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Antonio M. Reyes

Planet earth's worse polluters
By ANTONIO M. REYES

One of our biggest constraints to development is our conflicting national policies. This is particularly true in the area of pollution. We create new entities to minimize the impact of disasters, like the Provincial Risk Reduction Office, but allow our Department of Environment and Natural resources to issue Environment Clearance Certificates for 25 new coal-powered plants which are considered the biggest contributors to Global Warming.

We now have 10 such plants in the country. Seven of them are in Luzon, 2 in the Visayas, and 1 in Mindanao. And by the year 2018, we will have 25 more.

If this plan materializes we would, per capita and land area, be the world’s worst polluters. The irony of our situation is we have cleaner indigenous power options like hydro-electric and wind power and natural gas. But their detractors claim they are too expensive and that coal power was more abundant and cheaper.

Yet the main reason why these alternative sources of power are more expensive is because our government is heavily taxing them. It’s also not providing them with the incentives it gives to coal powered energy companies.

Would you believe that 9 of our 10 existing coal powered plants imports their coal from China, Australia, and the United States? The only one using local coal is the Calaca plant in Batangas which gets its coal from the nearby Semirara coal mines.

Our local sources of fuel are more than enough for us, and they’re environment friendly and cheaper to operate in the long run. So why do our leaders prefer coal powered plants to our own cleaner power sources? The answer is Greed. These plants are very expensive and the companies that own them are getting desperate because of the strictly enforced Clean Air Laws of many countries. In short they are offering huge commissions to whoever facilitates and approves their plants here.

Yet in our Banana Republic where environment laws are ignored by our leaders who care more about maintaining a lifestyle they cannot afford.They couldn’t care less if our planet earth becomes too hot to live in? After all they would be long dead by then - and in a place much warmer.

Former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani once financed a study which sought to find out what made our people so poor when our country was so rich. She never made the findings of the study public, but I suspect, it was because of our apathy and failure to think beyond ourselves. Lets remember this when we vote in 2016.

Antonio M. Reyes is the publisher and editor of the Southern Leyte Times the largest circulating newspaper & website in Southern Leyte.

Let it go

There’s so much happening, both tragic and comic, here in the country and abroad that makes us wonder if Armageddon or the Second Coming is at hand.

The Middle East is racked with wars and rebellions reminiscent of biblical lines just like some parts of Europe threatened with internecine border conflicts and invasions. Coalitions and alliances between good and evil depending which side you’re on resurface. Even the Supreme Pontiff hints of a Third World War, a very grim and painful reminder of what may have started as Lucifer’s pride scorned in heaven. So, the great tug of war never ceased since then, only magnified in casualties and mortalities of even the young and innocent victims of naked greed and unbridled ambitions. History never runs out of their purveyors and the inevitable road to perdition.

Mans’ greatest enemy is Pride that leads to megalomania and messianic complex. Alexander the Great, Julius Ceasar, Napoleon and Hitler, among others, are indelible lessons of past human folly. Let this not happen here. No one has the monopoly of leadership and to stretch it beyond the limit of tolerable endurance is dangerous if not anomalous. Continuity is a legacy that should be passed on and not used as an instrument for perpetuity. Every Alpha must have its Omega, a beginning and end. So, let it go!

We sincerely hope Pnoy’s better judgment is on the right side of history and would prevail over those personal interests in his inner circle. Remember what the late Don Chino Roces unsolicitedly advised then President Cory to look beyond her corridor of power and inner sanctum for other Filipinos who have the zeal and capacity to serve the people with honesty and integrity.

There are still those outside the inner recesses of that snake pit called Malacañang who are yet undiscovered and unheralded. And it’s part and parcel of leadership to search diligently and intelligently for their successors for continuity. It would be the height of foolhardiness and absurdity to imagine or think only a few or a personality can singularly lead the Filipinos to greatness. Dili nani “gilas but hilas” Pilipinas!

Current controversies many of which are politics-related are not surprising, considering that the 2016 elections are just around the corner. To those who are hopefuls but have dirty linens, it’s time to clean and clear skeletons in the closet. Political motivation is necessarily imbedded in every corruption accusation directed to big politicians expected to run. But they have to present counter proof or evidence and not just shroud it in a cloak of political machination by enemies. The tentacles of politics and the pot are creeping and boiling.

