a global issue, not just a Thai one.
The inescapable fact is that Covid-19 has arrived and is here to
stay, in its various guises.
The world has to quickly function normally again for the economic
well-being of all. The poor have certainly suffered disproportionately
in the last 18 months.
This means that border restrictions and international movements
must be eased. We cannot continue with quarantines and expensive
multiple tests if this is to achieved.
Unless an instant free test can be devised, vaccinated people should
be allowed to travel freely.
Travel to well vaccinated countries should present no discernable
risk to those countries and the additional risk to unvaccinated
countries will be minimal.
If every country insists on three polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
tests for travellers, as is currently the case, that is six tests
for a return trip.
For a family of four, that is 24 tests, which is probably the cost
of the holiday.
That is just unrealistic long term.
are Asian values when the young
Are shot and killed for raising their voices?
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 20 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Friday 18 June 2021
Re: "Asean, China promotes
Asian values," Bangkok Post, Opinion,
It is not clear what Kavi Chongkittavorn means by Asian values.
The region is ruled by many dictators and despots who muzzle the
voices of young people, openly flout human rights, and put anyone
opposing them in jail.
Mr Kavi forgets that Soviet Union was one time a rival superpower
to the USA.
Its collapse teaches us one important lesson - smart leaders always
use self-serving ideology to come into power and remain in power.
It is no surprise that for more than a century communist and socialist
ideologies have been used to promote a false sense of pride in collectivism
and for promoting herd mentality.
Democracy has its own flaws, but it does allow dissenting voices
and the removal of despots through elections and voting.
Many Asean leaders also churn out their own unique models of governance.
China is in constant strife with India and the rest of the countries
in the so-called South China Sea.
The sad happenings in Hong Kong and Myanmar are right in front of
Where are the Asian values of consensus and inclusiveness when young
people are thrust in jail or shot and killed for raising their voices?
happened to funds
education in remote Papua New Guinea
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 19 June 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 16 June 2021
Development is supposed to be embraced and delivered
to citizens in the remote parts of Nawaeb.
But the few engineers who are attached with local Member of Parliament
Kennedy Wenge and a few protocol officers are entertaining themselves
and their families.
The district funds are not changing the peoples life.
Can the Government check Nawaeb and blacklist those contractors
who cannot deliver?
Check the education projects in the district.
Students are expected to learn without disruptions, but there are
Nawaeb High School still has an incomplete science laboratory.
There are also other projects in other schools that are also incomplete.
What happened to the funding?
We should do away with contractors who are only good on paper.
Students are struggling.
Worried Nawaeb Citizen,
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea churches
Benefit from Casinos
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 18 June 2021
First published in the National, Wednesday 16 June 2021
I had goosebumps reading that National Gaming Control
Board chairman Clemence Kanau, said that churches also benefit from
the gambling industry in the country and should keep quiet
as the Government is working on establishing a casino at Paga Hill,
I see why many churches are not against this move.
Even if they have said something against this move, it is not loud
The churches who benefit from sponsorships and other financial support
from the National Gaming Control Board cannot speak up against the
building of this casino.
If it was some other issue, they would have been the first ones
to raise their concerns.
They probably want to remain quiet in fear of risking their chances
of getting more benefits from the National Gaming Control Board.
Where in the Bible does it say it is okay for churches to fund their
ministries from the proceeds of evil activities such as gambling?
Is the National Gaming Control Board chairman telling Papua New
Guinea that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob approves of his
wayward and misconstrued assumption that it is okay to compromise
The churches who knowingly remain silent on this development agenda
will equally be accountable before God.
Churches should not be funded through proceeds from evil activities
As a Christian, it sickens me to read this article.
May God Almighty rescue Papua New Guinea from the crooked people
and their crooked decisions.
Paliaima A Tanda,
Papua New Guinea
Thailand has a bloated
With a legion of decorated admirals and
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 17 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 16 June 2021
Re: "Thailand's irresponsible runaway debt",
Bangkok Post, Opinion,
Almost all governments are now on a spending spree to cope with
the devastation caused by the Covid crisis.
