opinion

Klarex, Lorna Uy remain steadfast amid COVID-19

May 14, 2021

Rockingham, North Carolina—I read to much lament a press statement issued last week by Rep. Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy confirming that he and his wife, Barangay Carmen captain Lorna V. Uy were stricken by COVID-19. The confirmation came days after Patag Barangay chairperson Mari Cor Calizo, wife of City Councilor Romeo Calizo, died just as she was recovering from symptoms caused by COVID-19.  In his press statement, Congressman Klarex said he and his wife checked into a medical facility for treatment. Prayers and expressions of support poured to the Uy family as shown in the thousands of posts in their respective Facebook pages. This only showed how well-loved the couple are not only by their constituents but political allies and friends. At a glance, what happened to them showed only that 1. COVID-19 is real and not a conspiracy 2. The Uys were bound to be hit owing to their daily exposure to their constituents. Until now, there are people who refuse to acknowledge COVID-19 for reasons known only to them.  They likewise refuse to follow minimum public health protocols of physical distancing, wearing of face masks and face shields and washing or disinfecting of hands. Others would only think of their safety on knowing that one of their friends contract the virus, dismissing and shunning them like how the general populace shunned the lepers of old. There’s no doubt that there is that COVID-19 pandemic fatigue setting in among Pinoys. Here in the US as I said before, some states like North Carolina are easing restrictions. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper lifted the law requiring the wearing of face masks outdoors after two-thirds of the state’s population were vaccinated. But sadly the same cannot be said in the Philippines, said to have the longest lockdown mode in the world. ************ Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Uys’ predicament will be exploited for political mileage—then of course there is that report of a city official who’s been called out for holding a ‘male beauty pageant’ amid the rising COVID-19 cases in Cagayan de Oro City. The unbelievers will remain antagonistic until one of their loved ones are infected with the virus. That said, there is much to hope and admire from Congressman Klarex and his wife who assured that their offices will continue to serve the people of Cagayan de Oro City despite their non-presence. It only showed their sustained commitment to their constituents who have endured much due to the pandemic but were helped tremendously by the Uy couple. Barangay Gusa chairman Marlo Tabac said it was only a matter of time before Congressman Klarex and ‘Kapitana’ Uy were hit by the virus due to the volume of city residents visiting their home despite or because of the pandemic. I am a personal witness to the fact that the Uy family home is open to all especially before the pandemic. And even during the pandemic, constituents still come to the Uy home, knowing their pleas for assistance won’t be ignored or rejected by either ‘Kapitana Uy’ or Congressman Klarex. And owing to his previous stint as Carmen barangay chairman, Uy will go out of his way to talk and assure them of his help. In these uncertain times, they have staff to handle these requests for assistance but still there are residents who want to talk personally to the Uys. And we don’t know if any of them were asymptomatic or showed some symptoms and thus somehow infected the couple. Yet they remain steadfast as always which is some small cheer to their followers, allies, friends and families. ************ I need not remind dear friends and readers how Congressman Klarex publicly supported and mobilized support to the Center for Emerging-Reemerging Infectious Diseases (CEREID) facility that Cagayan de Oro City Hall under Mayor Oscar Moreno’s administration turned oiver to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) last April 8. Mayor Moreno made it a point to mention Congressman Klarex Uy’s contributions to the project during his daily City Hall press briefings on the city’s COVID-19 response. The CEREID is especially useful now in these days when Cagayan de Oro City’s COVID-19 cases are numbering over 50 in the past few days. With the additional isolation beds, oxygen machines and soon, additional testing equipment and a biosafety level 2 laboratory, Cagayan de Oro City and even Misamis Oriental and the rest of northern Mindanao are benefitting from the foresight of the city’s doctors and Mayor Moreno and Congressman Klarex. The CEREID is another topic for another day.

