The ´great´ ABS-CBN fire sale

July 27, 2020

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina--As a long standing member of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC),  I join my colleagues in roundly condemning a recent Facebook post made by the Malaybalay PNP precinct that was taken down almost as quick as it was posted.  The FB post in question tagged those who voiced condemnation on Congress´s rejection of ABS-CBN´s franchise as enemies of the state, aka terrorists. I read COPC president Manny Jaudian´s statement on the case along with a post by PNP-10 Press Corps President Michael Bustamante condemning the FB post which, as a semi-retired local media practitioner, I fully support.  Good thing the PNP-10 office heeded both the COPC and PNP-10 sentiments and ordered the takedown of the FB post, along with an order for the Malaybalay police precinct to explain this grievious mistake to say the least. Criticism of government policies should not be shuttered or silenced but instead raised to the bar of public opinion and discourse. That´s a basic tenet of democracy which our law enforcers and our military should be repeatedly reminded of this regardless of who is their commander-in-chief.  But with the underhanded Red-tagging of some local media practitioners under this incumbent administration, I´m not surprised about the FB post. That said, the FB post is just part of the bigger picture which is the Duterte administration´s dismantling of the ABS-CBN network in order to re-configure it into their personal machinery to supposedly use as part of government interventions for education in the countryside amid the restrictions in place for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But anyone whose brains aren´t fried or indoctrinated by the Duterte fanatics/troll propaganda army know by now that the ABS-CBN network´s facilities can and will likely be used to advance the candidacy of President Rodrigo Duterte´s daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte in the 2020 elections.                         ___________________ To anyone who thinks ABS-CBN´s fate ended the moment Congress recently rejected its franchise application, a congressman´s declaration calling on ABS-CBN to sell their franchise in order to save their employees (I won´t bother naming the lawmaker because I want to avoid publicizing administration lapdogs as much as possible) is clear proof that the network´s turmoil is not yet over. In fact, the congressional rejection is part and parcel of the Duterte administration´s strategy to co-opt the network by pressuring the owners, the Lopez family,  into agreeing to a ´fire sale´ of ABS-CBN to one of its favored money bags who will then buy the network at a bargain basement, dirt cheap price.  Hence that congressman´s statement to ABS-CBN management to sell the network in order to save the employees who will lose their jobs next month. A fire sale as defined is the sale of goods at low prices by the seller whose property was destroyed by fire. Nowadays a fire sale means the discounted sale of goods or property by the owner who faces bankruptcy or financial distress.  With ABS-CBN´s franchise bid rejected,  the administration allies are counting on stock holders to sell their shares to the public, effectively abandoning the ship that won´t dock anywhere so long as this administration remains in power. The Lopez family are rich and won´t worry about their next meal unlike the families of the employees who will lose their jobs next month. Already the administration allies are demonizing the family to pressure them to sell the network at dirt cheap prices to their favored crony —there I said it.  Or they can simply seize the network´s facilities and satellite stations for their own uses. And so the country is forced to watch the unfolding of this whole ABS-CBN saga in the backdrop of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which wouldn´t have been this severe in this part of the world if the President enforced an early travel ban in the first place.  I only hope that the owners won´t fold and the network won´t be converted into yet another propaganda tool wielded by the likes of administration lapdogs like Mocha Uson and her contemptible crew.

