Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Time for change in PH telecoms

(Long overdue, actually) 

by Tonyo Cruz
Silence. Arrogant silence. 

This pretty well sums up the response of the Philippines’ leading telecommunications companies and internet service providers to the latest technology headlines that claim they provide lackluster services to the country.

The public relations, marketing and social media juggernaut of the telcos and ISPs went silent and all of a sudden have nothing to say about the latest Ookla survey naming the Philippines as one of the countries with the world’s slowest internet speeds, and a recently-published infographic that said we are “kulelat” among all the member-states in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

They have been silent even after a senator and two partylist representatives filed separate Senate and House resolutions seeking an investigation into this problem.

Where is this “kapal ng mukha” and “tapang ng apog” coming from? Why are the telcos and ISPs so “presko” about their incompetence and disrespect to the Filipino users?

The slow internet speeds we experience is only part and parcel of a crisis in the telecommunications sector dominated mercilessly by private telecommunications companies and ISPs.

At the root of the crisis is the deregulation and liberalization policies in the sector heralded by the enactment into law of Republic Act 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act.

While this made possible the rise of competitors that challenged long-time monopoly PLDT, the law has since been misused by telcos and ISPs as a license to fleece end-users, big and small, private and public, with excessively-priced rates, lackluster services and after-sales services that are a combination of stupid and crazy.

The problem is made worse by the mistaken mindset of the National Telecommunications Commission, the regulator and implementing agency. Its standard reply to end-user complaints is to say “we can’t do anything about it” because the law allegedly gives telcos and ISPs a “blanket authority to determine rates and introduce services”.

Up to now, the Philippines has no standards for internet and many other telecommunications services. If you would ask the NTC about what constitutes 2G, 3G, 4G and broadband, they will tell you to go to the telcos to find out.

This toxic combination of telco and ISP impunity, and the self-imposed impertinence of the NTC, are what explains the problem today. For the telcos and ISPs, nothing cannot stop them from doing business, while the NTC lets them do whatever they want.

Wait, the NTC periodically comes out with studies on dropped cellular calls, but the telcos have since used it for marketing gimmicks, with the country amused by two telcos claiming to be the best, based on cherry-picked portions of the NTC studies.


PLDT, the country’s biggest telco and ISP, recently had a big problem with submarine cables connecting its network to the internet.

Filipinos are a very patient and understanding people. It would have been nice if PLDT formally announced the submarine cable problems so PLDT subscribers could have looked for solutions while the problem was being addressed. PLDT could have done it via traditional media and social media. Except for news items published by a small number of news outlets, PLDT did not address the issue head on. No updates on its website and social media channels, or via SMS or calls. They apparently didn’t care.

What could or should have been done was a proper and adequate announcement of the problem, including a schedule of repairs and an estimate of when services would be fully restored. PLDT could or should have announced that rebates would be automatically credited to affected subscribers who should expect those rebates without any requirement of filing an application.

The refusal of PLDT to be up-front to its subscribers was a clear violation of our right to information, the first and principal right as consumers. Even the NTC was silent perhaps because the regulator itself was not informed about the submarine cable problem.

Telecommunication companies are required to obtain legislative franchises from Congress and permits from NTC because telecommunications are a public utility.

But liberalization and deregulation policies have watered down the public utility character of telecommunications — no thanks to the unbridled for-profit orientation of telcos and supported no less by the regulator. Thus, while we have strict rules on steady supply of electricity in correct voltage and of clean safe water, we have no standards for the internet and other telecommunications services.

(To be continued)

CHR recommends charges vs Cudia's peers

By Camille Diola (

Philippine Military Academy Cadet 1st Class Jeff Aldrin Cudia. STAR file 
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) defended dismissed Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet 1st Class Jeff Aldrin Cudia as it recommended criminal and administrative charges against its the school's Honor Committee. 

In a radio report on Wednesday, CHR chairperson Loretta Ann "Etta" Rosales said that the high-performing cadet was "not guilty" of PMA honor violations as he did not intend to deceive his instructors in stating his reason for tardiness in class.

Cudia was accused of lying, a breach of the PMA Honor Code subjecting him to a penalty of dismissal. The decision was made by the academy's Honor Committee consisting of Cudia's co-cadets, who are now members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines after graduating last March.

Rosales, who presented the agency's final report to the media, said that members of the committee should be sued for perjury.

The human rights advocate also criticized PMA's handling of Cudia's case and subsequent discharging for compromising the cadet's future as well as failing to execute due process.

Cudia was similarly recommended to be declared an alumnus of the academy and be confirmed as graduate.
The case of Cudia, who ranked second in the PMA "Siklab Diwa" Class of 2014, broke out in social media after his sister posted his story on her Facebook timeline. 

Anavee Cudia protested PMA's unfair treatment of her brother when it decided to force him out of the academy for being two minutes tardy in a class and purportedly "lying" about it.

Cudia's status of being "dismissed" was changed to being "on leave" after an appeal of CHR.

His family also filed a petition before the Supreme Court pleading for a status quo ante order to stop the PMA Honor Committee's resolution to kick out Cudia from the Baguio City-based institution.

Ex-COA chief ordered pork-barrel probe. Now he’s in jail

by Rigoberto Tiglao
We have lost the capacity for outrage against injustice in this country.

This isn’t really unusual as it has happened often in history, when holier-than-thou fanatics captured state power and undertook the most horrible crimes against human beings, all in the name either of God or country. From the Spanish Inquisition’s witch-hunters to the Jacobins of the French Revolution, to Mao’s Red Guards to Pol Pot’s teen-aged cadres—they committed atrocities for some higher cause they believed they were the champions of.

