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Antonio M. Reyes


While visiting my parents in London, after finishing my undergraduate course at the University of the Philippines, I use to frequent a popular restaurant along Hyde Park called “I’m Hungry” which served delicious pastries.

I remembered it because of a recent privileged speech by Senator Grace Poe on hunger which she claimed was “A curse that has stained our collective souls for decades” but neither the government, church, or civic society cared enough about – or even recognized.

She mentioned the recent Social Weather Station survey which showed that 15 million of our children were starving and malnourished. And that 55 % of our people felt they were poor and had felt involuntary hunger this year. She said this was “a national shame” since the statistics had remained constant over the years.

She was right of course but this pathetic situation was actually voiced out before by the “Freedom from Debt Coalition” founded by UP Professor Emeritus and former National Treasurer Leonor Briones who claimed we were living way beyond our means, and incurring debts, we could never repay.

She said as much as 50% of our national budget was reserved for debt payment, and that this covered only the loan’s interest rates, and that the original amount borrowed remained the same.

“What is left” she noted was“barely enough for the maintenance and operational expenses of our huge bureaucracy, and we have to borrow more money for Research and Development and essential infrastructures.”

I mentioned this at the flag raising ceremony for government employees here several years ago, when I quoted former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yu, who said the root cause of our poverty, were:

“We had too many people, who owed too much money, and leaders who refused to confront these problems decisively.”

Today we have over a 100 million people who we cannot even produce enough food for, and owe 13 trillion pesos to financial institutions we can’t ever repay. While our leaders continue to squander our money for lifestyles they cannot afford.

If we really what to reach our potential as a nation, we have to change our attitude towards life, and think beyond ourselves. For like it or not, this Banana Republic, is the only country we’ll ever have.

Let’s at least keep it productive enough for our future generations to live in.

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

Dogs of profit

The controversies hounding the Sogod multi-million quarrying industry allegedly controlled by a political monopoly are again highlighted by
related events that only need common sense and logic. The questions of who has the sole authority over local natural resources like sand and gravel in the riverbeds and who may be given extraction permits are very clearly mandated by the Local Government Code and the devolution of DENR powers to local governments.

These need not be misinterpreted or distorted. Subsequent congressional and Supreme Court decisions giving the provincial government the authority to approve less or more than five hectares of quarrying concession before any subsequent application to another agency is clear enough to be understood by ordinary people. Ug nay mga memo guikan sa kaulohang buhatan nga guitugyanan tali sa guitugotan nga operations, atong tahuron ug tumanon.

Temporary suspension orders by authorized entities on quarry operations like MGB and DPWH and subsequent lifting, if there is, are not reasons to celebrate. We wonder however why known political figures come to the serious defense of apprehended violators of regulations
enforced by lawful authorities.

Naay permit pero gikan allegedly sa laing ahensiya nga waa magbase sa So. Leyte. Naa pa joy papeles apan misdeclared ang shipment kay waa motukma sa kadaghanan sa guipanghakot nga baas ug graba sa barges. Di ba, labaw pa ni sa sea hijacking o highway robbery! Ang PPA kun mag-inspeksiyon di jud magduka sa kabusog or the DPWH or the MGB. The permit fees that should have gone to the local governments to spend for needed development programs and projects instead would go to another entity for the spoils to be divided among thieves. Of course, the biggest share would be for those who sell our patrimony at the expense of future generations while the present generations are falsely led to believe that more extraction or quarrying is constructive and will spare Sogod from impending environmental disaster.

Kaming lumad nga Sogodnon nga natawo ug nagdako sa lungsod sayod nga guihimo rang gatasan ang Subang daku sa mga dayo ug estranyo nga way pagtagad sa umaabot basta sila mabuhong sa gahom ug sapi.

If more dredging or extraction of riverbed aggregates is to be done to mitigate possible climate change effects, let it be closely monitored and strictly regulated by the LGU’s ug dili pangunajan ug pahimulos ang gihakot sa suba nianang mga nagbantay nga piniyalan ug sinuholan sagobyerno!

