June 2, 2021

COL. BENITO OLEA RAMOS, JR: (Ret) A TRANSFORMATIVE LEADER FOR PEOPLE, PLANET, PROSPERITY AND PEACE             “From time to time there appear on the face of the earth men of rare and consummate excellence who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light. Like those extraordinary stars whose origins we are ignorant and whose fate once they have vanished we know even less, such men have neither forebears nor descendants, they are the whole of their race.”             There is no greater grandeur sight in the world than a great leader, fired with a great purpose, dominated by one unwavering aim – to protect the environment and to serve the poor and the oppressed! I’ve first met Benito Olea Ramos, Jr. when he was the Training Director of the PNP Regional Training Center with a rank then of Colonel. But prior to that, he rose from the ranks with his very satisfactory ratings not only in advancing peace in his area of jurisdiction by stopping armed men to perpetuate commission of crimes even to the extent of putting his life at risk. Upon knowing concrete circumstances of facing so much risk to apprehend criminals as PNP commander, what came to my mind is the truism that says, “no greater love there is than one man ready to give up his life so that others may live!”             His compassionate pro—people service earned him multiple awards, i.e. Medalya ng Papuri, Medalya ng Kasanayan, Commendation Letters – not only locally but more so internationally when in 2003, he got the United Nations Service Award. His motto in life focuses on service, not only for people to be freed from poverty but amazingly to counter climate change and violent extremism.  Oozing with environmental spirit to stop illegal logging, he has enforced environmental laws, not minding threats to life.  He thought that in this country no one is above the law; all must bow down to the majesty of the law because we follow the rule of law and not of men.  But why did we lost the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest when there are laws prohibiting the cutting of trees in highly elevated areas with a topography of at least one thousand meters above sea level or in areas with more than 50% slope gradient.  There are also laws that prohibit the cutting of the finest species of trees such as Red Lauan, Mahogany, Narra as these are the finest of trees not found anywhere else in the world but only in the Philippines. But all of these laws were violated and not a single logger went to prison.  In fact, many of them were elected to high positions i.e., mayor, congressmen, governors, as one shipment of logs would earn a logger 360 million pesos -  money that they used to buy votes or to bribe law enforcers.  But Col. Benito Ramos, Jr. did prove equal to the task of stopping logging despite threats to life.             During his stint as the PNP Regional Training Director, he would invite me to lecture to PNP Officers to protect our remaining forest. Almost every week, he  would allow me to present to the PNP officials the current state then of the environment as I would show pictures taken from the Philippine Air Force Helicopter hundreds of thousands of denuded areas in the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Bukidnon that were the subject of illegal logging by six logging companies in the last 6 decades. That was in 2010, a year before Sendong that took place in December 17, 2011 when some three thousand people died in just one night of flooding.  Our battle-cry then was, stop the environmental bleeding and start the healing of the blighted land or we will all perish.  But no one was listening then including an agency of government whose main task is to enforce environmental laws.  In fact, that agency was telling us that these illegal logging and mining activities must be legalized because they alleged that no one can stop them as these are being done my powerful people or in cohorts with powers-that-be.             Then horrible Sendong did hit the cities of Cagayan de Oro and  Iligan, to Col. Ramos’ dismay who together with me was re-echoing the horrible consequences of the Filipinos’ environmental neglect. But Col. Ramos, as head of the PNP Regional Training School (RTS) then, mobilized his 300 PNP recruits to help in regaining back decency in what seemed then as the most horrible scenario, i.e., giving assistance to the victims in terms of providing shelters and food, spearheading the rescue operations to save the victims, those who were left stunned, shocked, shaken and helpless; the hurt, harmed, and wounded, and  helping in gathering dead bodies from muddy waters and providing decent burials.             After his retirement from the PNP, Benito Ramos, Jr. was elected  as a Municipal Councilor of Kalilangan, Bukidnon. Then, began the very amazing performance in serving the poor farmers who are victims of human rights violations. So amazing because there are those who use their power to exploit the poor farmers whose lands are being fenced forcibly by armed groups or land-grabbed and crops destroyed but here is a councilor who is using his position to countervail against the abuses of powers-that-be.  Indeed,  Kag. Ben Ramos, Jr. is correct. A person will be judged not on fame, power or wealth, but on how he has served the least of his brethren.             In a world that is giving high veneration to the profit-motive that has already captured the mindset of all governments, all institutions, all universities and even of religious groups, here is a sui generis visionary leader who is unfettered from the egoic mind, to liberate the poor and the oppressed from poverty and oppression. I remember the leadership  footprint of an amazing leader in India by the name of Mahatma Gandhi who, a century or so ago, toppled down the most powerful empire then in the world to liberate the Indians from British Colonial Rule, not through armed struggle but through sheer determination to correct social wrong by awakening and empowering the people.  Gandhi’s advocacy was based on the poetic prayer of an Indian Novel Lauriat named Rabindranath Tagore and I quote: “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; where knowledge is free; where the world is not broken down by narrow domestic walls.  In that Heaven of Freedom, my Father, Let my people awake.”  Such truism of leadership is the one trail-blazed by an amazing contemporary leader named Col. Benito Olea Ramos, Jr. (ret) now Kagawad Ramos, Jr.             To Kagawad Benito Olea Ramos, Jr., our firm salute and warm embrace!!