I am of course exaggerating, but it is the same mindset of President Aquino and his yellow cultists, different only by a matter of degree: As crusaders for the straight path, they can dispense with decency and fairness.

“Former COA chief arrested for plunder,” the newspapers the other day screamed, and several papers even published his mug shot as if he were a common criminal, or a plunderer like former President Joseph Estrada who was convicted of the charge.

And who is the former head of the Commission on Audit allegedly captured by a police SWAT team armed to the teeth?

The 72-year-old Reynaldo Villar, a career auditor who rose to the COA’s ranks after 30 years and got appointed COA chairman in 2008. Since the COA is a constitutional commission, he was supposed to have a term until 2015. President Aquino however, didn’t like him—since his predecessor Gloria Arroyo appointed him just like Chief Justice Renato Corona—and pressured him to resign in 2011.

Former COA head Villar and the explosive PDAF special audit he ordered.

Why was Villar accused of “plunder”?

He was included among the accused—mostly the state firm’s board members at that time—as conspirators in the charge against Arroyo, that she authorized during her term the release of P366 million of the confidential funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

And what was Villar’s purported role in this?

Entirely this: That as COA chairman, he should have declared the release of the funds was anomalous, and that he should have filed charges against the PCSO officials and Arroyo. My sources claim that even government’s prosecutors were aware of how ridiculous such a charge was, and were ordered to do it by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who thought that such a move could force Villar to testify against Arroyo.

The complaint was filed in 2011 by Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and ex-general Danilo Lim who thought that helping Aquino put Arroyo in jail would enhance their chances of being picked by the President for his senatorial slate in the 2013 elections. The evidence they presented? Minutes of the lynch-mob hearings of the Senate on the issue, which actually didn’t establish evidence but produced only for-the-gallery accusations.

The charge against Villar is so preposterous it shocked the bureaucracy and the legal community. This is because according to our Constitution, the COA is the only entity in this Republic that can determine whether a government entity’s disbursement of funds comply with government regulations. The Ombudsman claims that Villar is liable for plunder because he cleared the PCSO’s books. That would have the effect of putting the blame on any and all instances of graft on the COA chairman.

But never mind these legal, abstract arguments.

The case was filed in mid-2012, as Plan B to keep Arroyo in jail, in case the electoral sabotage case against her gets dismissed, which is very likely since it entirely rests on the claim of one individual involved in the Maguindanao massacre.

In January 2013, after several postponements on grounds that she was ill, one of PCSO’s Aquino-appointed board director, a former NGO official, Aleta Tolentino—whom the Ombudsman claimed was its star-witness—testified that she had no personal knowledge of the allegations, and that the PCSO had not found any single evidence that Arroyo even had access to the state-firms’ confidential funds.

In January 21, 2014, after a year of Arroyo’s suffering in incarceration, and because of the prosecutors’ requests for postponement of hearings, the Ombudsman presented as witness against Arroyo Flerida Africa Jimenez, chief of the COA’s Intelligence and Confidential Funds Audit Unit (ICAU).

However, Jimenez cleared Arroyo of any wrongdoing, testifying that the confidential and intelligence funds the former president was accused of “plundering” was fully liquidated in 2008, 2009 and 2010, with the COA finding no anomaly or irregularity in their use.

Jimenez also stated that the conclusion of the ICAU audit is final and binding unless it is questioned by any party within three years after it was issued. She said that no one has done so in the case of the PCSO’s intelligence funds for those years.

After that hearing, the Philippine National Police, headed by President Aquino’s former bodyguard Alan Purisima, intensified its hunt for Villar, who like many of the accused and like former Senator Panfilo Lacson, opted to be fugitives in the face of their being unjustly persecuted. Villar was captured the other day in his residence in Merville Park in Paranaque.

Did Purisima intensify the hunt under orders of Aquino who is hoping that Villar’s suffering in some city jail would be too much for the 72-year old senior, so he would say anything the prosecutors want him to say against Arroyo, as Benhur Luy and his pork-barrel whistle blowers gang have been doing?

And why did I say at the outset that we have lost the capacity for outrage, which is reflected in a “detail” the press didn’t bother to point out in its reports on the ex-COA chief’s arrest?

It was Villar, when he was COA chairman who issued Office Order No. 2010-309, dated May 13, 2010, which directed a “government-wide” special audit by a team of about 20 officers headed by auditor Gloria Silverio “on the allocation and utilization of the Priority Development Assistance Fund and Various Infrastructure including Local Projects. “

But it must have been only Villar’s “midnight” action, a few would claim. But Villar was expecting to have, as the Constitution puts it, a seven-year term, and stepped down in 2011 only after intense pressure of the President.

I was told that incumbent COA chair Grace Pulido-Tan had very little contribution to the report, and was alerted to it only when the pork-barrel controversy started to break out in July. However, she did provide the histrionics when the audit was released to the press, which she probably thinks earns her a seat in the Supreme Court when a slot is available May 22.

Four years after Villar’s directive, and, as pointed out in the report, “the refusal, despite repeated requests of the Budget Department (under Secretary Florencio Abad) to “provide the Team with complete schedule of releases per legislator,” the audit was completed in August 2013, and constitutes the documented evidence for legislators’ robbery of pork barrel funds.

It was publicly released a week after the Philippine Daily Inquirer run its exclusive series on the claims by the staff of alleged scam brains Janet Napoles that senators and congressmen were involved in massive theft of pork barrel money. The whistle-blowers’ claims obviously would have been mostly hearsay if not for the COA report.

