AKLAN’s Cong. Ted Haresco led his colleagues in defending Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas who has been an object of massive media criticisms after he allegedly badmouthed Wack Wack Golf Club personnel over a tee-off fee.

“Mar remains the most humble, down-to-earth person in the PNoy Cabinet. It is implausible for him to do that unless he was typically provoked by the usual Wack Wack Golf Club inconsistent policies,” Cong. Haresco said.

He added that normally, the payment for guest is automatically charged by the club to the member upon his/her registration, not during the tee-off when everyone is preparing to hit the ball.

The Aklan solon is logical and reasonable.


THE much ballyhooed family feud of the Tupases had long been settled and those trying to resurrect it perhaps have malicious and political agenda.

The truth of the matter is that the patriarch of the family, former Iloilo governor Niel Tupas Sr., had already decided that the next congressional candidate in the 5th District is Atty. Yvonne Angeli Lee-Tupas, wife of incumbent Cong. Jun-jun Tupas Jr.

“Gov. Nong Niel is already committed to his eldest son, Cong. Jun-jun. Vice Gov. Boboy is highly competent for the position and is interested, but he respects his father’s decision,” a confidential source who asked for anonymity told Lapsus yesterday.

Even Inday Tweety, the family’s unica hija who had been rooting for Boboy as the next congressman of the 5th District, respects their father’s decision.

By the way, how is Gov. Nong Niel? Is he okay?

We have not seen him for quite a long time.


THE latest survey of Pulse Asia showed Senate President Franklin Drilon’s approval rating in each socio-economic grouping at 59 percent – up from the previous 53 percent.

And in almost all geographical areas of the country, his approval rating jumped to 64 percent – up from 56 percent in the previous survey.

What does this mean?

During this difficult time of crisis, Drilon’s performance as Senate president has been satisfactory.

Being head of the Senate, the second branch of the government, he has rendered sufficient service and accomplishments and the public is very much aware of them.

Most of all, Drilon’s credibility remains untarnished.

The Ilonggos are very fortunate because as the wheels of fortune continue to grind, the Senate president might be the next president of the country.

As we wrote this, we remember former Central Philippine University president, Dr. Juanito “Juaning” Acanto always telling us of his earnest wish for Drilon to be the next president of the Philippines.


MS. SOL Sucaldito, chief of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office of Iloilo and known for her built-in antagonism against media practitioners, still refuses to give public information about the goings-on in her office. Is she afraid that anomalies might be unearthed in her office?

With her outlandish display of artificial arrogance, the lady does not believe in the crucial role of media in our society.

In cahoots with Ms. Sucaldito is her factotum, a certain Danny Diamante who challenged a news photographer of this paper to a boxing tiff right in their office.

The obstinate character of Ms. Sucaldito does not speak well of her office that is supposed to be open and transparent to public scrutiny. She should be reminded that public office is a public trust.

We therefore urge Provincial Administrator Raul Banias to lecture her about the basics of good manners and right conduct for government personnel.

Don’t you agree, Board member Manny Gallar?


WE have been following up the activities of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Region 6, especially now under Director Paul Ledesma.

We are impressed by its good performance.

The intelligence gathering of the anti-drug agency appears very effective.

We credit the agency’s sterling performance to its highly-trained and competent men and women – and, of course, to Director Ledesma -- whose dedicated service to the public is beyond reproach.

With the way PDEA carries out its campaign against illegal drug syndicates in the region, particularly in Iloilo, we may soon experience a life free from shabu, and our young ones will likewise be free from drug addiction.


FOR the past few days, we have seen national papers’ headlines and commentaries against Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.

We also heard news from radio and television about his alleged outburst at Wack Wack Golf Club.

On the other hand, simultaneous reports on Vice President Jejomar Binay’s high survey trust rating occupied prime pages and time slots.

These media reports are designed to condition the people’s minds that Binay is a formidable presidential candidate, a sure winner this coming presidential election in 2016. Whereas, Secretary Mar Roxas, now a favorite whipping boy, has a slim chance of winning — and therefore PNoy’s endorsement of him is a kiss of death, so to speak.

It appears that Mar’s media group, if there is any, is not doing anything to counter this anti-Roxas propaganda. Or perhaps they do not see the implications or undertones behind these innuendos.

Frankly, Secretary Mar is losing the media war even before the presidential cauldron for 2016 starts to boil.


EDITORIAL (Aquino and Obama meeting)

Aquino and Obama meeting

SO what should be on top of President Benigno Aquino III’s agenda when he meets visiting United States President Barack Obama on April 28?