Surprisingly, China is the only country to successfully avoid a
serious blow to its economy.
In the USA, the deficit, a favourite pillar of the Republican agenda
has completely vanished.
For stabilising the Thai economy efforts should now be made to prioritise
spending on major projects and reducing the lopsided reliance on
the tourism sector.
More attention should be paid to exports, innovation in green technologies,
education reforms and labour skill development.
It is quite amusing that a country like Thailand with no imminent
threats or enemies has a bloated military with a legion of decorated
admirals and generals who have never fought a war?
Prof Thitinan is correct that the government is leaving a massive
bill for younger Thais to repay over their lifetimes.
Fly too close to the sun
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday16 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Wednesday 9 June
In Greek mythology, there is the story of Icarus.
Icarus was given artificial wings made of wax and feather so that
he could fly. Daedalus, his father, warned that if Icarus flew too
close to the sun, his artificial wings would melt.
But Icarus, feeling the high of flying and unmindful of Daedalus
warning, soared too high and saw his wings melt.
He plunged into the sea and drowned.
This is a tale of hubris - or the excessive pride toward or defiance
of the gods.
This overbearing pride leads humans to follow paths that lead to
Some policemen have hubris in abundance, murdering hapless individuals.
The killing caught on cam of a 52-year-old woman and the alleged
accidental killing of a man with special needs muddied the already
dirty face of the police organization.
The saddest thing here is that its not only Zinampan, Nuezca,
and their ilk who end up the recipients of public condemnation and
mistrust, but also other officers who are law-abiding, loving, and
Two years back, I spoke before police trainees in a Philippine National
Police (PNP) training session.
I discussed their tenets of accountability, responsibility, and
respect for life. Spearheaded by the Couples for Christ and the
Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, our session
allowed us to talk about these vital values.
The sad, harrowing events where policemen execute civilians who
cannot even defend themselves is downright deplorable.
What has led these humans to shed their humanity and descend to
animal behavior? This is a question that should be answered by policymakers
and leaders of the police force.
Zinampan once posted on Facebook that the sin of one is not the
sin of all.
But there is a need to reform and look into the psyche of these
Their hubris needs to be checked, because the actions of a few misguided
elements affect and undermine the thousands of other members of
Clemelle L. Montallana,
The rise of the military
in the political domain
Has shifted politics from where it should
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 15 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 6 June 2021
Re: "PM shows he has political resilience,"
in Bangkok Post OpEd, June 4,
The analytical views of the columnist are appreciated from the vantage
point of politics.
There is no doubt that Thailand is a political economy, and the
truth that eludes us all is that the centre of focus had better
be on critical constituents of the Thai body politic.
The rise of the military in the political domain has shifted the
focus in Thai politics from where it should be:
First, with the farmers and with their markets which for a long
time have always been domestic.
That is no longer the case.
Farmers need to be encouraged to yield more for the sustainability
of Thais themselves and for world markets which are in need of their
The visionary King Rama IX tirelessly campaigned for farmers, saying
he and farmers were fighting against a greater enemy than communism
- which was hunger.
His self-sufficiency projects have benefited farming communities
and the kingdom at large.
No military weaponry or armaments can sustain us in the face of
impending global catastrophes such as land desertification through
global warming and rising sea water levels which are already hitting
so many countries.
Second, youth have always been the mainstay of innovative and novel
approaches to solving problems.
Politicians need to look at the needs of the youth more critically
and create avenues for them to progress in their studies and beyond
that in the social and political realms so they will learn how to
value and cherish their kingdom and their fellow beings.
We cannot trap our youth in cages. Through their forward-looking
policies, politicians and governments lead hope for youth.
Do not jail them in prisons for daring to learn, to think and grow.
Call for lockdown
death clusters in Thailand
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 14 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Sunday 6 June 2021
An analogy that we often hear is that if you are walking
around without a mask, or not socially-distancing or refusing to
get vaccinated, it is the equivalent of driving drunk, because besides
yourself, you could kill someone.
