99 Dead – 2018 Super Typhoon Ompong estimated Philippine death toll

Super Typhoon Ompong left dozens dead with many more missing as landslides hit mining bunkhouses in Itogon, Benguet. 43 bodies have been recovered in Itogon with 30 reported to be still missing. Northern Luzon bore the brunt of Signal Number 4 winds. The Cordillera Administrative Region (which includes Benguet Province), Baguio City (3 deaths), Cagayan Valley (7 deaths), Ilocos Region (1 death), Central Luzon (one death) and NCR (one death) suffered most of the deaths in the Philippines. At this moment, the official death count stands at 59 bodies recovered nationwide with dozens still missing and would be presumed dead as hours turn into days. NOTE: The 99 death toll is an educated guess based on all available, and sometimes conflicting data, regarding those still missing in Itogon, Benguet (currently ranging from 30 to 80) so we adopted the conservative number of 40 then included the 59 confirmed deaths. These figures still do not include reports that may come in delayed due to damaged communication lines and from far flung areas. Suffice it to say that it may take a week to come up with a pretty accurate report.

rp 2018 sept 16 itogon 2


At least 60 dead (mostly in Itogon, Benguet landslide) due to Typhoon Ompong

Super Typhoon Ompong left dozens dead with more missing as landslides hit mining bunkhouses in Itogon, Benguet. Northern Luzon bore the brunt of Signal Number 4 winds. The Cordillera Administrative Region, Baguio City, Cagayan Valley and Ilocos Region sustained most of the mortalities.


rp 2018 sept 16 itogon, benguet landslide

Leah Salonga on Singapore, strict law enforcement, drug war and national development

leah salonga singapore rp drugs

It was this kind of strictness that I yearned for here in the Philippines all those years ago.


For some strange reason I started thinking of an incident back in the 1990s that took place in Singapore.

An American teenage boy by the name of Michael Fay was found guilty of vandalizing cars and stealing government property, and was sentenced to 6 lashes of a cane. President Bill Clinton pleaded for clemency, hence the sentence was lessened to just 4, after which the young Mr. Fay was deported back to the United States.

I remember the protests of the west against the cruelty of this kind of corporal punishment (although there were some folks that were totally in favor of it). Afternoon television programs featured it. People Magazine wrote an article on the young Mr. Fay. The photograph used made him look vulnerable, more like a child than someone on the verge of manhood.

However, in Singapore, after the sentence was pronounced, many people interviewed for the news were proud of their country, that they were this strict in meeting out punishment for crimes against the state and its people. Plus, cars are extremely expensive, costing at least twice the amount it normally would in the US. So of course the anger over them getting keyed is high as well.

Moral of the story: obey the rules of the country you live in or visit. Render no destruction to property, public or private. All visitors are subject to the same laws as its residents.

It was this kind of strictness that I yearned for here in the Philippines all those years ago. And now my mind is thinking of the word “perhaps.”

Perhaps if government was more strict back then…

Perhaps if the war on drugs began much earlier…

Perhaps if everyone was less apathetic and more sympathetic and empathetic towards one another…

Perhaps… Perhaps… Perhaps…

So now here we are.

This is on all of us. We’re all in this together. It’s pointless to stand on one side and place all the blame on someone that isn’t us. WE all did this. All of us. So it’s going to take all of us to fix it.

– Leah Salonga

#Duterte #WarOnDrugs

Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago seizes the initiative from problematic PDP Laban


Upon the election of then Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte as President of the Republic of the Philippines, under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban), in 2016, the PDP Laban national political party had no way to go but up. As TRAPOs (TRAditional POliticianS) jumped on the PDP Laban band wagon, PDP Laban easily achieved a SUPER MAJORITY head count in the House of Representatives and controlled the Duterte Administration Coalition in the Senate. PDP stalwarts Koko Pimentel became Senate President and Pantaleon Alvarez became House Speaker. By absorbing incumbent congressmen/women, governors and mayors into the PDP fold, PDP was poised to SWEEP the 2019 midterm senatorial and local elections to totally demolish the Aquino Administration dominant political group, the Liberal Party. sara hnp cropped

On the way to a projected 2019 PDP Laban sweep of the senatorial elections, then Speaker Alvarez floated what he thought to be the absolutely brilliant idea of packing the PDP senatorial slate with long-time (but not nationally prominent) PDP leaders from the House of Representatives. The thinking was that since local elections would be won by PDP, then it was but natural for the PDP senatorial candidates to be carried to electoral victory. Left on the sidelines to mull their future are Duterte Administration Coalition incumbent senators who are up for re-election but are not PDP members (Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Sonny Angara and JV Ejercito). Note: Koko Pimentel (of PDP Laban) and Bam Aquino (of the opposition Liberal Party) are also for re-election.

