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161
Introduce Yourself / What Makes ME different from YOU...Ako dili Ikaw.
« on: October 01, 2009, 11:28:01 AM »
I am Unique. It's the fundamental truth about me.
I am different than others. It is what makes me who I AM.

Our differences never make us strangers.
I am drawn to you because you are different.

I love you for what you are.
Love me for what I Am.

“Tolerance and celebration of individual differences is the fire that fuels lasting love.” - Tom Hannah


162
Photos Unlimited / AVILON ZOO
« on: September 29, 2009, 10:13:41 AM »
A Roarin' Time at Avilon

By Bum D. Tenorio Jr. (The Philippine Star) Updated September 27, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Fabulous four-legged, two-legged as well as scaled, winged and hissing creatures kept me company recently at Avilon Zoo, a well-planned and well-maintained sanctuary for animals in Barangay San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal.

The intense excitement I felt when I went on a safari adventure in South Africa a few years back was awakened in me again when I stood face to face with a pride of lions in Avilon. As I watched the beasts about to take their siesta, one lioness was apparently irked by my presence and came near me – obliging with a yawn, flashing her sharp and steely incisors. I was unmoved by this display of might, even if I could almost feel the heat of the lioness’ breath, safe behind the glass wall that thankfully separates the animals and their intrusive visitors. As the lioness continued to gnarl and snarl at me, I got the message that I should stay away from her.

“She probably does not want to be disturbed,” Teena Gaw tells me, adding that 90 percent of the animals in the wild are nocturnal.

Teena and her husband Jake are the owners of the Avilon Zoo. These zookeepers, sometimes called the modern-day Tarzan and Jane by friends and always-satisfied guests, deserve to be commended for creating a zoological garden-resort of world-class standards.

Like many good things, this one actually started with a problem. Neighbors in White Plains in Quezon City complained to the village association that Jake had turned their ancestral home into a zoo because of his pet lions and birds. This forced Jake to decide to relocate his furry and feathery friends somewhere else. What a blessing it was when they found a 7.5-hectare parcel of land for sale in Rodriguez, Rizal. They developed the land and opened Avilon Zoo to the public in 2005.

“Avilon features a variety of animals for the purpose of recreation, education and conservation,” says Jake. “Several animals would have been extinct if not for zoo breeding in captivity. Our zoo offers a convenient opportunity for urbanites to encounter wildlife. We offer education and knowledge about wildlife, nature and environment.”

On this property, that is also planted with different trees and plants, can be found more than 300 species, most of which are endemic to the Philippines. Of late, the couple has been focused on adding larger animals to their kingdom. The latest additions to the Avilon family included a pygmy hippopotamus from the Singapore Zoo exchange breeding loan program, a racoon dog, American badgers, a female jaguar named Sofia (from the Sofia Zoo, courtesy of the Bulgaria breeding loan program) and biking orangutans.

In 2008, Jake and Teena opened the Ark Avilon in the heart of Ortigas Center in Pasig, in the vicinity of Tiendesitas. This ark-like building with an elevator is the only indoor zoo in the country. The insect exhibit here is a must-see, but don’t miss Claudia, a white tiger.

Every day, busloads of students come on excursion to the zoo. The wonder and amazement painted on the faces of the children, and even their parents and guardians, is proof that the zoo is a hit among the young ones and the young once. Some shriek at the sight of a huge reticulated python as it is being taken out of its glass case. The shrieking continues when willing participants try to help each other carry the snake that hisses and crawls around the bodies of its new friends.

This experience is not for the faint-hearted. I tried it and it felt like the whole weight of the Avilon Zoo was on me as I tried to carry the gargantuan python. The snake’s leathery yet smooth body slithered through mine. I felt like a thousand hands were massaging my body.

Of late, excursionists at the zoo carry an Earth Card, an annual zoo entrance pass with perks like 10 percent off on food purchased at the zoo food pavilion, five percent off on souvenir items, two complimentary tickets and graduated discounts for guests coming to Avilon.

A guided tour takes one on an amazing discovery of Avilon’s glorious animalandia. Along the way, you will meet Ruffa, a Sumatran tiger who earned the name because its previous owner turned it over to Avilon on the day that actress Ruffa Gutierrez got married. The actress may have long said goodbye to her husband but Ruffa the tiger has remained as the endearing center of attraction at Avilon.

And the birds, oh the birds! The feathered population at Avilon is like a roll call of flying and flightless birds. The biggest of all is the ostrich. The second largest is the emu that makes a gong-like sound that will surely capture anyone’s attention. The Egyptian geese and American mallards quack their way as visitors excitedly feed them. Swans, not a single one of them ugly, display their grace to all and sundry. Flamingos playfully tiptoe their way around a pond, like ballerinas in a delicate dance.

Discover, too, the capybara, the world’s largest rodent. The Malayan tapir, a shy and gentle creature related to the rhinoceros, is also a great find at the zoo. What about a fish that’s larger than any visitor – the eight-foot fresh water fish called arapaima? Add to these a number of turtles and tortoises of different shapes and sizes. The Lilliputian horses are so cute you can’t blame the kids who pester their parents to bring these horses home.

And the crocodiles at Avilon are so big and there are so many of them that many naughty visitors jokingly wonder if there are still any left in Congress.


Avilon, the name of the zoo, is a coined word, explains Teena, so it can be translated as the “land of the birds.” In fact, she says, “It is Avilon’s goal to soar – soar high in educating the public about the importance of these animals; soar high in helping conserve and protect these animals.”

At Avilon, one joins in the celebration of a roaring life with the wild.

wikcover - Show Posts - glacier_71

ang gwapa

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ang agila

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ang gwardya (hahahaha)

wik1c - Show Posts - glacier_71

ang pulotan

163
Inspiration & Hope / 31-Day Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Disaster
« on: September 29, 2009, 08:42:42 AM »
This is it. It is disheartening to see our fellow-Filipinos, especially in Metro Manila, affected heavily by the recent storm. Many of you are willing to help. Let's hope we can find the way how. However, there's still one way that we all know can do so much, even though it is just a word or two or more. A word of hope. Of consolation. Of solidarity. It is our humble PRAYER.

Here i would like to share to you this little daily offering for our brothers and sisters whose lives are moved, changed and effected by storm Ondoy. I hope and pray that even in this little way, we can share our thoughts, compassion and show our solidarity to them in this difficult time. 

PRAYERS For SURVIVORS AND DISASTER VICTIMS

prayr - Show Posts - glacier_71

164
Environmental Degradation, Climate Change Blamed for Massive Flooding
By ELLALYN B. DE VERA
September 28, 2009, 6:12pm

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) blamed on Monday the massive flooding caused by tropical storm “Ondoy” to environmental degradation and climate change.

“The DENR takes note of these tragic consequences of environmental degradation and climate change which is the cause of all these problems,” DENR Secretary Jose Atienza Jr. said.

“Nature is getting back at us in a very violent manner because of our neglect, abuse, and inability to protect the environment,” he added.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF) Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman Lory Tan, “Ondoy” taught Metro Manila a painful and very expensive lesson on climate change.

“With climate change, no one is ever exempt. Its impacts are dynamic and non-linear. Coastal zones and flood prone areas along river banks and lake shores will of course get hit,” Tan said.

“But less vulnerable areas and sectors are affected as well, because the impact of an extreme weather event spill over into transportation, infrastructure, power, telecommunications, health, food security, water - all leading to internal displacement and marginalization of hundreds, even thousands, of people,” he added.

In a bid to remedy the flood problem, the DENR said it will prohibit the restoration of 60 percent of damaged fish structures in Laguna de Bay to prevent the clogging of waterways, especially during typhoons.

Atienza said he has already sought the help of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) to disallow the re-establishment of illegal fish pens and fish cages that were damaged due to tropical storm “Ondoy.”

He said LLDA General Manager Edgardo Manda has vowed to reject the application for clearance to repair destroyed fish structures along the lake.

“The structures on the lake and the water lilies obstructed the free flow of water to the China Sea; instead it flowed to nearby communities. The Laguna de Bay, Pasig River, and Manila Bay weren’t able to absorb the huge volume of rainfall,” Atienza said.

