Friday ∗ 26 May 2017

Driving distractions

It looks like the Department of Transportation and its connected agencies will be forced to postpone the implementation of RA 10913 or the Act Defining and Penalizing Distracted Driving. Senators JV Ejercito and Nancy Binay have stepped in (JournalOnline, 22 May), knocking some sense into the DOTr’s over-interpretation – if not power trip – which will allow them to penalize drivers for even taking a drink from a coffee tumbler, or having rosaries hanging on their rearview mirror, or air fresheners on their dashboards.

Essentially, RA 10913 only penalizes the use of mobile and digital devices while driving, i.e., having it in your hands when you should have those hands on the wheel, reading or writing a text message when your eyes should be on the road. But Senator Binay says it best about the DOTr’s IRR: “Parang kung saan-saan na napunta.”

Thankfully, there is enough katangahan in the IRR for it to be stopped – if not for us to protest and resist being penalized based on it.

More importantly, it has highlighted the question of distractions, what that means for drivers, and what else we should be blaming for road mishaps.

I’ve got my line of sight on those billboards. Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 22 May 2017

Duterte, Manay Judy, Ka Paeng

It has become obvious after the fate of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez that President Duterte has no control over many things, and that neither his preferences nor his stand on issues is considered in the exercise of choosing who will run our government departments. One hopes he realizes that the anti-Gina decision of the Commission on Appointments (CA) was an affront to him, especially given how he had supported her anti-irresponsible mining stand from the beginning. Ultimately, the CA put… Continue reading »

Saturday ∗ 20 May 2017

Demeaning human rights

It is clear that while we might laugh at the people behind Presidential Communications, and cannot even begin to imagine what it now becomes given the appointment of un-credentialed, anti-facts Mocha Uson; and while we might scoff at the social media army that are the ka-DDS – Duterte devotees – with an axe to grind against mainstream media, facts, data, and investigative journalism; here we are at a point when a Philippine representative – a Senator at that – can… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 15 May 2017

Duterte, Lapanday

It was quite the show of unity, President Duterte’s visit to the farmers camped out in Mendiola, members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) who have been fighting to get back their land from the Lorenzos of Lapanday Foods for the past six years. Was it a surprise? Not quite. Duterte has always had it in him to perform tasks like this one, showing his support when needed, delivering the best soundbites that are still a surprise… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 08 May 2017

What mining lobby?

Note: After the President said “lobby money talks” given the CA’s denial of Gina Lopez’s confirmation as DENR Secretary, Malacañang clarified: “when he said lobby, it’s not necessarily (about) money.” *** It is hilarious hearing members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) trying to defend themselves against reports that there was a meeting between members of Congress and mining company Citinickel the night before the decision was made to deny the confirmation of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez. First on the list of… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 04 May 2017

Dear Smart,

I’d write about this in my column, but there are so many more important things to talk about in that space. At the same time, I couldn’t let this pass, just because this is how big businesses gets away with charging their subscribers more than they should, and often it is an injustice to those who are putting out our hard-earned cash for services that are overpriced to begin with. I’ve been a super sipag, consistent, and loyal subscriber of what … nine years?… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 01 May 2017

Elitism in the time of Duterte

The upside to having a President like Rodrigo Duterte is that we are finally weeding out the elitists among us. And I don’t mean those who think that Duterte is so bastos, is so not a statesman, is so not President-material because not disente. No, this is beyond just some good ol’ Liberal Party campaign elitism. This is its more evil, less apologetic, more insidious twin. Elitists who even imagine themselves to be pro-poor, because they feel for them and… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 28 Apr 2017

Torre de Manila: a review

Because our short memory as nation is becoming legendary, and these days the manufactured noise is enough to distract us from what happened just yesterday, it seems important to review Torre de Manila, now that DMCI is going to get away with continuing its construction, as the Supreme Court has found that “The court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; the petitioners (Knights of Rizal) have no standing to sue; and they (petitioners) stand to suffer no injury. Furthermore,… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 21 Apr 2017

TIME 100 and Duterte’s communications

For a government – and a President – that has had a tendency to blame media, local and international, for covering only the drug war and not much else about what else is happening in the Philippines, it surprises that government even engaged at all with the Time 100 poll and the President’s inclusion in that list. Because Time Magazine – as expected – has been at the forefront of putting the drug war in international news, and has been… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 19 Apr 2017

Duterte chauvinism: Sino bang walang babae?