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Tagoloan politics and Mari Cor’s untimely passing

May 4, 2021

Charlotte, North Carolina—There’s still five months to go before the filing of the certificates of candidacy in all elective positions nationwide in the May 2022 elections. But knowing the Pinoy’s penchant for all things political. even five months into 2021 and already we’re seeing a lot of jockeying and verbal tussles among looming potential rivals. That’s the case in my hometown of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental province wherein the incumbent Mayor Gomer Sabio and Vice Mayor Robinson Sabio are engaged in a verbal and policy war even on Day One of their term of office back in 2019 yet.   Their verbal exchange can also be seen on Facebook with old and new publicity hungry political personalities doing their usual grandstanding routines to remain relevant in the public eye. Remember the old adage that ‘bad or good publicity is still publicity.’   But I told myself that I will make every effort to remind my fellow Tagoloanons that  a decade ago, there was this one young lawyer who attempted to make his mark before being forever forgotten in the dustbin of Tagoloan town’s local political history.   I’ve started to chronicle the political personalities in my hometown as some of these personalities ended up in higher positions in Cagayan de Oro City, Congress or at the Provincial Capitol or simply became popular. ****************  One of these personalities even reached the International Court of Justice by filing a case against President Rodrigo Duterte before withdrawing the charges. I’m talking about lawyer Jude Sabio who recently passed away (may his soul rest in peace).  I met Jude Sabio 13 years ago. Some of his  relatives told me that he was interested to run for Tagoloan mayor even if it meant challenging the strangehold of the Emano political clan. I could not recall now if it was him or me who initiated our meeting.   But anyway when we did meet we didn’t talk about politics but about the country and the pressing issues hounding it. After talking about some world personalities the conversation headed to Tagoloan town and Jude was emphatic about how the town had become stagnant under the Emanos’ rule.  He talked about how Tagoloan can become so much more than what it remains and he struck me as someone very smart, if we based it on his protruding forehead. and his answers to my questions.  The late Atty. Jude was the son of Filomeno Sabio Jr and Erlinda Lozano and a cousin to both incumbent Tagoloan Mayor Gomer Sabio and Vice Mayor Robinson Sabio. I recalled a big crowd in the 2008 Sabio reunion and Jude was credited with mobilizing the attendees.  ************* I think I introduced him to Mindanao Gold Star Daily editor-in-chief Herbie Gomez which paved the way for him to write columns for that newspaper. I won’t talk about Jude’s filing of charges and later recantation against President Duterte since I don’t have the facts. But it is what elevated him to public attention and his death due to COVID-19 complications also got a mention in the national news.  What I’m trying to say is that there are potential leaders in Tagoloan tow who have the skill, education, experience and attitude to serve just like the late Jude Sabio.  Now I heard that Mayor Enan Sabio will fight for his political survival in case Atty. Nadya Emano Elipe throws her hat to the Tagolosn political arena and the noise for her entry is getting louder everyday.  Nadya, a former three-term Cagayan de Oro City councilor, is said to be the top bet of the Padayon Pilipino party for Tagoloan’s mayoralty seat after they lost it back in 2019. More than usual, the Emanos took the loss personally because they built their political base in their hometown of Tagoloan.  Another Tagoloan mayoral bet is also looming as there would be three candidates for Misamis Oriental governor in 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic would only make the 2022 Philippine elections more intense.  ************ I join those including Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno in condoling with  the family of the late Patag Barangay Captain Maricor Calizo who passed away just days as she was showing signs of recovery from COVID-19 complications. Based on the expressions of condolences that flooded the Facebook pages of her family including Councilor Romeo Calizo, it would be safe to say that she was a beloved barangay official whose solid rep in public service extended far beyond Barangay Patag into the rest of Cagayan de Oro City and that’s really saying something.    She was known as a proactive barangay captain who never shirked away from serving her constituents even with the COVID-19 threat, as Mayor Moreno described during last week’s press briefing. Her death would certainly impact on Patag’s political situation come 2022. Still her death highlights the urgency of fasttracking the vaccination campaign in Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental as well as the urgency for the public to contain the COVID-19 through stringent compliance to minimum public health standards. Here in the US, some states have already allowed for limited small gatherings WITHOUT A FACE MASK so long as the people involved have already completed their vaccination. Thanks to the Philippines being a Third World nation, it remains dependent on the mercies of the World Health Organization (WHO) through its COVAX facility of free vaccines.