He explained that clearing the Bay of illegal fish structures will allow the lake to function as a catch basin of water coming from the mountain.

The DENR chief also noted tons of garbage that blocked the drainage lines during the onslaught of “Ondoy.”

He urged the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to accelerate the compliance of local government units (LGUs) to Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Atienza also committed himself to the full restoration of the Manila Bay, noting its interconnection with the Laguna de Bay and Pasig River.

165

Dozens Dead in Philippines from Tropical Storm Flooding

(CNN) -- At least 51 people have died and at least 21 others are missing after torrential rains and subsequent flooding pummeled the Philippines on Saturday, the government said.
Filipino pedestrians in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila, brave Tropical Storm Ketsana's floodwaters.

Filipino pedestrians in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila, brave Tropical Storm Ketsana's floodwaters.

Tropical Storm Ketsana spawned the flooding, which caused at least six of the deaths in Manila, the nation's capital.

Manila and the nearby province of Rizal bore the brunt of the downpour, said Gilberto Teodoro, secretary of national defense and chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

Two of the dead in the capital city were victims of a wall that collapsed, he said.

Five thousand people were rescued without boats, and another 3,688 were rescued with boats, he said.

Another governmental official reported four injuries.

"My neighborhood rarely gets a bad flooding and I guess this is the worst," said CNN iReporter Jv Abellar from Quezon City, Philippines.

"Traversing through the flood is like walking through rapids."

In all, 41,205 people had sought refuge in 92 evacuation centers, Teodoro said.

By 8:30 a.m. Sunday (8:30 p.m. Saturday ET), the torrential rains ended and slight rainfall was reported.

Some roads in the capital metropolitan area had reopened, but "we do not encourage people to travel these roads," Teodoro told CNN in a telephone interview.

"They can be a hindrance to efficient relief and rescue operations."

The federal government began massive relief efforts to aid the local governments, and set up aid centers addressing pressing problems such as sanitation and water purification.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered pay parking lots at malls in Manila to be opened so motorists can leave their cars there without charge, Teodoro said. iReport.com: Share images of Philippines flooding

Manila's Nino Aquino International Airport and nearly all of the country's other international airports had reopened, he said.
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Though the Philippines is no stranger to floods, Saturday's downpours approached a record, with 341 mm (13.4 inches) falling between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., he said.

The average rainfall for the entire month of September is 391 mm (15.4 inches), he said

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166
World Daily News / Obama to World: Don't expect America to fix it All
« on: September 24, 2009, 11:11:46 AM »
Obama to World: Don't expect America to fix it All
(philstar.com) Updated September 24, 2009 07:00 AM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – President Barack Obama challenged world leaders yesterday to shoulder more of the globe's critical burdens, promising a newly cooperative partner in America but sternly warning they can no longer castigate the US as a go-it-alone bully while still demanding it cure all ills.

"Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone," said Obama in put-up-or-shut-up comments before a packed UN General Assembly hall. "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

In his first appearance before the group, Obama promised the US would reach out in "a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect," but he also wagged a rhetorical finger at leaders who spend much of their time at international gatherings excoriating the US He said "an almost reflexive anti-Americanism" that swept the globe under the administration of his predecessor, George W. Bush, is not "an excuse for collective inaction."

"Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions," he said.

And yet, directly following Obama at the podium was Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who railed against the UN Security Council, which includes the US, calling it a "terror council" and accusing it of treating smaller nations as "second class, despised."

US presidents — Bush included — have come to the United Nations year after year with a wish list of action items and preaching the gospel of working together. The US is rich and powerful, but cannot solve problems without help, they say, whether Democrat or Republican.

So Obama's message was not new.

But it was delivered in an unmistakably new, more humble tone.

Following a president criticized for making my-way-or-the-highway "requests" of allies, Obama didn't demand so much as he chided and cajoled. It's now an inextricably interconnected world, he said, so that each country's problems become the others'.

"In the year 2009 — more than at any point in human history — the interests of nations and peoples are shared," Obama said.

Following a president pilloried for arrogance, Obama talked more modestly about the United States.

To be sure, he listed American contributions. But this was no chest-thumping bragging; instead it was a more lawyerly argument aimed at convincing the jury of Obama's world peers that the U.S. has heard the complaints and, under his leadership, is addressing them. That ranges from banning torture to winding down the Iraq war, working to rid the world of nuclear weapons, aggressively pursuing Mideast peace and bringing new energy to the battle against climate change.

And he delivered the message that America will not behave as if it is better.

"No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation," Obama said. "That is the future America wants — a future of peace and prosperity that we can only reach if we recognize that all nations have rights, but all nations have responsibilities as well."

At home, it remains to be seen whether Obama's critics on the right will see this sort of talk as giving away some of America's accepted status as the globe's lone superpower.

Many were already criticizing Obama along these lines after previous speeches meant to reach out a conciliatory hand — such as during his inauguration or in Cairo to the Muslim world. As John Bolton, a US ambassador to the UN under Bush, said before Obama's trip: "Why should we not expect a visible demonstration of Obamamania at the UN? He is giving them pretty much what they ask for."

The president's reception in the traditionally staid UN hall was hardly Obamamania. But he received several rounds of applause, something rarely afforded to Bush. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, perhaps Obama's chief foe in the room who was delivering his own address later, listened intently but did not clap.

Even while offering new cooperation from Washington, Obama was blunt that others must step up or face dire consequences: "extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world, protracted conflicts that grind on and on, genocide, mass atrocities, more nations with nuclear weapons, melting ice caps and ravaged populations, persistent poverty and pandemic disease."

At the top of Obama's urgent challenges are the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran, the first having already produced several atomic bombs, the second suspected of moving rapidly in that direction and both in defiance of repeated international demands. He said the two nations "must be held accountable" if they continue, without mentioning the tougher sanctions that are his preferred penalties.

"The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise," Obama said.

The president was particularly muscular on the need to tackle global warming, declaring that America's days of dragging its feet on the issue are over. "If we continue down our current course, every member of this assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders," he said.

And, seeking to build on his three-way meeting in New York on Tuesday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Obama urged nations aligned with either side to abandon old divides — by speaking honestly to the Israelis about the Palestinians' legitimate claims to land and livelihood and to Palestinians and Arab nations about Israel's right to exist.

"All of us must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we only lend it lip service," Obama said.

He said that all leaders will be held accountable by their citizens. "They will not long tolerate those who are on the wrong side of history," he said.

And yet the problems he said require action are enormously complex and have bedeviled the world for decades. Also, when national interests collide with global priorities, leaders almost always choose the former, or pay a steep price politically. Obama himself said, "I will never apologize for" acting in America's interests.

Indeed, the president saw two tests of this firsthand on yesterday, as his UN speech was bracketed by meetings with the leaders of Japan and Russia.

Talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev focused almost entirely on Iran, with Obama seeking support for tougher UN action if multilateral talks with Tehran next month yield unsatisfying progress. Russia, which has strong economic ties with Iran, has stood in the way of such stronger action in the past.

Emerging from the talks at Obama's hotel, Medvedev gave at least some ground, saying sanctions are usually unproductive but opening the door to more nonetheless. "In some cases, sanctions are inevitable," the Russian leader said.

The White House was thrilled at even this muted support, and said that Obama's decision last week to scrap a plan for a new US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe that deeply angered the Kremlin, while not designed to increase cooperation from Russia, may well have made it more possible. "The notion that we needed to do what we did as a concession for Russia never came up," said Obama Russia adviser Mike McFaul. "But is it the case that it changes the climate — I think that's true, of course."

Japan, meanwhile, just elected a leader who campaigned on shifting its diplomatic stance to one less centered on Washington. In public remarks, Obama and Japanese Prime Minister
Yukio Hatoyama reaffirmed the importance of the traditional US-Japan alliance.

167
Photos Unlimited / NASA data: Greenland, Antarctic Ice Melt Worsening
« on: September 24, 2009, 10:33:00 AM »
NASA data: Greenland, Antarctic ice melt worsening
(philstar.com) Updated September 24, 2009 10:06 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) – New satellite information shows that ice sheets in Greenland and western Antarctica continue to shrink faster than scientists thought and in some places are already in runaway melt mode.

