opinion

Looking beyond the Padayon Pilipino’s budget charade

July 10, 2020

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—Let’s try to look objectively at the possible reasons why the majority Padayon Pilipino bloc in the Provincial Board (PB) rejected a proposed resolution by Vice Gov. Jeremy Jonahmar ‘Jigjag’ Pelaez to adopt the reenacted 2019 budget in order not only to pay for its employees but also to fund the province’s COVID-19 response programs. I discussed this during Wednesday’s (July edition of ‘Barangay S’ broadcast at my Facebook page and at 105.5 Bay Radio Way Kurat Balingasag in both its radio station and at its Facebook page at 7-8 am.  Owing to time constraints, I decided to elaborate on my points here in my column at Mindanao Daily News. First of all the resolution stemmed from the court’s ruling to enforce a temporary restraining order on the Capitol’s 2020 budget following its rejection by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) owing to irregularities such as the absence of signatures by vice governor Pelaez and the PB secretary. The majority PB bloc had yet to answer categorically and specifically to their Misamisnon constituents on whether the 2020 budget proposal passed to the DBM for review and clearance contained last minute insertions that Pelaez alleged had divested his office of P68 million funding and re-allocated it in favor to a liaison office assigned under the governor’s office. The last minute insertions were supposedly the handiwork of ex-PB member and ex-Cagayan de Oro City councilor President Elipe prior to his ‘vanishing act’  after the police were about to enforce arrest warrants issued on him and his sister by the Sandiganbayan on graft and falsification charges.                     ************************* Elipe incidentally is the brother-in-law of Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny ‘Bambi’ Emano who’s serving his last term with the COVID-19 pandemic riding on his back and he was particularly testy when his attention was called by local media on the comments made by Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno on Elipe’s alleged role  in the last minute insertions stunt on the vice governor’s budget. But let’s focus on the 2020 and 2019 budget.  The majority PB bloc rejected the Pelaez resolution as it may be called because they want the slightly bigger 2020 budget AND with it, the Supplemental Budget containing the one-month worth share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) allocated by the national government as part of the ‘Bayanihan Heal As One’  response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an ‘all or nothing’ deal for the majority PB bloc as far as the budget is concerned and they would likely spin this Pelaez resolution as an ‘admission of guilt’ on the part of the vice governor and his allies for pushing their TRO petition on the 2020 budget due to what they would claim as ‘politically motivated’ retaliation against Bambi. In pushing this malicious, false narrative, the Padayon Pilipino PB bloc conveniently ignored the DBM rejection of their 2020 budget proposal supposedly containing the last minute insertions and the absence of the signatures of the vice governor and the PB secretary. Instead Bambi pushed for the total shutdown of the Capitol’s operations due to alleged fund lack and is banking on fueling and directing public discontent against Pelaez and his minority allies to pressure them into withdrawing the TRO petition while clearing himself and his allies of their malicious, underground tactic to torpedo and render inutile the vice governor’s office.               ********************* Bambi and his majority bloc are also counting on the lapse of the 20-day TRO to push for approval of the 2020 budget whether it be in court or in the PB session hall.  But then since they have the numbers, how did Pelaez and his minority allies secure a TRO in the first place? We’ll leave that for court resolution.  Incidentally, the PB majority bloc also rejected the resolution since it would also mean the retention of the vice governor office’s budget which they are targeting to remove in their 2020 budget in favor of the governor’s liaison office. In justifying their move to strip the vice governor of his budget during their press conference last Saturday—it was staged hours after Pelaez held his own press conference to answer Bambi’s accusations leveled at him—one of the PB members, Wayne Militante, replied that removing the budget didn’t entail depriving the vice governor of his salary and benefits as an elected official. Wow, just listening to Militante’s condescending, arrogant tone on the vice governor’s salary and benefits mirrored in essence Bambi’s contempt and disregard of ‘fiscal autonomy’  that’s guaranteed among the executive (which he is as local chief executive of the province), legislative (which Pelaez represents as vice governor despite Bambi’s lapdogs in the PB) and judicial departments (which include the court that granted the TRO petition).  Anyway, will write more on this issue before this week ends.

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Bottomline, did Bambi and allies comply with the law on 2020 budget?