The future education, either blurring or sparkling

May 22, 2021

The future is uncertain... but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity (Ilya Prigogine: 1917-2003). Ilya Prigogine was born in Russia in 1017 and died in 2003. He is a professor of Chemistry. He wrote a book, titled “the End of Certainty.” And, he got a noble prize of Chemistry in 1977 (Wikipedia).  He believed that uncertainty can lead us into being more creative. It is the very heart of human creativity.      Now that we have lived in the pandemic of Covid 19 for one and half year, we have been facing uncertainty. The uncertainty is related to the time when this pandemic is over. Not only do we have to practice the health protocols but we also get vaccinated. Though not all the people in every country got it, we have to follow that protocol: vaccination. Under this uncertainty, we have eye-witnessed that people around the world are busy with their struggle for life.      When concerning the education programs, we have done online-learning processes. During the first lock down, all schools and colleges were not totally ready with online classes. More crucially, it is for the primary schools and kindergarten. Not all the pupils and their families have got androids for online classes. Even not all the college students were totally ready in the first lockdown.   In a related research, it was stated strongly by Simon Burgess, S and Sievertsen H. H, (2020.), that this Covid 19 outbreak has made global home schooling surely produce some inspirational moments. But, it also produces some angry moments, some fun moments, and some frustrated moments. It unlikely, on average, among others, replaces the learning lost from school, interruption in students’ learning and in internal assessments.      The students had to go home to their home towns. This also creates a new problem. Their town or regional governments are not always prepared with the facilities of internet connection. These interrelated problems made all education process were firstly not well-planned. I bet it could be almost everywhere. In some chats in the messengers groups, internationally, we have the same evidence. In one family, there could be only one android, shared by two or three people for online learning. In the webinar sessions, some speakers and participants said, not all the families in remote regions have androids; Let alone the laptops. This is a crucial issue in an online learning.      During the first lock down, almost all schools got simple panaceas with quick changes. But, I am not sure yet with the kindergarten and primary schools everywhere in the remote areas. I have just eye-witnessed in colleges. During the first-one semester of classes, we had mostly used the WhatsApp (WA) application. Sometimes, we used the free zoom application. We also used messenger video for the class practice. The students were grouped into the WA groups.      After one semester, we have had very well-scheduled zooms in my colleges. The class processes have been regularly scheduled virtually. Some variations of online learning processes have been created.  The uncertainty during the first lockdown made us do everything creatively but virtually.   Up today, we are not sure yet when the pandemic is over. As viewed by Ilya Prigogine, it is time for our creativity.  As based on a research by Megggane and John J. John (2020), on medical students, they found this disruption a good chance for the students’ innovation. Covid 19 makes the students able to adapt and innovate. They could devise ways to exhibit their skills, work ethic, teamwork, and even dedication to research. Such endeavors can be a readily-viewed attribute, in facing those new challenges. So, the future of education can be more sparkling. And, how to manage this uncertainty and make the people creative is the key success for survival. The best national-leaders are needed in this uncertainty to lead and manage the people to be creative. That is the future of education. It can be either blurring or sparkling, depending on the leaders in every country.      Dr. Djuwari is an Associate Professor and the Director of Language Laboratory at Universitas Hayam Wuruk (UHW) 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).