British scientists for the first time calculated changes in the height of the vulnerable but massive ice sheets and found them especially worse at their edges. That's where warmer water eats away from below. In some parts of Antarctica, ice sheets have been losing 30 feet a year in thickness since 2003, according to a paper published online Thursday in the journal Nature.

Some of those areas are about a mile thick, so they've still got plenty of ice to burn through. But the drop in thickness is speeding up. In parts of Antarctica, the yearly rate of thinning from 2003 to 2007 is 50 percent higher than it was from 1995 to 2003.

These new measurements, based on 50 million laser readings from a NASA satellite, confirm what some of the more pessimistic scientists thought: The melting along the crucial edges of the two major ice sheets is accelerating and is in a self-feeding loop. The more the ice melts, the more water surrounds and eats away at the remaining ice.

"To some extent it's a runaway effect. The question is how far will it run?" said the study's lead author, Hamish Pritchard of the British Antarctic Survey. "It's more widespread than we previously thought."

The study doesn't answer the crucial question of how much this worsening melt will add to projections of sea level rise from man-made global warming. Some scientists have previously estimated that steady melting of the two ice sheets will add about 3 feet, maybe more, to sea levels by the end of the century. But the ice sheets are so big it would probably take hundreds of years for them to completely disappear.

As scientists watch ice shelves retreat or just plain collapse, some thought the problem could slow or be temporary. The latest measurements eliminate "the most optimistic view," said Penn State University professor Richard Alley, who wasn't part of the study.

The research found that 81 of the 111 Greenland glaciers surveyed are thinning at an accelerating, self-feeding pace.

The key problem is not heat in the air, but the water near the ice sheets, Pritchard said. The water is not just warmer but its circulation is also adding to the melt.

"It is alarming," said Jason Box of Ohio State University, who also wasn't part of the study.

Worsening data, including this report, keep proving "that we're underestimating" how sensitive the ice sheets are to changes, he said.

168
LGU Philippines / Kris To Sell Her House For Nonoy's Campaign
« on: September 24, 2009, 10:17:59 AM »
2010 Elections Fast Turning Out To Be a House-Selling Campaign
By ROBERT R. REQUINTINA
September 23, 2009, 6:25pm

Television host Boy Abunda, who used to endorse Nacionalista Party presidential bet Senator Manny Villar, virtually defected to the camp of Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III after he expressed willingness to sell his houses, including the family ancestral home in Samar, to help raise funds for the LP bet.

TV personality Kris Aquino shared this information as she disclosed that she and her husband, basketball star James Yap, are willing to sell the house they built to fund the campaign of her brother.

Kris thanked Abunda who offered to sell his properties to help raise funds for Noynoy’s campaign.

“Nag-papasalamat talaga ako kay Boy at sa mama n’ya sa pag-mamagandang loob nila. Doble kayod talaga ako ngayon para makatulong ako sa kampanya ni Noynoy.’’

Apart from these, there is also the P1 fund drive for Aquino’s presidential bid.

Kris said that she and husband James have discussed about selling their property, located somewhere in Metro Manila. “Sabi ko, madali naman kitain ang pambili ng bahay dahil pareho naman kaming kumikita, so I told Noynoy na ‘yung sale amount will go to his campaign,’’ Kris said, in an emotional interview aired over “Bandila’’ and “The Correspondents” on ABS-CBN Tuesday night.

A source refused to give details about the property “but it is worth a lot.’’

But Kris said that her brother refused her offer. “Nag-pasalamat s’ya pero sabi n’ya ‘wag na lang daw. Kasi hindi naman daw siya pinalaki na umaasa na lang sa ibang tao.’’

Kris insisted that she would help his brother and promised that parts of her earnings from her endorsements would go to Noynoy’s campaign fund. Earlier, Kris has promised to take care of his only brother Noynoy, even announcing that she would help him fund his future wedding.

“I told him (Noynoy) may mga pending pa akong endorsements, at ‘yung kikitain ko dun, ibibigay ko rin sa kanya. So, mula ngayon hanggang next year, ‘yung earnings from my endorsements, 1/3 nun mapupunta kay Noynoy, 1/3 kay Josh, and 1/3 para kay Baby James,’’ Kris also said.

Kris is the country’s second most powerful celebrity in Yes! Magazine’s list of 50 Most Powerful in Showbiz for 2008, according to its April 2009 issue.

Next to Willie Revillame, Kris is a contract star of ABS-CBN who receives a P3.3 million salary every month. The same magazine said that Kris is set to earn P200 million in one year.

Kris, also known as “Commercial Princess of the Philippines,” is one of the most sought after celebrity endorsers in the country. One of her multi-million endorsement deals was the commercial she made for San Miguel in which she reportedly earned P20 million. Reports said that the San Miguel commercial was one of the most memorable in the industry with 99 percent audience recall.

Last year, the magazine also named Kris the country’s top celebrity endorser with 22 tri-media endorsements. She topped the same list in 2007.

Political observers believe that a presidential candidate would need at least R10 billion to campaign in the elections.

Other celebrities who offered to help campaign Noynoy for free include Claudine Barretto, Bea Alonzo, Mariel Rodriguez, Martin Nievera, and Ogie Alcasid.

169
LGU Philippines / 9th Ray to Sun in RP Flag
« on: September 24, 2009, 10:02:45 AM »

Bicam OKs 9th Ray to Sun in RP Flag

By MARIO CASAYURAN
September 23, 2009, 6:15pm

The bicameral conference committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives approved Tuesday the addition of a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag.

This came after the two panels reconciled the disagreeing provisions of the two versions of the bill amending the Flag and Heraldic Code.

Sen. Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate panel and principal author of Senate Bill (SB) 3307, said the approval of the measure would foster greater unity among Filipinos regardless of religion.

‘’We are a country that has had a conflict with our Muslim brothers for the last so many decades. I think this is a bid step towards reuniting our country, recognizing the contributions of our fellow countrymen, Muslim Filipinos. We should recognize their deeds in our country,’’ Gordon said.

Included in the Senate bill was Gordon’s proposal to add a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag to acknowledge the courage, bravery and integrity of Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation’s independence.

SB 3307 proposed amendments to Republic Act 8491, or ‘’An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms and Other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines.’’

‘’This is a great step in recognizing the fact that we had Muslims such as Lapu-Lapu, Sultan Kudarat, Amai Pakpak and Sorongan who kept fighting the Spaniards long before this country thought of a revolution against Spain. This would foster unity, making sure that nobody is excluded. If we are to have national unity in this country it must begin with our flag, it must be symbolized in our flag,’’ Gordon said.

‘’We take an amendment of the law here but we actually amend the mindset of our countrymen and bring the nation back to its original posture, one that will not accept tyranny. And we should give credit where credit is due,’’ Gordon stressed.

Members of the bicameral panel were Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and their House counterparts, Reps. Del de Guzman, chairman of the House panel; and representatives Ma. Carisssa Cocoluella, Salvador Escudero III and Roman Romulo.

   

170
LGU Philippines / Why I stand behind former President Joseph Estrada
« on: September 24, 2009, 09:54:56 AM »
Why I stand behind former President Joseph Estrada
By SENATOR JUAN PONCE ENRILE Senate President
September 23, 2009, 7:11pm

(Privilege speech of Senate President JUAN PONCE ENRILE delivered on September 22, 2009.)

Mr. President and my colleagues, I rise today on a matter of personal privilege. I do so as a senator of the Republic who sought and obtained the people’s mandate in the Senatorial Elections in 2004 under the banner of the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

Last week, I sat at that exalted seat of the Senate president and listened with deep pain, a heavy heart, and a troubled mind as I presided over the session when my friend and colleague, the Hon. Panfilo Lacson, delivered his searing privilege speech. He rendered his own personal account and portrayal of the person and character of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, the founder and leader of my Party, the PMP.

The next day, the Hon. Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, stood and took the Floor, and properly so, to defend the name and honor of his father.

I could not help but feel saddened about how an old friendship has come to such a bitter and rancorous end and to witness the ensuing acrimony that rages to this day.

