EDITORIAL Lousy cops THERE are good cops and there are bad cops. But there are more lousy cops, and their tribe is hopelessly increasing, making us wonder from what police training schools did they come from. At Naga City rotunda where a police station is situated right across the intersection of the national highway and Panganiban, Magsaysay, and Roxas Avenues, traffic snarls are a daily occurrence, especially on rush hours and even on unexpected time of day when extra-ordinary volume of vehicles come rushing in and out of the city, exasperated motorists would rarely see a uniformed cop from that police station making an extra effort to come out and help direct traffic and put order on that messy spot. This, even as more incidents of robberies are happening in homes and subdivisions within the area of jurisdiction of that same police station, many of them unsolved up to this day. One of such subdivisions is situated adjacent to the provincial police station that stands on land donated by the developer of that same subdivision. But instead of expecting a more secured village, the homeowners complained of poachers ransacking their homes while they were out for work. Then there are the snatchers who run off with hapless women’s shoulder bags, especially on the darker corners not far from the subdivision’s entrance road adjacent to the gate of the said provincial police station. Naturally, the victims would come to report to that provincial police station for quick assistance. And, heck, what did the provincial cops tell the victim? She should have proceeded to the city police (which office is a kilometer or more away) because the supposed crime happened outside of their jurisdiction. The provincial police office, he wanted to tell the ignoramuses among us, serves only the province of Camarines Sur and its municipalities that are independent of the city, which ironically makes us city dwellers understand that they, the provincial policemen, have no business doing in the city but with their police office virtually squatting on a lot that is within the territorial jurisdiction of the city government. In another irritating incident, a policeman rides a jeepney that the driver seems to personally know. In fairness to the young cop, he paid his fare accordingly and that’s good. Now, here’s the bad news: the driver, despite, or inspite of, his uniformed passenger, would stop at corners and No Loading/Unloading Zone like he owns every square meter of the road with nary a whimper of protest or an iota of scolding from that man whom we thought should be a law enforcer. The policeman, upon reaching his destination, simply stepped out of the PUV as if nothing irregular happened. And to add more to our sorrow, many senior police officers have this cockeyed mindset about being accorded [falsely]with military ranks when such entitlements had long been scrapped or “decommissioned,” since the Philippine National Police (PNP) was created by a congressional fiat as the country’s sole armed police force that is of “civilian character.” They are flattered and they show it even if they looked like poor copycats when addressed as “General” or “Colonel” or “Major” when in fact they should be addressed as “Chief Superintendent”, “Senior Superintendent”, and “Chief Inspector”, respectively. (On the other hand, an SPO4 does not prefer to be addressed as “Master Sergeant” because the latter, despite its military ring to it still sounds as “lowly.”) These police officers must be advised, for their own honor, self-respect and loyalty to the police organization, to refrain from adopting or nurturing such military titles because such titles are not meant for the police. Although the Philippine National Police originated from the merged Philippine Constabulary (PC) and the Integrated National Police (INP), the Philippine National Police which was established under R.A. 6975 is the country’s police force which is “national in scope and civilian in character,” hence, the civilian police’s appropriate non-military titles or ranks. Selda numero 10 Disaster resiliency Jose B. Perez ONCE again, our senior news reporter Johnny Escandor is taking over as editor-in-chief of this paper for the third week now since I took leave for a brief family vacation that was extended with the untimely demise of my beloved mother whom we buried last weekend. Then I had to fly to Manila Monday to attend the A-PAD Philippines international Symposium 2017 the following day at Heritage Hotel, Pasay City. I am part of the Bicol delegation as officer of the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) which is the lead convenor of the newly-established A-PAD Metro Naga. A-PAD, or Asia-Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management, is a trans-national disaster aid alliance that works to facilitate cooperation and understanding between governments, private companies, and NGOs in the Asia Pacific Region. Its member-countries to date, aside from the Philippines, are Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Korea, and Japan and hopes to add more within this year. A-PAD develops national platforms that facilitate cooperation among public and private groups