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Whose fault is it?

Manila Standard marked its 31st anniversary this week. That I have been with this newspaper for just as long is something I treasure. I co-founded it with the late Rod Reyes, who was press secretary to two presidents—Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada.

I am proud of being the longest-staying opinion writer of this newspaper. When the first issue of the Standard came out 31 years ago, it was in tabloid form, then under Manda Elizalde. I was then also chairman of the editorial board, which explains the fact that the masthead shows me as chairman emeritus of the editorial board.

Sometime in January 1987, I got a call from my good friend Reyes, who invited me to lunch. He said he got a call from Elizalde saying he wanted to put up a newspaper upon his return. Manda was then in Miami, about to end his self-exile during the Marcos regime.

(Actually he went on exile in Costa Rica because his former Harvard classmate became president of that country.)

The first office was on the fourth floor of the Tanduay Building along Ayala Avenue – now a finance center of the Ayalas.

The Standard has its story to tell, competing with other national broadsheets in mainstream print media.

I have had the opportunity to write for other publications, but I choose to remain with the Standard until I write “30.” I like the vision and goals of this newspaper and I am comfortable with the publisher and his staff. I would not have it any other way.

***

President Duterte has given all business establishments in Boracay to prevent the island paradise from being a cesspool.

The contamination of the beaches is nothing new. As far back as 20 years ago, there have been numerous complaints of establishments not having adequate drainage and sewage systems. But these complaints fell on deaf ears.

The last time my wife and I were in Boracay, I wanted to take a dip but I hesitated because of the green algae that I saw on the beach. There was also a foul smell. My wife said that was because of human excrement. Yuck! I never returned to Boracay.

Actually, this should be the responsibility of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Tourism. The local government of Aklan has failed in its job.

The lack of garbage and sewage system is not the only problem. Santa Banana, there are too many people, hotels, restaurants and business establishments.

All I can say—“sayang.”

***

The President should not play down the impact of the move of the International Criminal Court on the image of the Philippines and of his administration. The ICC will look into the killings in connection with the bloody war on illegal drugs.

For one thing, the Philippines is a signatory to the Rome Statute that gave rise to the ICC to look into allegations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. A seat at the ICC was first offered to the late Senator Miriam 

Defensor-Santiago and then later on occupied by former UP Law Dean Raul Pangalangan.

The treaty was incorporated under domestic law and ratified during the incumbency of President Benigno Aquino III. Thus, it cannot be said that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines.

The Palace should not minimize the impact of ICC move. It is not a source of pride for us to be investigated for crimes against humanity.

Frankly, I do not know if the ICC prosecutor can pin down the Duterte administration since the extra-judicial killings first made by the so-called Davao Death Squad was not state sanctioned. There is no proof of this.

Nonetheless, it is not a good distinction.

***

I had a good laugh when I heard retired Supreme Court Justice Hilario Davide tell the Senate hearing on the 1987 Constitution that he was against any change because it was the best charter ever framed and amending it would be a step to hell.

I laughed because I knew the charter is so full of infirmities.

I cannot blame Davide for his opinion. He was one of its framers. But for a former Chief Justice to say it’s one of the best? It only reflects his bias.

How could any of the framers of the Constitution justify that provision on party-list groups? Look at them now, They are fronts for the Communist Party. And then we have some groups whose representatives are multi-billionaires. A voice for the marginalized? You’ve got to be kidding me!

***

If the President is thinking of banning the deployment of overseas workers in Singapore and Hong Kong, because of that OFW in Kuwait who was found in a freezer, them he may as well ban sending out OFWs worldwide.

Workers in the Middle East know this, but they still go for the promise of high wages. Abusive employers are an exception.

As such, we can only give protection to them who take this risk.

A trip to Kuwait would be good for the President. It would send a good message. At times, even our embassies are negligent. I have heard such horror stories!

Topics: Manila Standard , marked , 31st anniversary , newspaper , treasure , co-founded , Rod Reyes , press secretary , Fidel V. Ramos , Joseph Estrada.
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