Senator Lacson has expressed that it pained him to make his revelations which, he says, is aimed “to unmask” the “real President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada.” But I am sure that the heaviness he felt in his heart then could not compare with the pain that must have gripped the president’s own son, whose father was being subjected to such grave and serious accusations right in his presence and in the halls of this august Chamber.

I am not certain why and how things have come to this. And I am not alone with that uncertainty. There are many questions that have been boggling the minds of the public since this controversy
started.

Mr. President, I do not stand today to attribute any ill-will or any ill motive to the Gentleman from Cavite who not only served under President Erap Estrada, but more than that, was also once known to have enjoyed the full trust and confidence of the former president.

I am sure that before Senator Lacson launched this serial attacks against President Estrada, he knew that his motives would be doubted, questioned, and made the subject of many speculations, both favorable and unsavory. Knowing Senator Lacson, I am also sure he is prepared to address these doubts and these questions.

Precisely, he prefaced his speech by explaining that he is doing this out of a sense of moral duty to the public and the nation. His call was for God to save this country from Joseph Ejercito Estrada. With that call, I believe it is fair and safe to conclude that Senator Lacson’s so-called “revelations” against his former president and Commander-in-Chief was a serious and deliberate effort to dissuade the public from electing President Erap back to the highest position in the land.

I must give credit to Senator Lacson for being unequivocal about his intentions and for going straight to the point, his ultimate point, which is that Erap must not be allowed to lead this nation again.

But since Senator Lacson spoke about who he claims “the real Erap Estrada” is, I hope he and my colleagues will not begrudge me for feeling compelled to speak about the side of President Erap I have personally witnessed in our long years of association and friendship.

Ang sasabihin ko po ngayon ay yun lamang sariling karanasan at kaalaman ko ukol sa katauhan ng Dating Pangulong Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

Dalawa lamang kami ni Erap sa oposisyon na pinalad na mahirang na Senador noong 1987. Ang dalawampu’t dalawa pang Senador ay pawang mga kandidato ng yumaong Pangulong Corazon C. Aquino. Limang taon kaming magkatabi ng upuan noon sa Senado.

Sa buong panahong iyon, si Erap ay hindi ko kailanman nakitang nag-mayabang o nagmarunong. Nagtatanong siya sa akin tungkol sa mga usapin at kalakaran sa Senado sapagka’t bago lang siya at walang karanasan bilang isang mambabatas.

Hindi man siya mahilig magtalumpati, at madalas nilalait ang kanyang pagsasalita ng Ingles, nakita ko ang kanyang pagiging isang totoong tao. Magalang, mapagkumbaba at hindi mapagkunwari.

Hindi matatawaran ang kanyang pagiging tunay na maka-tao at maka-mahirap. Pinagtatawanan siya noon sa kanyang isinulong na “Carabao Bill”. Ngayon, ang ating mga magsasaka at ang bansa ay nakikinabang ng husto sa “Carabao Center” sa Gitnang Luzon na naitatag sa pamamagitan ni Erap.

As a Senator, Joseph Estrada proved to be a true nationalist. He, along with eleven other Senators, myself included, voted for the abrogation of the US Bases Agreement despite the strong lobby for its extension led by no less than President Aquino.

While we were praised by many as “The Magnificent Twelve,” we were also denounced and branded as “The Dirty Dozen” by those who wanted to maintain America’s military presence in the Philippines. In hindsight, if not for that bold and historic vote, we would not have seen the rise of Subic and Clark as living examples of what we can, on our own, achieve as a sovereign nation.

In 1990, when I was arrested for what the Supreme Court eventually declared to be a non-existent crime of “Rebellion Complexed with Murder” right on the Floor of the Old Senate, Erap was the only one among my colleagues who dared and offered to accompany me as I rode the van with the arresting officers led by then Director of the National Bureau of Investigation, former Gen. Alfredo Lim, on the way to the NBI compound where I was booked and temporarily detained.

Sinabi ni Erap sa akin: “Manong, sasama ho ako. Mahirap na baka may masamang mangyari sa inyo. Kababaril lang ho kay Pepe Oyson sa isang police van. Mabuti pa samahan ko kayo.”

And so he did ride with me in the van. Erap stayed long at the NBI, drove away the media who wanted to capture and feast on my image being fingerprinted and photographed as a criminal. He did not leave until he was sure I was safe.

I could never forget this most sincere gesture of concern and kindness which Erap readily extended to me during one of my darkest days, when many of my so-called friends chose to keep their distance from me.

I cannot claim to know everything about President Erap or to know him as keenly and intimately as perhaps, Senator Lacson does. While I have known him for a long time, I became intimately close to him only fairly recently.

This was around the time when many who he thought were his true friends either turned against him or abandoned him. On the other hand, those who despised him from the beginning, for he did not belong to the self-righteous elitist segments of this society, were relentless in their efforts to humiliate him and oust him from Malacañang fast and quick.

Joseph Ejercito Estrada is by no means a perfect man. He has his own flaws, just like all of us. To be honest, I believe some of his best traits may have been the very ones that eventually worked against him. For one, he was too trusting. It is good to trust but, perhaps, he trusted the wrong people. He was carefree in his ways, but this otherwise desirable trait did not serve him well because he occupied no less than the highest position in the land.

He was generous with his friends, but his generosity was exploited by those who were never really his friends in the first place. In many ways, he had a simplistic view of things and he did not grasp the complications and nuances of his conduct in relation to the sensitivity of his position as President of the land.

He was also very transparent, many times, to a fault. Against all well-meaning advice, he openly showed his anger and he answered questions from the media frankly and candidly.

His show of indignation, whether righteous or out of his sensitive nature, earned him the ire of the powerful and influential media.

But that is Erap. What you see is what you get. He was unpretentious and spontaneous with his reactions. Being the colorful character that he is, he made good copy for the press, but he was, for the most part, harshly criticized and ridiculed.

President Erap and I have had our own differences in the past.

May mga panahon na alam kong nagdamdam siya sa akin. Ito ay nangyari noong nasa Kongreso ako at nagtalumpati laban sa nakita kong pagmamalabis ng Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) na noo’y pinamumunuan niya habang siya ay Pangalawang Pangulo.

Sumama ang loob niya dahil bilang kaibigan, inasahan niya na bago sana ako nagsalita at nag-akusa, sana ay binigyan ko muna siya ng pagkakataong magpaliwanag. Naunawaan ko ito. At nang ako ay humingi ng paumanhin, agad niya akong pinatawad.

When he won the Presidential elections in 1998, before he was formally proclaimed, Erap, with all magnanimity and humility, sought me out at the Interconinental Hotel to shake my hand and even asked me for some advice.

I was deeply humbled by his gesture because I ran against him and I was one of those who publicly belittled his capacity to lead the country.

At one time during his presidency, I phoned President Erap to tell him that I was going to investigate what I believed were anomalies in connection with the bidding of LRT 2. He immediately said: “Ok lang sa akin yon Manong, ‘wag mo akong intindihin. Imbestigahan mo para malaman natin kung may kalokohan talaga dyan.”

Indeed, Erap never stopped Congress from investigating anomalies under his administration. In fact, he immediately and willingly told his own wife, the First Lady, Dra. Luisa Ejercito, to face a Senate investigation during his presidency.

More than that, President Erap did not use the vast resources available to him as president to thwart his own impeachment by Congress in 2000. He readily submitted himself to the legal process of undergoing an impeachment trial. But his political enemies and leaders of the so-called “civil society” were in a hurry to remove him from office, never mind his basic right to a fair and complete trial on the facts and the merits of the charges filed against him.

The humiliation that the former President and his family have suffered are unimaginable for any ordinary person to endure.

From the time his erstwhile so-called “friend,” Luis “Chavit” Singson accused him of taking bribes from “jueteng” operations, to the aborted impeachment trial which led to EDSA DOS, his illegal and forced ouster from the Presidency, and eventually, his arrest and detention, he and his family were publicly pilloried and shamed.

In EDSA Dos, Erap and we, the Senators who voted against the opening of the “second envelope” because the bank accounts were not included in the charges Congress elevated to the Senate, were subjected to a vicious hate campaign, derisively caricatured, publicly cursed, demonized, and called names: “mandarambong,” “political prostitutes,” “mga bayaran,” “The Craven Eleven,” and many unprintable labels.

