opinion

On 2020 and that visa requirement

January 4, 2020

BY the time this column sees print and/or appears online, it would have been a few days to the year 2020 and I read somewhere that 2019 is the last year with the number 19 at least until the next century comes along. Unless someone finds the literal fountain of youth or some process is discovered that would prolong human life without resorting to cybernetics or something artificial (and ugly looking), most of us old enough to read this column including myself won’t be around to see that transition. Which is fine by me since one should be thankful to the Lord God for giving the life he or she has or continues to live in.  Incidentally as I write this I wish to extend my condolences to the family of lawyer Edgardo Uy whose wife passed away recently. Just as there is death, there is also life and I greet those who celebrated their birthdays on or a few days before and after New Year.  Every new year brings with it significant life events like birthdays and deaths and so we learn to appreciate life more whether it be ours or our loved ones and friends. Anyways, on to 2020 and regardless of what year it is in the Chinese calendar (I learned that 2020 is the Year of the Metal Rat), may we thrive and prosper regardless of the challenges and trials that this year brings to us.                                                 ***************** Just before 2019 ended, Filipinos were rudely greeted by the news that the Duterte administration will issue a requirement for Americans to secure visas when visiting the Philippines and it really ticked me off to no end. My husband Ronnie was more vocal, saying that it would probably be better for us since it would mean less expenses traveling from North Carolina all the way to Cagayan de Oro City. I shudder at the thought, since as a homegrown, aging and ailing Pinoy I want to spend time in both my birthplace of Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental and nearby Cagayan de Oro City where I spent majority of my media career before leaving for the US in 2009. I tend to agree with one of the US senators who got banned from entering the Philippines for supporting the call to release Sen. Leila de LIma when he said that President Rodrigo Duterte is taking the issue personally and elevating it to the highest level with this visa requirement for Americans visiting the country. I would also imagine that this would also affect Filipino-Americans like myself and disappointment on my part is an understatement.

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Be Prepared: The year of curiosity, anxiety starts

January 3, 2020

THE advent of the year 2020 starts the year of curiosity and adventure in the next 30 years and beyond. The world rolls in the rough seas of the new period as it traverses to another decade of uncertainties and guarded optimism. Looking forward, the world would be clutching with the advancement of technology. Thus, in an effort to be at pace with the demands of the time. It is, as it is happening now, obvious that technology has aggressively captured the heart of humanity to a higher level. A level where authenticity becomes doubtful to the human senses. Don’t get wrong! The transgender has already stained the indisputable distinction of the human gender. The identity of Eunuchs would have been more appropriate than a “transgender man” or a “female transvestite.” The signs of the time are clear, although it continues to perplex the values of humanity. In the next five years or earlier, flying cars will rule the skies in the country. The traffic congestion would definitely be a goner. With the onset of rail transit in major cities in the Philippines, the traffic congestion that kills the billions of daily profits for commercial business would be bygone. At the moment, more than P 2 billion is lost daily in the National Capital Region (NCR) due to unnecessary delays in business deals and transactions. Even the minor cities, like Cagayan De Oro City, is a victim of the notorious traffic mess. While the ineptness of local officials could be one of the factors, among the culprits are the natural development of cities, the affordability of cars, the growing population, inadequate engineering and infrastructures that could directly address the traffic problem. Thus, the coming of the flying cars is the awaited innovation of the new era. Moving forward to the next 20, the question of identifying “transgender” and “transvestite” would be easier as touching the apps of the smart phones. A new innovation, however, would be added to the current Quick Response (QR) Code or Bar Code scanners/reader applications. The additional feature could be the Retina Code Reader/Scanner (RCR). The apps would be integrated in the smart phone – not as a password to unlock the phone – it would be used to scan whether one is dealing with a human or not! Don’t look now! The development of “artificial intelligence” with human-like flesh and mimicking the actions of human is never far fetched. Sophia, the AI developed by David Hanson Robotics in Geneva, Switzerland, is sending a strong message that the dawn of the robots has unfolded. Sophia talks like human and discusses even complex issues like religion and faith. It would not be long that the robots and AI, mimicking as humans, would be common in the city’s streets. The job of the humans is to determine the robots and other animated objects that would certainly be around us. Everyone on the planet is connected with one another in the next 30 years. Aside from information about anything on the planet, all information about an individual would be available in the internet. There is no escape as technology imprisons the values of humanity. The AI and robots would greatly influence the economy and the direction of politics. While the AI and robots are primarily developed to lighten the workloads of human (mentally and physically), in the long run, the presence of AI and robot would be a threat to mankind. Without argument, any human being could disable the robot by disabling its power supply. However, when the robots make the first destructive move, the losses would be beyond expectation before it could be stopped. Scary! Whether one likes it or not, the world is destined toward an animated and robotic AI in the next 40 years and beyond. The time of curiosity and anxiety has come. Be Prepared!