The fight against COVID-19 is far from over

May 22, 2021

Rockingham, North Carolina—First off, I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Arnold Nadala, who passed away in the early hours of May 18 (Tuesday). I’ve yet to verify the cause of death but it’s definitely not COVID-19. Still due to the strict COVID-19 health protocols in place in Cagayan de Oro City, attendance in his wake and eventual burial will be limited. The City Information Office posted a tribute video to Arnold which followed his career as co-host of the TV programs that promoted the administration of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno. I also knew him on his early days at the (temporarily) defunct ABS-CBN during my career as (ahem) a tri-media practitioner in Cagayan de Oro City.  Farewell, Arnold and may your memory be cherished by your family and friends long after you’ve been gone. ******** More than a year passed since it broke out and the COVID-19 pandemic is continually testing the limits of our inner strength and resolve as well as our sense of self-discipline, responsibility and accountability not only to ourselves but to our families, friends and neighbors. It pains me to read Facebook posts of friends and acquaintances dying in Cagayan de Oro City and in Misamis Oriental province due to Covid-19. Among them were Patag barangay captain Maricor Calizo and Romeo Naces.  I also read Facebook posts clarifying that local marketing guru Gabby Bacarro didn’t die of COVID-19 which still doesn’t remove the sadness over his untimely demise. For me, there’s too much death and sickness hovering around and it is scary. Sometimes when I post photos of my weekly adventures in my adoptive country of the US in Facebook I feel guilty. The guilt comes from the concerns posted by friends over my safety especially as I am a breast cancer survivor. The guilt also comes from the fact that here in North Carolina, health protocols had been eased to allow seniors like me to enjoy the lives we used to have before the pandemic while back in the Philippines, my loved ones remain under the longest running quarantine in the world. I also look with some concern over the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental and northern Mindanao. In Cagayan de Oro particularly the surge in cases is eating up the city’s critical care utilization rate (CCUR) which is the basis for determining a local government’s quarantine status every month. I know that Mayor Oscar Moreno’s administration is doing everything it can to stem the tide and I fully agree with his call on the people of Cagayan de Oro City to step up to the plate and help City Hall in defeating the virus by protecting themselves through compliance to minimum public health protocols. Sadly that has yet to be fully realized and until then, I join the growing number of Kagay-anons who keep the faith and stand with City Hall’s frontliners in battling the virus. The Philippines of which Cagayan de Oro City is part of is still a long way off from achieving herd immunity which is lately being realized in some parts of the US due to the massive vaccination campaign. Trust me, even after I completed my two-dose vaccination I’m still following minimum health protocols despite the easing of quarantine restrictions here. ******** Before I forget, I thank Rosemary Castillo, a classmate now based in Manila, for voicing her concern on my health.  Don’t worry Rosie, I follow the protocols and will never let my guard down until the virus is contained. Speaking of discipline, I ask whether it is a virtue in itself or a skill developed over time. Whatever it is, self-discipline is important at this time when COVID-19 cases in the Philippines already reached 1.15 million and a death toll of 19,372. Self-discipline is knowing in your heart and mind what needs to be done and doing it without reservations or doubts even if you don’t want to do it. Here in North Carolina, a person hosting a party makes sure to remind guests not to go if he or she displays COVID-19 symptoms and the guests are responsible enough to avoid attending if they even have the slightest suspicion of being infected. Some even conduct temperature checks and the parties are held in open spaces to allow for physical distancing. Photo ops are done in less than five minutes and it’s back to face masks or keeping our distances to each other. Aside from the lack of discipline among the Filipinos, I also noticed that Pinoys hide from medical authorities symptoms like fever, coughing and colds or refuse to disclose that they had contact with a possible COVID-19 case. In effect they play hide and seek with the health authorities and contribute to aggravating the spread of the virus within their immediate communities, leading to hospitals being overwhelmed with admissions of sick and dying patients. The key to fight this pandemic is for us to do what we know needs to be done even if we don’t want to do it for one reason or another.  Don’t wait for the authorities or worse, the virus to hit you. ******** PS: i attended the birthday party of three-year-old Brynnely Heart Matthewson hosted by her parents Mr. and Mrs. Harry Brent Matthewson Jr.  Carol is a great party host and she made sure that the guests were gathered in separate groups in an open space to allow for physical distancing.  Thanks to the Matthewson family for the lovely party.