It did not help that the media, and sadly, the leadership of the Catholic Church were active parisans and participants in the effort to force Erap to resign.

Lahat ng pagmumura at pag-aalipusta na ibinato kay Pangulong Estrada at sa amin ay naganap at pinayagan ng mga pastor, mga madre at kaparian doon mismo sa paanan ng malaking imahe ng Birheng Maria sa EDSA.

I know that many people had advised President Erap to forcibly disperse the crowd in EDSA and not to allow it to swell, after all, they had no permit to occupy that road. But Erap refused. He said it was their right to protest for as long as the gathering remained peaceful, and he did not want anyone to get hurt.

President Erap pressed for the opening of the controversial “second envelope” after the prosecutors walked out of the impeachment trial. He asked his lawyers to withdraw their objection to its opening in order to vindicate him from speculations that he was hiding something there. But the prosecution refused to go back. They had another plan.

After he was already removed from office and when the envelope was finally opened by then Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, together with the late Senator Renato Cayetano and in full view of the media, they found that the subject bank account was indeed owned by Mr. Jaime Dichavez.

But this was drowned in the midst of the euphoria over Erap’s forced removal from office. Much later, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, even testified at Erap’s trial for Plunder at the Sandiganbayan to attest to such findings.

Erap could have used the outrage of the throngs of his supporters among the masses who gathered and refused to leave EDSA to protest his arrest as an opportunity to force the administration to free him from jail. This huge gathering was, of course, ignored by the media and it received little coverage, if any at all.

But in a meeting that I, his wife Dra. Loi, and his leaders had at the Robinsons Galleria Hotel on the eve of May 1, 2001, President Erap called and asked me and Dra. Loi to dissuade the agitated crowd from marching to Malacañang. He worried that the people would get hurt and lives may be lost because violence would surely erupt.

Despite Dra. Loi’s pleas and a taped voice message from President Erap played to the angry crowd asking them not to march, they still did. Scores of his supporters were seriously wounded and hurt, and I understand a number of them died as they were rightly met by anti-riot policemen and snipers in Malacañang. Indeed, Erap never wanted the lives of his loyal supporters to be placed in danger just for his sake.

On May 1, 2001, barely two weeks before the elections, I was arrested and accused of leading the assault against the Palace despite the fact that I was the first to discourage and caution the crowd about marching from EDSA. Again, the Supreme Court was my only refuge, and I was ordered released after 6 days of detention at Camp Crame. I lost the senatorial race in 2001 which came on the heels of EDSA Dos, Erap’s ouster and arrest, and EDSA Tres.

Despite all the betrayal, the public humiliation, the most vicious and meanest attacks upon his person, name and honor, and the long years of confinement and restriction on his freedom, what I saw in Erap was an inexhaustible capacity for kindness and forgiveness.

Many times when I would visit him under detention, I would be surprised by the people who I found there in his company, enjoying his generosity, hospitality, and even seeking his help and support. I just quietly said to myself: “How can this man bring himself up to even feed these people who betrayed his trust and those who were instrumental in his painful and illegal ouster?”

For a man who they portrayed as a scoundrel who lacked “education,” he never ceased to amaze me with his genuine gentlemanly and respectful ways, his willingness to forgive, and his kind-heartedness. He chose not to nurture any ill-will. He may have been angry at these people at some point, and understandably so. But when they came to him, he received them not only with all due respect, but with an openness to embrace them back as friends. He set aside his bitterness, and he was not quick to judge nor condemn them.

When Secretary Angelo Reyes, who turned against him as his AFP Chief of Staff, was up for confirmation at the Commission on Appointments, I asked Erap how he would like me to vote. I was then in the CA representing the PMP. He said: “Manong, pumunta dito sa ‘kin, nakikiusap, kasama ho yung asawa niya. Siguro tulungan mo na lang.”

In fact, even those who impeached him and voted against him during the trial were welcomed by Erap as friends. Among them were Senator Manny Villar, Senator Nene Pimentel, Senator Serge Osmeña, and Senator Loren Legarda.

More than that, I know that leaders of the so-called “civil society” who he knew were at EDSA DOS have turned to him and relied on his help and support for their protest actions against this present Administration. Today, I see these same faces parading themselves as leaders and supporters of the candidacy of my dear colleague, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, III. Evidently, they have no more use for Erap.

When I came to be labeled and regarded as an “Administration ally,” Erap told me that many of his friends were intriguing against me. But he said: “Manong, sa ‘kin wala lahat yon. Basta hindi tayo magkakahiwalay.”

In 2007, I resigned as Chairman of the PMP because I did not want to be a burden to him, having been labeled as “pro-Gloria,” and because I could not support some people who were in his senatorial slate. I said, however, that I will not leave the Party and that I will just remain as a member. President Erap understood but said to me: “Basta Manong, magkasama pa rin tayo.”

I was surprised when one day, after the elections, he called my Chief of Staff to ask me to take over his position as Chairman Emeritus of the PMP. She reasoned with him saying that the position of Chairman Emeritus can only rightfully be occupied by him, being its founder. Add to that, there would surely be some negative reaction from his hardcore supporters.

But he insisted and proceeded to give this humble representation the distinct honor of being named Chairman Emeritus of no less than the party that draws its existence and strength from the persona of ERAP-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

Perhaps, our friendship has remained unshaken because of our mutual openness and candor. I never kept any secret from him about my association with President Arroyo’s administration and my support for her policies whenever in my judgment, such policies and actions were correct. But just like President Erap’s administration, I have openly criticized, questioned, and gone against some of President Arroyo’s economic and political policies and directions.

Only a few weeks after Mrs. Arroyo took over the presidency, a mutual friend arranged a brief meeting between us. I told her that I will help her if she needed my help for the sake of the country. But I said to her: “Huwag mo lang sana ako palayuin kay Erap. Mas kailangan niya ang kaibigan ngayon."

To her credit, she said she was not asking that of me at all. In subsequent meetings with President Arroyo, where I would plead for more freedom and leniency for the detained former President, she would invariably say that when she was his Vice President, Erap was very kind and never did anything
wrong to her.

Even the late President Cory Aquino who led those who asked for Erap to step down, must have seen something good in him, at least enough for her to later acknowledge that she was sorry. I believe she said: “Patawarin sana niya ako…lahat naman tayo ay may pagkakamali.”

Do I regret what I did and whatever I have suffered because of my support for President Erap? Am I ashamed of my association with this man?

Pinagsisisihan ko ba na ako ay sumama kay Erap sa kanyang laban para sa hustisya? Ikinahihiya ko ba siya, itatatwa, o iiwanan bilang isang kaibigan?

Hinding hindi po. Para sa akin, isang malaking karangalan na ako ay maituring niya bilang isang malapit na kaibigan. Si Erap ay naging isang tunay na kaibigan sa akin, sa hirap at ginhawa.

Mr. President, the Floor of this Chamber is always available for each one of us to freely express our thoughts and ideas, our beliefs, and our advocacies.

It offers us the extraordinary privilege of parliamentary immunity, but that privilege carries with it the equally extraordinary duty for us to wield and exercise it with a sense of responsibly. I am sure Senator Lacson takes this privilege and responsibility very seriously.

The Gentleman from Cavite has thrown some very grave and serious accusations against former President Joseph Estrada. And I know he is not yet finished.

If his accusations should amount to the imputation of crimes for which Erap has not yet been charged nor tried, then I sincerely hope that the good Senator, sooner than later, will see to it that the proper case or even cases, will be immediately filed in our courts, where the former President can be given a fair, impartial, and equal opportunity to defend himself.

President Estrada has been charged, tried and convicted for the crime of Plunder. In his more than six years of detention, I am sure that he had much time to contemplate and reflect on his fate and the events that led to his rise and fall from power. I have seen him at his darkest moments, and I have witnessed his agony, his sad realizations, his resolve and tenacity to vindicate his name, his strong faith in God, and his resilience.

Very few people are blessed with the kind of trials and vindication Erap has been fortunate to have experienced in his own lifetime. As he now contemplates and discerns whether he should once again seek the presidency, he is in a rare and unique position to use the lessons he has learned the hard and painful way for the higher good of the nation and our people.

