PinoyXPat

A Pinoy Expatriate’s Insane Musings

Archive for the ‘Introspection’ Category

Taxes…

Posted by Marvin on August 20, 2008

It has been ages since I last posted here…Been preoccupied with work as well as filing United States AND Philippine tax returns. For people not in the know, expatriates in the US are required to pay US federal and state income taxes (the amount depends on your expatriate arrangement with your company) as well as Philippine income taxes. The only consolation is that the taxes here in the US are given back to the taxpayers in terms of education, excellent freeways, magnificent state and national parks, utilities etc.

I can’t say the same thing for the Philippines though… I treat every peso I ever earned for the last 14 years as precious so giving up 35% of that is not an easy thing to do especially if I don’t see things coming back in the form of infrastructure improvements, health care and basic services. I am one of the millions who get taxed automatically as part of their payslips. What hath our tax pesos wrought?

Economics 101 tells us that the income tax is the primary revenue stream of the government and is a very delicate economic lever. So before we start bashing the Philippine Government for wasting taxpayer money, we have to ask first this question: Do Filipinos pay their fair share of the tax burden to the government?

“Explain before you complain…” – Joey de Leon

In order for us to start nailing people for wasting tax dollars (and I’ve got my trusty hammer ready for some serious nailing) with the appropriate moral footing, we need to check if the government has been receiving the right taxes from the populace. I guess the answer is a resounding “No” even if all that we have right now is anecdotal evidence. The government has always been short in terms of tax collections and have been looking for innovative ways to improve its revenue base.

What can be done to improve the collections? Some thoughts:

Target Professionals: Every “Nanay” or “Tatay” would like their unico hijo or hija to finish a “karrera”. That is why most parents would like their kids to pursue a lengthy (and not to mention expensive) career as a doctor or a lawyer. Nothing wrong with this as these are both noble professions. The problem starts when these professionals fail to issue receipts or declare their full income for the taxman. Their logic is crystal clear: “Ang laki ng nagastos namin sa kolehiyo kaya kailangang makabawi naman kami.”  I can understand this and most doctors and lawyers are honest enough to pay taxes for their full income. What about the rest?

Target The “Big Fish”: This has been the proverbial vision of tax collectors. But the question remains: Who are the “Big Fishes”? Here’s a simple suggestion. The BIR should publish the list of top taxpayers per city/province based on official tax payments to the government and then offer a huge reward to anyone who provides information on people who should be on the list but aren’t or whose tax payment is unusually low. I am of the opinion that for the right price, people will provide useful information. For example, Jamby Madrigal has been fighting tool and nail for her aunt’s inheritance (reminds me of a shark feeding frenzy I saw once on Animal Planet). The expectation is that she will pay a sizable inheritance tax on whatever she gets and if her name is not on the list…ALERT! ALERT! Big Fish sighted off the port bow!

Get Medieval On Non-Tax Payers: We all know who these guys are…This is the guy or girl with the loudest voice who shouts slogans and hurls charges of government neglect or government incompetence day in and day out. Hey, I’m not protecting the government. There IS government neglect and government incompetence due to the people in power with IQs lower than sea slugs…However, this sounds so hollow…So plastic since most of these loudmouths don’t pay taxes. We know who these guys are: (a) men of the cloth e.g. priests and bishops who shout to the high heavens and yet are tax exempt by virtue of their religion, (b) Communist neanderthals and their sympathizers whose life-long quest to establish a Communist state remains unfulfilled – instead they resort to giving radio interviews from their mountain hideouts while blowing up mobile phone towers on the side, (c) squatters who demand housing, food, health care and other services whilst cheating the government of taxes due to the undergound economy i.e. the classic “kabig lang ng kabig” instead of “tulungan mo ang iyong sarili” – a mentality prevalent in a culture of mendicancy, (d) entertainers who squeeze the life blood of the people who idolize them by not paying their taxes e.g. Nora Aunor, German “Master Showman” Moreno, Judy Ann Santos etc. (e) lawmakers and politicians – enough said, everyone KNOWS they cheat on their taxes. How do we marginalize these folks? Simple. Strip them of their rights until they pay up. Priest and religious groups will not be allowed to collect donations or be tax exempt on their vast land holdings until they pay up…Hell, even Queen Elizabeth II pays taxes so why should these guys be exempt. Just imagine the windfall from all of the earnings of the Iglesia ni Cristo, El Shaddai etc. Impose a news blackout on Joma, Ka Roger and their ilk since they’ve forfeited the right to communicate to the people by not recognizing the government of the Philippines. Let them talk amongst themselves…Rescind the right to vote for squatters whose political power base stems from the fact that whoever has the squatter vote wins in the elections – classic example is Binay of Makati…Ban the movies or CDs of non-paying entertainers. Impeach or evict tax evaders from the halls of Congress.

GRRRRRRR!!!! It must be something about viewing my tax returns that makes me want to go nuclear on people who cheat on theirs…Maybe it’s because I don’t have a choice in the matter – my taxes are automatically deducted from my salary…Sigh!

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Posted in Introspection | 3 Comments »

Right Back At You…

Posted by Marvin on February 27, 2008

—oOo—

According to Joseph Estrada, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) stand on the National Broadband Network-ZTE controversy is “like asking a thief to catch a thief”. Based on the Inquirer report, Estrada also indicated that the resignation of the President was not the call of the bishops but of the people and said he would support people power if Arroyo would block moves to impeach her.

