Wednesday, April 3, 2013
From one mother to another, Risa Hontiveros has expressed admiration for Edita Burgos’ quiet fortitude—and unshakable faith—in the search for her son Jonas, missing since 2007 and believed abducted by certain operatives of the military.
“She has been so faithful in this struggle. Hindi siya bumitiw sa paghahanap sa kanyang mahal na anak,” Hontiveros, a mother of four and a widow, said.
“As women, some of us as mothers, you just have to give her the highest admiration,” added Hontiveros.
Since he went missing in April 2007 after being abducted at a Quezon City mall by men believed to belong to two units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, no evidence has emerged to show Jonas is still alive. On March 18, 2013, almost six years later, the Court of Appeals recognized his abduction as an enforced disappearance and held Maj. Harry Baliaga Jr. as one of those responsible for it.
However painful and seemingly futile her search, and in the absence of proof of life, Mrs. Burgos, wife of the late press freedom icon Jose Burgos Jr. has persisted “without hatred in her heart. Napakahirap gawin nun, to maintain this fight until now,” Hontiveros said.
After being dashed for so long, Mrs. Burgos’ hopes rose last month with the appearance of new evidence apparently leading her search to the abductors. Hontiveros said that the courts should not ignore the evidence, urging “highest court in the land as well as the Court of Appeals to revisit the Burgos case.”
Being a mother to a young family, whose oldest child, a boy, is 20 years old, she has empathized with the Burgos matriarch.
"The latest development is encouraging," she said. “Due process will and must continue at all times. I trust the President to continue to exercise his best judgment in ensuring that justice will be served regardless of whoever is involved.”
At a press briefing of Team PNoy in Makati on Tuesday, Hontiveros and fellow administration senatorial candidate Bam Aquino said the government must apply the law equally and treat none of the suspected abductors as “sacred cows.”
“Kung sino man ang mapatunayang may kasalanan, nasa posisyon pa iyan o wala, dapat lang parusahan. We should immediately file the necessary charges against those responsible for the disappearance of Jonas Burgos,” Hontiveros said.
PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, April 3, 2013-The Philippines won’t be able to achieve rice self-sufficiency by 2014 unless the government put more investments in agriculture and further increase the number of hectares of irrigated lands.
United Nationalist Alliance senatorial candidate Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile stressed this point as he suggested that the Aquino administration follow the
example in providing irrigation to farmlands to increase rice production and
eventually rice self-sufficiency.
Enrile, a member of the House committee on agriculture, said he has serious doubts that the country can achieve its Rice Self-Sufficiency Program (RSSP), originally set this 2013 to 2014.
“Not with this present set-up because of the lack of investments in agriculture,” he said.
He cited the case of
who, he said, had considerably less population than the Philippines and
practically the same land area but has almost 10 times the number of hectares
of irrigated lands compared with the country.
Thailand has 65
million people and we have 90 million. But they made massive investments in
agriculture. They have 10 million hectares of irrigated lands while we only
have 1.4 million hectares. It’s no wonder they have left us behind, we have so
many undeveloped and underdeveloped lands,” he said.
Enrile recalled that in the 80s, the country used to be a rice exporter, something which the Department of Agriculture said the government could achieve by 2013.
“Well and good. Actually, it’s easy to say we are a rice exporter. We can simply accumulate our rice produce in a warehouse then ship them out and say we have exported. But the question is : are we a net rice exporter?” he asked.
He said only last week, the government came out with an announcement that it would be exporting 180,000 metric tons of rice which is proof that it is far from reaching the level of self-sufficiency as far as rice is concerned.
Enrile also noted that the country does not have a national food requirement plan. He said that 150 years ago, human species come from 10,000 different varieties of food.
“After World War 2, when he industrialized, there are now only 150 different varieties of food,” he said.
Enrile, whose campaign pitch is “Maraming Pagkain, Murang Pagkain (Plenty of Food, Cheap Food),” said he has filed in May 2011 House Bill 4626, also known as Food for Filipinos First (FFFF), which intends to make the agriculture sector a key mover in providing food for the poor and middle class. (Manny Galvez)
“It’s really a concern. If there is a question over the PCOS functionality, then we’ll gonna have a problem,” he said in reaction to reports that some of the PCOS machines bogged down during a training demonstration to teachers sitting as board of election inspectors (BEIs).
A total of 5,610 BEIs in the province will undergo training on the operations of these PCOS machines in the run-up to the May polls.
According to reports, at least six of these machines malfunctioned and encountered glitches when used for demonstration by officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Reporters tried to get the side of acting provincial election supervisor lawyer
Florentino-Pangilinan but she was unavailable. But a Comelec insider who did
not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the issue
said the six PCOS machines that conked out may have been overused.
Umali said in 2010, glitches were encountered in the use of these PCOS machines in the province. He said a particular candidate for mayor in a city got zero vote in his own barangay.
He said a former congressman also encountered the same problem in two northern Nueva Ecija towns.
Aside from glitches, the Comelec is also under fire because it does not have the source code to run the PCOS machines.
The source code is the all-important set of computer commands to make the PCOS recognize and count the vote marks, reject fake ballots, and transmit tallies to canvassing centers.
The Automated Election Code of 2008 and the initial lease contract of 2009 require the Comelec and its dealer Smartmatic of Venezuela to require the showing of the source code to the public through IT (information technology) experts and to political parties and to a reputable independent tester for accuracy and security.
Canada-based Dominion is the real and sole owner of the technology offered by Smartmatic for the Philippine elections, a fact it did not disclose before the 2010 polls.
A citizens’ election monitor alliance said the 2010 PCOS machines which will also be used in the May 2013 polls are “fatally flawed” and have bugs that are “unacceptable in IT standards” and therefore should never be used again.
Umali said these PCOS machines are not 100% reliable. “It’s scary. I hope the Comelec can do something about it,” he said.
Umali said that while glitches were not that rampant in the 2010 elections, this is something every Novo Ecijano voter should be worried about.
“Unless this is addressed, the people would have doubts about the results,” he said. (Manny Galvez)
Things are looking up for the Filipino under the Aquino administration.
The recent Social Weather Stations survey showing that majority of Filipinos are satisfied with their lives proves that, according to former Sen. Jamby Madrigal.
“If four out of five Filipinos are satisfied with their lives, then it only shows that the majority of Filipinos feel that the government is working for them,” said Madrigal, senatorial candidate of the administration coalition Team PNoy.
Dissatisfaction, she pointed out, would indicate that Filipinos do not approve of what the Aquino administration is doing, “or is not doing enough to address their needs and concerns.”
The SWS poll, conducted from Dec. 8 to 11 last year, found four of five Filipinos or 81 percent saying they were satisfied with their lives.
Of the 81 percent, 33 percent were “very satisfied” and 48 percent, “fairly satisfied.”
Madrigal believes that the satisfaction rating would get even higher if the survey is conducted now, citing the recent Fitch Ratings upgrade of the Philippines’ investment status and the increasing number of foreign tourist arrivals as well as the continued strengthening of the peso as contributory factors.
She cautioned, however, that even if most Filipinos are satisfied with their lives, the government would need to focus on the remaining 20 percent who feel dissatisfied.
“The Aquino administration, I believe, is on the right track as far as addressing the source of dissatisfaction is concerned, and steps are now being undertaken to further improve the quality of their lives,” Madrigal said.
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