With full conviction, I have made a commitment to my dear friend, the former President, that should he decide to run for President despite the formidable legal and political obstacles that await him, I will be with him. Sasamahan ko siya. If, however, he should decide otherwise, I am very certain that Erap will remain as a major force in shaping the political life and history of our country.

Sa aking pagsama kay Pangulong Erap sa iba’t ibang sulok ng kapuluan, nakita ko ang tunay na pagmamahal at pagtangkilik sa kanya ng masang Pilipino. Hindi niya kailangang magbayad upang umakit ng atensiyon at paghanga. Sa wari ko, ito’y hindi dahil siya ay isang sikat na artista lamang. Sa katauhan ni Erap, nakikita ng maralitang Pilipino ang isang pinuno na nauunawaan ang kanilang kalagayan at tunay na kumakalinga sa kanila.

Nang umuwi sa bansa si Cesar Mancao, at si Senador Lacson ay simulang maharap sa pagbibintang na siya ay may kinalaman sa pagpatay kina Ginoong Salvador “Bubby” Dacer at kay Emmanuel Corbito, taos-puso kong ipinahiwatig sa kanya ang aking pagkabahala at pag-aalala sa kanyang hinaharap na suliranin at sa maari niyang sapitin.

Ngayon, si Erap naman ang idinidiin at itinuturo na siyang tunay na may kagagawan ng karumal-dumal na mga pagpaslang na ito.

Ipagpaumanhin sana ni Senador Lacson na sa aking pagkakakilala kay Erap, hindi ako handang kagyat lang maniwala na and Dating Pangulo ay isang mamamatay-tao. Marami nang ipinukol na kasalanan at batikos sa kanya, subali’t mahirap at masakit sa akin ang isipin na siya ay isang pusakal. Sapagka’t kung tunay ngang wala siyang konsensiyang kumitil ng buhay, marami akong alam na mga taong higit na mabigat ang kasalanan sa kanya na siguro ay matagal nang nawala sa mundong ito.

Kung may ebidensiyang magpapatunay na si Pangulong Estrada ay nagkasala, at ito ay mapagtitibay sa ilalim ng batas at sa harap ng hukom, hindi ko siya kailanman pagtatakpan.

Subali’t hindi ko siya iiwanan bilang kaibigan sa panibagong pagsubok na ito.

Sa kabila ng mga malubhang akusasyon na kanyang hinaharap ngayon, umaasa ako na maipagtatanggol ni Pangulong Erap ang kanyang sarili, ang kanyang pangalan at ang kanyang dangal, hindi lamang bilang isang tao, ngunit higit sa lahat, bilang isang pinuno na pinagkakatiwalaan, dinadakila at minamahal ng masang Pilipino.

Maraming salamat po.

171
LGU Philippines / Enrile Defends Erap
« on: September 24, 2009, 09:49:58 AM »
I’m Touched and Humbled
Erap says of Enrile’s defense, insists he’s qualified to run for president
By BRENDA PIQUERO, FRANCIS WAKEFIELD
September 23, 2009, 6:40pm

“I was deeply touched and humbled.” This shorthand straight-from-the-heart statement of former President Joseph Estrada, expressing how he felt after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile delivered a privilege speech last Tuesday in defense and support of the former president’s character and integrity both as a man and a public official, whose life has been shaped by both triumph and tragedy.

“I can never pay enough tribute to a great parliamentarian who was my noble and selfless mentor as a novice in the Philippine Senate whose guidance, legislative, and parliamentary expertise I will always treasure,” the popular opposition leader said late Tuesday evening.

As this developed, Estrada maintained that he is qualified to seek the presidency in the 2010 national and local elections.

Enrile’s privilege speech caught not only Estrada but a wide television audience by surprise, especially in the aftermath of the brief political storm created by the earlier accusations of fellow Senator Panfilo Lacson with a promise of a repeat performance he (Lacson) aired the other day.

A flashpoint in the Senate President’s speech was when he reminded his audience inside and outside the Senate halls how every dirt and mud had been hurled at Estrada, but “as a murderer and a killer, he is not.”

“I could not help but feel saddened about how an old friendship has come to such a bitter and rancorous end, and to witness the ensuing acrimony that rages to this day,” Enrile said in the course of his speech.

The Senate head also mentioned Estrada’s unblemished concern when, in 1990, he (Enrile) was arrested right in the Senate floor over what the Supreme Court later declared as a non-existent crime of “rebellion complexed with murder.”

Enrile recalled it was only Erap (Estrada’s popular nickname) among his Senate colleagues who dared to accompany him in the van that brought him to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) surrounded by government arresting officers, to thwart any violent ending that could happen along the way.

“I could never forget this most sincere gesture of concern and kindness which Erap readily extended to me during one of my darkest days, when many of my so-called friends chose to keep their distance from me,” Enrile said of Estrada.

Political analysts pointed to Enrile’s Senate address virtually describing Estrada as the “inspiration of millions among the nation’s poor who don’t have a voice.”

Estrada also cited the second privilege speech of his former PNP chief as “more of a sermon meant to defend himself,” than the expected boomerang effect of what he called the legislator’s continuing demolition job he described as part of a sinister effort to dissuade him (Estrada) to change his political plans for next year’s May elections.

Like the Senate President, Estrada admitted feeling sad with how his trusted PNP head turned against him after almost two decades as friends and public servants, “repeating ancient and malicious charges, yet safely hiding underneath the cloak of parliamentary immunity.”

“Listening to Sen. Lacson’s first and second round of re-hashed accusations heavily dripping with sarcasm and rancor, I must admit, was a big letdown for me, coming as it is from somebody whom I respected and appointed to the highest position in the PNP against relentless resistance inside and outside my administration, and against all odds,” Estrada said.

He also echoed his wife, former First Lady and Senator Luisa “Loi” Estrada’s personal disappointment over a friend and former colleague with “deep personal pain being the end of what I held was a sincere and respectable friendship.”

During a debate held at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City, on whether or not he is still eligible to run for the highest position in the land, Estrada reiterated that he is still qualified to run in 2010 considering that he failed to finish his six-year term. He also maintained that he did not resign as Chief Executive of the land during the height of the People Power revolt in January 2001.

“Ang sabi ng Supreme Court nag-resign daw ako… I never resigned from office,” Estrada said. “Ang Supreme Court ang nag-resign sa akin,” he said.

Estrada also said that the issue whether or not he is still eligible to run again should be decided by the people and not by Supreme Court.

“This issue should be decided by the people. It’s a political question and the people should decide on this matter. The issue should be thrown to the people because the people were the ones who ratified the constitution,” he said.

Estrada said that the only way for a sitting president to be forced out of office is through (1) resignation, (2) if he/she is incapacitated or dies while in office, and (3) if he/she was found guilty of wrongdoing by an impeachment court.

Atty. Pacifico Agabin, a legal luminary for the camp of the former president, also reiterated during the debate that the term “the President” in the 1987 Constitution refers only to the sitting President.

He added that the disqualification provision cited in the Section 4, Article 7 of the Charter only applies to the incumbent President.

He said that Section 4 of the Constitution states that “The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”

But election lawyer Romeo Macalintal, in his rebuttal, said the term “the President" refers to all elected Presidents, both incumbent and past ones. He said because of this, Mr. Estrada is barred from running again as president.

“He is barred from running for the same position dahil nga base sa Saligang Batas, all elected Presidents are no longer allowed to run for the position,” Macalintal said.

Macalintal, who is also the election lawyer of President Arroyo, mentioned that when Estrada assumed the Presidency in 1998, he took an oath that he will not run for re-election.

“If he (Estrada) runs again, he will be violating the provisions of the Constitution,” he said during the pack forum.

Macalintal, however, pointed out that Estrada could run for vice president and perhaps, become president again if circumstances present itself.

Macalintal also urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headed by Chairman Jose. T. Melo to immediately look at the case of Erap so that it can decide the matter as early as now.

“Matagal pa naman ang November bago mag-file ng candidacies ang mga kakandidato sa 2010 so as early as now, the Comelec should do something about this issue. Dapat pag-aralan na nila ito,” he added.