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Malacanang’s whip in 2020

January 3, 2020

BECAUSE of their corporate misdeed (read: greed)  they are bound to continue to receive  a whopping whip  from Malacanang at the onset of year 2020. The whipping order of the President was directed to the two giants of Big Business – the Ayalas and the Pangilinan Group, operators of Maynilad and Manila Water to shape up, or be shipped out. Malacanang considers these so-called ‘high and mighty’ in business as leeches of the  economy, sipping through the very nerve of  the country’s natural resource at the people’s expense. And because they are branded as corporate gluttons, Malacanang has classified them as siphons of the Philippine economy. President Duterte’s continuing call to cut off onerous deals with the government seems too hot to handle and insurmountable as it were. Yet the clean campaign against malpractices in business transactions   is without let up, primarily aimed at dissecting the social and economic malfunction called corruption in almost, if not all, instrumentalities in government transactions. The feisty President whom he has  two and a half more years to govern, has a direct and harsh   definition of corruption: it is a social evil with immediate economic effect with long-term damage on the moral fabric of the nation.   Having said that, the Crusade for Clean Government, a volunteer anti-corruption watchdog supports the presidential directive in the campaign against  the vultures of government resources vis-a vis water and electricity.  President Duterte sees a mountain of onerous deals done before his time and   because these are pandemic issues, it   needs surgical operation with a sense of urgency to restore people’s trust and confidence.    For the 74 year-old   President,  the task of  cleaning up the bureaucracy is definitely not a walk in the park.     More so of dusting off   the country’s  vicious social evils:  drug lords, criminals roaming in the streets, rapists lurking for victims, and Big Business doing monkey business. Duterte’s daring and most often misunderstood yet punchy statements against criminality and corruption are sweet nothings to the many, but bitter to the few who  glorify  evil and money more than  anything else. Under the Duterte administration, fighting  corrupt practices  maybe a tall order, but it is a fight  being challenged to the fore  -- a make or break kind of corrupt-busting war against misdeeds in government transactions. Academics have said   time and again:  the reason our nation struggles from the rotten governance is simply   because of the lack of political will.   And there is no denying the fact that as a people, we   tend to be self-centered citizens  --  concerned  only for ourselves , our earnings and our businesses.   Moral ascendancy to the life  of the people and the nation has been sidelined, in favor of  the  greed of the few, to the frustration of the many. Happy New year to one all! (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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Flight times getting longer?

January 3, 2020

EVER wondered why flight times seem to be getting longer? Yes, I do. Checking my last ticket Davao-Manila-Davao and remembering some  real flight times from the past, I wonder why.  I learned from BBC-author Kathryn B. Creedy, that it’s called "padding", a phenomenon that helps airlines arrive on time – but at a cost. My previous flight back to Davao from Manila one hour twenty minutes. My ticket showed a "flight-time" of exactly 2 hours. I guess, it’s a secret the airlines don’t want you to know about, especially given the spillover effects for the environment. Padding is the extra time airlines allow themselves to fly from A to B. Because these flights were consistently late, airlines have now baked delays experienced for decades into their schedules instead of improving operations. It might seem innocuous enough to the passenger – after all, what it can mean is that even though you take off late, you’re pleasantly surprised to arrive on time at your destination. Remember the final arrival announcement by the smiling stewardess last time? Kathryn Creedy is right in saying that however, this global trend poses multiple problems: not only does your journey take longer but creating the illusion of punctuality means there’s no pressure on airlines to become more efficient, meaning congestion and carbon emissions will keep rising. “On average, over 30% of all flights arrive more than 15 minutes late every day despite padding,” says Captain Michael Baiada, president of aviation consultancy ATH Group citing the US Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report. The figure used to be 40% but padding – not operational improvements – boosted on-time arrival rates. “By padding, airlines are gaming the system to fool you.” So, how late is late? The ultimate goal is ‘A0’, or arrival at the gate exactly on time. If a flight is early or late, it can disrupt several other things – like gate availability and airport capacity. To be fair, global airlines have invested billions of dollars in technologies to enable more efficient flight paths, according to industry body Airlines for America. But this has not moved the needle on delays, which are stubbornly stuck at 30%. A lot of different things can cause a delay but Baiada believes 80% of the factors involved – like schedule, airport arrival flow queueing, aircraft availability, gate availability, maintenance and crew legality – are within the airlines’ control. But to date they have left it to air traffic control to remedy once planes are in the air. Another option could be to reduce the number of flights – but airline flight schedules are designed to meet buyer demand. So, if there were fewer flights, fares would increase. Well, should we give up and telling ourselves: better late than never? So what does all this mean for passengers? With airlines gaming the system, as it stands, flight times will likely increase as more and more planes take to the skies. Fact is also that many airlines will try to make it tricky for passengers to get an eligible claim accepted. The tactic of extending flight times is yet another way to decrease a passenger’s chance of filing a claim and getting financially compensated for the hassle they have gone through. Better late then never? I guess so. +++ 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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You reap what you sow