A separate issue that involves PDP Laban is the running feud between former Speaker Alvarez and the Presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. The feisty Mayor from Davao City organized a Davao regional political party named Hugpong ng Pagbabago and got the support of at least 4 out of 5 Davao region governors. The obvious motivation is to challenge Alvarez (who is a congressman from the Davao region) and the PDP in the 2019 local elections.

Pimentel was then removed as Senate President. Alvarez was kicked out as House Speaker in a coup that happened in dramatic fashion on the day that the President delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA). Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took over the House leadership. Mayor Sara called on a number of congressmen/women to effect the Alvarez ouster. The back room maneuverings and removal of her arch rival as House Speaker propelled Mayor Inday Sara to national prominence and sooner or later, NATIONAL political parties made a bee line to secure a formal alliance with Hugpong ng Pagbabago. While the PDP belatedly included the non-PDP re-electionist senators in their list of 24 possible candidates (for twelve slots), they still have to undergo a trimming process thus their future in the PDP ticket still hangs at a balance. On the other hand Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago already includes Senators Villar, Ejercito and Angara in their line-up. Together with come backing Senator Pia Cayetano, SAP Bong Go and former PNP chief Bato Dela Rosa, Hugpong ng Pagbabago is ready and able to challenge PDP for the most number of senators elected in 2019. Please take note that there would be common candidates between the two parties with Bong Go and Pia Cayetano, among others, being fielded by the rival pro-Duterte political  parties. Still, in the final analysis, even after counting the common candidates for both sides, when the dust settles after the 2019 midterm elections, either PDP Laban or Hugpong ng Pagbabago will have more senatorial seats won (unless there is a tie). Should PDP Laban elect more senators, everyone would just say that the development had been expected due to the long history of PDP Laban  and the huge numbers of politicians that crossed over to them after the 2016 Presidential elections. However, a Hugpong ng Pagbabago victory would deal a crushing blow to PDP Laban and elevate Sara Duterte to national stature.


#Duerte #SaraDuterte #HugpongNgPagbabago #TapangAtMalasakit


NFA’s Aquino diverted E. Visayas rice to Bulacan rice traders – memo to Duterte

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr pens a confidential memo to President Rodrigo Duterte laying out NFA anomalies under Jason Aquino’s watch

nfa rice sacks

MANILA, Philippines – In a confidential memorandum to President Rodrigo Duterte, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr accused National Food Authority chief Jason Aquino of diverting NFA rice meant for typhoon-prone Eastern Visayas to select Bulacan rice traders.

The memorandum obtained by Rappler was supposed to have been given to Duterte by Evasco during a one-on-one meeting in Malacañang on Monday, April 16.

In the document, Evasco said Aquino, without approval of the NFA Council, sold 10.4 million kilograms of NFA rice meant for Region VIII to chosen Bulacan rice traders for P235 million.

The deal was disadvantageous to the government as it had purchased the rice for P261 million “for specific rice consumers – poor communities in Region VIII.”

The scheme was one reason why there was a sudden decline in NFA’s buffer stock in Eastern Visayas. The kilograms of rice sold to private traders is “equivalent to a buffer of 3-days-to-last,” reads the memorandum.

With the Aquino-sanctioned pull-out, the region’s buffer stock was reduced to less than a day’s worth of stock.

The memo included the selling price bulletin issued by Aquino to prove this. It also attached a letter from an NFA official protesting Aquino’s move.

“The official further urged the Administrator to distribute the rice reserves to provinces that need buffer stock replenishment and not sell it to private retailers. Nonetheless, the NFA Administrator proceeded with the sale,” wrote Evasco.

The sale proceeded despite the special mandate given to NFA to ensure higher reserves for Eastern Visayas because it is in the typhoon belt and thus most vulnerable to food security threats.

Evasco slammed Aquino for acting as if diverting NFA rice stocks was solely his prerogative.