July 8, 2020

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—After starting off on a high note with my ‘Barangay S’ program at my Facebook account and broadcast over at Way Kurat 105.5 FM Balingasag on Monday and Wednesday to Friday, I’ll also launch another another FB Live program dubbed ‘Susan Live’ starting this Tuesday (July 7, 6 am to 7 am Philippine time) and every Tuesday thereafter at Mindanao Daily News Radyo Natin 106.3 FM. So that’s two FB Live programs broadcast every week from my home to yours wherever you are in the country and even around the world whenever there is a WiFi connection. When I started this gig as I put it—thanks to some outside assistance—I reflected on how, as I migrated to the US to be with hubby Ronnie Dennis a decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for me to find my way back to my former media profession. I don’t have the money to put up my own broadcast station be it TV or radio. But thanks to the Internet and substantial advances in online connectivity, nearly anyone with a mobile device and WiFi connection can broadcast themselves through social media to the rest of the world. Thus was hatched my idea of reviving ‘Barangay S’ which used to broadcast at the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN). Thus it had been quite a while since I regularly wrote here at Mindanao Daily News and for that my apologies to my dear readers and followers. I won’t promise anything other than to try to post more in the days ahead, my health, broadcast schedule and quality time with family permitting. And like the issues and topics I discuss in my two FB Live programs, I will try to be diverse in my discussion with you. Now, without further ado, let’s move on.                                       ********************** I was sort of busy preparing for a subdued, yet still joyful commemoration of the Fourth of July holiday or American Independence Day—no thanks to COVID-19—when the news hit me like fireworks about the court ruling granting the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the 2020 budget of Misamis Oriental over the weekend and how Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Emano declared in no uncertain terms that the province won’t have the money to pay for the salaries of their employees, let alone feed the inmates and so forth ad nauseum. Despite a hectic schedule I still managed to get pieces of information here and there from sources in the city and somehow managed to get a snapshot of this budget imbroglio that occurred at probably the worst time in the province when it is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this posting, the governor reminded the local governments in the province not to expect financial assistance from the Capitol other than so-called technical expertise which, based on Provincial Health Officer Dr. Jerie Calingasan’s latest advisory to avoid and bar all suspected COVID-19 cases out of their localities, doesn’t amount to much at all. Let’s try to discuss this issue without touching on the merits of the case to avoid the all-too-familiar (and dreaded for some media practitioners) subjudice rule for ongoing cases at court of which this TRO petitioned for by Vice Gov. Jeremy Jonahmar ‘Jigjag’ Pelaez and two other Provincial Board (PB) members qualifies as one.  What catches public attention, particularly those of the Misamisnons, is Bambi’s frantic claim that they won’t be able to pay for the salaries of Capitol employees and other expenses especially for the province’s COVID-19 response. Again, the finer details of the case are being buried under a ‘gloom and doom’ scenario and dare I say it, charade, being orchestrated by the incumbent administration at the Capitol not only to draw public sympathy but also to demonize and provoke public anger at Pelaez and his allies by portraying themselves and by extension, the people as victims of the so-called ‘tyranny of the opposition minority.’  As to questions on the rejection and refusal of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to approve, much less review, their 2020 budget proposal, Bambi and his allies through their Provincial Legal Officer failed to adequately answer other than resorting to pitiful ‘woe unto all of us’ pleas and self-righteous indignation at the damage they accuse the Pelaez camp of inflicting on the people of Misamis Oriental. When asked about his reaction to Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno’s assertion that the budget fiasco had the fingerprints of ex-PB member and ex-Cagayan de Oro City Councilor President Elipe, Bambi deflected the question during last Saturday’s press conference by tersely commenting that he would answer the mayor’s question if the mayor can adequately answer about the rising COVID-19 cases in the city (who are mostly locally stranded individuals and overseas Filipino workers who contracted the virus outside of the city).                                             ********************** I’ll try to review the press briefings of Pelaez and Bambi with their respective allies as well as Mayor Moreno’s statements on the 2020 budget issue which will also impact on Cagayan de Oro City and Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) since due to Emano’s declaration, COVID-19 related funding ground to a halt to the local governments in the province and it won’t be a remote possibility for COVID-19 cases from the province to soon find their way into the city’s isolation units and to NMMC’s intensive care wards. But suffice it to say that, amid all the handwringing and finger-pointing done by Bambi and his allies at the Capitol at the Pelaez camp, what they failed to adequately answer is the DBM rejection and Moreno’s assertion that there were last minute insertions at the 2020 budget that allegedly transferred P68 million of funding intended for the vice governor’s office to the governor’s office specifically to its liaison office. And who was the main architect for that alleged last minute insertions? A hint as provided by Mayor Moreno, who presented a more convincing argument on the issue, concerning the identity of said architect can be easily read above. Oh and wasn’t there an arrest warrant supposedly issued on said architect and his sibling as stated by the PNP regional office (PNP-10) last year on graft and falsification charges?  But then again, Bambi and his allies would rather deflect public attention on that crucial item and instead goad the Misamisnons into targeting their anger at the Pelaez camp and avoid drawing unfavorable, critical attention on their role in their budget debacle.