The expose of the pork-barrel robbery would be the biggest initiative against corruption in this country so far, even if it is limited mostly to the legislative branch, and only superficially affecting the bureaucracy, through which the bulk of graft in this country (think of Customs, DPWH, BIR, and local governments) is undertaken.

Last week, the issue intensified, even putting Aquino’s brain-trust budget secretary Florencio Abad, and his political lieutenant Senate President Franklin Drilon under a cloud of suspicion, since the alleged scam-operator Napoles apparently has decided to tell all, beyond the script laid down to her when she spent hours in Malacañang after her surrender in August.

Yet Aquino’s shock troops handcuffed and threw to jail like a common criminal Villar, who had the brains and guts to order the pork-barrel investigation in 2009. What does that say of the ruthlessness of this administration, and our country’s shameless nonchalance over injustice? and

Obama ignites Chinese anger as he warns against force

Agence France-Presse

President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One during his departure at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. AP 

MANILA, Philippines — Barack Obama ended an Asian tour Tuesday with a warning to China against using force in territorial disputes, as Chinese authorities accused the US president of ganging up with “troublemaking” allies. 

The barbs ensured a tense finish to a four-nation trip dominated by the worsening maritime rows between China and US allies in the region, which have triggered fears of military conflict.

“We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace, to have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected,” Obama told a gathering of US and Filipino troops in Manila.

“We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded. We believe that disputes must be resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force.”

Close American ally the Philippines has been embroiled in one of the highest-profile territorial disputes with China, over tiny islets, reefs and rocks in the South China Sea.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain huge deposits of oil and gas, even waters and islands or reefs close to its neighbours.

The Philippines, which has one of the weakest militaries in the region, has repeatedly called on longtime ally the United States for help as China has increased military and diplomatic pressure to take control of the contested areas.

The Philippines and the United States signed an agreement on Monday that will allow a greater US military presence on Filipino bases.

Obama pledges support

And Obama sought on Tuesday to reassure the Philippines that the United States would support its ally in the event of being attacked, citing a 1951 mutual defense treaty between the two nations.

“This treaty means our two nations pledge, and I am quoting, ‘our common determination to defend themselves from external armed attacks’,” Obama said.

“And no potential aggressor can be under the illusion that either of them stands alone. In other words, our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad. The United States will keep that commitment because allies will never stand alone.”

Nevertheless, Obama did not specifically mention coming to the aid of the Philippines if there were a conflict over the contested South China Sea areas, as his hosts had hoped.

On the first leg of his Asian tour in Tokyo, Obama had made such a pledge of support to Japan, which is locked in its own dispute with China over rival claims to islands in the East China Sea.

Obama’s nuanced position on the Philippines was part of a tight-rope act he had tried to perform during his trip — reassuring allies wary about China’s perceived increased hostility while not antagonizing the leadership in Beijing.

While offering pledges of protection to Japan and the Philippines, Obama also insisted the United States was not seeking to counter or contain China.

And reflecting the difficulties of Obama’s balancing act, there were complaints in the Philippines that he had not offered explicit support in the event of a conflict over the contested South China Sea areas.

“No firm commitment from US to defend PH,” said the front-page headline of the Philippine Daily Inquirer after Obama met President Benigno Aquino on Monday but did not pledge South China Sea backing.

‘Troublemaking allies’

Nevertheless, an editorial in the state-run China Daily newspaper on Tuesday signalled that Chinese authorities viewed Obama’s trips to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines as a tour of anti-Chinese hostility.

“It is increasingly obvious that Washington is taking Beijing as an opponent,” the editorial said as it summarised his visit.

“With Obama reassuring the US allies of protection in any conflict with China, it is now clear that Washington is no longer bothering to conceal its attempt to contain China’s influence in the region.”

The editorial warned against believing Obama’s “sweet promises” of a new, constructive relationship between the United States and China, and instead outlined what it described as a “grim geopolitical reality”.

“Ganging up with its troublemaking allies, the US is presenting itself as a security threat to China,” it said.

Meanwhile, three Chinese coastguard ships sailed into waters around the islands in the East China Sea disputed between China and Japan, the Japanese coastguard said.

It said the vessels entered 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) into Japan’s territorial waters off one of the Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus.

It was the second such move since Obama announced last week that Washington would defend Japan if China initiates an attack in the contested area.

Read more:

Amid Chinese Aggression, Obama Affirms U.S. Defense of Japan’s Senkaku Islands

By Bruce Klingner
The Foundry
Photo: Xinhua/Sipa USA
Photo: Xinhua/Sipa USA
During his trip to Japan, President Obama publicly affirmed long-standing U.S. policy that the bilateral security treaty applies to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands. China claims sovereignty over the islands and, in recent years, has tried to intimidate Japan—much as Beijing has bullied the Philippines in pursuit of its extralegal territorial claims in the South China Sea.
President Obama’s statement was a welcome and proper confirmation of U.S. support for a critical Pacific ally.
During a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama declared, “let me reiterate that our treaty commitment to Japan’s security is absolute, and Article 5 [of the bilateral security treaty] covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku Islands.”
While this was the first time Obama publicly affirmed the parameters of the U.S. defense commitment to Japan, it is consistent with the long-standing policies of his predecessors. As Obama pointed out, “this isn’t a ‘red line’ that I’m drawing; it is the standard interpretation over multiple administrations of the terms of the alliance…There’s no shift in position. There’s no “red line” that’s been drawn. We’re simply applying the treaty.”
In 2004, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage stated that the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty “would require any attack on Japan, or the administrative territories under Japanese control, to be seen as an attack on the United States.”
During a 2010 flare-up of tensions between China and Japan over the Senkakus, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, “we have made it very clear that the [Senkaku] islands are part of our mutual treaty obligations, and the obligation to defend Japan
The Obama administration’s public reassurance to Japan is meant to deter China from behaving aggressively. In recent years, Beijing has used military and economic threats, bombastic language, and enforcement through military bullying to extend its extra-legal claims of sovereignty in the East and South China Seas.
In November 2013, China declared an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands. Beijing threatened to use its military to enforce the ADIZ. Washington condemned this declaration as a provocative act that exacerbated tensions in the region and increased the risks of a military clash.
Beijing is also attempting to divert attention from its own actions by mischaracterizing Japan as a threat to regional security. China’s bellicose actions have fueled regional concern and triggered a greater Japanese willingness confront Chinese expansionism and strengthen its military. This willingness to defend its territory has been mischaracterized as a resurgence of Japan’s 1930s imperial militarism.
Washington should continue to support Abe’s efforts to implement long overdue defense reforms, such as implementing collective self-defense, and the assumption of a larger regional and global security role commensurate with Japan’s size and capabilities.
Whether the Obama administration will maintain a firm stance against China’s sovereignty claims remains to be seen. But for the policy to be effective, a principled message of affirming U.S. support for international law and defending our allies must be backed by resolute U.S. actions, including reversing dangerous defense budget cuts, maintaining a robust forward-deployed U.S. military presence, strengthening and modernizing our alliances, and standing up to Chinese use of intimidation, coercion or force to assert a territorial claim.
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Obama Tells Japan’s Abe: ‘Best Sushi I’ve Ever Had’

By Toko Sekiguchi
The Wall Street Journal 
President Barack Obama walks out of Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant next to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after dinner in Tokyo. (Reuters)
President Barack Obama walks out of Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant next to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after dinner in Tokyo. (Reuters)
Entire blocks of Japan’s famed Ginza shopping and entertainment district were closed off Wednesday night, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed President Barack Obama to what may be Tokyo’s most celebrated sushi restaurant, the Michelin three-starred Sukiyabashi Jiro.
After the 90-minute meal, Mr. Abe quoted the president as saying, “It’s the best sushi I’ve ever had.”
The prime minister, speaking outside the much-ballyhooed restaurant, said the successful sushi dinner vindicated his “cool Japan” policy of promoting Japanese cultural assets such as food.
The president arrived at the tiny restaurant, featured in the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” just 90 minutes after landing in Tokyo. He was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and he was welcomed by Mr. Abe at the entrance.
Japanese officials said that the informal and intimate dinner was designed to promote a “frank exchange of ideas” between the two leaders, who have not developed a particularly close relationship since Mr. Abe took office in December 2012.
Police cordoned off Ginza’s main crossing near the restaurant, redirecting commuters, shoppers, diners and hostesses to underground passages. Above ground, hundreds of curious onlookers patiently stood by, many trying to get a glimpse of the presidential motorcade.
Meals at the restaurant start at around 30,000 yen, or about $300. It’s also known for how short the magical experience lasts. Diners on a major Japanese restaurant review site called Tabelog frequently note that they find themselves finishing the full course in half an hour.
But Sukiyabashi Jiro seems to have made an exception for its V.I.P. guests. The two leaders spent a full hour and a half on their meal, sitting side-by-side at the sushi counter.
“We had no idea until we saw on TV today that they were headed to Sukiyabashi Jiro,” said a would-be diner who had a reservation in an adjacent building. “I guess we’ll just have to wait until Mr. Obama is done with his sushi.”
“Maybe Mr. Abe can stress the importance of protecting Japanese rice over sushi,” said an onlooker who declined to be identified, referring to the contentious trade talks as Japan hopes to protect its agricultural products.
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Did Barack, Shinzo get down to sushi or business?

By Reiji Yoshida
Japan Times
U.S. President Barack Obama had his first session with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday in Tokyo, treated at what is often touted as the best-ever sushi bar in Japan: Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo’s Ginza district.
Abe greeted Obama, who rushed straight from Haneda airport in Tokyo, at the entrance to the small sushi bar run by legendary sushi master Jiro Ono.
The restaurant was chosen “because I knew he likes eating Japanese cuisine,” Abe told reporters after the meeting.
According to Abe, Obama told him he was having “the best sushi I’ve ever eaten” although he was born in Hawaii and has had many chances to eat sushi in his life.
A Japanese media report Thursday said that instead of making small talk and savoring the Japanese delicacies, Obama jumped straight into discussions about trade.
The owner of a yakitori restaurant that shares the basement with the exclusive diner told Tokyo Broadcasting System that Obama put his chopsticks down in the middle of the meal.
Yet another media report said Obama ate 14 of the approximately 20 pieces served.
Ono is well known at home and abroad. His small sushi bar in Ginza has been visited by a number of celebrities from around the world.
While the two leaders were dining, part of the main street of the Ginza district was blockaded by police, and thousands of curious onlookers were kept back by fences put up around the block.
When Obama arrived at the sushi bar, Obama called Abe by his first name, “Shinzo,” and Abe responded by saying “How are you?” in English — probably intended to show off a personal closeness between the two leaders.
For a Japanese leader, having a foreign leader use his first name is considered a symbol of closeness.
Thus, Japanese prime ministers often ask foreign leaders, in particular U.S. presidents, to call them by their first name in conversations carried out in English.
After shaking hands and posing for a photo, the two leaders entered the sushi bar. Reporters and photographers were barred from entering and thus were unable to see what was transpiring inside Sukiyabashi Jiro.
Only a small group of close aides were allowed to accompany the two leaders to enjoy the delicacies of the sushi master, namely U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice, Shotaro Yachi, director general of Abe’s National Security Council, and Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae, according to Japanese officials.
Information from AFP-JIJI added