Similar to having the coronavirus, you could also say that driving
drunk is "highly transmissible from person to person"
and that includes adults and children, since road accidents
in 2016 were the most common cause of death for Thai children aged
In 2018, as reported by the Bangkok Post, 90 percent of traffic
offences were for drink-driving and 40 percent of road fatalities,
4,498, resulted from people driving while under the influence of
Why doesn't that get more press for the other 51 weeks out of the
year aside from those "Seven Deadliest Days" of
Why is having one of the world's worst road-fatality rates 32.7
per 100,000 people in 2018 and so many deaths caused by vehicles
22,491 in 2018 not as big a deal as cumulative deaths by Covid-19
a total of 1,177 as of June 5?
Everyone on mass transit is checked (to see if they have a high
temperature of 37.8ºC or greater.
But we don't check people on the roads as diligently for signs of
Why aren't roads that have drink-driving death 'clusters' ever locked
In other words, why - when it comes to talking about or dealing
with these tragic road deaths - do we lighten up?
PDP-Laban party has deteriorated
its foundation against Marcos dictatorship
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 13 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Friday 4 June
The ruling Partido Demokratiko PilipinoLakas
ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party was established with the goal of opposing
The murdered Sen. Ninoy Aquino and former Senate president Nene
Pimentel coalesced their parties to take a principled stand against
the dictatorship of President Marcos.
But look at how the party has deteriorated.
Its current leaders are mobilizing their members to make it appear
there is a groundswell of support for a Duterte-Duterte tandem.
From its history and spirit of resistance, the PDP-Laban now wants
a continuation of the same administration that has initiated mass
killings, harassed media companies and personalities, and kowtowed
Raffey Rey Hipolito,
Violence begets violence
As Myanmar shows
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 12 June 2021
Violence begets violence.
This is illustrated so clearly in the Myanmar case.
Aung San Sui Kyi had for over three decades advocated peaceful pro-democracy
protest to bring about change in the entrenched military rule in
But now in light of the brutal military crackdown and killing of
pro-democracy protesters following the latest February 1 military
coup many from within Sui Kyi's political party and other civilian
protesters no longer regard peaceful protest as a viable option.
We learn from the SBS Dateline ( 8 June ) that many new generation
youth have gone to acquire armed resistance training with the Karin
military to equip themselves with the skills to fight the Myanmar
How is the country to benefit from the cycle of violence that now
It's a crying shame that the power- hungry, kleptomaniac military
generals in Myanmar have brought the country down to this counter-productive
state of violence.
New South Wales,
Duterte urged to run
As vice president in 2022 elections
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 11 June 2021
First published in the Philippines Inquirer, Monday 7 June
The ruling Partido Demokratiko PilipinoLakas
ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) party internal squabble is its problem, but
the groups resolution urging President Duterte to run as vice
president should be condemned outright.
It has to be named for what it is: a shameless maneuver to extend
Mr. Dutertes term beyond 2022.
The PDP-Laban is no ordinary party; it is the ruling faction whose
members include top officials of the country.
Mr. Duterte himself is the head of this party.
Hence, its resolution is a matter of public concern.
It is highly unlikely that PDP-Laban members would come out with
this unusual appeal without the implicit approval of the President
or his inner circle.
Mr. Duterte authorized the meeting and he had the chance to comment
or reject the resolution during his weekly televised address.
We fear that the ruling party is scheming to create a fake clamor
aimed at convincing Mr. Duterte to run in 2022.
It is appalling that the party in power is proposing an action that
would circumvent the constitutional provision prohibiting the reelection
of the incumbent president. The term limit was placed there because
of our painful experience during the Marcos dictatorship.
We do not want another president who will abuse his power and wantonly
use government resources to guarantee his reelection bid.
We had thwarted previous attempts to amend the Constitution which
would have removed term limits and allowed politicians and political
dynasties to remain in power.
The PDP-Laban resolution is the latest variant that seeks to perpetuate
the rule of the incumbent president.
Mr. Dutertes party should offer new candidates instead of
plotting the Presidents reelection.
For many Filipinos who sincerely want reforms in society, our best
option is to support not another Duterte candidacy, but the pursuit
of accountability and justice.
