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Opinion

When the spare tire is better

In the aftermath of typhoon Ulysses that caused massive flooding in many parts of Luzon, the stellar efforts of Vice President Leni Robredo to help out calamity victims have been the talk of the town, so much so that the President dedicated a portion of his most recent TV appearance disparaging her for making it appear that she was in charge, not him.

Presidential mouthpiece Harry Roque even alluded to the term ‘spare tire’ in describing the Vice-President in a follow-up attack.

The actual term is ‘Presidential spare tire’ – a rarely used term and more commonly used by political commentators, lawyers, political scientists, and teachers of the subject Philippine Constitution in college.

It comes from the following provision of the 1987 Constitution:

SECTION 3. There shall be a Vice-President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with and in the same manner as the President. He may be removed from office in the same manner as the President.

The Vice-President may be appointed as a Member of the Cabinet. Such appointment requires no confirmation.

Nowhere else in the Constitution can one find a more clear or distinct job description for the Vice-President. If he/she is not appointed to a Cabinet position, the Vice-President has literally nothing else to do except to wait to assume the presidency in case of the death, disability, or resignation of the incumbent President.

An excellent briefer on the Office of the Vice-President by Manuel Quezon III, tell of its colorful history, noteworthy is that the first Vice-President not appointed to any cabinet position was Diosdado Macapagal as he was from party different from the President’s.

Coming back to Vice-President Leni Robredo, she was once appointed to Cabinet as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council back in July 2016. On December 4, 2016 she was informed not to attend all Cabinet meetings anymore which led to her resignation from the Cabinet the day after.

Since then, the Vice-President has been doing what she can with what little her office has from helping healthcare workers to get much-needed PPEs and transportation when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a severe lockdown in Luzon to the more recent rescue and relief efforts in the aftermath of typhoon Ulysses.

As I have said before:

Naturally and thankfully, the Vice-President has stepped up and shown what real leadership is.

Categories
Opinion

From Russia with vaccine

The image above sums up the process of how a vaccine is developed. Now that we’re living in a global pandemic, a vaccine is seen as something that will bring an end to lockdowns, economic downturns, and a return to normalcy. Hence the next image:

Scientists and vaccine makers around the world are racing to make one that is safe and effective against SARS-CoV-2 with the World Health Organization leading the global effort at an unprecedented pace. At the moment, there are more than 165 vaccines being developed of which 31 are in various stages of human trials.

The latest to grab international headlines is dubbed Sputnik-V which was announced by no less than Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 11 as ‘ready for public use.’ Much like how the first Sputnik satellite drew global attention back in 1957, Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine brought much shock and awe the world over.

The shock as scientists and medical experts has condemned Russia’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine that has skipped Stage 3 phase of clinical trials. Apart from the risks of side effects that could be harmful, a vaccine that turns out to be ineffective could undermine immunization efforts the world over and not just against the coronavirus. This would even play into the hands of anti-vaxxers to further their agenda. Overall, it threatens global health atop of the natural threat that is COVID-19 which has already killed millions, destroyed livelihoods, and caused worldwide suffering.

It didn’t help that President Durterte was quick to announce that Russia would be supplying the vaccine to the Philippines, something that he has been desperately clinging on to as his administration has struggled and miserably failed to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Never mind that even Russian health experts have voiced their opposition to fast-tracking Sputnik-V, Duterte even volunteered to be the first Filipino to get injected.

Days after his late-night address, his spokesperson confirmed that indeed the Philippines would be participating in the Phase III trials for the Russian vaccine. Ironic since the administration has used another controversial vaccine – Dengvaxia, to score political points against the opposition.

If this is not madness, I don’t know what else is.

Categories
Opinion

Peace talks in the Philippines: It’s a trap!

In a last-ditch effort, seemingly out of desperation as it’s just two years in power, to end the longest running insurgency in Asia the Duterte administration has offered to resume peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP. While it is without question that peace talks are the best way to end the fighting, the offer reeks of insincerity. Given what the government has done since the last rounds of the peace talks were terminated November last year, the communist rebels are right to reject the condition that it be done here in the Philippines.