RIGHT BACK AT YOU: I must admit it. Estrada has some nerve to mouth off statements like these. Calling Arroyo a thief sounds soooooooo hollow coming from a CONVICTED plunderer like Erap. Ang kapal ng mukha!!!! That line on resignation not being the call of the bishops but of the people indicates a selective case of consciously omitting out historical facts. It should be noted that during EDSA II, BOTH the bishops and the people wanted HIM out. And what does he call the efforts of his minions in the Senate (like suppressing the admission of the second envelope into evidence)? Isn’t that a case of “blocking moves to impeach” him? Reminds me of that old religious song: “Bago mo linisin ang dungis ng iyong kapwa, hugasan ang iyong putik sa mukha…”

 —oOo—

Senator Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal recently implied that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and the Chinese embassy were in cahoots on the NBN-ZTE controversy because of a purported copy of a NEDA memo with a marginal note of “FG”.

RIGHT BACK AT YOU: Trade Secretary Favila refuted this by saying that the original marginal note indicated “FGI” referring to Florante G. Igtiben with the “I” conveniently erased. Igtiben handles Chinese-funded projects at the NEDA. Senator “Half Moon” Madrigal is what I would call a “hair-trigger” show-off. Trying to impress people with the proverbial smoking gun, she doesn’t bother to check her sources (or should it be accomplices). Regardless of whether or not Malacanang’s spin on the matter holds water, can one of the retired senators tutor this halfling on proper legislative and diplomatic decorum. She basically implied that the Chinese ambassador, the Chinese Embassy and by the mathematical principle of transitivity – the Chinese Government of corruption. The Chinese do have its fair share of corrupt officials but a legislator should not issue such pronouncements lightly. Pakilagyan nga ng busal ito at baka mapasubo tayo sa giyera ng di oras… Her excuse? She was just doing her duty as Senator. Ek…Ek… Your duty Senator is to enact laws of national importance – not to play the role of a private eye…Ano na ba ang mga batas na naipasa mo aber? Refer to her senatorial record here.

 —oOo—

Who else will shoot themselves in the foot with their own gun? Abangan…

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And I Thought WE Were Politically Immature…

Posted by Marvin on February 25, 2008

Voting with the heart and not with the mind…Focusing on general statements as opposed to detailed plans…Attending rallies studded with celebrities in lieu of townhall sessions where people can ask questions…Using “sound bites” instead of policy statements…

NO, we are not in the Philippines… I am referring to the current Democractic presidential contest here in the U.S. between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The American voter has not been this engaged since the time of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. This only proves that Democrats (and Republicans) want to get it right this time and not elect another bumbling and incompetent President like Bush II. What a damn fiasco he turned out to be…

But what is striking about this year’s primaries/caucuses is the apparent retrograde pattern of voter behavior. Very similar indeed to the immature politics back home. Consider the following:

Vague Generalities: There has been a marked increase in the number of vague generalizations from this year’s candidates. The King of Generalities is no other than Barack Obama. He has mouthed off a lot of statements with no specific actions mentioned. Consider his “change the establishment” motto. What the hell does that mean? Change what? Where? When? And most importantly: How? He promotes himself as non-establishment relative to Clinton. That may be true but his entire campaign staff are not political neophytes either. How can he ever hope to get his legislative agenda passed with an “establishment” Congress in place? Classic propaganda…

Celebrities Galore: Eat your heart out Judy Ann Santos, Manny Pacquiao et.al. Here in the U.S., they use powerhouse celebrities and Americans are also gullible enough to be taken in by it. Consider Oprah Winfrey pushing for Obama, Barbra Streisand for Hillary etc. Even Mike Huckabee has Chuck Norris campaigning for him (Chuck Norris? What the @#$%!).

Cult Movements: Back home, we have the cults of Manalo (Iglesia Ni Cristo) and Velarde (El Shaddai) controlling voters. For this election, the Americans are being exposed to the cult of the individual. The Cult of Obama is the main one here. People are going goo-goo over gaga over him. And when you ask them why, the most common answer is “He inspires me…” Again, what the @#$%! Rationality seems to have been thrown out the window here…

Slogans: We Filipinos had the classic “Erap Para Sa Mahirap! Estrada Para Sa Masa!” slogan during the 1998 elections. Here they have the “Yes We Can!” spiel of Obama. Yes We Can…Succeed? Yes We Can…Change? Yes We Can…Be Fooled?

It nice to know that the dregs of the human gene pool is not concentrated in the Philippines. The U.S. has its fair share too…

Inspite of what people tell you…Life IS fair…

Posted in Introspection, Peeve | 2 Comments »

Dramatis Personae

Posted by Marvin on February 25, 2008

Dramatis personae def. Latin phrase (“the masks of the drama”) used to refer to the characters in a dramatic work or play.

Plays sink or swim depending on the cast of characters. The more the audience links up emotionally with the characters (loving or hating them), the better the chances of the play doing well at the box office. Given the sad Philippine Telenovela currently unfolding, it might be worthwhile to look at the list:

—oOo—

Character: The Sore Loser
Played By: Joey de Venecia

Background: Long-suffering son living under the shadow of his more illustrious father. Aspired to beat Daddy in his own game by trying to snag a giant government contract even if he is not fully equipped to do battle with the big boys. Loses. Cries “Foul!” and runs back to Daddy for help.

Motto: “There is no honor among thieves.”

—oOo—

Character: The Singer
Played By: Jun Lozada

Background: A nobody who is suddenly thrust into the spotlight by The Sore Loser’s tantrums. Admitted to having his own share of bad deeds. Caught between a rock and a hard place, he starts to sing like the proverbial stool pigeon. The audience applauded. Seeing that he is appreciated by the audience and wanting to provide some entertainment, he sings some more – adding a few choice jokes and wisecracks on the side. The people ate it up. More applause. More songs. Couldn’t turn professional though because he couldn’t produce the lyrics to his songs i.e. no physical proof that the songs are his or that the songs exist for that matter.