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Career Doubts?

July 8, 2020

A CAREER is a rapid motion. A course of action. Professional conduct in life. Progress through life. What is a careerist? One, who rushes widely and makes his advancement his or her aim in life. In times of Covid-19, you may not think about your career. Sure. But somehow life goes on, and career doubts rise again. When career doubts won't go away? What if you're not happy with your job? Is it possible that you're in the wrong entirely? My parents always (!) wanted me to become a banker. So far so good. Why not? Maybe I would have been more (or very happy) in my job. Or not? The pressure "to be" someone starts in life early indeed. Not only my parents, but also peers, and teachers have begun to exert influence. Yes, I even didn't know where my inclinations lie. Being a doctor or a lawyer? Yes, I was interested in law and medicine during that time. "The way that people pick careers is incredibly primitive," said Nicholas Lore, founder of the Rockport Institute, a career coaching firm, and author of "The Pathfinder". So, it's no wonder, he said, that so many people are dissatisfied with their jobs. Me too. Yes, count me in. Mass-communication has been my subject, as well as publishing house management. So far so good. I always thought about a true calling for me. Sure, people whose careers aren't the right fit often feel like impostors, Professor Robert I. Sutton, an organizational psychologist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, said. Very, very well said, Sir. How about you, my dear reader? Are you also placing too high your value on the external rewards of the job, like money, prestige, and power? Sure, these things are indeed important. Hold on! The work you do and the skills your opportunity requires and the value of your work are more vital to fulfillment. Paperwork or not... Do you think you find a better career fit? Go ahead - but don't expect that this is your life's career! I waited for my "better calling" experiencing many better and wonderful moments in life. I also experienced that what I did had been very much compatible with me, as what my parents thought. Personal note: In times of soaring Covid-19 cases in the Philippines, there is only one thing: stay safe and healthy everyone. +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .  

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‘Bullying’ the people of Misamis Oriental

July 8, 2020

THE action taken by Misamis Oriental Vice Governor Jeremy Pelaez and his opposition clique at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to secure a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the disbursement of the approved 2020 Budget bullies the people of Misamis Oriental. Aside from making a mockery of the Misamisnons, Pelaez and provincial board members Jerry Khu and Jessa Mugot did not take into consideration the government’s national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The clique filed a case with “declaratory relief” through the issuance of the TRO to stop the implementation and disbursement of the approved 2020 Budget of Misamis Oriental because of various grounds like the failure to “post the ordinance in conspicuous places” among others. Under the national guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), the local government units (LGUs) were directed to adopt measures to mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19 virus in their areas. There is no question that waging a war against an unseen enemy (virus) requires enormous logistics – both human and financial resources. However, the restraining order suspending the disbursement of the approved 2020 Budget cripples the provincial government’s effort to effectively respond to the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus in the province. If and when, the people could only blame Pelaez and his clique for an action that exemplifies “disservice to the people” to the highest order. The 20-day suspension affects the salaries and wages of the more than 3,000 permanent and job order workers of the province. Of course, Pelaez and his clique is not an exception to the rule because they would not receive their salaries, allowances, and other emoluments for the month of June 2020. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why Pelaez and his clique is shamelessly forcing the majority members of the provincial board to “re-enact” the 2019 Budget. In a regular session Monday, Pelaez and his clique were rebuffed by the provincial board on the ground that the 2019 Budget can longer be “re-enacted” because the province has already approved and implemented the 2020 Budget effective January 2020. The provincial attorney also opined that under the Local Government Code, the provincial government can no longer “re-enact” the 2019 Budget unless the court declares that the 2020 Budget is unconstitutional. Amid this brouhaha ‘though, many are asking about why Pelaez has to resort to an action that clearly jeopardized the welfare and well-being of the people of Misamis Oriental. The question also solicited lots of answers and insinuations, which this article will tackle in the next issue. -0- For reaction: email crisguardian@yahoo.com