Klarex, Lorna Uy remain steadfast amid COVID-19

May 14, 2021

Rockingham, North Carolina—I read to much lament a press statement issued last week by Rep. Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy confirming that he and his wife, Barangay Carmen captain Lorna V. Uy were stricken by COVID-19. The confirmation came days after Patag Barangay chairperson Mari Cor Calizo, wife of City Councilor Romeo Calizo, died just as she was recovering from symptoms caused by COVID-19.  In his press statement, Congressman Klarex said he and his wife checked into a medical facility for treatment. Prayers and expressions of support poured to the Uy family as shown in the thousands of posts in their respective Facebook pages. This only showed how well-loved the couple are not only by their constituents but political allies and friends. At a glance, what happened to them showed only that 1. COVID-19 is real and not a conspiracy 2. The Uys were bound to be hit owing to their daily exposure to their constituents. Until now, there are people who refuse to acknowledge COVID-19 for reasons known only to them.  They likewise refuse to follow minimum public health protocols of physical distancing, wearing of face masks and face shields and washing or disinfecting of hands. Others would only think of their safety on knowing that one of their friends contract the virus, dismissing and shunning them like how the general populace shunned the lepers of old. There’s no doubt that there is that COVID-19 pandemic fatigue setting in among Pinoys. Here in the US as I said before, some states like North Carolina are easing restrictions. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper lifted the law requiring the wearing of face masks outdoors after two-thirds of the state’s population were vaccinated. But sadly the same cannot be said in the Philippines, said to have the longest lockdown mode in the world. ************ Again, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Uys’ predicament will be exploited for political mileage—then of course there is that report of a city official who’s been called out for holding a ‘male beauty pageant’ amid the rising COVID-19 cases in Cagayan de Oro City. The unbelievers will remain antagonistic until one of their loved ones are infected with the virus. That said, there is much to hope and admire from Congressman Klarex and his wife who assured that their offices will continue to serve the people of Cagayan de Oro City despite their non-presence. It only showed their sustained commitment to their constituents who have endured much due to the pandemic but were helped tremendously by the Uy couple. Barangay Gusa chairman Marlo Tabac said it was only a matter of time before Congressman Klarex and ‘Kapitana’ Uy were hit by the virus due to the volume of city residents visiting their home despite or because of the pandemic. I am a personal witness to the fact that the Uy family home is open to all especially before the pandemic. And even during the pandemic, constituents still come to the Uy home, knowing their pleas for assistance won’t be ignored or rejected by either ‘Kapitana Uy’ or Congressman Klarex. And owing to his previous stint as Carmen barangay chairman, Uy will go out of his way to talk and assure them of his help. In these uncertain times, they have staff to handle these requests for assistance but still there are residents who want to talk personally to the Uys. And we don’t know if any of them were asymptomatic or showed some symptoms and thus somehow infected the couple. Yet they remain steadfast as always which is some small cheer to their followers, allies, friends and families. ************ I need not remind dear friends and readers how Congressman Klarex publicly supported and mobilized support to the Center for Emerging-Reemerging Infectious Diseases (CEREID) facility that Cagayan de Oro City Hall under Mayor Oscar Moreno’s administration turned oiver to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) last April 8. Mayor Moreno made it a point to mention Congressman Klarex Uy’s contributions to the project during his daily City Hall press briefings on the city’s COVID-19 response. The CEREID is especially useful now in these days when Cagayan de Oro City’s COVID-19 cases are numbering over 50 in the past few days. With the additional isolation beds, oxygen machines and soon, additional testing equipment and a biosafety level 2 laboratory, Cagayan de Oro City and even Misamis Oriental and the rest of northern Mindanao are benefitting from the foresight of the city’s doctors and Mayor Moreno and Congressman Klarex. The CEREID is another topic for another day.