That budget impasse and the NMMC controversy

July 20, 2020

Charlotte, North Carolina—Been quite preoccupied with my Facebook Live broadcasts that I haven’t spared sometime writing but then the schedule leaves me just enough time to relax with hubby Ronnie and catching up with friends old and new in this coronavirus season. That said I also keep updated on what’s happening in my land of birth particularly in Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental, but first I tie up some loose ends. Last time I wrote the other week ago on the temporary restraining order issued on the 2020 budget of the provincial government. It didn’t exactly take long for the court to lift the TRO as it cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the chief overriding reason for allowing the provincial government access to their supposed 2020 budget that contained last minute additions such as stripping the vice-governor’s office of its entire budget and re-allocating it to a liaison office under the governor’s office. But it remains to be seen if the case lodged by the vice governor against the Padayon Pilipino bloc had been resolved and if the Capitol administration can secure a positive review from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) which rejected the last minute 2020 budget for failing to secure the vice-governor’s signature along with the Provincial Board (PB) secretary. If these were less critical times, the case would have been elevated to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which handled a similar budget row back in 2011 involving then last term Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and her political rival, the late vice governor Gregorio Sanchez who filed administrative charges against her for, among other things, cutting off the vice-governor’s budget. But these are not critical times and so we leave it to the courts to resolve this impasse.                   *************** For now though let’s talk a little on the surprise resignation (‘early retirement’ was the term of choice) of Dr. Jose Chan, medical director of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) for health reasons over the weekend. The news came as a shock to Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno as he noted that he didn’t expect Dr. Chan’s resignation at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing. What would be of particular interest to the mayor’s critics is the designation of Dr. Ramon Moreno as acting NMMC chief which would spark not a few unfounded, even malicious speculations that Dr. Chan was forced out of his post to make way for Dr. Moreno. In fact I’ve read some Facebook posts from some netizens clearly critical of Mayor Moreno that insinuated that Dr. Moreno’s appointment would be one way of ‘fudging the numbers’ so to speak on the COVID-19 cases in Cagayan de Oro City. For those who’ve been monitoring the daily press briefings at Cagayan de Oro City Hall, the NMMC designated Dr. Bernard Julius Rocha as its liaison officer to issue reports on the COVID-19 cases recorded in Cagayan de Oro City and the rest of Northern Mindanao, including Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon provinces. At first Dr. Rocha refuted reports of Dr. Chan’s resignation only to confirm about it in interviews with local media last Saturday. And of course, those who monitored the press briefings know by now Mayor Moreno’s outburst over one doctor who claimed that City Hall had been under-reporting on the number of COVID-19 cases in the city and he even claimed seeing body bags lined up at one of the hospitals he worked in as evidence for his allegations. Needless to say, his unsubstantiated Facebook posts were eagerly circulated by the mayor’s critics and bashers last April and May. Lately this doctor switched tactics and claimed that he is making a compilation of the COVID-19 cases being reported in the press briefings and comparing them with reports from the Department of Health (DOH-10) and Faceook posts of media outlets to determine if what City Hall is reporting is true and factual or—and this is what he’s now saying—city officials are allegedly not including deaths caused by COVID-19 like illnesses/ailments.                                   *************** What makes this doctor’s intentions appear so insidious and highly suspect is that he’s making these allegations under a Facebook alias and agreed to a radio interview with radio blocktimers who are identified as the mayor’s chief bashers including those identified with the ‘de-color’ politicos and pro-lockdown proponents as well as a former City Hall official whom Mayor Moreno said was sacked because of some irregularities. That said, Dr. Chan’s resignation would again surely be exploited by the mayor’s critics and bashers for whatever negative propaganda they can squeeze out of it to make the mayor look bad—like scheming, Machiavellian bad which is a bare-faced malicious lie that can only be perpetrated by those with insidious designs of re-taking City Hall or landing some juicy city government posts in the next elections. Yes, I’m talking about the opposition groups who have been relentless in their attacks on Mayor Moreno even way back in 2013 when he first assumed the post and now when he’s leading City Hall and Cagayan de Oro City’s stakeholders in overcoming the COVID-19 crisis. Then again, it’s eventually up to Dr. Chan to decide whether or not to explain his reasons for retiring. But it’s up to him to decide on that. Regardless of the fallout, what’s important is for the NMMC to soldier on along with City Hall in keeping COVID-19 at bay until it is eventually overcome by the people of Cagayan de Oro City and northern Mindanao. Election politics which these greedy, amoral trapo politicos feed and survive on along with their paid trolls can and should be made to wait preferably until 2022. In the event these trapo politicians, bashers and trolls question City Hall’s reports of COVID-19 cases in the city by maliciously imputing a conspiracy between the city government and NMMC over at Facebook and other social media, it would be best to simply ignore them or better yet, challenge them to substantiate their claims to the DOH-10 whose leadership I believe relies first and foremost on scientific evidence-based data.