for natural disasters in the Asia Pacific nations. When a large-scale disaster hits Asia, each national platform, the members of A-PAD, collaborates internationally to undertake disaster relief activities. The one-day symposium was attended by delegates from various advocate member-organizations from Northern Luzon, National Capital Region, Bicol, Visayas, and Mindanao, apart from representatives coming from Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh, Japan, Korea, and the USA. The symposium, with Sen. Francis ‘Kiki’ Pangilinan as keynote speakers, believes that transfer of knowledge, increasing capacity, sharing of information and best practices for governance in preparedness, emergency response and disaster risk reduction will strengthen the capacity and resilience of individual countries and the Asia Pacific Region as a whole. Among the other speakers were Rene S, Meily, president of Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation; Dr. Susana Balingit, chairperson of the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center Foundation; Faisal Djala, chairperson of A-PAD; Koji Otani, First Secretary-Economic Section of the Embassy of Japan to the Philippines; Firzan Hashim, Deputy Executive Director of Consortium of Humanitarian Studies of Sri Lanka; and Guillermo Luz of the National Competitiveness Council and of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation. It is to be noted that the co-chair of A-Pad Philippines is a Bicolana, in the person of Lourdes Louella Escandor, who gave a recap of the symposium and the future goals and way forward that A-PAD plans to achieve in 2017. One of the matters discussed during the symposium is understanding the vulnerability of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to disasters and their role in the economic recovery of affected communities. It was emphasized in the discussion that close collaboration between the public and private sectors is important for the purpose of delivering effective and efficient disaster assistance through disaster preparedness, risk reduction, relief and recovery. Relevant facts have been raised in the symposium. For instance, it was pointed out that our country is vulnerable to disasters due to its physical characteristics, geographical location, and socio-economic and political condition. It ranked 3rd in the world for having the highest risk to disasters and 4th for having the highest number of disasters from 1995 to 2015. The five most frequent and costliest hazards in terms of economic damage are (in the following cascading order) are: typhoon, fire, drought, flood, and ITCZ/continuous rains. An average of 20 typhoons hit the country every year. Five of these are destructive. The country has 300 volcanos, which makes it even more prone to natural hazards. The country loses an average of P300B from natural disasters and calamities every year. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Crisis Prevention and Recovery, MSMEs in developing countries, like the Philippines, are considered to be more vulnerable to natural hazards than larger firms, given the more limited range of risk-management system they can access. The country’s exposure to natural hazards incurs heavy economic disruption that largely contributes to the slow development growth of our country. It should be noted that there are about a million of business enterprises operating in the country and 99.58% of them are MSMEs. Only 4,011, or 0.42% are large enterprises. These MSMEs, aside from creating jobs and more equitable income distribution, supply local available materials, in processed and semi-processed forms, to large firms. There are two important legislations that support the reduction of vulnerabilities of MSMEs: (1) R.A. 10121, or the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which aims to develop a framework and roll resources that will enable the national government, the local government units, and other stakeholders to build communities that can survive disasters. This law also empowers regional and local disaster management bodies in terms of responsibilities and funding of DRRM initiatives. (2) R.A. 9729, or Climate Change Act of 2009, that aims to integrate the concept of climate change in various phases of policy formulation, development plans, poverty reduction strategies, and other government development tools and techniques. This Act mandates the government to encourage the participation of national and local government, businesses, NGOs, and local communities and public to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. BLIND SPOT The hand that moves the wave Joseph Ochoa A helpless wave is sweeping across the world in the past months; and is threatening to continue to do so in the coming months and years. Last year, Philippine political and social institutions were rocked and shocked when the electorate granted overwhelming victory to now President Rodrigo Duterte, a head of state who goes against conventions and traditions, with his populism and anti-establishment leadership. Populism, (as I looked up in the dictionary), is a belief in the power of regular people, and in their right to have control