Motto: “If you can’t stand the heat, put someone else in the kitchen.”

—oOo—

Character: The Silent One
Played By: Romulo Neri

Background: A technocrat who made the mistake of operning his mouth and Pandora’s Box at the same time. Trapped between the Pillars of Hercules, he opted to stay silent hoping that the maelstrom will pass him by.

Motto: “Less talk, less mistake. No talk, no mistake.”

—oOo—

Character: The Broker
Played By: Benjamin Abalos

Background: Adept at bringing strange bedfellows together. Previously been involved in other compromising situations. The guy everyone loves to hate. Perennially sourrounded by lawyers so that libel/slander cases could be filed immediately.

Motto: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can’t hurt me – I’ll just sue your sorry ass.”

—oOo—

Character: The Inquisitor
Played By: Alan Cayetano

Background: The modern-day incarnation of the consumate medieval bastard Tomas de Torquemada. Extremely paranoid and sees Malacanang’s hand in everything. Exhibits a Messiah-complex which keeps him tied up in investigations and hearings. Too busy doing police work – no time for legislative work (ZERO bills/resolutions filed since being elected senator).

Motto: “Eat your heart out Chiz Escudero. I’m winning in the ratings game.”

—oOo—

Character: The Puppet Master
Played By: Jose de Venecia

Background: The traditional politician and political survivor. Recently lost his crown but currently rebuilding his empire from the ground up. Self-styled kingmaker. Performs most of his magic tricks behind closed doors.

Motto: “I, me and myself.”

—oOo—

Character: The Bogeyman
Played By: Jose Miguel Arroyo

Background: The guy everyone fears. According to The Inquisitor, the cause of every known problem that the country faces including adult-onset acne, the Regine Velasquez ABS-CBN/GMA brouhaha and obesity.

Motto: “If you think I’m tough, wait till you face my wife.”

Posted in Introspection, Peeve | 1 Comment »

The Philippine Telenovela

Posted by Marvin on February 25, 2008

I’ve been away from it all for the past two months.

Why? Because I’m sick and tired of reading crappy news from the Philippines. Sick and tired of self-serving statements and wolves in sheep’s clothing…There are just so many sanctimonious bastards out there and I will not let them ruin the holidays.

Every day, I thank the Lord God that I am here and NOT there (a very selfish thing to say but this is exactly how I feel and most Filipinos here in the US probably feel the same way)…

On a more personal note, I’ve just been appointed to a different role in the company I work for. This means that my L-1 visa will continue to be in effect…Yipee!!! “Four more years! Four more years!”

Four more years of watching the Philippine National Telenovela from 8,000 miles away…

Posted in Introspection, Peeve | 1 Comment »

If Only We Are NOT Who We Are…

Posted by Marvin on November 30, 2007

I am on business travel to Cape Town, South Africa as I started writing this post. As always, the beauty of Table Mountain and the sourrounding areas is beyond words to decribe.

As I led meetings here, I made every effort to promote the fact that I am a Filipino and that the Philippines is as beautiful as any other country on earth – and possibly even more. I keep on mentioning that Filipinos are a noble people and that we can take our place in the sun together with any other citizen of the world…

…and then the shit hits the fan back at home…

To my horror, CNN showed Trillanes’ latest megalomaniacal caper while we were on our meeting break. Footage of him mouthing off incoherent rhetoric in halting, broken English and of an armoured personnel carrier ramming the Manila Peninsula’s main entrance almost made me cower in shame. My colleagues from Australia, the U.S., the United Kingdom and South Africa started asking questions:

  • “Why is the Philippines so unstable?”
  • “Why is the media covering the rebels? Shouldn’t the government impose a news blackout in cases like these?”
  • “Why is the government allowing the siege to continue for hours? Why not storm the hotel and arrest the rebels?”
  • “Why are people milling around watching the events as they unfolded? Shouldn’t the entire area be cordoned off completely?”
  • “Why can’t you get your act together?”
  • “Why do you have short-term memory loss? Why are you so easy to forgive and forget?”

I had to hide my face in shame…I was so mad with the events back home that I couldn’t even think of defending my people and my country. Come to think of it, what we have is  an indefensible and untenable position.

IF ONLY…

…a person guilty of a such a blatant crime as trying to overthrow the government (what other evidence is required except for the media footages of the Oakwood mutiny) was not elected into the Senate. Have we forgotten the bombs planted in and around the Oakwood building by Trillanes, Faeldon and their good-for-nothing ilk?

IF ONLY…

…individuals guilty of rebellion or sedition were thankful that they were even given the right to a trial. If these idiots tried their stunt in some other country, they would have been immediately hanged or shot to death by musketry. Ang lakas pa ng loob na sabihin na ginawa nila ang lahat sa loob ng sistema pero hindi sila pinakinggan! Eh sino ba ang nag-delay ng proceedings ng trial nila? Di ba sila? 

IF ONLY…

…Filipinos were smart and mature enough to discern the real heroes from those suffering from megalomania and severe messiah-complexes. I had to humbly admit this sad fact to my foreign colleagues: “Tanga tayong mga Pilipino!”

IF ONLY…

…Senators of the Republic do their job i.e. legislate laws for the betterment of the country – and follow the rule of law and the Constitution – the same Constitution they swore to honor and defend when they took office. Imagine this: A person elected as senator a.k.a. the despicable Trillanes – “escaping” from the court’s custody, making a mockery of the judicial process, illegally breaking and entering into a private establishment, inciting people to sedition by asking people to overthrow the government and ignoring the Constitution’s rules on succession by asking the Supreme Court Chief Justice to take over the reins – acting like the self-styled hero of the Republic.