Admiral Ackbar - It's a trap

Why is this offer of resuming the peace talks suspicious:

  • EO No 70 is still in effect this needs to be withdrawn first.
  • The red-tagging campaign against legitimate dissent, critics, activists and progressive peoples’ organizations is still ongoing.
  • Consultants of the NDFP that have been arrested on trumped up charges and despite the JASIG are still in jail.
  • The administration has firm control of the courts – there’s no shortage of judges willing to issue warrants of search and arrest on very questionable reasoning at the request of the police and military.

On these critical observations the writings on the wall are clear: the spider has invited the fly to his parlor. Until the government drops the pre-conditions to holding peace talks, the rebels will not come to the negotiating table. So the fighting will continue, not solely because the peace talks will not resume, but as long as the current conditions that have bred the rebellion continue to exist.

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Opinion

For an independent & progressive Senate

On May 13, 2019 Filipino voters would troupe to election precincts and cast their votes for 12 new Senators of the Republic. Given what the Duterte administration has done in the last three years, what it is currently doing and what it intends to do for the remaining time it is in power, the results of the Senatorial elections will be very crucial. To put it lightly but bluntly, we cannot screw up.

A quick rundown of what the key issues are: our national sovereignty up for sale with our lands, waters and other resources being offered to China; changing our Constitution to favor dictatorial and tyrannical designs and to entrench the self-serving ruling class; the imposition of more laws that will burden the poor majority; the complete restoration of the Marcoses in power; the continuing attack on journalists, activists, human rights advocates and indigenous peoples; the truth that drug lords remain free to operate while thousands of poor have died without due process.

These will get worse if candidates who are not only imcompetent and undeserving of a Senate seat and worse, who by words, deeds and legislative record would just kowtow to Duterte’s desires and designs will be elected.

It is paramount then, nay, it is our duty and obligation to use our ballots to elect a Senate that is independent and restore some sense of dignity, duty and concern for the common good in our democratic systems.

To achieve this, I urge our fellow voters to consider and support the following candidates:

Neri Colmenares

Leody De Guzman

Ernesto Arellano

Sonny Matula

Allan Montano

Chel Diokno

Erin Tanada

Samira Gutoc

Pilo Hilbay

Nancy Binay

Bam Aquino

Serge Osmena

The list is made up of men and women of principles. They have exhibited intelligence and openness to working with others across ideologies and have shown independence of mind.

Neri Colmenares is one of the most popular candidates from the opposition. A veteran of the parliament of the streets, he made his name for being a human rights lawyer himself being a victim of rights abuses during the martial law years of the Marcos dictatorship. His track record in the House of Representatives is proof that he is a champion of the poor and marginalized – increased pension for SSS, opposing unreasonable rates increase by Meralco, Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act and many more. Despite being red-tagged by the government and targeted by misinformation campaigns, Colmenares remains untainted by corruption.

From the Labor Win coalition comes Leody De Guzman who heads the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Ernesto Arellano, founder of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Sonny Matula, president of Federation of Free Workers and Labor lawyer Allan Montano. Electing them to the Senate will ensure that laws will be crafted to serve the common good and the common man. Living wages, ending ‘endo’ and strengthening unions will be much easier to achieve if these leaders would get a Senate seat. They are free of corruption and are not beholden to any oligarchs or private interests.

Samira Gutoc has really captured my interest with her fiery passion about the issues besetting Mindanao and our Muslim brothers. Chel Diokno will ensure the respect for due process and the rule of law will be on the Senate’s agenda. Erin Tanada and Pilo Hilbay will help secure and defend our sovereignty. Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay and Serge Osmena will be great assets to ensure an independent Senate.

I enjoin everyone to look into their backgrounds and track records. Their positions on the key issues enumerated earlier are worth the consideration, so much so that it would merit your vote.

Karl Marx once wrote that “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” Come May 13, we get the chance to select leaders that will truly represent us and help us struggle against our own repression.