Mar Roxas is the new DILG Secretary

Mar Roxas after he was appointed as the new DILG Secretary after the death of Jesse Robredo.

Few hours ago, after weeks of searching on who should be the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) due to the death of Jesse Robredo, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III appointed the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Mar Roxas as the replacement of late Jesse Robredo.

His appointment earlier today was very important as this position in the executive department of our government gives direct contact especially to the Local Government Units (LGU) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) which is vital for the administration to disseminate their initiatives into the grassroots of our society and to assure the loyalty of the police force to the administration.

When I heard the news that he was appointed, I was not surprised as Mar Roxas was one of the favorites of the President to replace the deceased Jesse Robredo as the DILG Secretary as the Noynoy Aquino administration needs to consolidate its political control in the grassroots side of our society through the Local Government Units and to assure the loyalty of the police force with the administration through the Philippine National Police as not having a control with these two sectors would destabilize the survival not only with this administration but also with the previous administration as history show during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it was the loyalty of the LGU and the PNP assured the survival of PGMA’s administration despite of her low satisfaction from among the intellectuals and some legislators.

Mar Roxas in 2010 was lost his vice presidential bid to Jejomar Binay, who belonged into another ticket with the presidential candidate, former President Joseph Estrada due to factionalism among the supporters of Noynoy Aquino during the campaign season and it was deepened when Senator Chiz Escudero, who supported Noynoy Aquino’s presidential candidacy, supported the vice presidential candidacy of Jejomar Binay instead of Noynoy’s running mate, Mar Roxas. The results of the 2010 elections created a division among the appointees of Noynoy Aquino during the transition period as Noynoy Aquino appointed secretaries and undersecretaries from both factions of Balay of Mar Roxas and Samar of Paquito Ochoa (Binay loyalist), who was appointed as the Executive Secretary. Mar Roxas was appointed as the DOTC Secretary, in the following year of the 2010 elections.

Mar Roxas’ appointment as DILG secretary would give him a direct contact to the LGU to advance his own presidential candidacy in 2016; to stem Jejomar Binay’s advantage and control as Vice President; and to force the Samar faction into significance by 2016 so that Noynoy Aquino’s initiative will be continued by Mar Roxas.

7.6 magnitude earthquake in Samar, Philippines

USGS map on intensity of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake, felt in different areas nationwide as per 10:30PM Manila time.

Few hours ago, a strong earthquake shook the eastern portion of the Philippines including Cebu with the magnitude of 7.6 happened at 94 km (58 miles) E of Sulangan, Samar, Philippines according to the United States Geological Survey.

The tsunami alert has been issued by the USGS to the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, and Palau. A tsunami warning remains in effect for Indonesia and the Philippines, though it has been lifted for Japan, Taiwan and several other Pacific states and islands as of this moment.

The head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Renato Solidum said that the bureau initially recorded a magnitude of 7.7. Solidum said that residents living along the coastline of eastern Samar Island, which was some 66 miles from the quake’s epicenter, had been advised to evacuate to high ground in case of a tsunami.

The earthquake destroyed roads and bridges in the Philippines as people are fleeing to higher ground, Reuters cites Samar congressman Ben Evardone as saying. One person was confirmed dead and one was injured and after the earthquake sparked  flash flooding in Cagayan de Oro, the village’s mayor said. Seven houses were also reported destroyed in the village, while several towns and cities were without power in the central and southern Philippines, AP cites local radio as saying. Cellphone signals are reportedly to be disrupted by the earthquake according to some of my friends. Some areas affected by the quake have experienced power shortage at this moment.

The Philippines is located on the southern part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a 40,000 km long horseshoe-shaped area where 90 per cent of the world’s earthquakes take place.

Neil Armstrong (5 August 1930 – 25 August 2012)

Neil Armstrong (5 August 1930 – 25 August 2012)

Earlier this morning (Philippine time) at around 3 AM, when I was browsing the internet and supposedly around to sleep, I saw a news through NBC that Neil Armstrong, the first man who stepped on the Moon, died due to complications from blocked coronary arteries in Cincinnati, Ohio.

His achievements in human history of being the first man who stepped on the Moon was really unprecedented, he and the other 11 Apollo astronauts changed the notion of the history back then that it would be an impossible for a man to step on the Moon and Neil and other 11 astronauts defied it. Their missions on the Moon gave us a further knowledge about the historical relationship between the Earth and the Moon as we cannot alive by now without the latter.

Beyond his astronautical career, he maintained his down-to-earth attitude and never filtered himself into politics or Hollywood compared to other Apollo astronauts like Harrison Schmitt, who ran and served as US Senator of New Mexico or his colleague in Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin who appeared in the flim, Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

On behalf of myself, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Armstrong family on the passing of Neil. As long as I am alive, I would remember him a person who beat the odds and impossibilities of history that no man can walk in other celestial bodies like Moon. He was not just an icon of America but also the humankind as he taught the entire world that no things are impossible.