IF ONLY…

…someone who risks everything and mouths off fighting words (and a soldier at that) against the government be man enough to face the music and the bullets and not cower behind media people and use them as an excuse for surrendering. Poporma-porma pero susuko din naman pala dahil walang ibubuga!

IF ONLY…

…all of the hotel guests whose privacy was violated and lives put in danger will come back to the Philippines again and try to forget this experience. The same goes for all investors, businessmen and employees. I pity the honest employees and workers e.g. bell hops, waiters etc. as they will be adversely affected if the customers and guests will not return or will lose confidence in the country.

IF ONLY…

…the media would not give too much air time to people whose main purpose in life is to grab power or cause trouble. This is not limited to Trillanes’ band of brigands. The same applies to the Communists (why would you capture sound bites from Ka Roger or Joma when they are out of touch with reality and whose main activity now is to burn cell phone towers in exchange for extortion money), the so-called progressives in Congress (party-list congressmen who use taxpayers money for their own goals of establishing a socialist state by destroying the government from within i.e. “ginigisa tayo sa sariling mantika”), retired bishops who had nothing better to do except help other groups in realizing their power grab strategies…

IF ONLY…

…so-called men-of-the-cloth will concentrate on spiritual matters and not join overtly political and illegal acts. Tingnan niyo ang mga lintik na obispo na ito…They should also be charged with sedition. At itong si Father Reyes, nagmimisa pa ba ito sa parokya niya? Eh lagi ko na lang nakikita sa demonstrasyon itong paring ito eh. Ano ang ginagawa ng Vatican tungkol sa mga radikal na paring ito?

IF ONLY…

…these people spent their time to help out Filipinos devastated by the recent typhoons and earthquake. Such a bunch of hypocritical vipers! 

IF ONLY…

…we have less freedoms than what we have right now. We as a people have proven that we are NOT mature enough to wield the freedoms we gained from EDSA. As such, we need to impose more discipline and to highlight the fact that the freedoms we enjoy are NOT absolute. The right to free speech is not absolute…The right to assembly is not absolute…That’s why the country is in a gridlock. Everyone has the damned right to challenge and stop anything from happening – and they have the damned right to shout it out to everyone – and the media has the damned right to print each and every word…

IF ONLY…

…I am a vulgar and crass man then I can shout to the top of my lungs these crisp and succinct words of derision:

F*&K TRILLANES!    F*&K LIM!    F*&K GUINGONA!    F*&K THE TRAITOROUS CLERGY! 

Unfortunately, I am not – and so…I won’t.

Posted in Introspection, Peeve | 3 Comments »

Your Taxes At Work: Philippine Senators’ Legislative Performance (Or Non-Performance)

Posted by Marvin on September 14, 2007

After the 2007 senatorial elections, I woke up to the sad fact that we as a people are nitwits when it comes to selecting leaders specific to our republican form of government. Filipinos still fail to grasp the basic fact that the Senate is a national legislative body – it is NOT a body for people who excel in executive action, it is NOT a body for popular personalities, it is NOT a body of people who shout loudly at the top of their lungs in order to get attention. The Senate is the upper chamber of Congress whose main function is to craft laws. Being composed of people with no direct constituents, the expectation is that the Philippine Senate will tackle bills/laws of national scope and importance. This is not the venue for parochial, inter-barangay or ordinance-like bills – leave that to the House of Representatives and to the thousands of municipal councils out there. In other words, you need to be properly equipped to be in the Senate.

The 14th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines opened last June. It’s been about 2 months since then…Ano na ba ang ginagawa ng mga senador ngayon? People mainly see all of their useless investigations (in aid of legislation kuno…more in aid of their popularity). But looking at their core competency (crafting laws), how are they performing?

Remember: Your taxes are paying for the Senate. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago  mentioned in a radio interview that senators normally get P43,000 per month as their base salary. In addition, they get around P1.3 Million per month for their staff. Yes folks…senators are not solomonic in their wisdom – they need a staff of people to coach them on what to say and when to say it, research bills for them and basically be at their beck and call. Add to this, travel allowances for “official” trips within the country and abroad. And before I forget, senators are also given individual pork barrel funds. I am not privy to the number but let’s just say it’s P200 Million each annually for simplicity’s sake (the actual number might be higher than this). All in all, each senator gets an annual salary of P516,000 PLUS an annual staff allowance of  P15,600,000 PLUS their pork barrel of P200,000,000 PLUS travel and other allowances which I can’t estimate at this point. Bottom-line: P216.116 Million per senator per year or P18.00 Million per senator per month. That’s a lot of money not to mention taxpayer’s blood, toil, tears and sweat!

How then do our esteemed senators use this money for the betterment of the Filipino nation? Tough question? Surprisingly, the answer is available to the public via the website of the Philippine Senate . Let us take a look at their performance (June-July 2007):

SENATOR: Angara, Edgardo
BILLS FILED: 78
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Renewable Energy Reserves Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
Children’s Health Insurance Program (filed June 30)
Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers (filed June 30)
Compressed Workweek/Flextime Arrangement (filed July 3)
[PinoyXPat: Angara’s experience in legislation is clearly evident here. Most of his bills are national in scope and addresses key areas where legislation is either lacking or inadequate.]

