June 2011

President Aquino dissolves Commission on Information Communications Technology

President Benigno S. Aquino III dissolved the Commission on Information and Communications Technology. The agency was to develop ICT policy for the Country. The executive order was issued, Thursday.

This is a developing story.

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U.S. sends warships to Philippines for exercise amidst tensions in Spratly Islands

The United States Navy is sending the USS Howard (DDG-83), and the survey ship, USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50) to the Philippines. Howard and Safeguard joins the USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), which in early June was dispatched to the region on independent deployment.

The USS Chung-Hoon, USS Howard and USNS Safeguard together with nearly a thousand U.S. personnel will be participating in the 17th Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) military exercise together with the Philippine navy. The three ships will form the centerpieces of the naval exercise. The naval exercise will be both at sea and onshore.

The ships arrived in the Philippines on 28 June 2011 at Puerto Princesa in Palawan for the 11-day naval exercise.

Photo credit: (U.S. Navy photo by Navy Diver 3rd Class Ralph Riess/Released)

Afraid: ‘Killings of LGBTs in Philippines on the rise’

There has been a steady and alarming rise in violence against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community in the Philippines over the past 15 years, new research conducted by an LGBT advocacy group suggests, in line with a call for the police and the Commission and Human Rights to acknowledge and formally look into the troubling trend.

For the first half of 2011 alone, as of June 17, the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch says it has documented 28 killings within the gay community. This figure already nearly equals homicide and murder figures for 2010, which is pegged at 29.

“Expanding the timeframe to as early as 1996, a total of 103 (killings of LGBTs have been monitored),” the group said.

Of the 103 cases that the group considers hate crimes, 61 attacks were against gay men, 26 against transgenders, 12 against lesbians, and four targetted bisexuals.

Read more at Interaksyon


How long is a piece of string?

What yardstick are we using to measure P-Noy’s performance?

The arbitrary, rule of thumb of the first year in office is about to come and go for this administration. The obligatory journalistic pieces assessing the president’s performance have consulted the usual suspects.

Political analysts, polling firms and pundits, the business community and the average man on the street express varying degrees of satisfaction, from impatience on the part of Conrad de Quiros for instance, to a more sanguine position on the part of Mon Casiple. Regardless of their positions, they are essentially in agreement that while one year is too brief a period to expect major change, some demonstrably concrete level of progress or achievement is lacking in the president’s first 365 days in office.

As expected the president’s men were engaged in a charm offensive to address these complaints with Undersecretary Manolo Quezon of the Communications Group appearing on ANC, Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Twitter, and Budget Secretary Butch Abad polemically addressing the issue of economic management. The to-ing and fro-ing has been at times entertaining as in the case of the Valte-Magsaysay twitterverse exchanges and insightful as in the case of Quezon’s revelations about the president’s love life.

The advocates of the president (both in and out of government) say that much has been accomplished. The emphasis on government frugality and public spending restraint has created domestic private investor confidence and a credit ratings dividend according to Cielito Habito. Plugging the leaks in infrastructure spending has generated fiscal space to expand social spending by the end of the year according to Abad. Public private partnerships are “on track” to be consummated this year according to Finance officials.

That in essence is the shortlist of accomplishments brandished by Malacanang. Judging by his poll numbers, the public seems to give P-Noy the nod of approval with 64% expressing satisfaction with his performance.

Is that it, then? Should we give the president a pass too?

Unfortunately, what is missing is a solid discussion over, well…what sort of yardstick is appropriate for measuring the president’s performance. For instance,

• Shall we judge him on what he said he will do?

Based on the president’s anti-Gloria campaign theme, De Quiros now questions why the former president and her ilk have not been brought before any court to answer for her alleged transgressions. Based on his anti-corruption platform, the Management Association of the Philippines now asks why there have been no measures like the Freedom of Information bill or any meaningful reductions in business redtape progressed.