“The NFA Administrator arrogated unto himself the exclusive discretion of determining the allocation and recipients of NFA rice stocks without the slightest regard to the guidelines and procedures that safeguard the interest of the public,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

Why to Bulacan rice traders?

Documents attached as annexes to the memorandum show a portion of the Eastern Visayas buffer stock was sold to 4 Bulacan rice traders: Mutya Rice Mill Bulacan, Mountain View MPC, Labne Producers Coop, and Balaong MPC.

The 4 traders bought a total of 45,906 bags of rice intended for Eastern Visayas.

Evasco pointed to one possible reason for the supposed preference for Bulacan traders – Aquino’s wife comes from San Miguel, Bulacan.

ANOMALIES. A portion of Evasco's memorandum for President Rodrigo Duterte details how many bags of NFA rice were sold to private rice traders

ANOMALIES. A portion of Evasco’s memorandum for President Rodrigo Duterte details how many bags of NFA rice were sold to private rice traders

Some Bulacan cooperatives not qualified

Evasco also called attention to the “suspiciously high number of cooperatives from San Miguel, Bulacan” given quotas or allocations to import rice under the Minimum Access Volume (MAV).

Thirty-nine out of the 294 entities that applied for rice importation quotas are from San Miguel.

These cooperatives received a total of 181,502 metric tons of allocation, or 22.5% of the total 2017 MAV approved quota (728,479 metric tons).

Of these, 22 are not authorized to engage in rice importation, said Evasco, using as basis financial statements that prove “they are not financially fit to shoulder the cost of importation.”

These 22 cooperatives received 11% (87,996 metric tons) of the total 2017 MAV quota.

Dubious orders

The NFA Council had also gotten wind of Aquino’s order to pull out NFA representatives in the ports of entry of NFA rice.

The order, said Evasco, is “grossly contrary” to NFA Council guidelines requiring the presence of an NFA employee during the arrival of imported rice as a way to ensure transparency.

Letters from NFA regional officials, attached to the memo, prove Aquino gave the order.

Also attached was a letter from an NFA regional official saying that their office would be “carrying out the order under protest.”

Aquino, however, had reasoned that the NFA’s legal department had merely recommended that future terms of reference and guidelines should be revised to allow pull-out of NFA personnel in ports of entry.


Evasco’s meeting with Duterte and his memorandum come after the President defended Aquino and expressed trust in him.

Duterte had also expressed an intention to “abolish” the NFA Council, a move seen to benefit Aquino. However, after being told by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea that this could not be done without Congress, Duterte said he would transfer the NFA to the Office of the President instead and would assign Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in charge of rice importation.

Both decisions render the NFA Council obsolete in terms of decisions on rice importation.

Senators have slammed Aquino for supposedly causing panic and the increase of rice prices when he publicly declared a rice shortage.

Some lawmakers have even called on Aquino to resign and criticized Duterte’s desire to abolish the NFA Council. Evasco himself, in March 2017, had asked Duterte to fire Aquino, to no avail. – Rappler.com

Liberal Party – WISHFUL THINKING for 2019 Senatorial Elections

The Liberal Party, together with opposition allies, is aiming for 8 out of the 12 contested senatorial seats for 2109. Since there were 4 LP senators elected for six year terms in 2016, that would add up to 12 (for 2019 – 2022) which is one-half of the available Senate slots. It seems like WISHFUL THINKING on the part of the badly discredited Liberal Party (if poll surveys are to be believed). Popular re-electionist senators (Koko Pimentel, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, JV Ejercito and Sonny Angara) would be running under the Administration PDP Laban and/or Hugpong ng Pagbabago (of Sara Duterte). Loyal Duterte supporters led by Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte (although the Presidential daughter still denies aiming for national office in 2019), PCOO Asec Mocha Uson, SAP Bong Go and PNP’s Bato De La Rosa would vastly improve the chances of the Administration candidates winning 8 or more Senatorial seats (thus reversing the Liberal Party prediction).

It is customary in Philippine elections for the opposition candidates to dominate mid-term (non-presidential) elections but at this stage of the ball game, with the 2019 polls scheduled in May, President Duterte still enjoys high acceptance ratings which should rub off on his Senate line-up. The opposition has a little over a year to ratchet up the fireworks but they have, so far, failed to dent the Duterte popularity among the vast majority of the Filipino electorate.


hugpong mocha sara bato bong 2


Pangilinan pushes for ‘strong’ opposition coalition in 2019

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has pressed for a “strong” opposition coalition in 2019 that would unite, among others, against alleged extra judicial killings (EJKs) and human rights abuses in the country.