July 18, 2020

TWO major issues concern me: climate change and the coronavirus Covid-19. Millions of people around the world are exposed to the virus and dangerous levels of heat stress - a dangerous condition that can cause organs to shut down. Many live in developing countries and do jobs that expose them to potentially life-threatening conditions. These include being out in the open on farms and building sites or indoors in factories and hospitals. Science editor David Shukman shares the worries with me and many others. Summers are becoming hotter and hotter for humans. Global warming will increase the chances of summer conditions that may be "too hot for humans" to work in. When we caught up with Dr. Jimmy Lee, his goggles were steamed up and there was sweat trickling off his neck. An emergency medic, he's laboring in the stifling heat of tropical Singapore to care for patients with Covid-19. There's no air conditioning - a deliberate choice, to prevent the virus from being blown around - and he notices that he and his colleagues become "more irritable, shorter with each other". Predictions shake me: more than 3bn could live in extreme heat by 2070. The monetary Siberian heatwave is clear evidence of climate change. 2019 was Europe's warmest year on record. And Dr. Lee's personal protective equipment, essential for avoiding infection, makes things worse by creating a sweltering 'micro-climate' under the multiple layers of plastic. We can all imagine that working in a tropical climate can be extremely uncomfortable. One danger is that overheating can slow down our ability to do something vital for medical staff - make quick decisions. Another is that they may ignore the warning signs of what's called heat stress - such as faintness and nausea - and keep on working till they collapse. If the body is unable to cool down properly so its core temperature keeps rising to dangerous levels and key organs can shut down. It happens when the main technique for getting rid of excess heat - the evaporation of sweat on the skin - can't take place because the air is too humid. According to Dr. Rebecca Lucas, who researches physiology at the University of Birmingham, the symptoms can escalate from fainting and disorientation to cramps and failure of the guts and kidneys. What impact will climate change have? As global temperatures rise, more intense humidity is likely as well which means more people will be exposed to more days with that hazardous combination of heat and moisture. Another study, published earlier this year, warned that heat stress could affect as many as 1.2 bn people around the world by 2100, four times more than now. It's not a new thing for me and you: people need to drink plenty of fluid before they start work, take regular breaks, and then drink again when they rest. But scientists around the globe agree:  avoiding heat stress is easier said than done. There's a practical problem as well - some people do not want to drink so they can avoid having to go to the toilet. And another fatal attraction in my opinion: For many people, there's a professional desire to keep working whatever the difficulties so as not to let colleagues and patients down at a time of crisis. Highly motivated people can actually be at the greatest risk of heat injury, says Dr. Jason Lee, an associate professor in physiology at the National University of Singapore. He's a leading member of a group specializing in the dangers of excessive heat, the Global Heat Health Information Network, which has drawn up guidelines to help medics cope with Covid-19. It's spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the US weather and climate agency Noaa. This climate change will be a bigger monster and we really need a coordinated effort across nations to prepare for what is to come. +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.


July 14, 2020

ONE of the most important parts of my life is the belief in a supernatural power that governs the universe. It doesn't matter which religion we belong to or believe in: the recognition of God as an object of worship. The form of worship should be our primary need. During my stay in several Western countries, I experienced icy and conceited comments such as "religiousness isn't popular anymore". Religiousness makes people unwilling and morose because of exaggeration and sometimes even hypocrisy. I found out that in times of Covid-19 more and more people started praying again. Since then the coronavirus no longer allows us to go to church, worshipping and its broadcasts happened online. Of course, it's not the same as before. As I said before: nothing will be the same as before... But it doesn't mean that I cut my relationship with God and stop talking to him. Increasing negative headlines about the "institutional church" nowadays and also in the past, and embarrassing comparisons lead only to discord. People have asked if there is still a chance of religiousness. How come? We want to see the religiosity of our fellow creatures. We want to understand their ideology. But we are also poking our nose into other people's business too much. Let's look behind the scenes and let's find out what religious behavior promotes: humility in actual life. Maybe. It's hard for us to do without affecting others. We even forget the real meaning of religiousness. St. John Crysostom subscribed to the topic "Pagans and Christians" very well: "There would be no pagans if we were good Christians. But the pagans see us manifesting the same desires, pursuing the same objects - power and honor - as themselves, how can they admire Christianity? They see our lives open to reproach and our souls worldly. We admire wealth equally with them and even more. How, then, can they believe? From miracles? But these are no longer wrought. From our conversion? It has become corrupt. From charity? Not a trace of it is anywhere seen. (Quotation "Winnowing Fan", Vol. XX, June 2003, S of G Foundation, Makati). If I talk about myself I am proud to have people in my surroundings who taught me how to be on the right track - unconcerned and unnoticed. Natural and uninhibited, they showed me how to put real religiousness into action besides praying and going regularly to the church in the past. I call such people religious. I mean it as praise because they don't like to blow their trumpets while acting like Christians in our daily life. Having such people around us makes it easier to practice forgiveness... And, as always, my dear readers: stay safe and healthy! +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