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ancient Filipino nature medicine

By Bernie Lopez

Fresh coconut juice
Fresh coconut juice
The multinational pharmaceuticals fear this type of article going viral in the Internet. Even just oregano leaves, no. 1, if it goes viral worldwide, can cost them billions in losses within weeks. Here are simple cures for simple ailments from ancient Filipino folk medicine.
01 Oregano leaves.
This is a very powerful expectorant for colds and flu, especially if taken as fresh leaves chewed, although a little bit bitter. Wash with warm brine to kill bacteria. Have a glass of sweet tea to wash off the bitter taste. You can add water and blend into a paste, but do not cook. In blended form, one tablespoon three times a day is good.
02 Wood or Coconut Shell Coal.
This is used for instant effective relief of severe diarrhea. Wash wood coal first with plain water to remove dust. Do not use soap. Grind a chunk into fine powder, add warm water, and drink like tea. A chunk the size of a ping-pong ball can make about three half-a-cups. Two to three half cups a day is good. Coal absorbs excess bacteria-laden fluids in the intestine. The best kind of coal is from coconut shell. Take a glass of sweet tea to wash off the taste.
03 Dried squash seeds. (Albanian)
This is for swollen prostate, aside from being an aphrodisiac. Take ¼ to ½ kilo a week, even more. Some may react to too much salt in the seed’s skin. You don’t have to ingest the salt if you know how to bite off the skin. However, wash your mouth after. Also, it has some uric acid.
04 Neem tree leaves.
This is used for skin diseases, especially psoriasis or skin fungi infections. Wash the leaves with warm brine, add water and use a blender. Boil like tea for 30 minutes. Retain only the water, using a sieve. If your psoriasis begins to itch violently, you are getting healed. You can refrigerate and reheat portions to avoid spoiling. Neem leaves are also taken orally, dried and ground into capsule form. But be careful as dosage has not been accurately determined. Also, in capsule form, it may develop fungi within a month or so. Very effective ‘cure-all’, anti-cancer, anti-arthritris, anti-toxin, etc.
05 Gall of chicken.
This is used as a very effective antidote against malaria, better than chemical medicine. It is used by Medical Mission Sisters in remote areas of Mindanao-Sulu where there is no western medicine. The best are the powerful snake or iguana gall, but chicken will do. This is very bitter, so wash it immediately with a sweet drink. Some swallow the open gall bladder itself to avoid tasting the bitterness. It is hard to take but if you have the deadly cerebral type of malaria and you are in a remote area, you have no choice. Chicken gall has saved thousands of lives in malaria endemic areas in the south.
06 Bittermelon leaves.
(Ampalaya in Pilipino). This is very effective in bringing down high fever instantly. Place the leaves on arms, legs, armpits, chest, back, then wrap with linen and or towel, or use a tight long sleeve t-shirt and long pants. The leaves absorbs body heat rapidly. Within half an hour, when the leaves are ‘cooked’, there is no more fever.
07 Fresh coconut juice.
This washes and cleans the kidney. It can melt uric stones if taken massively. Take it at will the whole day. It is a diuretic, so complement with water. Take bananas to regain lost potassium. It is also used as a substitute to intra-venus dextrose in emergency situations. It is also used as a substitute to motor oil in emergency situations (viscosity and temperature tolerance is less), but only if your car is calibrated properly.
08 Virgin coconut oil (VCO).
This is known to be a ‘cure-all’, good for all types of blood and organ ailments. Anti-toxin, anti-cancer, cures arthritis, neutralizes excess uric acid in the blood without damaging the kidneys. Three tablespoons a day before meals. You will feel the effects within two weeks. VCO is processed without heat or any added substances.
09 Kamote tops, or leaves.
Rich in Iron, this cheap leafy vegetable strengthens the blood against dengue. Boil and drink the soup and eat the leaves. It is food for peasants and the poor, being grown abundantly in backyards.
10 Sunflower or eucalyptus leaves.
These are powerful insect repellants. Fresh leaves are placed in closets to ward off cockroaches. Eucalyptus leaves are made by the Chinese into Catol, a slow burning incense that repels mosquitoes. The Ifugao tribes of the Cordillera use fresh sunflower leaves as anti-insect ‘floor wax’.