“Democracy demands dissent. We need a strong opposition to ensure that our democracy remains vibrant,” Pangilinan, president of Liberal Party (LP), said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The LP, he said, hopes to help build the “broadest coalition of groups and individuals united behind defending our freedoms and our civil and political rights.”

“We hope this coalition is one in ensuring our economic development is not sidelined by corruption and human rights violations,” said the senator, “Resistance is our movement. We must vigorously resist the slide to authoritarianism and anti-democratic rule.”Pangilinan clarified that the LP would only help build this coalition, which was dubbed as the “Resistance Coalition.”

“LP alone cannot achieve this and we will need to work with other groups and forces willing to unite and to resist extra judicial killings and human rights abuses, the undermining of our sovereignty in the West Phil Sea and the continuing rise of prices of basic commodities among others,” he said in a text message.

“A resistance coalition rather than an LP coalition is what needs to be realized,” he added.

Pangilinan refused to provide more details on the coalition while talks are still ongoing.

It was Senator Bam Aquino, an LP member, who earlier raised the need for a “genuine” opposition slate that he said should be willing to oppose and stand up against government policies damaging to people.

“If you ask me, in 2019, there’s a need for a genuine opposition slate. Kailangan ng mga taong magsasama-sama, magtutulong-tulong para labanan ang polisiya ng administrasyon na nakakasakit sa tao. And I think you will find me on that slate,” Aquino said in a television interview on Monday.        kga

By: Maila Ager – Reporter / @MAgerINQ
INQUIRER.net March 27, 2018
#Duterte #MochaUson #BongGo #LiberalParty  #Pnoy #MarRoxas #BamAquino

House Justice Committee approves Sereno Articles of Impeachment

NEXT STEP – House in plenary will vote to IMPEACH Sereno. One third of total district and partylist representatives needed to IMPEACH (which is almost a certainty due to the Duterte Administration Lower House SUPER MAJORITY). The Senate will conduct an Impeachment Trial to determine guilt/conviction or innocence/acquittal. A two thirds vote of the 24 member Senate is needed to convict.


The House of Representatives’ committee on justice approved on Monday the articles of impeachment against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

sereno umali 3

With 33 members in favor, the panel ruled to continue the impeachment process to remove Sereno from office, as it also effectively certified its 45-page report on the proceedings it conducted as well as lawyer Lorenzo Gadon’s impeachment complaint against the country’s top magistrate.

Only Rep. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte voted against the 56-page articles of impeachment against Sereno.
The six articles of impeachment, as stated in the speech of House justice committee chairperson Rep. Reynaldo Umali, asserted that Sereno must be impeached on the following grounds:

  1. Non-filing and non-disclosure of her sworn statement of assets and liabilities and net worth (SALN), constituting the impeachable offense of culpable violation of the Constitution and/or betrayal of public trust;
  1. Committing corruption and betrayal of public trust when she misused a total amount of ₱18 million of public funds thereby manifesting her grandiose sense of self-importance;
  1. Committing culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and/or other high crimes when she arrogated unto herself the powers reposed upon the Supreme Court as a collegial, deliberative and consultative body;
  1. Committed culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust and/or other high crimes when she deliberately and maliciously abused her position as the Chief Justice and ex officio Chairperson of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC);
  1. Committed culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust when she deliberately undermined and violated the principles of separation of powers among the three branches of government; and

6. Committed betrayal of public trust when she willfully and deliberately failed to comply with her oath of office by tyrannical abuse of discretionary power.

The articles of impeachment and committee report will be transmitted to the House committee on rules, which will then schedule them for plenary discussions within 10 session days upon receipt.

The House plenary is set to tackle the articles of impeachment within 60 session days from its submission by the justice committee.

If the committee report and articles of impeachment garner one-third votes of the entire House members, the lower Chamber would then transmit the impeachment complaint to the Senate, which would convene as an impeachment court.

Last March 8, the House justice committee decided there is probable cause to impeach Sereno, who is being accused of culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, corruption, and other high crimes.
#Duterte #Sereno #ChangeIsComing #ChangeIsHere #SerenoImpeachment