Duterte does not rule out nationwide martial law

Pres. Duterte peaking during the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) – Laban Christmas benefit dinner for Marawi City at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City on December 13, 2017. Malacañang photo by Robinson Niñal.


Let’s brace ourselves up for martial law, nationwide. President Duterte said it’s a possibility.

Persistent questioning by reporters elicited this admission from the President in a talk with reporters in Fort Bonifacio Wednesday after delivering a speech marking the ceremonial demilitarization of captures, confiscated, surrendered and recovered firearms during the Marawi rebellion.

To avoid misinterpreting the President convoluted justifications for extending martial law in Mindanao including this time the New People’s Army, GMA7’s Joseph Morong asked him, “You are not closing the door to a national martial law?”

Duterte replied, at this time, “All options are on the table. There’s only one rationale there, the existence of the Republic of the Philippines. You threaten the existence of the Republic of the Philippines. I am sure that everybody will react and do what he must do to prevent it.”
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December 16, 2017 11:16 am  Tags:   Posted in: Military  No Comments

Why do supermarkets charge for plastic bags

When I complained about the removal of water stations where customers can have free water in SM Food Courts, another issue was raised by UP Professor Roland Simbulan about mall giant SM: plastic bags being sold in supermarkets.

Simbulan said: “The SM Supermarkets have actually made more money out of the ban on the use of plastic bags. They have been selling plastic bags to customers for two pesos each, whereas before the ban on plastic bags, these were given free to customers. We cannot also say that Robinson’s supermarkets are any better for they have also been selling plastic bags.”

SM Hypermart plastic grocery bag


Simbulan’s comment generated a number of reactions which simply shows that taking care of our environment which is being subjected to so much abuse (disposal of plastic products has become a major problem) is an emotional issue.

Here are some of the letters I got:
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December 13, 2017 7:38 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Environment, General  No Comments

Duterte’s new one year deadline for war on drugs unbelievable


President Duterte administers the oath of office of the newly-appointed government officials during a ceremony in Malacañan Palace, December 6. Malacanang photo by King Rodriguez.

President Duterte doesn’t have to give himself another deadline in his war against illegal drugs.

He has flip-flopped so many times on his war on drugs that nobody takes his public declarations seriously anymore.

In a speech Dec. 6 during the oath taking of his latest batch of appointees in Malacañang, Duterte again talked about his obsession – illegal drugs – saying that he doesn’t care about criticisms from human rights advocates on extra-juidical killings.
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December 11, 2017 6:55 pm  Tags:   Posted in: Illegal Drugs  No Comments

SM explains pullout of water stations in Food Courts


We got a letter from Mr. Steven T. Tan, senior vice president of SM Supermalls, in reply to our complaint about their discontinuation of providing free drinking water in their Food Courts both through water stations and concessionaires.

We learned that “SM Cares,” a division of SM Foundation Inc. that handles the corporate social responsibility programs of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. has a project with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to facilitate access to clean water of schools and households in remote areas of the country. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of SM bottled water goes to UNICEF Philippines for Project WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene).

We asked if Project Wash was the reason for the pullout of water stations in Foodcourt in order to compel customer to buy SM bottled water, the only brand being sold there.

We found it unconscionable and hypocritical. That was shared by one Facebooker, Icee G Sze, who commented: “Ask the customers to buy the expensive water and give some to charity and take the credit! Pure greed!” This was seconded by journalist Carlos Conde who said: “Pipigain talaga ang mga consumers.”
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December 7, 2017 9:16 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: General  No Comments

La Salle’s class act

The Sports Section is one of my priority pages in reading newspapers even if I don’t play any sports. Nor do I understand the rules of any sports game.

But I love reading stories about triumph against odds of many athletes. I love reading about the values that sports nurture among athletes.

My collection of memorable quotes includes basketball great Michael Jordan’s “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

That’s why I was more enthralled with the photos of La Salle Taft turning blue after it lost the UAAP championship to Ateneo last Sunday than the final score (88-86) which indicated how heart-stopping the game was.

From Twitter account of Leonard Alquisola.


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December 5, 2017 8:58 pm  Tags:   Posted in: Sports  No Comments

No free water in SM Food court gives a lie to ‘SM Cares’

“SM Cares” is supposedly the social conscience of SM, the mall giant.

Its website says SM Cares, a division of SM Foundation Inc., is the group that handles the corporate social responsibility programs of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. It was launched in 2004 to organize the sustainability efforts into a comprehensive program that tackles a wide range of initiatives.