Hiding Facts of History

By  Erick San Juan

South Korean comfort women (file photo)
South Korean comfort women (file photo)
The forthcoming visit of US President Barack Obama in this part of the region particularly to its allies Japan and South Korea seemed to put pressure on the two allies to iron out its long-standing issue on the war crimes committed by the Japanese army during the Second World War particularly on the issue of the ‘comfort women’ as sex slaves.
From the report of Alastair Gale of Wall Street Journal online – “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye met for the first time late last month at a three-way summit with Pres. Barack Obama in The Hague. That meeting was carefully brokered to focus on regional security and avoid the flashpoint topics of Japan’s wartime behavior, which have been at the center of the deterioration in the bilateral relationship.
One of the most contentious of those topics is that of the “comfort women,” or women coerced into servitude in brothels used by the Japanese military in the 1930s and 1940s. Many of the women were Korean. South Korea is seeking a new formal apology to the women and a state-funded compensation scheme that acknowledges the government’s role in the coercion.”
Remember in February 28, 2014 Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated that the country’s government has intended to recheck the credibility of the victims among women from Korea and other states who had been exploited in field Japanese army brothels during WWII. (The words of 16 “comfort women” served as a basis for acknowledging by the former Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan Yohei Kono in 1993 of the fact that sexual slavery had taken place).
Yoshihide Suga underlined the Abe administration was still insisting on the absence of the documents showing the violent nature of Korean women mobilization. It is worth noting that the result of the surveys of Japanese citizens by local media showed that almost 60 percent of the country’s population supported this ‘recheck’ initiated by the Abe administration.
No less provocative words came from the CEO of NHK TV company Katsuo Momii. He said creation of field brothels where the locals had been exploited had been a common practice for all countries participated in WWII and “it seemed wrong only from the standpoint of modern morality.”
As of this writing, Japan Broadcasting Corp.’s (NHK) president apologized on national television. Speaking on the weekly digest program called Totteoki Sunday, Katsuo Momii expressed regret for his previous comments on the issue of “comfort women.” (After he earned the ire of the public and requests for his resignation.)
Japanese high-ranking policymakers’ attempts to deny the obvious facts of the past have been criticized by the Chinese Foreign Ministry and stated that Japan’s militarists actions were crimes against humanity, the proof of which no one can deny.
Tokyo’s last steps impressively showed that Japan didn’t intend to listen to the voice of Asian countries affected by the crimes during WWII as well as many of the world leading nations that were concerned about the rise of nationalism in Japan and forced buildup of its military capabilities.
Although South Korea and Japan held rare high-level talks Wednesday (April 16) on the extremely sensitive issue of wartime sex slavery, which has contributed to a virtual freeze in diplomatic ties.
Kyodo News cited an unnamed government official as saying the Japanese side would indicate Tokyo is mulling an official apology and money for the so-called comfort women forced to work in military brothels.
Seoul said the meeting between Junichi Ihara, head of the Japanese foreign ministry’s Asia and Oceania affairs bureau, and Lee Sang-deok, South Korea’s director-general for Northeast Asian Affairs, marked the first time high-level officials had discussed the comfort woman issue in isolation.
Briefing domestic reporters after the talks, a South Korean official would only reveal that both sides had laid out their respective stances and agreed to meet again soon.
“They shared the opinion that this issue should be settled speedily in order to remove obstacles in South Korea-Japan relations,” Yonhap news agency quoted the official as saying.
This event to patch up the problem between Seoul and Tokyo came only because the ‘master’ said so but the bottom line here is that the ‘mulling over’ by Japan on such an important matter as the issue on the comfort women is not an assurance that they will do something about it in the near future.
It was also reported (from various online news network) that Japanese politicians have expressed exasperation at Seoul’s repeated requests for contrition.
Repeated wavering since the apology among senior right-wing politicians has contributed to a feeling in South Korea that Japan is in denial and not sufficiently remorseful.
Historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also from China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan, were forced to work in Japanese army brothels. There are only 55 surviving former comfort women left in South Korea.
When people try to hide the facts of history and will do anything to change it will someday find itself in the same situation and will regret what they did, and ‘karma’ will catch up with them in the end.

‘They were my mentors’

By Dr. Dante A. Ang, Chairman Emeritus
The Manila Times
Napoles: Senator, former DAR chief, ex-DA Usec taught me the ropes
In yesterday’s papers, Janet Lim-Napoles, primary suspect in the P10-billion PDAF scam, insisted that she was not the brains behind it and pointed instead to another.
Her lawyer, Bruce Rivera, said “she is not the most guilty.” That being the case, she can qualify as a state witness, Rivera added.
Whether she is “not the most guilty” and, therefore, qualified to be a state witness, is for the Sandiganbayan to decide.
The Sandiganbyan picks from a list of possible state witnesses given by the Ombudsman.
Ironically, there may be some truth to Napoles’ statement that she was not the mastermind of the massive theft of the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The “brains” are three highly prominent government officials who had advised Napoles on the intricacies of fund releases, according to a highly reliable source who requested anonymity.
In her signed affidavit, Napoles narrated the roles the “brains” had played in the PDAF scam, the source told The Manila Times on Thursday.
The three (a leading senator and prominent member of the Liberal Party, an Agriculture undersecretary and an erstwhile secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform or DAR) “are my mentors. They instructed me about the procedures and taught me the process of how to undertake the PDAF cycle,” the source quoting Napoles said.
“The former DAR secretary and the current Agriculture undersecretary who is related to a senator were in constant communications with me,” Napoles added.
Some Malacañang officials were not spared either. A ranking official of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is alleged to have taught Napoles the ropes. “[Name of DBM official] was the one who taught me how to follow the procedures at the DBM in order to expedite the releases of the funds,” said the source quoting from the Napoles affidavit. Napoles added that she “followed up the releases” with another ranking DBM official.
Yet another Palace factotum was also mentioned in her affidavit. Wrote Napoles, “[Name of the Palace official] is one of my contacts in Malacañang and who was introduced to me by [name of a Public Relations practitioner]. We casually know each other.” She said she “talks” to the PR guy “for advice every now and then.”
Some 11 senators belonging to the administration and opposition were also implicated in the Napoles affidavit.
In that same affidavit, the jailed businesswoman recounted that she met one of the three senators indicted by the Ombudsman in a social function and that she followed up on the status of the documents with his Chief of Staff.
Napoles, according to the source, decided to come out in the open and name names when the people whom she considered friends abandoned her. She was blaming them for her having contracted urinary tract infection (UTI), “kasi marumi ang facilities [because the facilities in Santa Rosa are dirty],” he explained. Napoles was being held at Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa City, Laguna, until she underwent major surgery in a government hospital on Tuesday.
She had asked “them” for help in securing a hospital arrest for her and a transfer of venue. Both requests were denied by the courts. Napoles then decided to go public and talked to the government to reveal what she knows of the theft of the government funds, the source said.
On Thursday, former senator Panfilo ‘Ping” Lacson disclosed that in March this year, Jimmy Napoles, husband of Janet, gave him documents and a list of lawmakers who allegedly received kickbacks from ghost projects funded by PDAF. Lacson said the number of senators included in the list could constitute a quorum. With the Senate having 24 members, at least 13 are needed to make a quorum.
But Senate President Franklin Drilon cautioned against using the Napoles list to attack the chamber.
“If the list is supported by credible documentary evidence, please go ahead. Pero kung listahan lang naman, siguro naman pag-ingatan naman natin ang institusyon ng Senado [But if it’s just a mere list, I believe we should preserve the Senate as an institution],” he said in a news briefing also on Thursday.
Drilon insisted that every testimony should be backed up by evidence and that the best evidence is the document itself.
The senator also expressed confidence that his name is not on the Napoles list because, according to him, not a single centavo of his PDAF went to any questionable non-government organization (NGO).
“I wish to say once more that insofar as I am concerned, my name is not and will never be [on ] any list because I have not assigned a single peso of my PDAF to any NGO of Mrs. Janet Napoles” he said.