SENATOR: Aquino III, Benigno
BILLS FILED: 1
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Workers’ Productivity Incentives Act of 2007 (filed July 26)
[PinoyXPat: He’s probably in the throes of the neophyte jinx. Or maybe he’s emulating his father, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino, Jr. – who is not known for being prodigous when it comes to legislation. My advice: Don’t even try emulating your father’s senatorial performance. You lack several key things of which he has tons of: wit, charisma and a brilliant mind for starters…]

SENATOR: Arroyo, Joker
BILLS FILED: 0
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
None.
[PinoyXPat: Say it ain’t so Jo(ker)…One of my favorite legislators because of his brilliant mind and the power of his arguments. Tumatanda na yata si Joker…I’d hate to give you the “Kalabasa Award” given your brilliant stint as congressman and senator…]

SENATOR: Biazon, Rodolfo
BILLS FILED: 44
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Public School Teachers Tax Incentive Act (filed July 3)
Anti-Torture Act (filed June 30)
AFP Chief of Staff (Fixed Term) (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: I must say, Biazon has developed from a bumbling neophyte senator to someone whom I would call “average/above average”….The former goat of the Philippine Military Academy must be saying to himself: “Gedemit kadit! Who’s the goat now?”]

SENATOR: Cayetano, Pia
BILLS FILED: 32
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park Act of 2007 (filed July 4)
Granting The Governor The Power To Solemnize Marriages (filed July 4)
Anti-Drunk Driving Act of 2007 (filed July 3)
[PinoyXPat: Iha…Second-term mo na sa Senado…You should start shaping up! Most of the bills she filed are for the creation of obscure national parks. Remember that the environment is only one of the many focus areas of a senator. What the #$%^? Is giving governors the power to marry people a critical need of the country?]

SENATOR: Cayetano, Alan
BILLS FILED: 0
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
None.
[PinoyXPat: Zero…Itlog…Kalabasa…Cayetano is being true to himself and being consistent. He was a do-nothing congressman…He is a do-nothing senator now…Hoy Tisoy! Tigil-tigilan mo ang pagpapogi sa camera at sa pagsali-sali sa mga kung anu-anong imbestigasyon na wala namang katuturan! Sayang ang buwis ng taong-bayan sa yo!]

SENATOR: Defensor-Santiago, Miriam
BILLS FILED: 189
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Battered Women’s Testimony Act of 2007 (filed July 24)
Anti-Discrimination Act (filed July 24)
Government Recycling Act of 2007 (filed July 18)
National Drug & Crime Emergency Act (filed July 5)
Government Data Privacy Protection Act of 2007 (filed July 4)
Anti-Hazing Law (filed July 4)
[PinoyXPat: Quite prolific…Seasoned legislator…]

SENATOR: Estrada, Jinggoy
BILLS FILED: 430
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Breast Care Centers (filed July 3)
Prostate Cancer Public Awareness Act (filed July 3)
Ambulant Vendors Protection Act (filed July 3)
Aviation Noise Limit Act (filed July 3)
Mother’s Day Act (filed July 3)
Electoral Fraud (filed July 2)
[PinoyXpat: Aba…Mukhang nabasa ng isa sa mga staff niya ang blog entry ko tungkol kay Erap/Mini-Me…[link here]…Champion pag dating sa paramihan…But looking at the quality of the bills – very parochial…Pang-munisipyo ika nga…Protecting ambulant vendors – I just hope this is not similar to that STUPID Lina Law protecting squatters! Aviation noise and Mother’s Day – kritikal ba ito sa bansa? Folks, don’t be fooled by the numbers – I looked at his other bills and I think he is listed as co-authors of other bills filed by other senators…Not all his bills are originally his…“It’s not the numbers mate…It’s the content and substance…”]

SENATOR: Enrile, Juan Ponce
BILLS FILED: 16
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Value-Added Tax Exemption on Sale of Services (filed July 25)
Philippine Anti-Trust Act (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: The quintessential political gadfly…I may spit on his principles (or lack thereof) but his performance in the senate is quite exemplary…He filed only a few bills but these are quite noteworthy in its scope and impact…] 

SENATOR: Escudero, Francis
BILLS FILED: 13
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Anti-Influence Peddling Act of 2007 (filed July 17)
[PinoyXPat: Neophyte beady-eyed senator…Got his baptism of fire when he was verbally “bitch-slapped” by Miriam during interpellations…Marami pang bigas na kakainin…

SENATOR: Gordon, Richard
BILLS FILED: 29
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Used Motor Vehicles Regulations Act of 2007 (filed July 16)
Volunteer Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
Disaster Preparedness & Mitigation Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: I think some of his bills merit discussion within the Senate. His bill on disaster preparedness is something which should be considered as the Philippines has been declared as the “most disaster-prone country in the world” e.g. volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, typhoons etc. Had the Indian Ocean tsunami hit the Philippines, we might have been blown back to the Stone Age given our level of preparedness…]

SENATOR: Honasan, Gregorio
BILLS FILED: 2
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
National Security Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: It is surprising that Honasan would file a bill on national security…The better to undermine the republic should he pull another coup attempt again? Imagine this, a disgraced soldier who led coup attempts to destroy the democratic pillars of the country – now crafting laws for the very republic he once tried to destroy? What can I say? We are nitwits when it comes to selecting leaders.]

SENATOR: Lacson, Panfilo
BILLS FILED: 27
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Philippine Air Force Academy (filed June 30)
National Reference Card System Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
Wiretapping (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: May na-file din naman palang bill itong isang ito…Akala ko walang inatupag ito kung hindi mag-imbestiga ng kung anu-anong bagay…He reminds me of the velociraptors in “Jurassic Park”, they keep on attacking the electrified fence but never the same place twice – methodically looking for the weak spots of the government…And to what end and for whose benefit?  This guy scares the hell out of me…]

SENATOR: Lapid, Lito
BILLS FILED: 44
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Caregiver Act of 2007 (filed July 3)
Senior Citizen’s Discount on Petroleum Products (filed July 3)
Medical Tourism Act (filed June 30)
Road Safety for Children’s Act (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: He surprised me…I wasn’t expecting much but he actually filed 44 bills…Wow! And some of them are not that bad (for his caliber that is)…]

SENATOR: Legarda, Loren
BILLS FILED: 97
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Journalist Welfare & Reputation Act of 2007 (filed July 26)
Productivity Incentives Act of 2007 (filed July 4)
Botica sa Barangay Act (filed June 30)
Islamic Calendar (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: The political butterfly (or was it prostitute as Col. Victor Corpuz once so eloquently retorted)…What’s this about the Islamic Calendar bill? Is she courting the Muslim, pro-FPJ votes?]