Civil rights advocates wonder what has happened to Jonas Burgos and many other like him. Women’s groups are still waiting for the RH Bill to be passed. Farmers are wondering what happened to the resolution of Hacienda Luisita. The ordinary man on the street wonders where the jobs are and the relief from the rising cost of living. These were issues PNoy promised to resolve once in office.

• On the other hand, should we judge him based on his ability to prudently modify or alter what he said he would do?

Those with a nationalist agenda like Teddy Casino say P-Noy is delivering more of the same as far as economic policy goes, and hopes he will re-think his developmental economic strategy. The anxiety felt by Casino and others like him (Walden Bello for instance) is that the quality of growth is poor and insufficient to make a dent on unemployment.

Budget analyst Ben Diokno is looking for a two-step tax reform process that will make the system fairer and more effective at raising revenues. Both of these policy prescriptions run counter to the “steady as she goes” pronouncements that PNoy made during the election season.

Measuring up

The answer to the question, what yardstick do we use, depends on whether you are a strict contractualist or not. Some will say, we should evaluate the president plainly on what he said he would do, and nothing more. For me, however, I believe that given the tenor of the campaign, there were promises that were bound to be made in the spur of the moment, which need to be reconsidered.

The problem for the president of course is, whether you adhere to the strict contractual sense or not, he has failed to register meaningful progress on many fronts. So the question then becomes, how much time should we give him before we start downgrading his performance assessment? How long before we start saying that the president has either reneged or foolishly forged ahead down a dead end path?

Should we give him another six months? A full year? Two years? It’s like asking the question, how long is a piece of string?

After all, for the marginalized groups awaiting resolution to decade’s old injustices, their well-being has been put on hold for far too long. The well-healed chattering classes may feel aggrieved that bringing justice to Arroyo has been delayed, but their grief is nothing compared to what farmers and human rights abuse victims have suffered.

Similarly for those denied access to education, healthcare, sanitation and protection from the elements, the experiment to improve tax collection without a root and branch reform process would prove to be the most costly of all, if it fails. Is it therefore worth the gamble?

Perhaps, it is in addressing the needs of the least of our brethren that the president ought to be judged. In his “Back to the Future” moment, the president like his mother in the mid-1980s seemed to have prioritized the needs of rich creditors and bondholders over that of poor and marginalized stakeholders. Private investments have improved the skyline, but public investment failed to raise more out of the poverty line.

How long is a piece of string? Well we will have to wait and see…

NTC XI holds public consultation on Broadband Internet

The National Telecommunications Commission in Region XI held a public consultation on Broadband Internet, specifically on the Minimum Speed of Broadband Connections. Present durning the event were Ria Jose of Alleba Politics.

According to Ria Jose, the NTC revealed that it have the equipment to monitor broadband connections, but the commission will be utilizing statistical modeling since it can not monitor 24/7.

TV5 join forces with MMDA for Traffic Monitoring System

The MMDA partnered with TV5 for the MMDA’s real-time traffic monitoring system called the Metro Manila Traffic Navigator Project. Th

The joint effort between TV5 and MMDA is to bring real-time traffic conditions on major roads that the MMDA has authority over. It is an efficient way to receive information traffic monitoring.

To view the project, simply head over to Interaksyon for live traffic update.

Image credit: screenshot by Author.

PNoy: I’m just joking!

The public should not take seriously President Aquino’s amusing remarks about his love life during his public engagements, according to a Palace official.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that the President was just speaking “in jest” when he expressed admiration for radio and television personality Grace Lee and other beautiful women in Cebu during a visit in the province last Monday.

Lacierda claimed that the President is “palabiro” or a joker and advised the people to get used to his “dry humor,” especially when he shares bits of information about his personal life in public.

During the launch of a Korean-operated power plant in Naga City, Cebu last Monday, President Aquino jokingly said he may hold office in Malacañang in Sugbu if only to find a love after seeing a bevy of beautiful women in the province.