Fine. I have a friend who has a son with autism who participates in SM’s yearly Angels’ Walk. I’ve read about their housing projects for those left homeless by the 2013 super typhoon Yolanda.

SM Cares UNICEF Project Wash


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December 5, 2017 4:10 pm  Tags: , ,   Posted in: General  No Comments

No Chinese withdrawal from Scarborough shoal seen despite improved relations between Manila and Beijing

By Arianne Christian Tapao, VERA Files

Ambassador to China Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana does not see Chinese leader Xi Jinping ordering the withdrawal of Chinese Coast Guard ships from Scarborough shoal and returning to the pre-April 8, 2012 situation, when the area was under the control of the Philippines, despite Beijing’s improved relations with the Rodrigo Duterte government.

At best, it remains an “aspiration” that would take a long time, the Filipino diplomat said in an interview on the sidelines of the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies Conference in Mandaluyong City Dec. 2.

China “is still claiming all of Spratlys,” said Sta. Romana, noting that Xi would insist during talks that Scarborough Shoal is China’s territory, and its government would lose face if it were to withdraw its vessels from the shoal.

“Given that, you really have to maneuver slowly, carefully,” he added.

One of the three Chinese Coastguard Maritime Surveillance ships in Scarborough shoal in April 2012

“If we want to go back to pre-2012 situation, the condition is that China will also say drop your Arbitral Tribunal award, which is impossible,” Sta Romana said in Filipino.
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December 5, 2017 3:55 pm  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  No Comments

UN official to governments: ‘Avoid spreading Fake News’

David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, in his video message to participants of the conference on Fake News and Freedom of Expression organized by Advocates for Freedom of Expression Coalition-Southeast Asia in Makati recently called on government officials to avoid spreading fake news.

That was one of the eight points he highlighted in a series of principles in fighting what he called the “the scourge of disinformation.”

David Kaye on Fake News from VERA Files on Vimeo.

“State actors should avoid disseminating and spreading fake news,” he said and referred to the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and “Fake News,” issued by him, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe , Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, which states: “State actors should not make, sponsor, encourage or further disseminate statements which they know or reasonably should know to be false (disinformation) or which demonstrate a reckless disregard for verifiable information (propaganda).”
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November 29, 2017 11:42 pm  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Media  No Comments

SEA lawyers groups call on Senate not to pass Villanueva bill on fake news

Southeast Asian lawyers tackle Freedom of Expression and Fake News. Photo from Ade Wahyudin Facebook.


The concern about Fake news has created another concern: in the urgent desire to solve the problem of fake news, we might end up with a cure that is worse than the disease.

Fake News has been blamed for political upsets like the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.

In the Philippines, the Duterte government maintains an aggressive presence in social media through its Duterte Diehard Supporters led by a communications undersecretary.

Collins Dictionary, which has chosen Fake News as the word for the year 2017, defines Fake News as “as false news stories, often of a sensational nature, created to be widely shared online for the purpose of generating ad revenue via web traffic or discrediting a public figure, political movement, company, etc.”

Last Friday, the Advocates for Freedom of Expression Coalition- Southeast Asia (AFEC-SEA), Center Law and American Bar Association- Rule of Law Initiative gathered lawyers, journalists and online activists from Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines ,Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to discuss the situation as regards the rise of Fake News with the objective of forging a Southeast-Asian Response.
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November 23, 2017 7:49 am  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Media, Senate, Vera Files  No Comments

ASEAN COC framework affirms Duterte’s policy shift in PH dealing with China

Pres. Duterte and Chinese Li Keqiang witness the signing of agreements between International Trade Representative and Vice Minister of Commerce Fu Ziying and Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III following the expanded bilateral meeting in Malacañan Palace on November 15, 2017. Malacañang photo by Ace Morandante.

The Philippines’ major shift in foreign policy which is to talk with China bilaterally on the territorial dispute over Scarborough shoal has gotten affirmation from ASEAN with the adoption of the Framework of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea in last’s weeks ASEAN summit.

“We discussed the matters relating to the South China Sea and took note of the improving relations between ASEAN and China and, in this regard, are encouraged by the adoption of the framework of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea (COC), which will facilitate the work and negotiation for the conclusion of a substantive and effective COC,” this year’s ASEAN chair, Pres. Duterte, said in a statement released two days after the end of the 31st ASEAN summit and other Related Summits Tuesday last week.
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November 20, 2017 8:08 am  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  One Comment