Tagoloan politics and Mari Cor’s untimely passing

May 4, 2021

Charlotte, North Carolina—There’s still five months to go before the filing of the certificates of candidacy in all elective positions nationwide in the May 2022 elections. But knowing the Pinoy’s penchant for all things political. even five months into 2021 and already we’re seeing a lot of jockeying and verbal tussles among looming potential rivals. That’s the case in my hometown of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental province wherein the incumbent Mayor Gomer Sabio and Vice Mayor Robinson Sabio are engaged in a verbal and policy war even on Day One of their term of office back in 2019 yet.   Their verbal exchange can also be seen on Facebook with old and new publicity hungry political personalities doing their usual grandstanding routines to remain relevant in the public eye. Remember the old adage that ‘bad or good publicity is still publicity.’   But I told myself that I will make every effort to remind my fellow Tagoloanons that  a decade ago, there was this one young lawyer who attempted to make his mark before being forever forgotten in the dustbin of Tagoloan town’s local political history.   I’ve started to chronicle the political personalities in my hometown as some of these personalities ended up in higher positions in Cagayan de Oro City, Congress or at the Provincial Capitol or simply became popular. ****************  One of these personalities even reached the International Court of Justice by filing a case against President Rodrigo Duterte before withdrawing the charges. I’m talking about lawyer Jude Sabio who recently passed away (may his soul rest in peace).  I met Jude Sabio 13 years ago. Some of his  relatives told me that he was interested to run for Tagoloan mayor even if it meant challenging the strangehold of the Emano political clan. I could not recall now if it was him or me who initiated our meeting.   But anyway when we did meet we didn’t talk about politics but about the country and the pressing issues hounding it. After talking about some world personalities the conversation headed to Tagoloan town and Jude was emphatic about how the town had become stagnant under the Emanos’ rule.  He talked about how Tagoloan can become so much more than what it remains and he struck me as someone very smart, if we based it on his protruding forehead. and his answers to my questions.  The late Atty. Jude was the son of Filomeno Sabio Jr and Erlinda Lozano and a cousin to both incumbent Tagoloan Mayor Gomer Sabio and Vice Mayor Robinson Sabio. I recalled a big crowd in the 2008 Sabio reunion and Jude was credited with mobilizing the attendees.  ************* I think I introduced him to Mindanao Gold Star Daily editor-in-chief Herbie Gomez which paved the way for him to write columns for that newspaper. I won’t talk about Jude’s filing of charges and later recantation against President Duterte since I don’t have the facts. But it is what elevated him to public attention and his death due to COVID-19 complications also got a mention in the national news.  What I’m trying to say is that there are potential leaders in Tagoloan tow who have the skill, education, experience and attitude to serve just like the late Jude Sabio.  Now I heard that Mayor Enan Sabio will fight for his political survival in case Atty. Nadya Emano Elipe throws her hat to the Tagolosn political arena and the noise for her entry is getting louder everyday.  Nadya, a former three-term Cagayan de Oro City councilor, is said to be the top bet of the Padayon Pilipino party for Tagoloan’s mayoralty seat after they lost it back in 2019. More than usual, the Emanos took the loss personally because they built their political base in their hometown of Tagoloan.  Another Tagoloan mayoral bet is also looming as there would be three candidates for Misamis Oriental governor in 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic would only make the 2022 Philippine elections more intense.  ************ I join those including Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno in condoling with  the family of the late Patag Barangay Captain Maricor Calizo who passed away just days as she was showing signs of recovery from COVID-19 complications. Based on the expressions of condolences that flooded the Facebook pages of her family including Councilor Romeo Calizo, it would be safe to say that she was a beloved barangay official whose solid rep in public service extended far beyond Barangay Patag into the rest of Cagayan de Oro City and that’s really saying something.    She was known as a proactive barangay captain who never shirked away from serving her constituents even with the COVID-19 threat, as Mayor Moreno described during last week’s press briefing. Her death would certainly impact on Patag’s political situation come 2022. Still her death highlights the urgency of fasttracking the vaccination campaign in Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental as well as the urgency for the public to contain the COVID-19 through stringent compliance to minimum public health standards. Here in the US, some states have already allowed for limited small gatherings WITHOUT A FACE MASK so long as the people involved have already completed their vaccination. Thanks to the Philippines being a Third World nation, it remains dependent on the mercies of the World Health Organization (WHO) through its COVAX facility of free vaccines.