SENATOR: Madrigal, Jamby
BILLS FILED: 18
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park (filed June 30)
Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation (Repealing) (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: I must say it…This woman was only elected to the Senate because the gullible masses liked Judy Ann Santos – not because Madrigal deserved to be elected…Kaya hindi ko talaga mapapatawad itong si Juday eh…Hindi niya alam kung ano ang resulta ng endorsement niya…Just look at what she’s doing in the Senate. Bills about national parks? Aren’t there more important things? Repealing the Oil Deregulation Law? She probably thinks this will reduce the price of petroleum…Somebody should teach this woman that petroleum is expensive EVERYWHERE…Here in California, people are grumbling about gas…If the most powerful nation on earth couldn’t bring down the price of gas, does she think the Philippine Senate can? A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing…especially if you’re in the Senate…]

SENATOR: Pangilinan, Francis
BILLS FILED: 29
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Overseas Filipinos Investment Act (filed July 18)
University of the Philippines Charter of 2007 (filed June 30)
Alien Social Integration Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: This senator makes sense…His bills are a reflection of this fact…]

SENATOR: Pimentel, Aquilino
BILLS FILED: 66
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Foreign Consultants Identity Disclosure (filed July 4)
Private Hospital Assistance Act of 2007 (filed July 4)
Total Log Ban (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: It’s hard for me to make a rational assessment…My respect for this man turned to revulsion the moment that he joined forces with Erap – the very man he tried to impeach…Politics really do make strange bedfellows…]

SENATOR: Revilla Jr., Ramon
BILLS FILED: 105
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Tanodbata Act (filed July 3)
Seniors Safety Act of 2007 (filed July 3)
Anti-Drag Racing Act (filed June 30)
National Film Archive (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: Another suprising performance…He has now exceeded his father’s performance in the Senate i.e. Revilla Sr. was the  ertswhile chairman of the  Committee on Silence…]

SENATOR: Roxas, Mar
BILLS FILED: 34
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
LPG Industry Act of 2007 (filed July 5)
Lemon Law Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: A lot of consumer-related bills along the lines of his “Mr. Palengke” persona…Preparation for the presidency?]

SENATOR: Trillanes IV, Antonio
BILLS FILED: 10
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
P125 Daily Across The Board Wage Increase (filed July 3)
[PinoyXPat: This is insane…First, we elected a coup plotter with a Messiah complex to the Senate. Then he files a bill basically dictating the wage of workers. The Senate is not the body to dictate the wage of workers – it should be left to what the market can bear. Also, prescriptive legislation and market forces don’t mix…He might as well file a bill repealing the Law of Supply & Demand…Will somebody please teach this boy the basics….please…or better yet wake him up from his megalomania…]

SENATOR: Villar, Manuel
BILLS FILED: 135
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Credit Card Fraud Act (filed July 4)
Reduction of Metals In Packaging Act (filed July 4)
Prison Reform (filed June 30)
Books for the Barrios Act (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: Another seasoned senator…Or magaling lang ang legislative staff niya?

SENATOR: Zubiri, Juan Miguel
BILLS FILED: 1
EXAMPLE OF BILLS FILED:
Renewable Energy Act of 2007 (filed June 30)
[PinoyXPat: Since he was the last senator to be declared winner, he probably didn’t have enough time to prepare much…Hanggang ngayon kasi naghahabol pa itong anak ni Pimentel eh…]

There you have it folks…It is essentially a mixed bag. From a purely legislative point of view, some senators did well while others are mediocre with the mental performance of sea slugs (with apologies to the sea slugs). The much-coveted “Kalabasa Award” goes to Alan Peter Cayetano for essentially doing nothing while Antonio Trillanes gets the “Repeal the Law of Supply & Demand Award” for his utter lack of understanding of macroeconomic principles…Jinggoy gets the “Trying-Hard-To-Be-Senator Medal”

Posted in Introspection, Peeve, Rave | 22 Comments »

National Milestone: Convicting A President

Posted by Marvin on September 12, 2007

After a loooooong hiatus due to my disillusionment and disenchantment with the results of the senatorial elections, the ascerbic East Bay Pinoy expatriate is back online! Hold the applause and insults please.

The Philippines found itself back in the international limelight yesterday by doing something that no other government in recent memory has done: convicting a former president for the crime of plunder…again another unique crime under the Philippine criminal and justice system.

This is a breath of fresh air…This is what I would call a “national milestone” for the country. Sad to say, the Philippines have never been known for digging its heels and sticking to its principles. We have countless examples of rescinded business deals and awards, legislation repealed, convictions overturned, proclamations deemed unconstitutional…Let’s face it, we lack political will.

Not anymore…We have convicted Joseph Ejercito, a former President of the Republic, for the crime of plunder and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua.

We have finally learned the lessons of history (we let Marcos, Imelda and their mobster family get away with murder as well as our millions), conquered our bleeding heart culture (“Let’s pardon him…He has suffered enough…Kawawa naman siya…Malabo na ang mata at may problema pa sa tuhod…”), controlled our security paranoia (“Siguradong mag-aalsa ang mga kampon ni Erap kagaya nina Binay, Lacson, Rez Cortez etc. para ibagsak ang gobyerno…”) and basically said that NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW

“Fiat justitia ruat caelum…(Let justice be done though the heavens fall…)”

—-o0o—-

Consistent with the typical Filipino trait of blaming everyone but himself…Erap blamed everyone except himself for his dilemna. Vitriol spewed forth from his mouth against Malacanang, Luis “Chavit” Singson and the elite/educated class.