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In support of the Higalaay ordinance

April 19, 2021

Charlotte, North Carolina—It’s already been more than a week since the 19th City Council of Cagayan de Oro City passed a resolution calling for a one month dry run extension on City Hall’s enforcement of the QR (quick response) code requirement among city residents,  visitors, private and public offices in the city. And there are still complaints being aired in every available social and local mainstream outlet out there.  It’s not surprising even if as per latest word from City Hall that there are over 600,000 city residents who have secured their QR code from the Higalaay web portal which is integrated into City Hall’s official website. Before I give my opinion on the whole issue at least in this post—I already did in my past two ´Barangay S´ Facebook broadcasts this past week (April 12-16 please check my FB page)—please allow me to present the basic facts. The complaints are mostly coming from late registrants who complain about the difficulty of registering online despite an official City Hall explanation that its servers are overwhelmed with the surge of applications reportedly submitted after office hours.  What also drew attention was a position paper by the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc. (Oro Chamber) asking the council to review the Higalaay app ordinance which they said was ‘redundant’ and ‘punitive.’  The Oro Chamber of course referred to an Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) resolution mandating all local governments to adopt the Stay Safe app as a contact tracing tool for suspected COVID-19 cases. Based on this resolution, they said this would make the QR code requirement under the Higalaay app ordinance redundant.  What they didn’t know if they were told at all was that the Higalaay app ordinance was approved even before the IATF resolution took effect and I’ll talk more about that.  But what I thought took the cake as far as opposition to the QR code requirement is concerned is a claim and warning by this radio announcer that the Higalaay app/web portal can be used to tamper a person or company’s bank accounts.  The announcer further fueled his allegation by saying that City Hall’s servers can be hacked anytime, allowing the perpetrators to fool the registrants into giving up the passwords to their bank accounts. That claim drew a strong reaction from Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno who described the radio announcer’s claim as both ‘bugok (idiotic, stupid)’ and ‘kinaplo (irresponsible).’  At this point, I’ll stop mentioning this radio announcer to avoid giving anymore unwarranted publicity.  Let me say at the outset that I do understand the rationale behind the QR code/Higalaay app mandate and the Oro Chamber’s concerns over its enforcement. Though I do understand the complaints about the difficulty in applying for the QR code online—never mind the fact that the Higalaay app had been promoted since its inception in August last year, right before the city fiesta and that those applying for the code are latecomers who epitomize the Pinoy’s unlamented habit for last minute rush work—still it´s not totally impossible to do as one only needs to time their registration during slow WiFi traffic which is usually past midnight or 1 am.  Let me say this about the most vocal or loudest critics of the Higalaay app ordinance; a lot of them are grandstanding, wannabe politicians and armchair experts whose virulent attacks on the ordinance are akin to scraping the you-know-what out of toilet bowls and flinging it straight on the faces of their targets, all in the desperate hopes of gaining cheap pre-election publicity.   A lot of these critics are pro-lockdowners whose ´amazing´solution to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is to lock everyone up in Cagayan de Oro City for at least three weeks and have government feed them in the misguided and dangerous expectation that the virus will be gone ´permanently´ by the end of said lockdown.  Never mind that other advanced countries like the US kept imposing lockdowns to little or no effect, with the coronavirus never really going away and in fact mutating like rats.  Then there are the paid mouth pieces of opposition figures who pluck every potential factoids online—like their line that the registrant´s bank accounts can be tampered by City Hall when the fact remains that only health data and not financial records are being asked—to build their argument against the ordinance.  Oh, they´re also repeating their argument that City Hall´s servers can be hacked even if they conveniently forget the fact that governments around the world still use their computerized databases despite frequent hacking by computer experts.  Of course there are arguments from rights groups who view the ordinance as akin to invasion of privacy even if City Hall clarified that the measure upholds both the Data Privacy and Bank Secrecy laws.  The Oro Chamber´s position that City Hall should amend the ordinance in order to make it less punitive to business owners is also worth looking into. Amid all the noise generated by the fiercest critics of the ordinance, Mayor Oscar Moreno stands as the voice of reason supporting its implementation.  As if the fact that other local governments also launched their own QR codes that are open to integration to the Stay Safe app,  Mayor Moreno rightly pointed out that the health data sourced from the Higalaay portal can be used to cross-check and counter-check city residents for the city´s vaccination program. And as if that´s not enough assurance,  Mayor Moreno said they are willing to allow a third party audit of the Higalaay portal once the QR code requirement is in full effect by next month.  Mayor Moreno´s appeal for public support is augmented by his standing order on all departments charged with enforcing the ordinance to fully answer public inquiries into the issue.  Taking that all into consideration,  I do join the others in calling on Kagay-anons and visitors and those doing business in the City of Golden Friendship to register at the Higalaay portal and secure their own QR code.  True that there are sacrifices and inconveniences to deal with but we have survived this pandemic so far and it´s best for our collective interest to stand with our government in defeating this virus once and for all.