In support of the Higalaay ordinance

April 19, 2021

Charlotte, North Carolina—It’s already been more than a week since the 19th City Council of Cagayan de Oro City passed a resolution calling for a one month dry run extension on City Hall’s enforcement of the QR (quick response) code requirement among city residents,  visitors, private and public offices in the city. And there are still complaints being aired in every available social and local mainstream outlet out there.  It’s not surprising even if as per latest word from City Hall that there are over 600,000 city residents who have secured their QR code from the Higalaay web portal which is integrated into City Hall’s official website. Before I give my opinion on the whole issue at least in this post—I already did in my past two ´Barangay S´ Facebook broadcasts this past week (April 12-16 please check my FB page)—please allow me to present the basic facts. The complaints are mostly coming from late registrants who complain about the difficulty of registering online despite an official City Hall explanation that its servers are overwhelmed with the surge of applications reportedly submitted after office hours.  What also drew attention was a position paper by the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc. (Oro Chamber) asking the council to review the Higalaay app ordinance which they said was ‘redundant’ and ‘punitive.’  The Oro Chamber of course referred to an Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) resolution mandating all local governments to adopt the Stay Safe app as a contact tracing tool for suspected COVID-19 cases. Based on this resolution, they said this would make the QR code requirement under the Higalaay app ordinance redundant.  What they didn’t know if they were told at all was that the Higalaay app ordinance was approved even before the IATF resolution took effect and I’ll talk more about that.  But what I thought took the cake as far as opposition to the QR code requirement is concerned is a claim and warning by this radio announcer that the Higalaay app/web portal can be used to tamper a person or company’s bank accounts.  The announcer further fueled his allegation by saying that City Hall’s servers can be hacked anytime, allowing the perpetrators to fool the registrants into giving up the passwords to their bank accounts. That claim drew a strong reaction from Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno who described the radio announcer’s claim as both ‘bugok (idiotic, stupid)’ and ‘kinaplo (irresponsible).’  At this point, I’ll stop mentioning this radio announcer to avoid giving anymore unwarranted publicity.  Let me say at the outset that I do understand the rationale behind the QR code/Higalaay app mandate and the Oro Chamber’s concerns over its enforcement. Though I do understand the complaints about the difficulty in applying for the QR code online—never mind the fact that the Higalaay app had been promoted since its inception in August last year, right before the city fiesta and that those applying for the code are latecomers who epitomize the Pinoy’s unlamented habit for last minute rush work—still it´s not totally impossible to do as one only needs to time their registration during slow WiFi traffic which is usually past midnight or 1 am.  Let me say this about the most vocal or loudest critics of the Higalaay app ordinance; a lot of them are grandstanding, wannabe politicians and armchair experts whose virulent attacks on the ordinance are akin to scraping the you-know-what out of toilet bowls and flinging it straight on the faces of their targets, all in the desperate hopes of gaining cheap pre-election publicity.   A lot of these critics are pro-lockdowners whose ´amazing´solution to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is to lock everyone up in Cagayan de Oro City for at least three weeks and have government feed them in the misguided and dangerous expectation that the virus will be gone ´permanently´ by the end of said lockdown.  Never mind that other advanced countries like the US kept imposing lockdowns to little or no effect, with the coronavirus never really going away and in fact mutating like rats.  Then there are the paid mouth pieces of opposition figures who pluck every potential factoids online—like their line that the registrant´s bank accounts can be tampered by City Hall when the fact remains that only health data and not financial records are being asked—to build their argument against the ordinance.  Oh, they´re also repeating their argument that City Hall´s servers can be hacked even if they conveniently forget the fact that governments around the world still use their computerized databases despite frequent hacking by computer experts.  Of course there are arguments from rights groups who view the ordinance as akin to invasion of privacy even if City Hall clarified that the measure upholds both the Data Privacy and Bank Secrecy laws.  The Oro Chamber´s position that City Hall should amend the ordinance in order to make it less punitive to business owners is also worth looking into. Amid all the noise generated by the fiercest critics of the ordinance, Mayor Oscar Moreno stands as the voice of reason supporting its implementation.  As if the fact that other local governments also launched their own QR codes that are open to integration to the Stay Safe app,  Mayor Moreno rightly pointed out that the health data sourced from the Higalaay portal can be used to cross-check and counter-check city residents for the city´s vaccination program. And as if that´s not enough assurance,  Mayor Moreno said they are willing to allow a third party audit of the Higalaay portal once the QR code requirement is in full effect by next month.  Mayor Moreno´s appeal for public support is augmented by his standing order on all departments charged with enforcing the ordinance to fully answer public inquiries into the issue.  Taking that all into consideration,  I do join the others in calling on Kagay-anons and visitors and those doing business in the City of Golden Friendship to register at the Higalaay portal and secure their own QR code.  True that there are sacrifices and inconveniences to deal with but we have survived this pandemic so far and it´s best for our collective interest to stand with our government in defeating this virus once and for all.


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