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Enclosure of the Commons

July 3, 2020

“So rich yet so poor,” that’s how social scientists described Mindanao in their Studies and the root cause of this paradox is what is called the Enclosure of the Commons. For us to understand such, let us reflect on how rich Mindanao is.  That Mindanao is oozing with ecological resources is of no question. Based on the Study of the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (UN-FAO), per unit area, Mindanao is the richest on earth in terms of biodiversity. The 5000-hectare Mt. Kintanglad in Bukidnon is the home of flora and fauna whose number of biodiversity is far greater in number compared to those found in the one billion-hectare continent of North America. The richness is not just found above the ground. Beneath are some 72 kinds of minerals. The ecological wealth does not stop at the shorelines as the Philippine Archipelago has been described as the “Center of the center of marine life on earth,” with bays looming with rich marine life. But Studies have shown that out of the 13 major bays in the country, 10 are already biologically dead. In fact many of these dead bays are in Mindanao. Amidst the abundance loomed so much poverty. Based on the Study of the United Nations’ Development Program, the poor in Mindanao are the poorest through-out the nation. Of the 25 poorest provinces, 14 are in  Mindanao and are suffering from high poverty gap ratios. Poverty did loom because of the Enclosure of the Commons which has been described as the transformation of the land including all the natural resources from public to private ownership.  Included in the Commons are our forest. But where all our forest gone? Gone to loggers everyone as the 17 million of hectares of dipterocarp forest with all the biodiversity are now erased from the face of the earth. The forests as one of our Commons are the watersheds that provide us water, our means to life. With our forest and watersheds gone, of  the 25 major rivers in the country, 15 have either dried-up or polluted. Where are all our minerals gone? Gone to miners everyone. It is in Mindanao that you see thousands of hectares of pine-apple, banana, palm-oil and what have you that are feeding the consumerist lifestyle of the people in the North while hunger is evident in the South. Hunger is glaring in Mindanao, an island that has been called as the “food basket” of the country. What a paradox?! In fact, according to the Food and Nutrition Institute, some 28% of the Filipino children are malnourished, 27% are stunted and 30% underweight.  As Commons, the land must be used to respond to the basic needs of the people and must not be privatized to make so much rakings. Let us learn from our Indigenous People. They were once the masters in that land that no one owned because private ownership is not in their language as such is founded on the strong belief that no one can own the land which outlast him. You cannot own the land, the land will own you. Their ancestors passed on to them the use of the land in the spirit of Res Communis (no one owns but every one uses). And rightfully so because just like water and air, land is a means to life. This violent economy of dispossession through massive exploitation of our resources, be forest, water, minerals or land, has not only imprisoned the people especially the Indigenous People from the quagmire of poverty but has put Mindanao in total disarray due to ecological turbulence. This Enclosure of the Commons is now glaringly happening in the life of our Indigenous People in Talakag, Bukidnon. A group of Chieftains headed by Datu Linggi Inhagedan Modesto Pucol, the Chairman and representative of the  Unified Higaonon-Manobo-Talaandig Kitanglad-Kalatungan  Ancestral Domain Council met me recently and reported how their water rights have been violated. Worse, the TULUGAN of the IPs had been wantonly destroyed. This was followed by another report from the Chairman of the IPs Cooperative, Sultan Abdul Amoran with some 2,000 IP members coming from the six barangays stating that their Ancestral Domain has been declared and the subject of a Community Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) without even consulting or even informing them.  Ang tanong po nila, “Kami ay tinuturing na parang hindi tao. Tao ba kami?”      That’s the painful reality. In the Enclosure of the Commons, there is this creation of the “disposable” people by denying rights of access to the commons that sustained them.  You want to liberate our people from the quagmire of poverty? Please respect the Commons. Dismantle the system of Enclosure of the Commons in Mindanao.  World-renowned environmental activist and physicist and a friend, Dr. Vandana Shiva has described Enclosure of the Commons as “the enclosure of the minds and imagination with the result that enclosures are defined and perceived as universal human progress, not as growth of privilege and exclusive rights for a few and the dispossession and impoverishment for the many.” As a countervailing force against the Enclosure of the Commons, the cooperatives  are the liberating force because the DNA of cooperativism is MEMBERS-OWNED (no one shall be left behind; VALUE-BASED & PRINCIPLE-DRIVEN (not having more but BEING more in a world buried in so much consumerism and materialism) and SUSTAINABLE (inclusive growth for people, planet, prosperity and peace).