The 51-year-old bachelor leader seemed attracted to Lee, a radio DJ who was host of the power plant’s inauguration, saying the Filipino-Korean is “beautiful.” Aquino, who was seen stealing glances at Lee, had a briefconversation with her after the event.

Read more at Manila Bulletin

An open letter to Cinemalaya

This letter was posted by Joel Trinidad of Upstart Productions as a note in his Facebook account. We are re-posting it verbatim in the interest of dissemination and discussion.

Independent filmmaker Rafa Santos needs to be taught a lesson. Not a lesson in filmmaking, as he is obviously competent enough to have been included in this year’s Cinemalaya. Not a lesson in thrift, as he is apparently frugal enough to have produced his film without major backing. Not a lesson in public speaking, as he can definitely hold his own in interviews about the film in question. No, what this man needs is a lesson in gratitude. (He would also do well to acquire some class.)

In a televised interview on ANC this morning, Mr. Santos said he preferred using theater actors in his films, because “you can feed them Sky Flakes three meals a day and pay them in cat food.”

Congratulations, Mr. Santos. You have succeeded in alienating the very actors that have helped you to make your film so cheaply. No theater performer who has heard your egregious statements will ever work with you now. (Apparently, you lack not just gratitude, but also intelligence.)

Mr. Santos doubtless meant his remarks as a joke, but that does not excuse him from having made them. He is insensitive, mean-spirited, and divisive—qualities that do not become the artistic institution that Cinemalaya has become. We would appreciate it if you removed his film from your festival.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,

Joel Trinidad
Upstart Productions

Supported by:

Aiza Seguerra, Irma Adlawan, Angelina Kanapi, Gabe Mercado, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Noel Trinidad, Pinky Marquez, Nor Domingo, Bea Garcia, Emerita Alcid, Michael Williams, Elmar Ingles, Kalila Aguilos, Ayen Laurel, Milay Guinid, Allan Alojipan, Yanah Laurel, Felix Rivera, G.A. Fallarme, Topper Fabregas, Johann de la Fuente, Gregorio de Guzman, Raul Victor Montesa, Bobby Nazareno, Leah Reyes, Marie Bismonte, Joli Cabangon, Ems Bolanos, Carla Guevara, Gian Magdangal, Sheree Bautista, Guji Lorenzana, Christine Sambelli Marquez, Jojo Malferrari, Shiela Valderrama-Martinez, Lorenz Martinez, Bernice Aspillaga, Karla Reyes, Floyd Tena, Jeremy Aguado, Myrene Santos, Rico del Rosario, J Young, Diana Alferez, Ana Abad Santos, Jenny Villegas, Andoy Ranays, Liza Infante, Rem Zamora, Issa Litton-Garrido, Lani Tapia, Mark Tayag, Kyla Rivera, Jenny Jamora, Dani Ochoa, Mara Paulina Marasigan, Filomar Tario, Ricci Chan, Franco Laurel, Pamela Imperial, Madeleine Nicolas, Peachy Atilano, Robbie Guevara, Cheska Iñigo Winebrenner, Alex Dagalea, Chevy Mercado, Franz Imperial, Joms Ortega, Sweet Plantado, Carelle Mangaliag, Frances Makil Ignacio, Ralion Alonso, Meynard Peñalosa, Jeremy Domingo, Aj de la Fuente, Ariel Reonal, Arnel Carrion, with more names added to the list every minute

MMDA launches Metro Manla Traffic Navigator Project

Yves Gonzales (@doblezeta), iphone developer, Metro Manila Development Authority’s EDSA Ground Commander, Tech Evangelist, Twitter Team and Communications Group Head announced on his twitter, the establishment of the Metro Manila Traffic Navigator Project.

One of the goals of the project is to establish a digital traffic information system of Metro Manila. It will be a real-time traffic information about the major roads that the MMDA has authority over. The goal is to provide people with an efficient way of receiving information.

The public beta begins today.

Photo credit: Yves Gonzales

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