Friday, August 13, 2010

PeNoy, Gloria, et al. — all one family

At the gathering for Sen. Sonny Trillanes’ birthday at Camp Crame last Aug. 7, I predicted the “rehabilitation” of Gloria Arroyo within a year or two. I was with Dodong and Princess Nemenzo, NGO leader Manjette, lawyer Argee Guevarra, Oliver Felix (of our guerilla radio Sulo group), and Linggoy Alcuaz at that time. The Nemenzos found this both funny and appalling, as they laughed, doubted and lamented at the same time. Someone interjected: “Sa bagay, the Marcoses are rehabilitated.” To which I hurriedly added that “at least Marcos had the right nation-building program,” unlike Arroyo’s which people believe was pure kleptocracy.

The truth of my prediction is already being seen on radio and in Congress today, as Teddy Boy Locsin glorifies Gloria’s non-imposition of the Value added tax (VAT) on toll ways while the likes of Rep. Neptali Gonzales Jr. shield her from Rep. Walden Bello’s righteous condemnation.

Gloria Arroyo will be “rehabilitated” under the present system because the system itself is corruption incarnate, in which Arroyo is just one of its children. The other children of the corrupt system will naturally come to her rescue, as sure as Speaker Sonny Belmonte will always be by Gloria’s side to escort the one who has been tagged by many youth activists as “President Evil.” But really, she can only be as evil as the system is.

Belmonte, meanwhile, is said to personify the institutionalization of corruption in Quezon City, the alleged basis of which is that he raised the corruption incarnate “pork barrel” and other fund prerogatives of the Office of the Mayor and all councilors to unprecedented amounts (P2 billion for the mayor, P42 million each for councilors). On the other hand, Lakas to Liberal Party turncoat Neptali Gonzales Jr. has been the alternating partner of Mayor BenHur Abalos in the exploitation of Mandaluyong, the latter being the heir apparent to Ben Abalos’ NBN-ZTE “borger” fortune.

Gonzales invokes “parliamentary courtesy” to shield Arroyo. Coming from a most vulgar Congress, it is truly laughable. They are all claimed to be part of the alleged corrupt family of political degenerates running the country. Walden Belo’s party-list group Akbayan may not be much different, maybe just a bit more ethical by some degree. His party-list matriarch Etta Rosales isn’t exactly a paragon of any virtue, having been a chief lackey of Gloria Arroyo during the 2004 illegal proclamation of the “Hello Garci” president. Rosales will be rewarded by the new Gloria Arroyo, i.e. Noynoy “PeNoy” Aquino, with an appointment to the Commission on Human Rights — to carry on the charade of human rights in an essentially plutocratic, oppressive and exploitative corporatocracy.

Already, PeNoy has proposed to raise the “pork” of senators and congressmen for 2011, from P6.9 billion this year to P22.3 billion next (a whopping 223.18 percent or P15 billion increase). This seems incredible since PeNoy campaigned on the promise of “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap,” but PeNoy’s Budget Secretary Butch Abad was quoted on it. In fact, one report stated, “Even as the PDAF allocation was increased, the government proposed a reduction of subsidy programs… amid the state’s cash flow problems.”

Those subsidies include those earmarked for the National Food Authority rice purchase. So are they saying that there will be no subsidy for farmers but increased “pork” subsidy for politicians? Everyone knows just how “pork” is the mother of all corrupt funds that politicians dip into, so why is PeNoy increasing this? Perhaps if we put this in context with a new development, a clearer picture on how invisible forces behind PeNoy are reinforcing the edifice of corruption will come about.

This new development is the proposed postponement of the barangay election slated for October on due to alleged financial constraints, together with the simultaneous proposal that it be synchronized with the 2013 national elections.

There are several deleterious effects of these two initiatives: (1) abusive and corrupt barangay officials will not be called into account as a democratic system requires; (2) it will strengthen the indebtedness of the present barangay officials to the present PeNoy regime; (3) these barangay officials will then be used by the current regime to consolidate tyrannical powers in 2013 toward the continuation of the corporatist dictatorship consolidated under Gloria Arroyo; and (4) it will make the “fully synchronized” 2013 elections even more massively chaotic than the already messy elections of 2010.

If the present system is corruption incarnate, then a super-synchronized election aimed at securing it is none other than a perpetuation of this systemic corruption, the evil results of which those jaundiced by the Yellow fever can’t seem to see as continuously ravaging the nation.