Let’s watch again the first words of Neil Armstrong within the lunar surface:

Maria Lourdes Sereno is the new Chief Justice

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is expected to led the Supreme Court for the next 18 years.

Yesterday, after months of screening and public interviews on who should be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court due to the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona during the impeachment trial, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino appoints Supreme Court Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as the replacement of the deposed Renato Corona.

Her appointment yesterday has significance as she is the first female to hold the highest post of the judiciary branch of our government, the position of Chief Justice and expected to hold the position until she reach the age of retirement of 70 on 2 July 2030.

When I heard the news that she was appointed, I was not surprised as Chief Justice Sereno was one of the favorites of the President to replace the deposed Renato Corona as Chief Justice and aside from that, Chief Justice Sereno was the first appointee to the Supreme Court (SC) by President Noynoy Aquino and her votes in Supreme Court when she was an ordinary Justice was in favor of the interest of the Cojuangco family, maternal family of Noynoy Aquino, when she positioned that the valuation the government should pay to the Cojuangco family should be in 2006 price not the 1989 as ruled by the majority of the Justices in 2011 regarding the just compensation payments by the government to the Cojuangco in order the lands of the Hacienda Luisita to be redistributed.

Also, she was the one of the Justices who barred the former President and now Pampanga Representative, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from traveling abroad for medical treatment in Europe on which was contrary to the constitutional right of a person to travel anywhere else unless convicted with final judgment by any courts on which Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was yet to be judged with final judgment.

I hope that our new Chief Justice should show not only her independence but also the entire Supreme Court’s independence from the coercion of the executive branch.

Jesse Manalastas Robredo (27 May 1958 – 18 August 2012)

Rest in Peace, DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Early this morning (Philippine time), the body of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary, Jesse Manalastas Robredo has been found beneath the waters of the Province of Masbate after almost three days of disappearance after the private plane he rode, has crushed after attempting to have an emergency landing in Masbate City due to mechanical problems of the private plane he rode.

He came from Cebu after attending a ceremony on behalf of the President, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and supposedly to return to Naga City to attend an activity where his child was a participant. He never made it as the unexpected event happened when his private plane was crushed around Masbate City and many Filipino people was shocked on what happened to Jesse Robredo and his companions including me when during the unexpected acccident, I was in the mountain barangay of Alambijud, Argao to celebrate their annual feast in honor of Saint Roque.

Jesse Robredo for me was one of the most hardworking Cabinet Secretary of the administration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as he was the one who implements the agenda of the President of “Matuwid na Daan” into the Local Government Units (LGU). However, despite on that, his appointment in DILG did not made him a permanent in that position as the Commission of Appointments until the last moment, never approved his appointment due to other concerns to be tackled by the Senators aside to his confirmation supposedly.

Condolences to the Robredo Family.

More than Friends – Ninoy Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos

Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. and Ferdinand Marcos. Circa 1970s

This article written by Nemenzo, Gemma from Filipinas (August 2008) is very timely and INTERESTING.

The title of the article is “A Different Take: An Interview with Rep. Roquito Ablan.” A lot of you may not know him, but during the Marcos Era, he was a “force” back then.

Filipinos are made to believe that Ferdinand E. Marcos and Ninoy Aquino were really arch nemesis, rivals, and even foes. But from this interview, we can see the A DIFFERENT VIEW on what was really happening during those times.

So here it is….

While writing a book about Upsilon Sigma Phi, the fraternity both Ferdinand Marcos and Ninoy Aquino belonged to, Filipinas managing editor, Gemma Nemenzo, did a one-on-one interview with Congressman Roquito Ablan of Ilocos Norte.

Ablan had the unique privilege of being close to both Ninoy, his batchmate in Upsilon (batch 1950), and Marcos, the undisputed lord of Ablan’s province. With such proximity to the two political superstars of that era, the congressman had a ringside view of what was happening behind the scenes of the Marcos-Aquino saga.

Is he credible?

People close to Marcos confirm that Roquito Ablan then had a direct line to the former president. Upsilonians also know that he and Ninoy Aquino remained close friends.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

I first met Ninoy at the University of the Philippines (UP) when we were neophytes in 1950. He was a professional absentee from classes. I was working with LUSTEVECO then so I had an open expense account so I would gas up Ninoy’s car.

The two of us were the most hazed neophytes in our batch. Our initiation lasted one year and one semester. We joined Upsilon because it was “the only frat in UP”; to be an Upsilonian, you must be good.

Ninoy and FM (Ferdinand Marcos) were more than friends. When Ninoy was in detention, he and FM would speak with scrambler telephones. During FM’s state visit to the U.S. in 1982, the two of them talked for an hour about good times.