The most important concern of should be finalizing the Framework Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation and Rotational Presence which will ensure robust American commitment to come to the Philippines’ rescue in the event of conflict in the West Philippine Sea.

After nearly eight months of negotiations that saw both parties facing an impasse over certain salient features, the Philippines and the US finally found consensus on key points of a draft enhanced defense cooperation agreement on April 11, thus ending eighth round of talks.

Given the heightened tensions over our decision to file a memorial at the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal, sustained and unequivocal American support for our territorial claims is of paramount importance.

It is also necessary for the Philippines to explore varying arrangements to enhance our access to advanced military hardware to expedite our military modernization program and establish a credible minimum deterrence capacity. This could come in the form of expanded US military aid and new defense acquisitions.

Likewise, Aquino should push for new investments and trade agreements which will expedite the inflow of large-scale American investments and open up new markets for our exports, especially in the realm of agriculture and high-end services.

Considering the continued lack of inclusive growth in the country, Aquino should push the US to invest in our manufacturing sector which is crucial to generating quality, large-scale employment.

Investments in infrastructure should also be on top of the discussion of the two leaders when they meet next Monday.

Given our relatively weak infrastructure, which has hampered our development and undermined the resilience of our communities to climate change, there should also be sustained discussion on US investments in and financing of quality infrastructure projects across the country, especially as the Aquino administration aims to ramp up infrastructure spending in the next two years and reconstruct areas devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda.”


PEOPLE POWWOW BY HERBERT VEGO (A lesson learned from a wise buyer and a ‘wa-is’ seller)

A lesson learned from a wise buyer and a ‘wa-is’ seller

MAUNDY Thursday saw me amused over how a merchant in a public market could take advantage of a pious Catholic on a “holy” day. The unfolding scene was that of a lady customer badgering a male fish vendor for the “usual price.” Obviously, the vendor had quoted a higher price.

“It’s P500 per kilo today and tomorrow,” the vendor intoned. “Take it or leave it.”

“If pork were allowed today,” she muttered while hesitatingly reaching for her wallet, “I would not buy your blue marlin.”

She opted to buy only a half-kilo.

It was clearly a case of a greedy merchant taking advantage of a supposedly Christian holiday to dupe a superstitious devotee.

If she were no devotee, the buyer could have bought pork instead, which was then selling at the usual retail price.

On second thought, however, “normal prices” are no longer affordable these days when most wage earners buy less of their basic needs to thrive. It’s really a losing game because the value of our money has diminished.

Even the greedy merchants who tag their goods with higher prices eventually see the erosion of their own gains whenever they buy their own needs at higher prices, too. Sooner or later, whatever money they have saved in the bank loses its original value despite its negligible interest.

Do we really live in a Christian community?

Hasn’t the Bible told us? “The love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

Unfortunately, personal "austerity" can only get us so far. Cost-cutting does not really compensate, especially if it’s a forced move aimed at eating three budget meals a day. While we can slash expenses to the bone to conserve our bottom peso, we could get sick and wallow in deeper debt over medicine.

The only way to keep pace with inflation is to earn more income, which is an elusive dream for wage earners.

Pretend that you are the family bread winner earning P10,000 monthly. If this were your income in the 1980s, you could have lived like a prince. Today, you would have to endure a Spartan lifestyle (no TV, no ref, and no phone) to feed, clothe and educate your children.

When my kumpare Eli -- who used to send his children to the Ateneo – suffered business reversal, he literally begged of them to transfer to a public.

He told me he would have to double his income to revert to his previous lifestyle.

In certain instances, however, increasing income at the expense of the poor doesn’t work. Consider the clamor of jeepney operators and drivers for hike in minimum fare. When that is granted, the operators would surely impose higher “boundary” or vehicle rental on drivers; and passengers would “retaliate” by taking lesser number of jeepney rides.

When laborers ask for wage hike across the board, their employers would have to hike prices of their products or services – which further fuels inflation.  The better alternative would be to stimulate demand by keeping prices low and thus produce more products.  With more products selling like hotcakes, both the producer and the consumers benefit. This is the “secret” behind the success of export-oriented China.

Working abroad for better pay is an option for Filipinos who no longer see the “future” in the local job market. As the song New York New York says, “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.”

Well, that’s not really true. My only son works in New York City, but prices there are so outrageously high that he buys shirts with a “made in Bangladesh” inscription./PN



TPP and the ASEAN Economic Integration

EXPERTS believe that the meeting of trade ministers from countries participating in negotiations on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Singapore on February 25 had no results.