January 3, 2020

THE franchise renewal is not  an issue of press freedom, as claimed by those doubting Thomases and  sympathetic to ABS-CBN. That said, this can be pure bad luck on the  part of ABS-CBN, or simply bad karma in which the supertitious would readily say aye. It is not a supression of press freedom, either. Or  even a closure order, nor a shut down directive from Malacanang. It is simply  about ABS CBN's franchise that is expiring, or due  to expire. Again, there is no such thing as  shut down order. It has been said that ABS -CBN franchise is a privilege, not a matter of right. In this case, it is not the  property of ABS CBN  that is being taken away. Simply put:  this is  about the ABS CBN franchise that would soon expire, period. The renewal? Well, it’s up to the government to renew the franchise or not. Unfortunately, the President has an axe to grind on ABS-CBN and it’s  all about politics. With that, 2020 could be a year of  bad luck for the Lopez-owned media outfit. The President has sarcastically suggested to the   Lopez family to sell ABS CBN   rather than wait for the non-renewal of the franchise. As the saying goes: you reap what you sow.(ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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Cooperativism: A Countervailing Force Against Extractivism

January 2, 2020

The Philippines was so rich before but now so poor in terms of biodiversity, even becoming the 3rd hardest hit in the world of climate change. What happened? Why and how did we lost our ecological wealth described as the richest on earth, home to billions of life forms that had lived in the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest for millions of years but disappeared in just several decades of plunder?      The natural wealth was not just confined above the ground; under the ground oozed with 72 kinds of minerals, i.e., gold, silver, copper and what have you. The natural wealth did not stop at the shorelines as the archipelago had been described by no less than Dr. Kent Carpenter of the UN-FAO as the “center of the center of marine life on earth.”       So rich but so poor! What a paradox as our ecological people, the Indigenous People, the farmers and fisherfolks are now the poorest.  Who controls? Who decides? Who benefits? Environment experts and social scientists have concluded that the root cause of the plunder is because our country has been subjected to the economic paradigm called “EXTRACTIVISM,” a term originally used  to describe economies based on removing ever more raw materials from the earth, usually for export to traditional colonial powers, where “value” was added. During the American occupation, there was a big debate in the US Senate on whether to continue colonizing the Philippines, a country which is located in the other side of the earth. The statement of Sen. Larry Heaney did convince everyone not to leave the Philippines then as the “Forest of that country is so rich that it can supply the timber needs of the world for century to come!” Yes, we have the finest timber in the world which is only found in the Philippines, commanding gargantuan profit for the colonizers then and continued by the loggers after the colonial rule.  Each shipment of logs would earn a logger some three hundred sixty million pesos, money that they used to bribe government officials to continue their rakings and even used to buy votes as many loggers were voted as mayors, congressmen, governors and even senators. Thus, from 17 million hectares of natural forest, only half a million hectares remain.      After the plunder of the forest ecosystem, tremendous mining operations loomed as the culprit to extract minerals that had caused so much havoc in killing our bays and rivers due to the massive siltation and the destruction of our mangroves and coral reefs as only five percent is in excellent condition. As the Presiding Officer of the “Task Force Kinaiyahan,” we had arrested three Chinese nationals doing illegal mining in a camp site in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro where we found hand grenades, AK47 and Armalites. These Chinese nationals were just carrying papers as tourists and after their arrest, they were even escorted by a local official to go back to China. After a month, our colleague in the environmental movement by the name of Fausto Orasan whom we called Datu Sandigan, the Chieftain of the Higaonon tribe in Cagayan de oro, was murdered by whom we believe were the armed men of the miners.  That was in 2014 but until now, the killers were still scot free. Extractivism is still continuing in another form.  It is seen in the 200,000 hectares plantations in Mindanao owned by TransNational Corporations and Oligarchs using toxic chemicals heavily that as if some 2,000 dumptrucks of poison  are being dumped to our water tables everyday.  Of the 14 chemicals used, 7 are already banned in other countries.  That is the reason why many are dying of cancer and deformed babies are born.      Yes, high value fruits are being extracted from our lands to feed the consumerist lifestyle of the people in rich countries while we cannot even supply for our basic staples like rice and milk as these are heavily imported.    As conclusion by development experts, “extractivism is directly connected to the notion of sacrifice zones – places that, to their extractors, somehow don’t count and therefore can be poisoned, drained or otherwise destroyed.” Indeed, that’s the mindset of the colonizers and now that our country is neo-colony by the super rich businessmen and oligarchs, it seems that such conclusion has some bearings. Who will be a countervailing force to correct such oppressive economic paradigm? Well, it is cooperativism as its DNA is that of being  members-owned, value-based and sustainable! Yes, we aim for development that is prosperous, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Enough is enough of extractivism that has oppressed our people and drained our natural resources.  Cooperativism is the liberating force – for people, planet, prosperity and peace,  All for the greater glory of our Creator, the Unseen Being that is now calling to us in the face of cataclysmic threats of climate change.

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