These are what make Pinoy politics exciting!

Hot button issue
By Juan L. Mercado

Much of today’s headlines and broadcasts are dominated by Vice President Jejomar Binay’s ducking of the senate investigation into his asserted unexplained wealth. That is a valid issue.

But as Christmas, approaches, should we not be asking, not just the Binays, but everyone of us: What lies beyond those outstretched palms? Mano po, ninang, panhandlers to early carolers blare. “Mano po ninong.”

Take the hot button issue of tithing – or giving a tenth of one’s income for the needy. There’s never been argument about aid in emergencies. The differences simmer elsewhere. Should sharing continue beyond public figures? How? And how much?

“Try me in this. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food “, says the Lord of Hosts, the prophet Micah (3:10) wrote. “Shall I not open for you the floodgates of heaven to pour out blessings upon you without measure.’

Abraham donated a tenth of war spoils to Melchizedek, king of Salem, the old Testament recalls. Jews of that era brought ten percent of the harvest to a storehouse. It served as a social safety net or a buffer against famine.

In our time, we read in the Jakarta monthly newspaper “Prisicilla and Aquila” written and published by former science and technology Filemon Urirate and wife Jean: “The tithe is a dare to experiment with generosity.”

In the Philippines, the Catholic church leaves the choice to individuals. Some respond generously Mormoms must give ten percent to the church. The tithe has been the Episcopal church yardstick since 1982. Muslims give yearly zakiat to charity. That is usual 2.5 percent of the market value of a believer’s assets the practice has spread in many US Christian parishes.

“But can you put a price on faith?”, doubts Suzanne Sataline in Wall Street Journal. Opponents of tithing insist they be free to donate whatever amount they choose.” Some pastors have changed their teaching and rejected what has been a favored form of fund raising for decades.”

Some Catholic parishes in the US, today, ask churchgoers to tithe, says Paul Forbes, administrator of McKenna Stewardship Ministry. A number of American Protestant churches have “gone plastic.” At "giving kiosks", congregants whip out their credit cards when they attend services. Others conduct seminars that teach people in debt how they can continue tithing even while paying off their loans. Appeals go online.

Resistance to tithing deepens with the “mega church effect.” Churchgoers question how their churches spend money. “Like other philanthropists today, religious givers want to see exactly how their donations are being used,” Suzanne Sataline adds. “Growth of mega-churches – some with expensive worship centers equipped with coffee bars and widescreen TVs – have turned people off of tithing.

Tithing isn't just a theological issue, but a financial one. Giving to religion is growing more slowly in the US than other types of giving, says Patrick Rooney, director of research at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. That's partly because people are attending church less frequently.

These offer a wider array of causes, including secular ones. Similar data for the Philippines is not available' More Filipinos are challenged to engage in experimental generosity because of massive poverty. The Uriartes and other pro-tithers pitch their case in terms of personal experience. “This challenge to try Him by sharing with the needy comes from a God who given us everything that we possess. He invites us to try out this key for opening the treasures of heaven. He dares us to try him in this to see for ourselves if indeed it does or does not work.
“God’s promises are always fulfilled.

God remains faithful forever, they add. God’s words spoken through Malachi are echoed by Christ. “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come (Mk 10:29-30). Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! The itinerant Galilean preacher fumed. For you tithe on mint, dill, and cumin have neglected the weightier matters of the law:You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! This suggests that Christ deliberately replaced the core value of purity with compassion which unites. The difference in focus is far from trivial. It brought Christ condemnation from the religious elite of his day. They fumed he subverted the very core of religion.

There is no “maybe” about God’s promises. His promises always prove true. The “hurdle” we dreading on sharing, we will discover, is something joyous, something that changes and blesses us, say Aquila and Priscilla. “Try Me on this." So, what really is the ultimate yardstick here?

The copper coins that a widow dropped into the collection box were dwarfed by donations of the well-heeled. The rich gave of their surplus, the Master noted. “But this widow gave more than the rest because she gave all that she had.”