FM was actually considering Ninoy as his successor. He admired Ninoy for his being a courageous fighter and his vigor. They were on the same wavelength.

In fact, Ninoy’s “Iron Butterfly” speech against Imelda and the Folk Arts Theater was edited by FM. I know because I was the intermediary. From the very beginning, FM gave instructions to the military to be lenient with Ninoy.

I met up with Ninoy in New York on April 22, 1983, which was my birthday. He told me he needed a passport. secretary of Foreign Affairs Collantes had earlier issued a memo stating no renewal for Ninoy’s passport. So I checked with FM on the phone and Joey Ampeso, a consular officer assigned in New Orleans and an Upsilonian, was asked to assist Ninoy, which he did.

During that New York meeting, Ninoy also told me that he went to see his doctor and his medical exam might require him to rest for six months because of some heart complication. In July that year, Ninoy was told by the State Department that FM was sick and that “if I don’t go home, I will not be president.”

In early August, FM and Ninoy talked about the latter returning to the Philippines and FM told him not to come home yet because he (FM) was weak and he couldn’t protect Ninoy.

On August 17, there was an earthquake in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, so I had to be there as acting governor. I sent two planes to meet Ninoy in Taipei but the first plane, which carried a top officer, could not locate him because he was using a passport with a different name. FM’s instructions were to bring Ninoy to Basa Air Base, load him in the presidential helicopter and bring him here to Manila, to protect him.

On August 20, I left Laoag at 10 in the evening so I could be in Manila in time to meet Ninoy at the airport. I didn’t think much of it then, but my plane was grounded (by someone who knew the chain of command) and the second plane was prevented from taking off When I was driving to the international airport, my car was delayed because of a rally of another Upsilonian, Doy Laurel, in front of Baclaran Church. I arrived at the airport 12 minutes after Ninoy was shot. Someone met me and said “wala na si Ninoy (Ninoy is gone).” I cried like a baby when I found out what happened. If I arrived on time I could have escorted Ninoy from the aircraft and he would not have been shot, or I would have been shot along with him on the stairs.

Courtesy of Nemenzo, Gemma from Filipinas.

Nothing to celebrate with the Buwan ng Pambansang Wika

You Tagalize the country for your own political survival.

Today, 19 August is the 134th birthday of the Father of National Language and the former President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Manuel Luis Molina Quezon. The whole month of August has been commemorated as the “Buwan ng Pambansang Wika” or National Language Month in honor of Manuel Luis Molina Quezon’s birth month. His presidency was significant as he was during the presidency that a national language was enacted by our constitution of 1935.

Before his presidency, there was no single common language spoken among the Filipinos (even today as most Filipinos speaks with their respective languages even through there is a national language imposed by our constitution) although Spanish was served as the lingua franca among Filipinos who wants to speak with other ethno-linguistic groups however, Spanish never became a real common language among the Filipinos, let alone of becoming a first language among the majority of the Filipinos as the evolution of Spanish language as the common and national language among Filipino was derailed by the American colonization where the Americans imposed their language, English as the common language through a massive public education, the declaration of Tagalog aka “Filipino” as the national language in 1937, and the destruction of the Intramuros during World War II where most Spanish-speaking Filipinos used to live, and the Black Legend-inspired anti-Spanish resentment among Filipinos who raised during the American and post-American era.

The installation of Tagalog language as the basis for the national language to be called later as “Filipino” was based on naive and ill-advised perspectives among the delegates of the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention where most vocal delegates were Tagalogs.

The delegates who passed the 1935 constitution never realized the country’s multilingual and multinational nature where imposing one national perspectives over the other nationals within the country resulted into a resentment between nations within the Philippine archipelago even until now as the economic and political developments of the country are focused in Tagalog regions at the expense of other regions due to political, economic, cultural, and linguistic systems that gives them an unfair comparative advantage over the other nations like the Cebuanos, Ilocanos, Hiligaynons, Warays, Pampangos, and many other Philippine nations.

The naive and ill-advised perspectives among the delegates of the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention who passed the 1935 constitution have resulted into distortion of the evolution for a single Filipino identity and nation and this distortion is the cause of our cultural, economic, linguistic, and political backwardness over the rest of the world for the last 77 years and maybe irreversible unless we accept the reality that our cultural, economic, linguistic, and political system needs to be fully changed through a constitutional revision.

For me, to correct the mistakes of our politicians during the 1934-1935 Constitutional Convention is to make other Philippine-based languages as national language in par with Tagalog and the instruction of Philippine-based languages especially the major ones like Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Pampango, Bicolano should be limited to their respective regions while encouraging Spanish (most preferably) and English as the common language of all Filipinos from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.