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THE WAY TO HEAVEN

April 18, 2021

Driving in big cities is not a joke for beginners. It's an ordeal, especially driving during heavy traffic hours. One must know where to go and which way to take. Otherwise, one'll end up bumping somewhere somehow... . But, driving a car in a small village, where roads are simple, is for neophytes an enjoyable one. No traffic, or less traffic, no traffic lights, no complicated ways... . In the same way, railroads can make train drivers ill at ease when they are also in big cities. I remember Munich in my home country Germany, where railways appear like spider's cobwebs. They go in several directions. No wonder, accidents on the roads happened many times. In life we, too, have roads which lead us to several directions. To go to heaven, man's eternal destiny, one can either choose the shortest road, or one can make detours. Not so many perhaps fall by the way and end up in eternal damnation. There are some of us, Christians, who take the shourt-cut road to heaven. This is the road of suffering, of the actual practice of Christian virtues, of serving God and our neighbour. Others take the circuitos road of easy life, thinking that at the end they still have time to amend themselves and lead a good life. This is risky, since no one can guarantee that an opportunity will be given at the eleventh hour. Unfortunately, there are still others, who prefer to take that opposite road, which leads to eternal damnation. So they live, so they die! In John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress", we read, "Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gates of heaven!" Homo sapiens, quo vadis? +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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Sink vessels encroaching on Philippine EEZ waters

April 14, 2021

(Last of two parts) It is time for the Philippines and its peoples to stand up and assert its sovereign rights at all costs. It has the right to sink a vessel that refuses to leave its territory despite repeated orders to move away from its territorial waters. The Philippines had the right to bomb and sink nay vessel (military or not) that surreptitiously sneaked within the Philippine territory for whatever motive. When an unknown vessel (warship or not) sneaks unto the Philippine territory, without identifying itself, the AFP could use force to neutralize it. The AFP’s jet fighters must scramble and bomb the unknown vessel who refused to communicate and declare their intention. Or, refused to heed the order to vacate the place after being notified appropriately. There was an instance that China's military frigate sneaked unto the Philippine territory toward Sulu without being accosted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). China's failure to coordinate and communicate with the AFP about their purpose of patrolling the Philippine waters was an arrogance at its highest. The AFP's certain response to this provocative action is also direct and certain: SINK THE CHINESE FRIGATE! The action should not be construed as a declaration of war. The sinking of the frigate, in this instance, is an act of self-defense. If the Chinese battleship responds, then the battleground is drawn in the area where the incident is taking place. It does not mean that the Philippines would be officially at war with China. After all, it is Congress who could declare war against any country. The military action taken by the Philippines would, however, send a strong message to China that the Philippines could not be bullied by any country professing to be militarily powerful. When a robber sneaks and enters a house, the occupants have the right to defend themselves by all means and at all costs. One remembers Taiwan, a fraction of a nation who refused to be bullied by China. In 1949 and during China’s infamous “cultural revolution,” thousands fled from mainland China and settled in Formosa, now known as Taiwan. The settlers of Taiwan then were known as the “Kuomintang.” The Kuomintang Party State has their own “National Revolutionary Army” also known as the Republic of China Armed Forces when the Republic of China was promulgated in the 1947 constitution. The Republic of China Armed Forces fled the mainland China to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the communist in 1949. One of the major opponents of the RCAF was the communist People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the army of China, the modern-day aggressor. At present, China claims Taiwan to be part of their country and wants to attach to the mainland China at all costs. The Taiwanese government refused and maintain its independence as a sovereign nation. In response to China’s threat that it would take Taiwan at all costs, the Taiwan government warned China that it would shoot down any fighter jets that will encroach Taiwan’s airspace. Quo Vadis, Philippines? Isn’t it a shame knowing Taiwan, a small country, but willing to fight and protect its people as a sovereign nation? Who said that the Philippines has no balls at all?