Catalog of Filipino Names

Katálogo ng mga Apelyidong Pilipino
(Catalog of Filipino Names)
© 1995-98 by Hector Santos
All rights reserved.
One of the more obvious marks left by Spanish rule in the Philippines is the prevalence of Hispanic surnames among Christianized Filipinos. Those who lived in remote areas and were not subjugated escaped this fate. Many people in the mountain areas of Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Palawan, and other places retained their way of life, their culture, and their way of naming themselves. Thus, a Yam-ay in Mindoro today does not have a name like Claudette Villanueva as would probably have been the case had she lived among the conquered people.
Before the Spaniards arrived, a person’s second (family, not middle) name was usually taken from one of his children. Thus, Timbô who had a son named Pitík was known as Timbô, amá ni Pitík. Compare this with the Western custom of sons taking their names from their fathers like Peter, son of John, or Peter Johnson. Sometimes, a physical feature was used to describe a person like Pitong Kirat for a certain Pito who only had one good eye.
Many early Christianized Filipinos named themselves after the saints so much so that it caused consternation among the Spanish authorities. Apparently, Christianization worked much too well and there were soon too many Santoses, San Joses, San Antonios, and San Buenaventuras to suit those in power. They were forced to change their last names unless they could prove that their family had been using it for several generations.
Another unacceptable custom was that siblings took on different last names like they had always done before the Spaniards came. All these “problems” resulted in a less efficient system of collecting taxes.
And so, on November 21, 1849 Governor General Narciso Clavería ordered a systematic distribution of family names for the natives to use. The Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos was produced and approved names were assigned to families in all towns. Name distribution was so systematic that civil servants assigned family names in alphabetical order causing some small towns with only a few families to end up with all names starting with the same letter. (This interesting situation remained until fairly recent times when people became more mobile and started seeking mates from other towns.)
One result of the Hispanization of Filipino names was the change in the way traditional names (placenames, too) were pronounced. Since Hispanic names were just sounds that didn’t mean much, names like “Dimalantá” became “Dimalanta” (the accent shifting to the penultimate syllable) and “Julag-ay” became “Júlagay” (the accent shifting from the penultimate to the first and the glottal catch disappearing). This tended to hide the meanings of the names and made them more of an abstract entity just like Hispanic names. At the same time, the new pronunciation sounded more Hispanic and this step completed the transformation of some families, at least in their own minds, to an erzats class of pseudo-Spaniards.
This list has brought about many interesting emails with more names and stories about their origins. Most were proud to have real Filipino names unlike the majority of us who have Hispanic surnames. However, one took exception to having his name, Agulto, listed as an indigenous Filipino name. He claimed he was a Filipino whose ancestors were Sheppardic Jews from Spain and he found it offensive for his name to be called truly Filipino. Of course, I immediately removed Agulto from this list.
Below is a list of truly Filipino names that remained in use even after the Clavería edict [...]

On Sec. Florencio Abad

By Rod P. Kapunan

Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management and his yellow hypocrites in this tuwad na daan government should understand that not all are stupid to swallow hook, line and sinker their propaganda. 

The public official who releases the money without examining and verifying the person to whom he is going to hand over the public fund is more liable than the person who presented herself as the operator or head of the NGO having the intention of defrauding the government. 

The swindling could not happen had Abad not allowed the public funds to be recklessly released to Janet Napoles. The burden and the guilt is more on him because it was he who parted the money that made possible the commission of that large-scale swindling of government funds.

In fact, the public even have the right to accuse Abad, and rightly so, of conspiring with Napoles in looting the public funds or PDAF because the release happened as a result of his approval. Abad, as one lawyer pointed out, cannot stand as an aggrieved person and use that as his defense with the right to sue Napoles because he is not the owner of those billions of pesos that were dissipated, but a mere trustee of government funds.

That means that in case of loss, automatically as public servant and the man in charged, Abad assumes liability for everything that is lost in his office. He should know that many bank tellers and employees are summarily dismissed from the service and even made to pay the lost amount not because they stole the money, but because of negligence. That explains why Abad and his cohorts in the DBM cannot escape criminal liability.