over their government rather than a small group of political insiders, intellectuals, traditional political parties, or a wealthy elite. The new brand of populism of this present age has added to its ideals an antagonistic stand towards immigrants and foreign influences. In a symphonic tone with it is anti-establishment, a view that stands in opposition to the conventional social, political, and economic principles of a society. Duterte has since the start, waved his banner of populism with this slogan of “Change is coming”; suggesting of an overhaul of existing political traditions. It seems that he has been presenting himself as the champion of the common, regular Filipino against the elite who (by implication from “coming change”) have been complacent with the problem with drugs, and corruption, that he is bringing this fight in his own hands by means of unconventional strategies (with popular support). He has been outspokenly; verbally hostile against the United States, something that is both populist and anti-establishment, and something that is totally un-Filipino. (Not that I’m endorsing colonial mentality; but have you ever imagined a Filipino cosmonaut?) He has opposed social, Philippine political and economic conventions, with his disregard for ethical speech, indifference towards religion, degrading comments against women, disrespect for history and what else? I don’t know what he’ll think of next. Even in the campaign period, Donald Trump has been shaking the pillars of American conventions with his presentation of himself as representative of the working class American about to lead the nation to become great again. (Come on, a multibillionaire, a representative of the working class?) He has caused anxieties among the ethnic groups in the United States by; lashing out against Mexicans, Muslims, Arabs, and that ridiculous idea of a US-Mexico wall, and plans to withdraw US support from international military defense, and economic treaties (a clear distaste towards international cooperation). He has made movements against the establishments of the Republican norms, the conventions of gentlemanly respect for women and opponents, and the centuries honored American tradition of openness to migrants; (as if overlooking the historical fact that the Irish, Italians, Scots, Anglo-Saxons and all other Caucasians were once immigrants in the plains of the Sioux and the Apache). The most troubling matter is he is now, the President of the United States of America. The regular British citizenry have voted for BREXIT, right in the face of the elite, the intellectuals who have long espoused unity among nations, and a single economy; breaking British conventions of international cooperation as had been put forth in the Allies, the Commonwealth. The Italian people have voted NO to a referendum for constitutional reform which supposedly would user in political stability; and has consequently led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mateo Renzi (which he promised to do so in the victory of a NO vote), a movement which shows a concurrence of populism with the Italian masses uniting against the political elite, moving against political and economic conventions of establishment. In France, the victory of Marine Le Pen, who seems cut from the same cloth as Trump is; warning against immigrants and foreign treaties, seems impending. In the Netherlands, a similar movement seems to be preparing to pounce, as similar BREXIT sentiments are gaining popularity. Even in China, there seems to be a growing surge of anti-establishment populism. We are seeing a worldwide “the triumph of those who preach strong action over rule of law, unilateralism instead of cooperation and the interests of the majority above the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com) You know what’s interesting, fellow Filipinos? We already had a populist anti-establishment for a President, well before BREXIT, the Trump victory, and whatever else would come. We are world trendsetters. What is this? A fallout of reason? The looming death of globalization? They couldn’t have possibly all sat in a conference and agreed, “Hey, let’s all run for office”. Did we miss a world working class congress in which they ratified a series of anti-establishment campaigns? Maybe we could call in a political analyst; but we could observe that this wave transcends cultures and continents that one has to recognize that in this world, in life itself, a Hand moves that would be unexplained by human wisdom, unpredicted by history, that no elite could hinder it. “For the kingdom is the LORD’S And He rules over the nations” Psalm 22:28 Good Morning Judge On death penalty Eufronio K. Maristela Judge (Ret.) IT HAS been reported both on TV and print media, that the bill restoring the death penalty will be the subject of plenary debate in the House this coming week. Reports are that under the proposed "Death Penalty Law", the penalty of death by hanging, firing squad or lethal injection shall be imposed on 21 major offenses, including treason, qualified piracy, murder, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, plunder and dangerous drug offenses. Presently, the