Bayan Metro Manila,
for Pacific Pearl Casino in Port Moresby
PNG running out of ideas to grow economy
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 10 June 2021
First published in the National, Thursday 3 June 2021
The approval by the Government for the establishment
of Pacific Pearl Casino at Paga Hill, Port Moresby, indicates it
has run out of ideas to grow the countrys economy.
There are more problems than benefits that this industry will bring
into the country. National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) chairman
Clemence Kanau mentioned that the industry would bring in much-needed
foreign exchange and employ about 10,000 people.
However, these benefits should have been quantified and released
for public consumption.
On the flip side, casinos around the world are sites where money
This is an avenue where drug lords, terrorists and organised gang
elements illegally channel their money to avoid being caught.
Without effective systems to monitor our international borders and
no tough laws on money laundering and drugs, our country will be
a haven for illegal activities to flourish.
It seems the recent major drug bust just outside Port Moresby, where
the accused are yet to be penalised, has not taught the Government
a lesson before approving the casino to be constructed.
The National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) in its media release, has
given the guarantee to the country that they would go out and source
the best international operator to run the casino.
But how much experience do they have in executing this task?
If Australias major casino operator, Crown Casino, can be
implicated in money laundering at their casinos in Sydney and Melbourne,
how much guarantee can the National Gaming Control Board (NGCB)
give this country that all will go well once the casino is in operation?
The National Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has no experience in effectively
running other gambling activities.
It has mentioned that they would look at legalising lottery, bingo
and online betting. These will add more misfortune to Papua New
Guinean families who are already suffering because of our struggling
The introduction of these gambling activities also contradicts the
current consultation processes on making PNG a Christian nation.
This confused Government is bringing more pain than gain to the
Papua New Guinea
The Philippines National
threat to the Philillipines not China
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 9 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 7 June
The greatest threat to the Philippines is not China
or insurgent groups.
The greatest threat today against the Filipino people is the internal
gangrene of abuse and corruption happening inside the police system
of the Philippines.
This is an existential threat to the nation, and our leaders need
to act swiftly.
The recent murder of an elderly woman named Lilybeth Valdez in Quezon
City by a drunk policeman has once again brought too many painful
flashbacks of abuse committed by the Philippine National Police
and other law enforcement agencies.
In August 2017, the nation saw the murder of Kian delos Santos and
many others after him as unfortunate victims of the brutal drug
war, while uniformed coddlers of syndicates went scot-free.
In December 2020, just five days before Christmas, the shooting
of a mother and son in Tarlac shocked the entire nation.
Last February, law enforcers were killed during a supposed anti-drug
operation between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine
Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Commonwealth Avenue - a case that
up to now remains shrouded in mystery.
Even lowly barangay tanods (village watch) figured in mauling incidents
against civilians in several communities during the lockdown.
These examples of abuse clearly show a systemic malignancy pervading
the law enforcement and justice system in the Philippines. Did these
scalawags and miscreants manage to enter the service because of
the poor screening and recruitment policies of the government?
Or were these abusive officials once patriotic public servants who
were later on co-opted by the corrupt system inside law enforcement?
Whatever the case, the situation is unacceptable to the Filipino
It is of absolute necessity that our leaders act with vigorous resolve
to right what is wrong inside our law enforcement system.
Our existence as a nation depends on it.
Philippine President Duterte
accused of pursuing
A policy of appeasement towards China
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 8 June 2021
First published in the Philippines, 4 June 2021
I totally agree with Solita Collas-Monsod that Filipinos
should not feel they owe a debt of gratitude to China for its vaccine
donations, or for that matter for any seemingly friendly assistance
it has extended or plans to extend to our country
A victory for tobacco, a defeat for our children,
Get Real, May 29, 2021
This utang na loob chant that President Duterte
touts as his motivation for pursuing a policy of appeasement toward
China is just a smokescreen for his real intentions, which are nowhere
close to love of country and concern for the welfare of the Filipino
I cannot, of course, read the mind of Mr. Duterte, but as an ordinary
citizen I am able to observe facts and events during this administration
that stare us in the face and easily debunk any notion that the
Presidents partiality toward China, or more precisely toward
Xi Jinping, is driven by nationalism.