Juan L. Mercado is the Founder of the Press Foundation of Asia and is best known as one of the Visayas Region's most prolific and multi-awarded writers.

Paid hacks and blocktimers
by Atty. Jess G. Dureza

In repressive times like Martial days or challenging areas like in repressive regimes or conflict areas, the rules of the game are quite different.

A journalist in big cities and more urban areas, at the most, face the risk of libel or damage suits.
But in more challenging areas, especially when law and order are not that good, physical risks and risks to
life and limb are commonplace and real.

I used to read reports about socalled "paid hacks" or propagandists, or political blackmailers, or plain mulcters or extortionists, parading themselves as journalists, end up usual victims of murders and summary killings.

I once talked to one politician who entertained no hesitation in justifying "sudden death" to a radio announcer -block-timer (one who buys radio time) whom he described as having "murdered" his reputation (which he said he painstakingly earned over the years) every minute in his daily radio program whom he discovered was in the payroll of a rival political candidate.

"If he took the law into his own hands in murdering what to me is as valuable as life, then will I not take the law into my own hands too for redress and protect myself ? So he himself put his life on the line” he argued. The broadcaster did so with impunity. But the politician too contributed to that climate of impunity!

So the question still begs to be answered: how do we prevent or solve a climate of Impunity? The common answer is of course: government and law enforcers must enforce the laws by effectively solving crimes. Simple? Not really! For it takes expertise and skills and focus to solve crimes.

The police and the law enforcer need not only collar the suspect. The evidence gathered must stand judicial scrutiny to be able to nail down the bad guy in court. Then of course, this is not to mention the long, tedious and expensive judicial process that must take place.

High time for the airport

By RUEVIVAR "WOWIE" REYES

The recent announcement of the CAAP for the suspension of large commercial flights at the Daniel Z. Romuldez Airport will have an effect on many Southern Leytenos who are scheduled to use the regional airport in the next few weeks, or possibly months.

The CAAP suspension of large commercial flights is reportedly due to the repair of “fast developing potholes” on the airport’s runway and also other infrastructure.

Another reason would be, though not highlighted by our government, is the fast approaching visit of his Holiness, Pope Francis, on January next year to visit “Yolanda” hit areas of Tacloban City and Palo town.

Air travelers should be ready for an unpleasant surprise as there will surely be changes in their commercial flight schedules from now until probably the end of the Christmas season. So it’s best to contact your air carrier for any clarification or adjustments on your scheduled flight. It’s better to be sure now than sorry later.

This development in the Tacloban airport has again revived the age old questione; why is our decades old airport in Southern Leyte still not fully operational?

One of the major hindrances to our province’s economic growth is that it is still relatively isolated from most of our country’s highly developed and urbanized cities. To reach the nearest airports, we would have to travel many kilometers over land to Tacloban City or board a boat for Metro Cebu. At this age of high speed travel, information and technology, our people deserve at least a working airport by now.

Our airport which started construction almost two decades ago with hundreds of millions already allocated to it through the years, still needs to have constructed a CAAP standard passenger terminal, administration office and state of the art airport control tower.

Last May the DOTC with the blessings of Malacanang Palace had announced that it had already allocated P217 Million for the completion of our airport. But similar announcements have been made before and it is no wonder that many of our people are re expecting a “halfbaked” allocation of the promised airport budget.

In reality, the airport project will continue to move at snail’s pace unless our community lobbies for it. The main reason for this is our national government’s centralized bureaucracy which needs constant follow-ups and non-stop lobbying in Metro Manila.

Many national and local administrations have come and gone, promises made and broken, but the fact of the matter remains - we still do not have a real working airport for our people.

It will take a gallant effort by Southern Leytenos as a whole, citizens and officials alike, to make this decades old dream a reality. A good place to start would be with the outgoing Aquino administration, which I am sure, would want to leave a lasting legacy in Southern Leyte.
His Excellency President Simeon Benigno Aquino III says he listens and acts to the dictates of the public, which he claims are his real “bosses”.

With this premise it would be a good opportunity for us (as his bosses) to express our opinion, and push for the speedy completion of our airport.

After many years, it’s high time.







 

 

 

   

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