Constitution bans the imposition of death penalty except for heinous crimes if Congress provides for it. Hence, upon effectivity of the l986 Constitution "any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment). It is interesting to note that President Rodrigo Duterte has openly espoused for the imposition of death penalty. With majority of the members of the Lower House coming from the President's party, the passage of the death penalty law is a done deal. In fact, last December, the House justice committee has already approved a substitute bill allowing the return of capital punishment for heinous crimes and the bill is reportedly in the plenary for second and third reading. Statistics, however, support the reality that capital punishment is in fact not a deterrent to crime. Its dehumanizing effect in society causes more crimes to be committed. As one Massachusetts legislator by the name of Robert Rantoul Jr. once said, "After every instance in which the law violates the sanctity of human life, that life is held less sacred by the community among whom the outrage is perpetrated."
Last December 30, I chanced upon my good friend Ernie Verdadero during the annual Ateneo Alumni Homecoming mass and he handed me a copy of "The Best of Nick Prieto," a compilation of Nick Prieto's writings (features and columns) that appeared in metropolitan magazines and Bicol weeklies. The compilation was made through the efforts of Francis T. Nacianceno, Jr., the first editor of the Bicol Mail. Through this column I wish to thank Francis for gifting me a copy of the book. One article ("Community Journalism That Was") reminds me on how I started to write for the Bicol Mail sometime in 1960 while I was waiting for the result of the Bar Examinations. My hang-out then was the canteen of the Bicol Mail where my best friend Rufo Tuy, Jr. was then a staff writer. Perhaps noting my almost daily presence at the Mail's canteen, the late owner-publisher Leon Sa. Aureus asked me to join the Mail as staff writer for P60.00 a month. Bicol Mail's editor then was the late Pons Ocampo.
Congratulations to AdeNU high school '54 batch mates Jose "Peping" Favinir and Belindo "Endoy" Tordilla who are the birthday celebrants for January. A fellowship luncheon will be tendered by them for their batch mates and their spouses on January 30 at Bob Marlin Resto-Bar.
QUOTATION OF THE WEEK: "I BELIEVE IN THE SACREDNESS OF A PROMISE, THAT A MAN'S WORD SHOULD BE AS GOOD AS HIS BOND; THAT CHARACTER - NOT WEALTH OR POWER OR POSITION - OF SUPREME WORTH." JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER,JR. FOR OUR WORD OF LIFE: "SO GOD CREATED MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE; IN HIS OWN IMAGE HE CREATED THEM." GEN. 1:27 Siling Labuyo Dim Mak By Al Villamora Retired Brigadier General Victor Corpus introduced us through his columns in the Manila Times the word Dim Mak. Corpus associated Dim Mak to a Chinese strategy to defeat the United States. In past columns, Corpus explored the use of ballistic missiles and American arrogance as Dim Mak points that could bring America to its knees. Dim Mak is a Chinese invention that is often related to martial arts. The fighter having knowledge of these Dim Mak or pressure points can severely damage or kill the opponent by striking on these pressure points. His recent column focused on the U.S. dollar’s vulnerability from the Chinese standpoint. Corpus has this habit of propping up China at the expense of the United States. His previous Dim Mak points have been debunked by Siling Labuyo as overly exaggerated to make China appear very strong militarily and given a superpower status when in reality, China just like Russia are regional powers. The United States is the only superpower recognized on the planet. The designation does not only consider military strengths but also other variables such as its economy. Corpus believes that one of the pillars that props up America’s superpower status and economic dominance is borne by the dollar being the world currency. As such, countries piles up on their dollar reserves to maintain their own currency’s desired value to the dollar. Being the world currency, exports and imports are transacted using the dollar, in most cases. The dollar is actually not the only currency is used in trade; the euro, yuan, and yen being the others depending on the contracting parties. Corpus’ point is that the mightiness of the dollar can be a double edged sword that could be America’s Achilles heel - a run on the U.S. dollar could result to a free fall and economic ruin for America. He then posited that China, Russia and Iran have the power to create such havoc and eventual collapse of the world accepted currency. This is really nothing new because the idea of such happening have been brought out before by the Soviets during their heyday and much like the prediction that the big earthquake from the San Adreas Fault will happen soon and bring untold misery. Fifty years and many Hollywood movies later, the big one is yet to materialize. Same is true with the dollar. The scenarios that Corpus pointed out are based on certain facts but erroneous assumptions. For example, China’s foreign exchange