Look at some of these facts and how Mr. Duterte can only manage
to respond to them with deafening silence: the massive invasion
by Chinese Pogos of our communities and their corrosive moral effects
and rising criminality spawned by their presence; the mysterious
entry of huge drug shipments from China through the Bureau of Customs
that was never prosecuted, and the likely entry of more of such
shipments; the meteoric rise of presidential crony Dennis Uy who
has built a business empire in such a short period of time, and
who has partnered with Chinese investors to gain a strategic foothold
in the countrys telecommunications and natural gas industries;
the onerous infrastructure contracts the government has entered
into with China and, in the case of Kaliwa Dam, the displacement
of indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands.
And look at how his apologists, led by the sycophantic spokesperson,
fumble and lie in defense of Mr.
Dutertes untenable position on the West Philippines Sea, even
resurrecting the disgraced Juan Ponce Enrile in a desperate attempt
to gain public support.
There are rumors and speculations that Xi Jinping has long given
his assurance of support to the continuing stay in power of the
The coming national elections will truly be a test of our peoples
political maturity, and if there is enough of it to save the country
from a failed leadership that we ourselves allowed in 2016 to lead
the country into a treasonous and ungodly path.
Moves to constitutionally
make Papua New Guinea
A Christian country
Southeast Asian Times, Monday 7 June 2021
First published in the National, Friday 4 June 2021
Prime Minister, James Marape raised the hopes of Christians
with his mantra of Making Papua New Guinea
the richest black nation.
He has done so again with the move to constitutionally make Papua
New Guinea a Christian country.
On the other hand, Marape has also approved the construction of
a casino in the name of providing employment and generating revenue
for the Government.
What is happening?
Casinos are places where evil and forces of darkness rule and control
people to squander their hard-earned money.
Gambling is the reason for poverty and chaos in society.
Christianity is not practiced inside casinos.
I suggest you, Marape, stop your Christianity propaganda and allow
Western and Asian paganism to be included in the Papua New Guinea
May The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob rescue Papua New Guinea.
Paliaima A Tanda,
Papua New Guinea
Proposed NGO Act in Thailand
Mechanism to silence civil society
Southeast Asian Times, Sunday 6 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Wednesday 2 June 2021
Re: "Dream on," in Bangkok
Post, PostBag, May 31.
The point about "Bangkok as a second Geneva" at
this moment in history is that we have to make it clear that divisions
in society will irreparably and dramatically deepen if the NGO Act
and amendment of the Official Information Act are sneaked through
parliament in a period when public social life in Thailand is debilitated
under a severe pandemic and chaotic "emergency rule".
It would nail down the total failure of reconciliation as the major
justification of the most recent coup d'état.
Thus the constitution of 2017 should likewise be invalidated.
Back to the constitution of 1997 and forwards to peacebuilding in
Post-Covid transformation is not only needed, it is possible.
"Bangkok: a second Geneva" is a metaphor we should
allow ourselves to nurture as a powerful dream.
Hans Van Willenswaard,
Malaysia Shows true leadership
With salary sacrifice
Southeast Asian Times, Saturday 5 June 2021
We read in The Southeast Asian Times 2 June that Malaysia's
PM and all ministers and deputy ministers in his government will
forego three months salary to
" contribute to the Covid-19 National Disaster Relief Trust
That is showing true leadership rather than paying lip service to
It's a rare thing that kind of personal sacrifice on the part of
the political leadership anywhere.
Usually what we hear is the opposite.
How a political leader has used/abused his position to fill his
That is a much more common phenomenon.
In light of that the Malaysian people should feel proud of their
political leadership at this time of national struggle against the
I would be if I were a Malaysian citizen.
fresh and new leadership
After 2022 elections in the Philippines
Southeast Asian Times, Friday 4 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer Friday 28 May 2021
The Philippines will elect a new president in 2022.
Past elections have shown that those who get elected are the most
popular and/or backed by a well-oiled machinery at the grassroots
The voters in the provinces who make or unmake a president are controlled
and dominated by strongly held patronage/dynastic politics.