Web-icon minded: who do we combat?

July 13, 2020

SO far, we have eye-witnessed web-con-minded people all over the world. Many people have been active in conferences by online mode. Faculties, researchers, teachers, students, and many others have been engrossed with it. Not only do the academics but also some social associations, even the groups of the same hobbies have held the web-cons. But, mostly—even all--are free: no fee at all. Web-cons can be a good tool. It is good to unite the ideas of the fellow researchers, academics, faculties, teachers around the world.  Many people get involved in it. It is a good means of making the scientists all over the world united. They can share their experiences. They can exchange their ideas.  The first time I held a web-con is the ASEAN international conference. It was held by A Community of ASEAN researchers and Educators (CARE) on June 16. Second, we held it on June 20. And, I still have many others in July and August. All of them are free for all the participants.  If we hold a web-con with the fee, it will be usually only to pay the certificate for those who need it. But, again, mostly are free. This is a new phenomenon. A  new normal: everything is free. We can get a free course anytime from anywhere. Even, we can get a very good course for free. There are many links for getting this free course. Some of my colleagues have communicated with me that this era is good for personal branding. We don’t know when this phenomenon ends. If all educational services are free, we don’t need schools anymore. We don’t’ need universities anymore. We don’t need colleges anymore. Services in education seem to be very cheap. It is not only cheap, but no price at all. It is really free. What’s next? Working from home (WFH) has been done. School teachers and college faculties have been used to doing online courses. I also have done all my classes online from home. We have got used to WFH. This is a new normal: the new habit of doing things at home. WFH can also make the schools or colleges more efficient. They don’t’ have to spend more money for waters, electricity, transportation, papers, and many others. But, it has a negative side effect for those who work in outsourcing-basis. The janitors and all the blue collars working in offices and campuses are not employed anymore. They have lost their jobs. In tackling this tragic phenomenon, we need creativity. Though, up to now, it is still difficult to create something new: something that is more lucrative. Otherwise, it will lead to a big probem: making people stressful. People without their basic needs will lead to more dangerous situation. In my country, some regions are getting more and more “normal”.  Yet, the Covid 19 outbreak is still going on. Even, we find it the second outbreak. When I travelled to the mountainous regions, I saw people get busy with their kiosk, stores, and vendors. Most of them are the “small” people struggling for their next lives. I, myself, still get scared of being infected by the covid 19. So, I still have to follow the protocol: wearing a mask, keeping distance when meeting people in public. Even, when I arrive at home, I always directly go to the bathroom: taking a bath and changing the clothes. All the national leaders should organize the people totally. Having a uniform of policy making will lead to success. Unfortunately, the country with variety of people and their characters make it difficult to unite. We have seen this phenomenon globally. To make everything uniform is really a difficult problem. Above all, we just wait for the exact decision, especially in ASEAN, when will we get back to schools or colleges? When will all the businesses get normal again as usual? When there is no clear answer, this condition is even more dangerous than the “real problem” we have to combat. Dr. Djuwari is an Associate Professor and the Director of Language Laboratory at STIE Perbanas Surabaya, the editor of some research journals in the Philippines and Indonesia. He is also a journalist in some newspapers in Indonesia; the President of International Association of Scholarly Publishers, Editors, and Reviewers (IASPER).            