For those who still do not know, here’s a sampling of these evils — July 2010 item: Power rates to rise again in August (due to Wesm power horse trading); Aug. 8: Manila Water net income up 34 percent (while people suffer heavier costs); Aug. 9: Robredo wants strengthened Small Town Lottery (cover for jueteng); Aug. 10: AFP suppresses Adm. Feliciano Angue exposé on 2010 elections; Aug. 11: $10-billion offer for Pagcor.

As long as the corrupt system goes on and on — exploiting, inveigling and plundering — PeNoy only continues the legacy of Cory, FVR and Gloria.

Monday, August 9, 2010

RP coconut agencies: Same bananas

In the first quarter of 2009, Philippine coconut exports plunged 60 percent whereas total revenues in 2008 reached $1.5 billion. It is thus alarming to note this decline in 2009. Tragically, very little is heard from those in government charged with ensuring that the coconut industry of the Philippines prospers and grows.

I have been involved in the advocacies for the coconut industry for the past several years, seeing it not only as an agricultural commodity with the greatest potential to raise the national per capita income but also as an industrial raw material that can multiply our nation’s income from our 340 million or so coconut trees. If only the country develops all of the Philippine coconut’s potentials in terms of cosme-ceuticals, nutra-ceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and industrial chemicals, it may well rival the BPOs in dollar earnings at $10 billion, if not more.

In 2009, I attended a series of meetings of coconut industry and government leaders, where it was once held at the Philippine Coconut Authority (Philcoa). Representatives from the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) and Congress were there, as was the staff of Philcoa — yet the Philcoa head was never around. Rep. Leonardo Montemayor was very active in those meetings. But I never got to see the Philcoa head either in any of the other activities conducted by the coconut sector organizations.

If you ask around today who heads the Philcoa, very few people will be able to give you an answer, unlike in previous administrations where the agency’s administrator was among the most recognizable public figures.

Sadly, an even more significant government coconut agency that has also been led by lackluster characters is the CIIF, which controls the funds of the sector.

We need to revive the public and government’s consciousness about the coconut industry and its bountiful potentials. The first 100 days of the new administration has slowly ticked by yet nothing is heard about its policies for this sector. The coconut sector has already suffered by omission during the inaugural speech and the State of the Nation Address of this new government. It therefore leads many to ask if the PeNoy administration has anybody in its team with coconuts at all.

If they don’t, then it’s high time they get some coconuts: The Philippine Coconut Week’s festivities are slated on Aug. 12 to 15 of this week, and the welfare of 25 million Filipinos directly and indirectly dependent on the coconut industry for livelihood (that’s over 25 percent of the population of 90 million) are staked in the success or failure of this effort to bring the vital issues of the coconut industry to the attention of our national leaders.

As I have written many times before, and discussed in our Global News Network (GNN) show, the coconut tree is a tree of unbounded potentials. Its water is the healthiest natural drink which provides a thousand times more nutrients than sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. The Taiwanese and Chinese know this better than many Filipinos; hence, they import our coconuts even at a premium price.

Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) is a fantastic health supplement that neutralizes HIV and, as recently discovered by Western medicine, Alzheimer’s disease. I take VCO every day and have my own adobo formulation where I mix minced garlic, coco vinegar, and calamansi with over three tablespoons of VCO.

I use VCO on my hair as well before bathing, and I am the only one who doesn’t need to use hair dye among 10 siblings.

VCO’s potent health values are well understood, but its popularity has ebbed due to lack of promotion and advertising, as well as, due to deliberate sabotage by Big Pharma in cahoots with some Department of Health authorities.

Other parts of the coconut are also valuable: Its sap produces sugar of the best glycemic quality (30 in the index) for health. Its husks as mattings could have been used in the massive oil gush in the Gulf of Mexico if there had been enough supply, though these are already used to prevent soil erosion and in re-greening desert areas. It is much sought after in cosmetics for the finest oil is provides.

Of even greater potential is the coconut’s industrial and chemical application (even for industrial explosives), which could be produced in the Philippines if basic infrastructure were to be provided.

On Tuesday, Aug. 10, the “Politics (and Economics) Today” episode on GNN will feature a discussion on “Coconut: The Savior Commodity” with coconut sector leaders Sonny Villariba, Gerry Natividad, and Joey Faustino. I call the coconut “the savior commodity” as it has the potential to save the national economy. And unlike BPOs which are a servant industry dependent on the industrial economies, the coconut sector is a production industry and when developed to its fullest promotes economic independence, reduces imports, expands import substitution (such as replacing the $1-billion milk and related imports), multiplies layers of values from processed coconut exports, and builds the domestic industrial and chemical industries.

The potentials of the coconut industry to save the economy and the nation will never be realized if the “same bananas” stay on in the government coconut agencies. This sector needs leadership that knows its coconuts and knows how to use those coconuts.