We witnessed how the Parojinog family of Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental
built their political enclave and fortunes on drug running for two
decades, and the Ampatuans of Maguindanao who milked public works
funds for decades, ending in the tragic massacre of 58 people, including
the spouse of the opposition candidate and 32 journalists, in what
is now known as the Maguindanao massacre on November 23, 2009.
These family dynasties operated untouched and had their merry way
under the very noses of several administrations.
Unfortunately, it is not the individual voters honest choice
but that of mayors, governors, and congressmen that will decide
who will become the countrys next president.
That is a sad and irrefutable fact we see often.
Local politics makes or unmakes a president.
The 1992 elections saw the country having two excellent choices
for president: Gen. Fidel Ramos and Sen. Miriam Santiago.
Early on, Santiago was the runaway winner in most of the random
pre-poll surveys over Ramos.
But some wizened media people saw it differently: Administration
candidate Ramos would win by a small margin because, by experience
in elections, 60 percent was controlled by local politics; that
factored in when assessing winnability, and the
administration had that sewed up for him.
True enough, the overwhelming early lead of Santiago from the National
Capital Region and urban centers was slowly eaten up by the late
Mindanao and provincial results for Ramos.
The rest is history.
Havent we noticed that congressional haggling with Malacañang
over pork insertions facilitate legislation?
Theyre a must for congressional incumbents, and not to have
them in an election year will mean rough sailing for them, short
of political suicide.
We need to change mindsets with a new brand of leadership, or else
we perish in our own follies.
A fresh and new kind of leadership is exciting with the announced
broad political coalition in 1Sambayan as a winnable alternative
to the administrations stable of stale choices.
The make-up of the general electorate, however, dampens the little
enthusiasm we might have. Gut issues are still the overweening consideration.
Look at how many people, including wheelchaired senior citizens,
lined up till the wee hours of the morning to wait for their
What is worrisome and a challenging development for 1Sambayan and
right-thinking citizens is the huge unspent public funds totaling
around P4.2 trillion at the disposal of the administration from
now until the electoral spending ban on December 31, 2021.
We each might have our criteria of who should be our best choice
for a leader. However, we can brace ourselves to accept the predictable
fact of life that in this country, patronage politics will elect
the next president - your prudent choice or mine notwithstanding.
Marvel K. Tan,
Call for China to come
how the viral infections started in Wuhan
Southeast Asian Times, Thursday 4 June 2021
First published in the Philippine Inquirer, Tuesday 1 June
The global community continues to reel under the scourge
COVID-19 has caused. As of May 25, more than 167 million infections
have been confirmed and more than 3.4 million have died, as more
infections and deaths are being reported on a daily basis.
Yet, after about a year and a half, no one knows for certain how
this pandemic started, despite what seems to be the worldwide consensus
that the virus came from Wuhan, China.
Whether it was nature from bats in its wet markets or culture from
the so-called gain-of-function research in its
lab that spawned it, the mystery has remained to this day. The worst
fear was that the virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology was
manipulated to become a more lethal biological weapon
- the idea fueled largely by suspicions about Chinas pursuit
of its hegemonic intentions as evidenced by its relentless aggression
in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and elsewhere.
China stonewalled all attempts to investigate how the viral infections
started in Wuhan.
It suppressed early accounts of those who knew what was going on
in its lab and silenced or disappeared witnesses, as the world cried
desperately for answers. Gathering sufficient facts and information
about the origin of the virus could help prevent another deadly
pandemic from happening again.
Indeed, experts agree that had China been more cooperative from
the start, the COVID-19 infections might have been contained.
Up to now, China has seemed to be under no moral or legal compulsion
to come clean.
It has remained as intransigent as ever amid all calls for transparency.
Nations - nay, the whole world - should now unite and take positive
steps against China to determine its culpability for this pandemic
and, more importantly, the reparations in the hundreds of trillions
of dollars it should make for all the deaths and economic devastation
the whole world has suffered and continues to suffer.
Its time to put the kibosh on all speculations.
A basic principle of law that is generally accepted in civilized
judicial fora says that evidence willfully withheld is presumed
adverse to the party withholding it.