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‘We are in a state of war’

April 13, 2021

Editor’s note: We are giving this space to the statement issued by Uganda President KAGUTA MUSEVENI who warned against people misbehaving during this COVID-19 period, “God has a lot of work, He has the whole world to look after. He cannot just be here in Uganda looking after idiots...”. Following is the  full text of  his statement  on fighting Covid-19 pandemic:  In a war situation, nobody asks anyone to stay indoors. You stay indoors by choice. In fact, if you have a basement, you hide there for as long as hostilities persist.  During a war, you don't insist on your freedom. You willingly give it up in exchange for survival.  During a war, you don't complain of hunger. You bear hunger and pray that you live to eat again During a war, you don't argue about opening your business. You close your shop (if you have the time), and run for your life. You pray to outlive the war so that you can return to your business (that's if it has not been looted or destroyed by mortar fire). During a war, you are thankful to God for seeing another day in the land of the living. During a war, you don't worry about your children not going to school. You pray that the government does not forcefully enlist them as soldiers to be trained in the school premises now turned military depot. The world is currently in a state of war. A war without guns and bullets. A war without human soldiers. A war without borders. A war without cease-fire agreements. A war without a war room. A war without sacred zones. The army in this war is without mercy. It is without any milk of human kindness. It is indiscriminate - it has no respect for children, women, or places of worship. This army is not interested in spoils of war. It has no intention of regime change. It is not concerned about the rich mineral resources underneath the earth. It is not even interested in religious, ethnic or ideological hegemony. Its ambition has nothing to do with racial superiority. It is an invisible, fleetfooted, and ruthlessly effective army. Its only agenda is a harvest of death. It is only satiated after turning the world into one big death field. Its capacity to achieve its aim is not in doubt. Without ground, amphibious and aeriel machines, it has bases in almost every country of the world. Its movement is not governed by any war convention or protocol. In short, it is a law unto itself. It is Coronavirus. Also known as COVID-19 (because it announced its destructive presence and intention in the year of our Lord 2019) Thankfully, this army has a weakness and it can be defeated. It only requires our collective action, discipline and forbearance. COVID-19 cannot survive social and physical distancing. It only thrives when you confront it. It loves to be confronted. It capitulates in the face of collective social and physical distancing. It bows before good personal hygiene. It is helpless when you take your destiny in your own hands by keeping them sanitized as often as possible. This is not a time to cry about bread and butter like spoilt children. After all, the Holy book tells us that man shall not live by bread alone.  Let's obey and follow the instructions of the authorities. Let's flatten the COVID-19 curve. Let's exercise patience. Let's be our brothers' keeper. In no time, we shall regain our freedom, enterprise and socializing. In the midst of EMERGENCY, we practice urgency of service and the urgency of love for others. God bless us all!

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