172
Philippine Business News / Dr. Sanjay Gupta Caught H1N1
« on: September 24, 2009, 09:31:04 AM »
I went to Afghanistan and all I got was H1N1

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

It started as a cough. It wasn’t the kind of cough where something is temporarily stuck in your throat. It wasn’t the kind of cough where simply clearing your throat would’ve been adequate. This was the kind of cough that hurts when you do it. A stinging pain that makes you wince and guard and hope that you don’t have to cough again any time soon. I thought I might have a fever, but of course, I was in the middle of covering a war in Afghanistan, and the conditions were… well, hot. So, maybe it was that. Problem was, the next day I wasn’t feeling any better – in fact, I was worse. I woke up in my dusty desert tent and tried to step out of my sleeping bag. Two steps later, I almost hit the deck. Incoming. Except this wasn’t due to any sirens going off, this was due to my own body simply being unable to hold myself up. I was lightheaded and freezing cold – even though it was over 100 degrees outside at that early hour of the morning.

I was nauseated and my entire body hurt. I tried to explain away my symptoms with lots of different excuses. You don’t sleep much while covering a war. My bulletproof jacket didn’t fit perfectly and was very heavy. There was a lot of dust and dirt, and maybe I had what the Marines referred to as the Kandahar Krud. It turned out to be none of those things.

I remember looking over at my camera man, Scottie McWhinnie. He looked absolutely awful. He was wearing a scarf on his head, and it was completely drenched in sweat. He was coughing so loudly and frequently that I was really starting to worry about him – and about myself. We each had it, whatever “it” was. I made a command decision. As a physician reporter in a war zone, I was going to get us medical care. That prompted our visit to a battlefield hospital, not as reporters this time, but as patients.

It is worth pointing out the irony of a medical reporter getting influenza type A, which was then ultimately confirmed as H1N1. (The term swine flu is a misnomer, as this strain is made up of several different components, including swine, but also avian parts.) It really didn’t matter if I got tested, as my doctor told me. It was the only flu strain circulating and I had it, and so did Scottie. We both had high fevers, the lack of appetite, terrible sinus congestion, body aches, and yes – that hacking, come out of the blue.

I am not someone who gets sick, really ever. And this was the sickest I have ever been. I would’ve much preferred my own bed with all the comforts of home – including a wife who would’ve taken great pity on me and allowed me lots of rest and relaxation. Still, I am here to blog about it, after taking the requisite few days to stay at home and not spread my gift from Afghanistan to all my colleagues at work. In case you are curious, there wasn’t much the doctors could really do for me. Some Tylenol and a sinus decongestant (the same my wife would’ve given me). We also got IV fluids, given our inability to keep anything down. Within a couple days, I felt a lot better, and a few days after that – I was back to normal. It was a lot like… the flu – with a different name. A lot of people will get the exact symptoms I described above, and for most people, it will simply mean a few miserable days, hopefully spent in your home – and not in a war zone.

173
Inspiration & Hope / PARADOX OF OUR TIMES
« on: September 24, 2009, 02:34:50 AM »
1. We spend more, but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less.
2. We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrow viewpoints
3. We have conquered outer space but not inner space.
4. We write more but learn less; plan more but accomplish less.
5. We have learned to rush but not to wait; we have higher incomes but lower morals.

6. We have more experts but more problems; more medicine but less wellness.
7. We have more degrees but less common sense; more knowledge but less judgment.
8. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences but less time.
9. We spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too fast, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too often and pray too seldom.
10. We have multiplied our possessions but reduced values. We take too much, love too little and lie too often.

11. We have learnt how to make a living, but not life; we have added years to life but not life to years.
12. We have been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble in crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
13. These are the times of fast food and slow digestion, tall men and short character, steep profits and shallow relationships.
14. More leisure and less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition; two incomes but more divorce; fancier houses but broken homes.

174
Talk of the Town / U.S. Debate on Health Care Is a Warning to Canadians
« on: September 23, 2009, 11:19:57 AM »
U.S. debate on health care is a warning to Canadians

Sep 22, 2009 04:30 AM
Linda McQuaig

I'm inclined to believe the fierce resistance to health-care reform in the United States is the work of a small fringe.

The other possibility is that there's something deep in the psyche of Americans that drives them to defend to the death their right to deny health care to millions of their fellow citizens.

Some have attempted to downplay the scariness of recent protests against President Barack Obama's health reform efforts, noting that a lot of Americans protested George W. Bush as well.

But the anti-Obama protesters are much more extreme – and yet are treated much more respectfully. When Obama spoke in Phoenix last month, about a dozen protesters showed up carrying guns, including one who was interviewed by the national media as he strutted about freely with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder. (Anti-Bush protesters got no such media attention, and would have been arrested – if not shot – had they shown up at presidential rallies bearing assault weapons.)

While the U.S. media gave prime time to gun-toting health reform opponents, they all but ignored a Harvard study, reported last week in the American Journal of Public Health, that found nearly 45,000 people die in the U.S. each year largely because they lack health insurance.

As resistance to U.S. health reform rages on – with its inane, vicious, even racist overtones – the fiasco should remind Canadians of the dangers of allowing our public health-care system to deteriorate.

What makes health reform so elusive in the U.S. is the way its opponents – led by wealthy corporate interests – are able to play Americans off against each other.

Americans are hunkered down in their own little bunkers, watching out just for themselves and their families. Anyone proposing reforms that might result in higher taxes is met with a rifle poked out the top of the bunker.

It's this dynamic – citizens pitted against each other – that has kept Americans at each other's throats over health care for years. It's easy to understand, for instance, why middle class American taxpayers resent paying for medicaid, a public program that provides some coverage for the poor, when these same taxpayers can't afford coverage for themselves and their families.

The only real solution is public health care for all. A Canadian-style plan could save Americans $400 billion a year, Harvard's Dr. David Himmelstein wrote recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

But Americans are so uninformed about the rest of the world that few even seem aware any Canadian can spend weeks in hospital getting state-of-the-art medical treatment and then walk out the front door without owing a penny. Such is the menace of public health care.

Universal care is extremely popular once it's in place, but it can be hard to overcome resistance to putting it in place, as the current U.S. psychodrama shows. (Canada went through a less traumatic, but still difficult initiation.)

All this should serve as a potent lesson to Canadians about the urgency of protecting our public health-care system. Once it starts to fall apart, the rich bolt from it, arrange for their own care and then object to paying taxes for a system they don't much use.

The importance of avoiding this fate has never been more apparent than now, when the snarling fury of America's current crop of right-wing extremists almost makes one nostalgic for last year's gentler, childlike lunacy of Sarah Palin.

175
General Topic / Tantrums, The New Social Disease
« on: September 23, 2009, 11:11:38 AM »
Tantrums, The New Social Disease
 
Sep 22, 2009 04:30 AM
Vinay Menon

I miss the days when people bottled up their emotions, kept it all inside and developed ulcers to protect the feelings of others.

The other day, as I was exiting a store in Mississauga, I overheard a man berating someone on his cellphone. He was dropping F-bombs. He was stomping his feet. He was creating a spectacle.

Inadvertently, I must have stared. When he noticed me noticing, his eyes narrowed and he barked, "What are you looking at?"

Now, if I possessed a black belt in martial arts, I might have considered answering his rhetorical question with a crouching tiger pose or a roundhouse kick into the air.

But since I routinely struggle to remove the lids from jars of strawberry jam, I opted for muted panic.

He returned to his cellular assault. And I got the hell out of there.

As my minivan screeched away, I started thinking about the recent antics of rapper Kanye West, tennis star Serena Williams and U.S. Congressman Joe Wilson.

Are the pundits right? Has civility vanished into a cultural abyss? Do we now live in an age of random outbursts?

If true, I blame the pop psychology gurus and the rococo talk show hosts and the oleaginous merchants of self-help who have disfigured the rules of social engagement.

Dr. Phil is a very rich man. That is all you need to know.

We're constantly encouraged to communicate, express displeasure, share grievances, speak our minds, take the world by the throat and tell it exactly how we feel.

So should anyone be surprised that West stormed the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards this month, snatching the mike from 19-year-old Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech?

After all, this is a guy with an impressive track record when it comes to being a jackass.