This is based on plain, common sense.
A party who has nothing to hide should have no problem bringing
out such evidence when asked to produce it.
The more than 160 countries that boldly urged an investigation by
the World Health Organization of the origin of the virus, but got
nowhere near the truth because China denied access to necessary
data, should now formally take legal action before the International
Court of Justice and demand full disclosure of what China has been
hiding about COVID-19.
If, as China insists, it is without fault, it should welcome its
day in court instead of invoking technicalities the constant recourse
of scoundrels, as it did in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) case filed
by the Philippines against it before the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
While China may have gotten away with its arrogance and disdain
for the Arbitral Award in favor of the Philippines, no propaganda
can save it from the scorn of all the nations around the globe that
are still counting the deaths of their citizens due to its tortious,
if not malicious, breach of world health protocols.
After all this time, chances are China has already destroyed all
evidence - all the more reason to believe there was malice on its
Stephen L. Monsanto,
turned from Pearl of the Orient
To Sick man of Asia
Southeast Asian Times, Wednesday 2 June 2021
First Published in the Philippine Inquirer, Monday 31 May
Despite serving three administrations, senior associate
justice Antonio T. Carpio didnt become chief justice.
Now retired, Citizen Tony is betting the credibility he has earned
by challenging Chinas false claims in the West Philippine
His new mission with 1Sambayan is to mobilize Filipino voters to
elect a true servant leader in the May 2022 elections.
Filipinos have been overtaken by neighbors who used to revere Asias
first democratic republic and sole Catholic nation.
Until the 1970s, the Philippines was much admired, even envied,
as Asias pacesetter.
But a series of bad leaders after Ramon Magsaysay turned the Pearl
of the Orient into the sick man of Asia,
and COVID-19 isnt helping the Philippine health and economy.
Thus, odds are stacked against 1Sambayan.
President Duterte still enjoys popular support and his anointed
successor will be hard to beat, considering the name recall, financial
resources, and campaign organization needed to win - and the fact
that opposition egos wont unite, even with 1Sambayans
But other factors are in play.
One more pandemic surge, if met by the same incompetent response
by lackeys like Duque and spokesmen like Roque, may be the straw
that breaks the camels back, galvanizing angry desertions
by the public.
Even the military might join in if a COVID-19 uprising brings economic
meltdown, since there appears to be no Duterte strategy to restart
The meteoric rise of community pantries shows that people power
could erupt any time.
If health and hunger keep oppressing patient Filipinos, a tipping
point could be reached soon.
Also, international tensions and digital disruptions add to uncertainty.
Chinas moves can spark a shooting war given the animosity
between Taipei and Beijing, and the competing claims over the West
The US, Europe, Japan, India, and Asean are all ready to block Chinese
moves that may block trade or risk an invasion of Taiwan or the
Disruptions wrought by artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital
technologies can dislocate economies and lead to desperate moves.
Mismanaged, the 2022 elections could involve Filipinos in a world
The potential for spontaneous combustion is too great.
We hope and pray that the servant leader sought by Carpio will emerge.
Jose Z. Osias,
million doses per month over six months
only inoculate 30 million Thai's
Southeast Asian Times, Tuesday 1 June 2021
First published in the Bangkok Post, Monday 31 May 2021
Re: "AstraZeneca jabs will be on time,"
in Bangkok Post 26 May 2021
Maybe it's time to put all of this planning, considering,
mulling, ordering and promising into some kind of perspective.
The first thing we need to do is stop talking about doses and start
talking about reality.
Each person will require two jabs.
So all this talk about 10 million doses per month over six months
from Siam Bioscience, in the long run, will only inoculate 30 million
Let's stop with all these inane promises and suggestions.
Inoculate 70 percent of Bangkok.
That's 7+ million people or 14+ million doses.
How about vaccinating 100 percent of Buri Ram Province.
That's 1.6 million people or 3.2 million doses.
Add to that sandboxes, walk-in shot clinics, Hua Hin, Phuket, and
who knows what else, and you've already used up three months' production
from Siam Bioscience, if they come through as promised.