Eternal vigilance and people power may be needed to counter environmental excesses in Subang daku river before it goes completely to the dogs of profit.

It is said that indiscriminate large scale quarrying breeds corruption and promotes political dynasty and warlordism. To lessen the suspicion on the usual suspects, there should be more transparency and accountability for public servants engaged in this business. Let them camouflage their omission and commission thru more infra, school buildings, health centers, etc. with their principals disguised as corporate, social responsibility. Para di kaajo hilas, ba. Subang daku incorrigible profiteers are like the Mafia that thrives without mercy or compunction on the sweat, blood and tears of the labor of others. These Subang daku raiders greedily suck the products and fruits of nature’s bounty belonging to the people.

Night life hero
By Juan L. Mercado

Heels dominate our media reports. The heroes often go unreported including “the terrific nightlife like no
other Jesuit.” How many Filipinos, for example, know of the work that astronomer Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ did
as Director of the Manila Observatory, until his recent death?

"He gave me space to set up what became the Environmental Research Division in the late 1980s, recalls Jesuit Father Pedro Walpole. I lived with him in community for about 6 years in the Manila Observatory; he was never in a hurry, you could share any idea with him.

He ran the Observatory out of his back pocket and little pieces of paper in his desk drawers. We were trying to get the finances clarified at one point for a new grant. And there were different accounts and accounting systems operating over the years. That took months to surface and rationalize, but never an irritated word from Fr Badillo.

Once, I interviewed him over how he got involved in science. It was very simple for him. I think it was Pope Paul VI who had called for men to be devoted to the sciences in the modern world.

And so Fr. Badillo became a priestscientist. He worked on science during the week. And then went out for masses throughout the week end, but his quiet compassion was there 24/7.

As a physicist who studied in St. Louis University, he returned to work with the ionosphere. He is better known as the father of Philippine astronomy as he encouraged so many to enjoy the wonders of the night sky. An asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter is named after him, 4866 Badillo. The roof deck at the Manila Observatory was full of excitement, a slow and ponderous awe.

Watching Uranus and its moons rise over the Sierra Madre in the early hours of the morning – this was the best cocktail of physics and mysticism.

He had no agenda and had many experiments on the side; the last one I remember was with orchids on the third floor.

He was kind and uncomplicated in his ways, talking and inquiring about all things in a personal way. When we wanted to plant trees on the ground, he saw them as our stars that we like to watch grow, and so we had the “green alert” team, and some joined him for the night sky also.

He wrote to me when the first group of children graduated from the Bendum school in the mountains of Bukidnon, far away from his experience and daily life. He saw this as like his own Sunday apostolate. He was not rigid about his duty to science. He wrote again a kind letter to me when my mother died, as he did for many others, always thoughtful. His last homily t the “Extravagance of God” – how God pays us a daily wage we don’t deserve, a bit like tonight’s Gospel. The end of his message is a humble reflection on his own living.

What can we do to please God?

Nothing, except to make his generosity known and felt. By our zeal for souls. God does not ask great deeds. Just desires and the offering of our pains, sufferings and prayers.

We will miss his quiet welcome and words of encouragement. From his early years in school in Batangas during the War, to long years in Manila, I am sure the Ateneo de Manila and Manila Observatory and others will share great memories.

When you look at the sky tonight, find a break in the clouds and remember him.

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


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.





archived editorials . . .


No foul play in former mayor son's death

Human remains found inside Tiger shark

Aguelo KO’s Ray in ABF Tiltle Fight

DPWH suspends all quarrying operations at Subang daku

Provincial Lupons are Grand Slam Regional Champions

Governor hits critics pleads for support

SLT Columnist passes away


Hot cell phone causes 2 million peso fire

Suspected drug addict arrested

Macrohon municipal engineer ordered arrested



Dogs of profit

Night life hero


Endangered Parrot Fish

How Balikbayans can really help us

Paul Shierholz remembered

Welcome Colonel Marcos

Why we remain poor


Is there hope four our country

We should learn from history

Evening Knights





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