To allow him to use that defense is tantamount to saying that stupidity and negligence are valid grounds for those who consciously allowed the crime to happen to escape liability. Common sense, not even law, will tell that Abad is not the far more guilty, but the most guilty than the three senators the yellow dogs have long been maligning!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Obama Expected to Sign Defense Agreement on Visit to Philippines

U.S. Forces Would Return on ‘Rotational’ Basis

By Trefor Moss
The Wall Street Journal
Subic Bay
Subic Bay
MANILA—Opposition to American military involvement in the Philippines forced Washington to abandon what once was its largest overseas Navy base, Subic Bay, in 1992, along with the rest of its military network in the country.
Now, more than two decades later, Manila is urging Washington to come back, and not just to Subic.
That change of heart, driven by worsening fears over China’s military rise, forms the backdrop to President Barack Obama’s two-day trip to Manila starting Monday, the first by a U.S. president since 2003.
The centerpiece of the trip is expected to be the signing of a new Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation that would pave the way for U.S. forces to return to the Philippines, albeit on a rotational basis. After nine months of negotiations, Manila and Washington announced in early April that they had produced a draft of the agreement, fueling expectations that the pact would be formally signed during Mr. Obama’s visit.
While details of the size and locations of any U.S. deployments haven’t yet been made public, the Philippine government has stressed that it wouldn’t turn back the clock to the days when the U.S. military ran its own installations here. The Philippine Senate tore up its long-standing security treaty with the U.S. in September 1991, effectively ordering the Americans to wind up their extensive military bases in the country.
With foreign bases now banned by the national constitution, U.S. forces would instead be granted access to existing Philippine bases, over which Manila will retain ultimate control. The U.S. would be able to build new facilities on existing bases to store humanitarian and disaster relief equipment.
Although there is a 700-strong U.S. counterterrorism unit active in the southern Philippines as part of a post-9/11 agreement, it is only allowed in an advisory role.
There is still some resistance to bringing the Americans back in bigger numbers. Some of the nationalist politicians who lobbied to oust the U.S. two decades ago haven’t changed their views, and some constitutional experts question the legality of any potential new pact. Small-scale antiwar protests are expected during Mr. Obama’s visit.
U.S. officials said not to expect any influx of additional American troops after the agreement is signed. Any larger American presence is likely months or even years away. “We are not moving back in,” one official said.
Washington also faces a tricky balancing act in returning to the Philippines, since it doesn’t want to provoke China, which has overlapping territorial claims with the Philippines in the South China Sea.
Public opinion has shifted toward greater support for a U.S. presence in the Philippines as Manila’s relationship with Beijing has soured. China has become more assertive in the region, and Beijing and Manila have been locked in a dispute over the Scarborough and Ayungin shoals in the Spratly Islands. China insists that it is merely defending its sovereignty, arguing that it has a centuries-old claim to the South China Sea that Manila can’t match. Beijing has refused to participate in a U.N. tribunal initiated by Manila to resolve the impasse.
“Ordinary people in the Philippines have already accepted that China is the threat, and that they took the U.S. for granted,” said Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute of Political and Electoral Reform in Manila. “The expectation is that the U.S. will act as a deterrent.”
In February, Social Weather Stations, a Philippine polling company, reported that trust in America was up to a record plus-82—a net figure that measures the percentage of people who trust the U.S., minus the percentage of people who don’t. That was up from a low of plus-19 in 2004. Views of China have become overwhelmingly negative, falling to minus-17, from a peak of plus-19 in 2009, before the South China Sea issue flared.
The same poll also found that 93% of Filipinos wanted their government to take tougher action against China in defense of national sovereignty.
Oyster Bay
Oyster Bay
Many Filipinos are hopeful the U.S. won’t confine its activities to Subic Bay, and will also consider deploying personnel or equipment to other sites. They include Oyster Bay, on the ribbonlike island of Palawan just outside the so-called nine-dash line marking Beijing’s maritime claims, as well as what once was Clark Air Base in Central Luzon and a possible Marine command post at a place called Brooke’s Point in southern Palawan.
Last year, the Philippine military announced plans to spend 313 million pesos ($7 million) upgrading Naval Station Carlito Cunanan, a small Philippine Navy outpost at Oyster Bay, so that it could accommodate up to four naval frigates and, potentially, U.S. military personnel.
People familiar with the workings of the base said the upgrade program had yet to begin, though they expressed hope the U.S. defense agreement would expedite matters. As part of a recent exercise, a team of Seabees—U.S. Navy engineers—joined Philippine Navy personnel to build a two-classroom annex for the local elementary school, handing it over in February.
The Philippine Department of National Defense and the U.S. Embassy in Manila declined to comment.
“Anything that brings American troops to Puerto Princesa or Palawan is a welcome thing,” said Edward S. Hagedorn, the former mayor of Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital of Palawan. Residents feel vulnerable as China presses its claims to nearby islands, he said.
At Subic Bay, meanwhile, anticipation is rising that American military personnel could once again be present in significant numbers, rather than simply passing through on occasional port calls, as they have in recent years.
The abrupt U.S. departure in 1992 left a void that Subic—then wholly dependent on base income—has struggled to fill. The residents of Olongapo City, where Subic is situated, are still bitter that the Americans, who provided some 25,000 local jobs, were forced to leave.
“The anti-U.S. base people complained, but where were they afterwards when we were going hungry?” asked Olongapo Mayor Rolen C. Paulino.
Subic has been repurposed as a free-trade zone, comprising shipbuilding and maintenance operations, a container port, and other businesses.
Yet dilapidated warehouses with peeling paintwork and long-broken windows still characterize areas of the once-sprawling facility. Cubi Point, formerly a naval air station servicing hundreds of fighter jets and which the U.S. Navy demolished a mountain to build, sits forlorn and unused, except for an occasional light aircraft whirring through.
Nevertheless, Roberto Garcia, chairman of the Subic Bay Municipal Authority, said that an American presence was now mainly desirable from a security, rather than a financial, standpoint.
“This is a crisis situation right now,” he said of the pressure being applied by the Chinese, noting that Scarborough Shoal is only 120 miles from Subic Bay.