He railed against MTV in 2007 after Britney Spears was picked to open the awards show. A year earlier, he climbed atop the stage at the MTV Europe Music Awards to protest losing an award.

Then there was the 2005 fundraising special after Hurricane Katrina, in which West suddenly deviated from the NBC TelePrompTer to tell the world, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

The question becomes: Is West an egocentric anomaly we can safely ignore?

Or is he a high-def reflection of a me-first society in which fewer people seem to be operating with the invisible brain structure that once filtered thoughts from words and words from actions?

Similarly, when Williams erupted in a disgraceful tirade and threatened to force-feed her tennis ball to a line judge during a recent tournament, was she lost in a moment of acute frustration or reacting in a way that is not dissimilar to what we could easily find on our streets, in our malls, in on our schools and in our neighbourhoods?

And when Wilson shouted, "You lie!" at Barack Obama as the American president addressed a joint session of Congress, was he exhibiting zero impulse control or mirroring the partisan rage and distrust that is swallowing political discourse on both sides of the border?

Maybe the pundits are right. Maybe polite society is devolving into a shoutfest, a cycle of boorish behaviour and cheap apologies.

Maybe we all just need to be quiet for a while.

176
World Daily News / Ontario Gets Failing Grade On Bogus Colleges
« on: September 23, 2009, 11:07:39 AM »
Ontario Gets Failing Grade On Bogus Colleges
DAVID COOPER/TORONTO STAR

John Ratiu paid $6,500 in tuition to learn the skills required for a job in the aesthetics industry.

Now, he's too afraid to actually treat people.

"I think I did laser (techniques) in the school for ... two or three minutes. The laser is very dangerous if you don't know how to use it. You could destroy somebody's face for life," said Ratiu.

In the Wild West of Ontario's career college world, students pay their money and take their chances.

A Toronto Star investigation shows the provincial colleges and training ministry is failing to protect students from rogue schools that deliver below-grade education – or virtually no education at all.

And, incredibly, taxpayers are spending millions of dollars to pay for unemployed workers to attend these often useless courses.

Just 10 inspectors are tasked with the job of policing the 445 licensed schools across Ontario, with enrolment of about 27,000 students. Those same inspectors are also responsible for unlicensed schools that number 1,000 or more.

More than two dozen students interviewed for this story, typically low-income people seeking new careers in tough economic times, told the Star they lost money to licensed colleges and ended up unskilled, unqualified and unemployed.

Training and Colleges Minister John Milloy, in an interview this week, applauded the Star for what he called "important" work on the issue. Milloy said his ministry is "developing more teeth" to bolster what the Star and the provincial ombudsman found was a weak enforcement system too intent on helping wayward schools become compliant.

"We're in the process of developing a system that's going to protect students," Milloy said.

Critics, including opposition MPPs and provincial ombudsman André Marin, say the ministry has taken far too long to fix its problems. "We believe that it is an area where exploitation, illegality and abuse takes place without recrimination," Marin told the Star.

Career colleges are privately owned schools that deliver vocational programs. It is up to a school to apply for registration, and be issued a licence.

Tuition ranges from $1,000 to as high as $35,000, and while many students pay out of their own pocket, more than one-third receive government funding for programs. A conservative estimate suggests about $10 million in taxpayer money goes to licensed schools. Colleges with tuition under $1,000 are not subject to licensing.

The Star found Milloy's ministry so understaffed it cannot possibly protect students. In the licensed colleges alone, 27,000 students are enrolled annually.

Unlike many government-regulated groups (such as daycares), there is no routine inspection system. Instead, ministry documents reveal inspectors take a "risk-based approach" that is supposed to focus on schools perceived to have the greatest problems.

We asked the ministry for records of inspections and complaints for licensed and unlicensed career colleges. The ministry refused to release the data, labelling the Star's request a "contentious" issue. It took 30 months before a ruling by the Information and Privacy Commissioner forced the release of the database.

The records show there are significant problems at certain colleges. They also show that the ministry does not properly investigate many complaints, and the record-keeping is so poor that it is impossible to tell if the ministry is inspecting schools that are the subject of numerous complaints.

Shutting down non-compliant schools is extremely rare, according to documents the Star also obtained.

"Voluntary compliance is (the) ultimate goal," says a 2007 ministry briefing note, which Marin noted as a problem and Milloy said his ministry is moving away from now.

The database released to the Star shows 2,546 separate issues with career colleges over a recent two-year period, most dealing with licensed colleges.

About one-third are complaints or "issues," ranging from students saying the college had self-study sessions where cheating was common to students saying diplomas were handed out after little or no instruction.

There are also 900 inspection reports over the three years, focusing on about half of the licensed colleges. Issues that inspectors found include: misleading advertising by the school; a finding that the school had no academic or attendance records on file; and teachers not qualified for the program.

The remainder of the data is largely administrative comments logged as being sent to the career college.

None of this information is available to the public. On its website, the ministry publicizes a handful of notices regarding enforcement actions against schools, but prospective or current students would have no way to learn if the career college they are attending had a negative enforcement report or was the target of a large group of complaints.

177
Love Talk / DESCRIBE YOUR LOVED ONE...
« on: September 23, 2009, 10:59:51 AM »

kabalo ko nga naa moy gimahal

pwede ninyo ihulagway ang ilang pagkatawo?

beh, birada kono ta diri.

178
Sports and Fitness / Can Pacquiao Beat Mayweather?
« on: September 23, 2009, 10:39:54 AM »
Think about it, can two great athletes in the same sport be any more different yet equally great and successful in their own rite? Their story is poetry in motion. Their difference in style and nature outlines the opposite paths taken that lead to greatness. So in poetry allow me to paint a better picture.

 
Good versus evil; Offense versus defense

Pacquiao rocks his Nikes to rock and scramble his adversaries, while Mayweather dances on his Reeboks to rock his opponents' psyches- like a lullaby to sleep.

You get frustrated, tired of it, after a while you submit.

One is a crowd pleaser, the other pleases the connoisseurs- together with those who pretend to be such.

A hero that can end all anarchy with one blow; against a villain that plots of world domination patiently waiting for his schemes to hatch and come to fruition

Pacquiao is every much offensive as Mayweather is defensive.

One is reflective and deflects all glory to his country and his faith, while the other battles his demons and wonders further greatness if he was born another race.

The braggart versus the humble hero.

Humility versus embracing and yearning for celebrity.

So much difference yet in ways the same.

And you can start by recognizing their status as the clear cut cream of the crop simply on top of the game.

As one chases, the other gives chase. Two egos battling for a bigger piece of the pie, longing to be considered as the one true great.

Boxing has been lingering in mediocrity for quite some time now.

Promoters have done quite a job selling us fights and selling us hype.

This one however needs no selling. This one is the reason God created boxing.

Don't take it from us, we deserve to see greatness. Just like how our grandparents and old boxing scribes tell us of Frazier and Ali of ancient times, it's our time to have something to tell our grandkids we witnessed a spectacle of that special kind.

For once, let it not be about the fighters. Let it not be about the sport and the money to be made by it's promoters.

"Boxing", YOU owe us this much for sticking with you when many said has you've been dead for a long time.

If not now, when? Let his not be a tragedy of greed like Jones and Hopkins.

To put it succinctly, make Pacquiao vs. Mayweather happen.

(from Examiner.com)

179
Innocent Bath-Time Photos Get Kids Taken Away From Parents

by Susan Avery (Subscribe to Susan Avery's posts) Sep 21st 2009 5:42PM
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Today's moment-of-pause has been brought to you by Wal-Mart and the city of Peoria, Az. Apparently, some photo-clerk vigilante, diligently on the lookout for child pornography, saw photos of kids during bath time and decided to call the cops, according to a story on Good Morning America.

Next thing the parents of these kids knew, the children were removed from their home. For an entire month. Mom got suspended from her job for a year and both -- Anthony and Lisa Demaree -- were added to a list of sex offenders. The judge in the case said the pix were harmless.

"I don't understand it at all," Anthony Demaree told GMA, with his wife by his side. "Ninety, 95 percent of the families out there in America have these exact same photos."

Now they've got another shot to take. This time it's directed at Wal-Mart and their hometown.

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