He is now saying that he gambled on getting justice from the Sandiganbayan as he will never get justice from the impeachment trial. A gamble which he lost. These statements don’t make sense. Consider the following:

  • Erap was NEVER impeached by the Senate. Recycle your neurons now…The trial was progressing with the Senate as the impeachment tribunal. However, Erap’s minions used their numbers in ensuring that the second envelope’s contents will never be known. FLASHBACK: Oreta doing the tribal “Dance of Joy”…Osmena smiling like the cat that ate the pink canary…Legarda crying like a banshee then but supporting Erap like a heart-lung machine now…Pimentel choking up and explaining his vote for opening the envelope then but leading the “Restore the Erap Monarchy Movement” now…So the statement that he will never get justice from the impeachment trial is baloney! He rigged the trial so that he will not be convicted.
  • Erap’s legal team blew it. They were pandering to the media and to the bleeding heart populace when the real battle is inside the court room. The old fogeys think that the media will judge their client…BIG MISTAKE. Flaminiano and Saguisag blew it big time. Singson said it so eloquently: “…They should look at their own lawyers, especially Rene Saguisag. He is just bad luck, he has never won a major case in his life. Our prosecutors did their homework while they resorted to publicity stunts. Saguisag argued his case in media rather than in court, so why should they wonder if the justices voted unanimously?…” Chavit can really say the darnest things and still make perfect sense…
  • Erap was not able to destroy the credibility of the key witnesses. Clarissa Ocampo basically said that Erap was Jose Velarde and Saguisag and his minions could not destroy or shake her testimony. Other witnesses were also pretty solid in their testimonies. Instead of refuting the statements or presenting evidence to the contrary, Erap’s lawayers used the “our-client-is-the-victim-of-a-conspiracy” card time and time again…
  • Erap didn’t quit while he was ahead…Instead of fleeing the coop, he was left holding the bag of rotten eggs. Where are his minions now? Charlie “Atong” Ang fled to the U.S., was captured and turned state’s witness against him. Lucio Co has vanished into thin air. Same goes for Dante Tan (of BW fame) and Jaime Dichaves. Mark “The Business Genius” Jimenez is doing some weird stuff right now and has become quite creepy after his U.S. incarceration.
  • Erap is the prosecution’s best witness….He basically buried himself…He admitted he was Jose Velarde. He said that he was using that name to help a friend (which in itself is a potential crime). He said that some of the money came from jueteng. The litany goes on and on…Talk about shooting yourself in the foot using your mouth! Or maybe he thinks that the Sandiganbayan is a movie set where he could use his screen persona “Diegong Daga” to weasel his way out of a conviction?

—-o0o—-

As this is a high-profile case, the focus of attention is centered around the disgraced former President. Unbeknownst to most of us, the trial wouldn’t have reached this stage without the dedication and hard work of the prosecution team led by Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio. The team is composed of Deputy Special Prosecutors Robert Kallos, John Torralba, Raymond Julio Olaguer and Humphrey Monteroso. This also includes former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo who started the whole thing off driving the case against Estrada. These guys have slaved for years preparing and presenting the case while dodging immense political pressures (and getting paid the paltry government rate at that). Some of them even threatened to resign out of principle if the court will succumb to Estrada’s whims.

Gentlemen: The Filipino people owe you a debt of gratitude which could never be repaid. Maraming salamat at mabuhay kayong lahat…

Posted in Introspection, Peeve, Rave | 3 Comments »

City Of Makati: When Will You Wake Up?

Posted by Marvin on May 16, 2007

I’ve been remiss in updating this blog. To be blunt about it, I am dog-tired due to work and travel. I’ve been monitoring the elections in the Philippines even when I was away on business to South Africa. The news have not been encouraging…particularly for the City of Makati…

Here’s the latest posting from the Inquirer.net website:

Binay Is Reelected Makati Mayor
Lawrence Casiraya
INQUIRER.net
May 17, 2007

MANILA, Philippines — Reelectionist Jejomar Binay was officially proclaimed winner in the mayoralty race of Makati City on Thursday.Binay garnered a total of 198,814 votes from the city’s two districts while his nearest opponent, Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid, had 22,462. A third candidate, Elias Dulalia, had 1,243 votes.Binay’s daughter, Marlen Abigail, was proclaimed winner in the second congressional district for garnering a total of 70,904 votes. Her opponent Erwin Genuino, son of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. president and CEO Ephraim Genuino, got 41,191. Reelectionist Representative Teodoro Locsin Jr. was declared winner in the first congressional district after he garnered 85,958 votes. Former councilor Oscar Ibay got 17,489 votes. Ernesto Mercado got 151,971 votes and was proclaimed vice mayor. His opponent, Nemesio Yabut Jr., got 48,456 votes. All the candidates for councilmen in Binay’s ticket, including his son Jejomar Erwin, were also proclaimed winners. Binay said his slate’s sweep of all elective posts was a testament to their sincerity and service to the people.

What the bloody fudge is wrong with this picture? Hanggang kailan maghahari-harian ang mga Binay sa Makati? Baka pati ang apo sa tuhod nitong si Rambotito ay ihalal ng mga taga-Makati? Por Dios por Santo…kampon ng mga tarantado!

I’ve been gritting my teeth and praying for a giant thunderbolt to jolt the people to their senses for the last couple of hours. I need to rationalize the people’s actions somehow or else it could only mean one thing: We really deserve the leaders we get. 

So why did Binay win?