Kuala Lumpur is convinced that the task of this trade agreement to reach a conclusion in 2014 is impossible. The main reason for the “failure” of the Singapore round of negotiations was the reluctance of the US to make concessions with its negotiating partners.

Tariff lines are not fully harmonized and Malaysians cannot make concessions on important issues such as state procurement, activities of state corporations, intellectual property rights, environmental protection and human resources. They therefore expect Washington to propose constructive initiatives to resolve the situation. However, the US does not put forward any suggestions.

Kuala Lumpur -- without parliamentary debate, approval of the business community and public understanding – would not sign an agreement on TPP no matter how insistent US President Barack Obama is.

The complexity of the situation is exacerbated by the fact that Washington is unable to reach a compromise with its closest Asian ally – Japan.

According to analysts, Tokyo is not inclined to designate a timeframe for reaching a final agreement, thereby making it clear that the Japanese are not going to rush the process in the absence of concessions from the US.

The key moment to the assessment of the interim results of negotiations will be a meeting of the countries’ trade ministers during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in the Chinese City of Qingdao.

In the absence of a breakthrough, negotiators on the TPP agreement will have to take many months break due to a shift of emphasis and attention of the Americans on their domestic politics in the light of the November elections in the US Congress.

Looking back, in October 2010, as BusinessWorld reported, Assistant US Trade Representative Barbara Weisel welcomed the Philippines’ interest in joining the TPP but has warned that doing so will involve “significant legal reforms,” including a strong intellectual property (IP) rights system and the near-total opening up of the services sector.

Ms. Weisel said she understood that opening up the Philippines’ service sector, which accounts for more than half of the domestic economy, would require changes in legislation and even amendments to the 1987 Constitution, which limits or bars foreign ownership in sectors such as utilities, transportation, media, education, and the practice of professions.

The Aquino administration will have to generate “consensus domestically,” she said.

Back then, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) -- the lead agency for negotiating service sector liberalization – said Philippines’ participation in TPP talks would take time because of constitutional restrictions.

Former NEDA deputy director-general Augusto B. Santos saw then that amending the 1987 Constitution is not going to be that easy, therefore the country cannot even negotiate such deal as the TPP ahead of a charter change.

Remember that PNoy himself said several times already that he is not interested in charter change and that there are other problems far more important than tinkering with the Constitution.

But here, and now, PNoy’s Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said a US-backed Pacific free trade pact could cause resentment in Southeast Asia as it would leave some nations in the region better positioned to access America’s market than others. So he proposed inviting all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, even if most of them can’t for now meet the conditions for joining.

ASEAN is itself striving to reduce trade barriers among its members, but only four of them are in the TPP. They are Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Those outside TPP are Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand.

“If there’s a lag between the participation of others in a high-quality agreement such as TPP, there can be resentment especially as we continue to integrate,” Purisima told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

The bottom line here is that the Finance Secretary himself wanted constitutional or legislative changes for entering the TPP, if exclusion from the pact was hurting businesses and jobs. Whether we like it or not.

Is this part and parcel of what Uncle Sam wanted aside from the so-called military modernization?

It always boils down to economics. To materialize the US pivot to Asia, the economy should be one of the important pillars./PN


VIEWPOINTS (Asia-Pacific conference on reproductive rights)

Asia-Pacific conference on reproductive rights

THE conference was singular, as it was not held anytime, anywhere, with just anybody in attendance.

The conference was impressive considering not only its distinguished participants from all over the Asia-Pacific but also on account of the singular place it was held.

The conference was considered highly confidential that it was now well-known, much less publicized. But just the same, there was this or that individual who could not stand still and keep quiet about the heinous intent and content of the conference.

So it is that according to a quiet report made, the conference was even mortal whereas it was about downright abortion as an ingrained element of contraception.

In other words, it was against life not only in preventing conception but also in killing the unborn.

Thus it is that the conference considered the use of plain contraceptives as passé; it is categorically promoting the use of downright abortive means. Translation: Do not only prevent life to come but also terminate it when it comes about.

So it is that human life is considered taboo such that it should not be allowed even but to be conceived, much less left alone to be born.

Human life has become so hateful that all possible means at all possible costs should be used and spent respectively to get rid of it as early as possible.

It is worth noting that participants in the conference coming from several anti-life organizations should take into good account the following observations:

* It was good that their parents allowed them to be conceived and to be born. Otherwise, they would not be around to promote death.

* It was good for them to promote hunger, sickness, and war in particular – the more deadly, the better. This would spare them for still promoting abortion.

* It would do them good to ponder on the truth that the other name for abortion is the murder of the innocent. Murdering the innocent is not a small crime.

Pro-abortion people, think again and again and again, please!/PN

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