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RIGHT VOTING, RIGHT LIFE: GO COOPERATIVES

July 1, 2020

IF you vote is for a wrong leader whose vision of the future is only up to the next election, then you are voting to put society in disarray. But voting is not just done during elections or in choosing who should lead us; in fact, you cast your vote every time you buy as you choose from different economic alternatives, i.e., local versus foreign, sustainable versus unsustainable, organic versus inorganic, the essentials versus junks. Buying between local or foreign products, the latter has been winning in all fronts as Filipino consumers are overwhelmingly choosing foreign products. Truth is, when you buy products from other countries, you are supporting the labor force and the economies of those countries where the products are coming from. That is the reason why our country has been consigned as dumping ground of finished products and as cheap source of the raw materials following an extractive economy. That is why there are 3,000 Filipino workers jumping in droves every month (like jumping from a “sinking ship”), leaving their love ones behind just to find jobs in other countries. Yes, we are consuming what we are not producing. That speaks well of a captive mind, an offshoot of the bombardment of advertisements by global corporations. We have good nutritious dairy products from our dairy cooperatives, for example, yet many are still opting to buy milk from China even tainted with melamine  Do you know that our country has been importing some 250 million bulbs yearly from China made partly of plastics and mercury which have to be replaced twice a year when in fact we are manufacturing here in the Philippines bulbs which are climate change sensitive, ecologically-friendly without any plastic or mercury and do not heat up and with a life-span of more than five years? And these bulbs called RYTELIGHT are even cheaper in price and if used, your electric bill will be lowered by 60%? Most importantly, no mercury.  Beware of mercury. The presence of one teaspoonful of mercury in a bay will make the fish not eatable as it can cause cancer.  Let us be mindful of the fact that a country that is consuming what it is not producing will always be penalized by slow growth. Buying between organic and inorganic, the latter wins hands down. Consumers do not know that these inorganic products come from the massive practice of Conventional Agriculture which tied up to the heavy usage of chemicals. This Dominant agriculture paradigm has robbed farming communities of farming that is controlled by global corporations. That is the reason why everyone profits from farming like fertilizer dealers, HYVs agri-corporations, compradors, usurers but not those who are doing the back-breaking job of farming – the poor farmers. Buying organic means that we don’t have to import massively chemicals that have already done so much harm to the integrity of the eco-systems and deaths due to cancer. Buying organic means lowering production cost by way of our farmers trusting in the innate processes of nature and saving beneficial insects which are now nowhere to be found. It also means saving our water-tables from being polluted through the massive use of toxic non-biodegradable chemicals. Buying between the essentials or the non-essentials or junks, again the latter is now the order of the day. Consumers cannot escape from the massive ads of corporations which are giving high adherence to the neo-liberal capitalist system. Buy this, buy that to be happy. Creating so much want based on the money- must-grow principle; perpetuating a rotten economic system that use money to make more money but not to enhance the well-being of the people. Yes, unbridled materialism and consumerism has characterized society’s way of life, even sacrificing Mother Earth that as if nature is inexhaustible. Let us remember what Mahatma Gandhi had said several decades ago, “reduce your want and provide for your own needs,” and that “if mankind has to be saved from doom, development must be harmony with nature and not at its own expense.” This time let us vote well: Buy Local, Buy what are essentials! And in doing so, you support the Filipino labor force, the Philippine economy and the livelihood of the poor. Let us debunk the dominant development paradigm that is now collapsing. But as its last hurrah, like a giant-off-balance, it has to run so as not to fall. In doing so, that “giant” steps on communities and the eco-systems, leaving destructions on its path that impoverish the people and making ecological disasters the new normal. Right voting and right life can only be pursued with a right development paradigm called cooperativism whose DNA is members-owned, value-based and sustainable. Let us harness the collective power of the people against poverty, social injustice, climate change and against corona virus pandemic!

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