A direct translation wouldn’t capture how offensive this rhetorical question is, coming from the mouth of any man or woman, as it normalizes and rationalizes the practice of infidelity and polygamy, because look, all men are doing it! And as long as these men can take care of the children they sire, from one, two, three women they keep in their beds, then they are doing the decent thing, they are doing what is right. Wrong. Especially when these words… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 03 Apr 2017

Portrait of a UP teacher as mining lobbyist

On Wednesday, March 29, GMA News Online ran a story about a UP teacher claiming two things: that Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) employees were ordered by an undersecretary to “find fault” in mining operations, and that students will not find good jobs in the mining industry after graduation. These are University of the Philippines students, ones this same professor has taught, ones that taxpayers’ money has put through university education, and they are being told they will… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 31 Mar 2017

That New York Times documentary: the photographer as hero

I am against the war on drugs and the way it is being implemented at this point. Where the lists of drug suspects remain questionable, even as inclusion in these lists is used as justification for many of the dead on our streets. Where the excuse of “nanlaban,” is used as a way for the police to justify killing a drug suspect, a justification that’s been built on the President’s pronouncements. Where there is a lack of transparency about the… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 27 Mar 2017

The VP’s missed chance, the President’s opportunity

The conversation about the occupation of the idle government housing units in Pandi Bulacan has unsurprisingly settled simplistically on the fact that members of the urban poor, all members of Kadamay, took over these houses outside of the process set for them by the public housing system of government. Yet one wonders how many of those who insist that the urban poor did not follow due process, actually know what that process is. Because even Vice President Leni Robredo, during… Continue reading »

Saturday ∗ 25 Mar 2017

From neglected houses, to homes for the poor

It was on March 8 when I first heard of how members of urban poor organization Kadamay had taken over units of a government housing project in Pandi Bulacan. It seemed like the best way for our women (and men of course!) to celebrate International Women’s Day: to take over public housing units already overgrown with weeds and grass, neglected and idle for years, some dilapidated. Here were people willing to take these structures for what they were, without electricity… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 20 Mar 2017

Losing Leni

I have no love lost for Vice President Leni Robredo, but I would rather she was VP than Bongbong Marcos. Having said that, one wishes she knew what she was doing. That she would have the sense to have a real communications team, one that will have her back and will not allow her to make a fool of herself. One that will tell her to step back, take stock, and regroup. A trusted group of people who will remind… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 17 Mar 2017

‘Madam Secretary,’ politics, gender

Once again, Malacañang’s spokespersons had it wrong, commenting on the Madam Secretary episode before they even saw it, putting it into question for whatever it was that they were told it contained: a fictional Philippine President who’s punched in the face by the fictional US Secretary of State, for having made a sexual advance at her. That image, of a Philippine President, nose bleeding from the punch made the rounds, and of course the President’s propagandists and his spokespersons went on… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 13 Mar 2017

The embarrassment of mines, the fortitude of Gina Lopez

If there’s anything that’s been absolutely fascinating watching the proceedings for the confirmation of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez at the Commission on Appointments, it’s how that long list of oppositors have come together solely to discredit her by misinforming the public and evading culpability for the mining crisis. Mining misinformation Mining companies and their advocates and employees want us to forget things. For two days last week, we watched miners and mining interests falling… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 10 Mar 2017

Unwell, unjust: #NoToDeathPenalty

Here’s the thing with the death penalty bill as passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday. It’s so ill-timed, it disallowed debate and discussion, it refused any amendments – unless it’s agreed upon during the majority caucuses – and ultimately it revealed how a majority of our Congress representatives do not represent the people who voted them into power. Instead they have agreed, as per this death penalty bill, that if any of their constituents are so much as… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 09 Mar 2017

Mines are ours

It is difficult to stay calm when you’re watching the Commission on Appointments proceedings for the confirmation of Gina Lopez as Environment Secretary. It doesn’t help that at the center of it all, the Chairman of the Committee for the Environment is Manny Pacquiao who, without a script, reveals himself as utterly incompetent and totally lost — he can’t even keep up with the concept itself of what the DENR does, the laws that it protects and moves within, the fact… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 06 Mar 2017

Oceana Gold: history, abuse, mining

If I owned a mining company in the Philippines, and my mine was declared closed or suspended by the new leadership of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), I would fight back. I would fight back with transparency. After all, I demand it of the DENR audit; I should be able to expect it of my own mine. I would release all information on the operations of the mine, and I would allow the community, scientists and academics,… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 03 Mar 2017

STRIKE!

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have been busy doing some spinning. They keep insisting – complete with infographics – that the jeepney phaseout is actually a modernization plan that will make these public transport vehicles safer for the public and kinder to the environment. After Monday’s transport strike, they’ve insisted that it wasn’t nationwide at all, belittling its effect on the commuting public, towards asserting that the strike was no problem… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 27 Feb 2017

Tweeting EDSA1986

It came to me on the evening of February 21: why not “live” tweet the events of the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986 as it happened? How hard could it be, I thought. I remember one year when the now defunct (but quite missed!) communications office of the previous government, which had Manolo Quezon in charge of history, actually sought to “live” tweet EDSA 1986, too. Besides, the original chronology of EDSA’s four days by Angela Stuart-Santiago is online… Continue reading »

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