  • A culture of mendicancy pervades Makati. Let’s face it…Binay was elected because he is supported by the poor and indigent citizens of Makati. If you are poor and the future looks bleak, the typical I-me-and-myself mentally kicks in i.e. I will vote for someone who can help me…not my fellow citizens, not the city…but ME. Binay, like every traditional mayor, has perpetuated the KBL approach or “kasal/binyag/libing”. He helps the people during their times of trouble by giving assistance or aid. Is this bad? Not really. Is this good? Not really. If you will note, most of the assistance he provides are palliative in nature. He supports fiestas, sportsfests and keeps the health centers well-stocked. This addresses the poor’s immediate needs – health care, entertainment and food. However, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why the richest city in Manila still has some pretty crummy slums. Have you seen the shanties near the South Cemetery? How about the shanties sourrounding Fort Bonifacio? Why not build decent housing? Why not promote small and medium-scale industries? Why not level all those shanties and replace them with more decent housing? I think it is not in Binay’s best interest to uplift the economic lot of the people of Makati. Economic alleviation goes hand in hand with education and enlightenment. Once people’s eyes are open…he can kiss City Hall good-bye. The sad part is that the poor people of Makati really couldn’t care less about economic alleviation…as long as the mayor gives them lechon for fiesta, pera for kasal and abuloy for libing…Why mess around with a good thing?
  • Binay knows how to hide his millions. Binay was a poor human rights lawyer during the days of Marcos (with emphasis on the verb WAS). After being appointed OIC of Makati during Cory’s inept administration, his net worth started rising until it hit the proverbial roof. How did he do it? Ask Newsbreak Magazine, they ran an article before highlighting the vast ranchos of the Binays in Batangas, their real estate properties and basically their millions. Di naman siguro nila nadiscover and kayamanan ni Yamashita ano? Of course hindi….So papano, nagkamal ng pera ang Rambotito Family? By hiding stuff. One of the reasons why the corruption charges failed to stick is because JesusJosephMary (JE-JO-MAR) knows how to hide his wealth. He doesn’t strut around with fancy clothes, he speaks like a stevedore from Port Area (to make him closer to his people…you should hear him on his radio program) and he knows public relations.
  • The poor people of Makati are illiterate when it comes to mathematics. Binay gets the votes because he “gives back” to the people i.e. ibinabalik ang pera. Unfortunately, Makati folk are not skilled in subtraction. For every 100 pesos the national government allocates to Makati, Binay probably gives back to the people 35 pesos – the rest goes to you know where. Guess which number the people sees? Siyempre yong 35 pesos lang…Nagpapasalamat pa sila dahil binahaginan sila ng pera ni Mayor… 
  • People love an “underdog”. The government has been so “atat” to kick his butt that they’ve given him the mythos of an underdog. And the poor, uneducated lot always go for the underdog…
  • Wrong administration candidates. If you want to kick out the Binay plague from Makati, you will need a Makati resident who has been around. Lito Lapid is not from Makati and the people of Makati will not associate with him.
  • Wrong campaign strategy. The government should not wage an honest campaign against Binay. Binay has been campaigning for the next election the day after the previous elections ended through his dole-outs and pa-charming PR activities with the poor (circumvention of election laws but no one can prove it). The only way to defeat Binay is to beat him in his own game…Dapat mamudmod din ng pera ang gobyerno at para makasigurado – dayain sa bilangan. The poor people will not raise a howl as long as may laman ang sikmura nila, may bubong sa ibabaw nila at may pera sa bulsa. O kaya ipalipat lahat ng squatter sa Makati sa Dasmarinas, Cavite at bigyan ng pabahay. Siguradong mag-rereklamo yang si Binay…Mark my words…

Nakaka-peste talaga ang eleksyon….

Posted in Introspection, Peeve | 5 Comments »

What Could Have Been…

Posted by Marvin on April 30, 2007

I am as tough as they come. Unlike most Filipinos, I call a spade a spade. In fact, my parents feared that I might become one of the “desaparecidos” (or the “disappeared ones”) during the days of Marcos (Remember him? He was a dictator that ruined the country and not just Borgy Manuntok’s “lolo”.). For a 13-year old kid living in a dormitory in Diliman, this is saying a lot.

Okay…Okay…So maybe I’m laying the paint too thick on this one. But suffice to say that during a time when opposition to Marcos was a touchy topic – I plastered his stickers wherever I went. It read: “Marcos for Sale, Tolentino for Rent”…Not exactly Che Guevara revolutionary material…but it is a kid’s revolt against oppression…

Fast forward thirty-one years, I’ve become as cynical as a cynic could be. While reading Dr. Martin Bautista’s blog On My Way Home, he mentioned this particular Youtube video:

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooGtSV7UafI]

The moment I saw the title, I snickered saying this is sooo corny and milking the long-dead EDSA cow all over again. However, as the video played – I started to remember the darkness we were in back then and the struggle to see the light.

I recalled the collective effort we as a people exerted in order to unite (something which we Filipinos find so hard to do) against a regime that has brought us discipline but curtailed our freedom.

I reminisced about that sense of euphoria that came from the realization that we are a great country and a great people.

I felt the renewed sense of hope of every Filipino back then – hope that somehow we would defeat our own worst enemy – ourselves.

I also realized the lost opportunity and our own failures to make the changes stick.

I felt sorry for myself…and for every Filipino…

I felt sorry for the future generations of Filipinos who probably won’t even remember that for a brief moment – we did the right thing and acted as a people…

…And while watching this video…I cried…

“Don’t let it be forgot / That once there was a spot / For one brief shining moment / That was known as Camelot!”          

– King Arthur in the musical “Camelot”

Posted in Introspection | 2 Comments »