Looking beyond the Padayon Pilipino’s budget charade

July 10, 2020

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—Let’s try to look objectively at the possible reasons why the majority Padayon Pilipino bloc in the Provincial Board (PB) rejected a proposed resolution by Vice Gov. Jeremy Jonahmar ‘Jigjag’ Pelaez to adopt the reenacted 2019 budget in order not only to pay for its employees but also to fund the province’s COVID-19 response programs. I discussed this during Wednesday’s (July edition of ‘Barangay S’ broadcast at my Facebook page and at 105.5 Bay Radio Way Kurat Balingasag in both its radio station and at its Facebook page at 7-8 am.  Owing to time constraints, I decided to elaborate on my points here in my column at Mindanao Daily News. First of all the resolution stemmed from the court’s ruling to enforce a temporary restraining order on the Capitol’s 2020 budget following its rejection by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) owing to irregularities such as the absence of signatures by vice governor Pelaez and the PB secretary. The majority PB bloc had yet to answer categorically and specifically to their Misamisnon constituents on whether the 2020 budget proposal passed to the DBM for review and clearance contained last minute insertions that Pelaez alleged had divested his office of P68 million funding and re-allocated it in favor to a liaison office assigned under the governor’s office. The last minute insertions were supposedly the handiwork of ex-PB member and ex-Cagayan de Oro City councilor President Elipe prior to his ‘vanishing act’  after the police were about to enforce arrest warrants issued on him and his sister by the Sandiganbayan on graft and falsification charges.                     ************************* Elipe incidentally is the brother-in-law of Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny ‘Bambi’ Emano who’s serving his last term with the COVID-19 pandemic riding on his back and he was particularly testy when his attention was called by local media on the comments made by Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno on Elipe’s alleged role  in the last minute insertions stunt on the vice governor’s budget. But let’s focus on the 2020 and 2019 budget.  The majority PB bloc rejected the Pelaez resolution as it may be called because they want the slightly bigger 2020 budget AND with it, the Supplemental Budget containing the one-month worth share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) allocated by the national government as part of the ‘Bayanihan Heal As One’  response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an ‘all or nothing’ deal for the majority PB bloc as far as the budget is concerned and they would likely spin this Pelaez resolution as an ‘admission of guilt’ on the part of the vice governor and his allies for pushing their TRO petition on the 2020 budget due to what they would claim as ‘politically motivated’ retaliation against Bambi. In pushing this malicious, false narrative, the Padayon Pilipino PB bloc conveniently ignored the DBM rejection of their 2020 budget proposal supposedly containing the last minute insertions and the absence of the signatures of the vice governor and the PB secretary. Instead Bambi pushed for the total shutdown of the Capitol’s operations due to alleged fund lack and is banking on fueling and directing public discontent against Pelaez and his minority allies to pressure them into withdrawing the TRO petition while clearing himself and his allies of their malicious, underground tactic to torpedo and render inutile the vice governor’s office.               ********************* Bambi and his majority bloc are also counting on the lapse of the 20-day TRO to push for approval of the 2020 budget whether it be in court or in the PB session hall.  But then since they have the numbers, how did Pelaez and his minority allies secure a TRO in the first place? We’ll leave that for court resolution.  Incidentally, the PB majority bloc also rejected the resolution since it would also mean the retention of the vice governor office’s budget which they are targeting to remove in their 2020 budget in favor of the governor’s liaison office. In justifying their move to strip the vice governor of his budget during their press conference last Saturday—it was staged hours after Pelaez held his own press conference to answer Bambi’s accusations leveled at him—one of the PB members, Wayne Militante, replied that removing the budget didn’t entail depriving the vice governor of his salary and benefits as an elected official. Wow, just listening to Militante’s condescending, arrogant tone on the vice governor’s salary and benefits mirrored in essence Bambi’s contempt and disregard of ‘fiscal autonomy’  that’s guaranteed among the executive (which he is as local chief executive of the province), legislative (which Pelaez represents as vice governor despite Bambi’s lapdogs in the PB) and judicial departments (which include the court that granted the TRO petition).  Anyway, will write more on this issue before this week ends.


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