reserve is at $3.12 trillion dollars. China also owns $1.15 trillion dollars of the U.S. sovereign debt. He refers to these two items as China’s aces against the United States. Collectively, he also mentioned petro dollars that could be also affected with Russia, Iran, or Saudi Arabia’s decision to stop using the dollar for petro sales. Kind of convoluted but let us focus first on China. China having the aces mentioned above could determine the day of the dollar reckoning, according to Corpus. Having made all the preparations like having more gold reserves and semi-world bank that China can just one day announce that it would no longer use the dollar and use its own Yuan instead as a world currency. Henceforth, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia will follow suit by announcing it will no longer use the dollar for their petros, and so on with the rest of the world’s central banks following suit thus the end of the mighty dollar. There is a big problem with this assumption. Number one, none of these countries will possibly do that because they will be harming themselves. If the dollar tanks, so are their dollar investments and foreign reserves. If one looks at the top ten of the world who has the most dollar reserves, the United States is not even one of them. Its foreign reserve is less than $200 billion dollars. Brazil has more with over $300 billions. Plainly, the reasons these countries hoard more dollars has more something to do with propping up the value of their own currencies. Thus as a cycle, when the peso is stronger than the dollar, means the dollar is weaker compared to the pesos. When the United States and Europe imposed economic sanctions against Russia, the ruble (Russian currency) tumbled and Russia had to infuse more of its dollar reserves to its economy to stabilize the value of the ruble. Russia could have used its influence around the world to devalue the dollar by having them switch to euro or yuan but couldn’t. Euro is more expensive and yuan is discredited given China’s manipulation of its own currency. Despite China’s vast holdings, its economy is in big trouble because for years China has relied on exports particularly to the United States to attain its economic status. Devaluing the dollar would also mean that Chinese products become too expensive to produce and export. For a country with billions of citizens, countryside factories are relying on producing cheap products to sustain their livelihoods. When Russia prevented its own citizens from going to Europe as tourists in retaliation for the economic sanctions, Europe’s tourism suffered given that they rely so much on Russian tourists. Since the tourists stopped coming in big numbers, stores were stuck with Chinese made souvenirs and had to cut back orders. With decreased demand for Chinese products, many Chinese factory workers were laid off creating tension between the workers and the Chinese government. Politburo leaders are much aware of the dangers of the poor rising again because of soaring unemployment and poverty. Mao Tse Tung harnessed the anger of the masses longtime ago to topple the government. In practical terms, the $1.15 trillion dollars that the U.S. owed to China is more of China’s problem than the U.S. because China must collect to have that money and China will not get that sum until hell freezes over. Oil producers also need the U.S. market for its product. By liberalizing the fracking industry, the United States has become less dependent on OPEC oil. Saudi Arabia cannot align with Russia or Iran because of its own ambitions in the Middle East. As the preeminent Sunni Arab leader, It needs the U.S. backing to allow it to continue to serve as a counter balance to Islamic Iran’s hegemonic ambitions in that part of the world. America’s debt to China is staggering at over one trillion and is sobering enough but that is only 20% of America’s sovereign debt and the great bulk is actually owed from its own citizens through stocks, bonds, etc. Worse come to worse, Americans will not allow Chinese hegemony over the dollar and most certainly, not over its debt. Besides, the U.S. economy is doing much better compared to the world because of the fiscal policies it implemented during the economic crash back in 2007-2008. Bottom line here is that America has the biggest economy in the world and the strength of the dollar is more dictated by economic growth which the U.S. is experiencing and interest rates. When the Feds raised the interest rate, it actually propelled the value of the dollar upwards. Thus, monetary policies such as raising interest rates are not done willy nilly. By keeping the interest rate at zero for years helped the U.S. economy recover and the value of dollar at manageable levels. China needs to worry more of its own Dim Mak with the looming U.S-Russo alliance under President Donald Trump. In particular, Trump is targeting China for its trade predatory practices and could be in for a rude awakening. A trade war could be China’s Achilles heel because while it will hurt both countries, it will hurt China more due to the destabilizing effect it would have on its own people who rely heavily on export production.