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Biado, Ancajas, Tabora named Athletes of Year

Published in Sports

MANILA — Boxing champion Jerwin Ancajas, world bowling winner Krizziah Lyn Tabora, and world cue champion Carlo Biado passioned inspiring victories overseas last year in a showcase of world-class Filipino talent that brought pride and joy to the country.


For doing their share to make 2017 a memorable one, the three will be recognized with the highest accolade to be handed out during the SMC-PSA (Philippine Sportswriters Association) Annual Awards Night at the Maynila Hall of the Manila Hotel on Feb. 27.


Ancajas, Tabora, and Biado are all first time winners of the Tapa King-Athlete of the Year award handed out by the country’s oldest media organization every year in the annual tradition presented by MILO and Cignal TV.


This marks the first time since 2015 that multiple awardees will be recognized for the Tapa King-Athlete of the Year honor. Boxers Nonito Donaire Jr. and Donnie Nietes, along with golfer Miguel Tabuena, were the co-recipients of the coveted award three years ago.


“The PSA is proud to announce Jerwin Ancajas, Krizziah Tabora, and Carlo Biado as its Athletes of the Year for 2017. They are truly deserving of the award for the great honor they brought to the country with their respective victories in the world stage,” said PSA president and editor Dodo Catacutan.


The usual honor list made up of the President’s Award, Executive Award, National Sports Association of the Year, major awardees, among others, will also be given out during the formal ceremony which has the Philippine Sports Commission as major sponsor along with Mighty Sports, Rain or Shine, Globalport, and the Philippine Basketball Association.  


Ancajas, 25, began 2017 with a bang after retaining his International Boxing Federation junior bantamweight title with a seventh-round stoppage (technical decision) of Mexican Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in Macau last January.


The native of Panabo, Davao del Norte, who fights under the Manny Pacquiao Promotions, made two more successful title defenses against Teiru Kinoshita of Japan in Brisbane, Australia (6th round TKO) and previously unbeaten Irishman Jamie Conlan in Belfast, Ireland (6th round TKO) before the year ended.


Ancajas was later signed to a two-year, six-deal fight by Top Rank Promotions, whose founder and CEO Bob Arum dubbed him as the ‘next Pacquiao.’


Not to be outdone was Tabora, who bagged the 53rd QubicaAMF Bowling 


World Cup in Hermosillo, Mexico in early November and ended the country’s 14-year title drought in the showpiece.


The Filipina beat Siti Safiyah Amirah Abdul Rahman of Malaysia in the final, 236-191, to become the fifth Philippine bowler to rule the World Cup after the great Paeng Nepomuceno, the late Lita dela Rosa, Bong Coo, and CJ Suarez.


Less than two weeks before Christmas, Biado gifted the country with the World 9-Ball crown after defeating Ronald Garcia, 13-5, in an all-Filipino final in Doha, Qatar.


Biado, a gold medal winner in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and winner of the same event in the World Games in Poland, joined the legendary Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes (1999), Alex Pagulayan (2004), Ronnie Alcano (2006), and the great Francisco ‘Django’ Bustamante (2010) as among the past Filipino winners of the event considered as the premier 9-ball tournament in the world. 



(Photo from Philippine Star)


MANILA — More deaths are being attributed to the use of the controversial Dengvaxia dengue vaccine as the Department of Justice and the Public Attorney's Office continue their investigation and readying appropriate charges.


This developed as, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III revealed Sanofi Pasteur, the pharmaceutical firm who made and sold the vaccine to the Philippines where some 800,000 children were vaccinated has agreed to refund P1.4 billion to the government.


At press time, Sanofil has turned over P1.1 billion in refund, Duque told Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda and provincial officials in a meeting in San Fernando, Pampanga.


Duque, at the same time, assured Pampanga residents of DOH assistance.


Malacanang described as “a step in the right direction” the decision of pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur to refund some P1.4 billion worth of unused Dengvaxia vaccine.


“We welcome that refund but the position of the DOH (Department of Health) is for a full refund. Now, nonetheless, we view this latest step of pharmaceutical company as a step in the right direction,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.


Roque, however, said the refund should not affect the ongoing investigations “which will ultimate determine whether or not there is a criminal culpability on the party of Sanofi.”


The French pharmaceutical firm has reportedly announced it heeded the DOH’s demand to reimburse for the doses of Dengvaxia that were not used by the government in the public vaccination program.


The DOH suspended its dengue vaccination program after Sanofi Pasteur disclosed last November that Dengvaxia could result in severe dengue among those who had not been infected by the dengue virus before receiving the vaccine.


At the time of the disclosure, more than 830,000 public school children had already been vaccinated with Dengvaxia.


Earlier, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III urged the DOH to ask for a full refund of the P3.5 billion used for the entire contract of Dengvaxia vaccine. 

Dancing cha-cha to Duterte’s tune

Published in Perry Scope

Ever since the Constitution was drawn in 1987 in the aftermath of the EDSA People Power Revolution, several attempts have been made to revise or change the Constitution.  The most common reason for a charter change was the extension of the president’s term, which was originally set for a single six-year term. For some reason those elected were bitten by a “presidential bug” that afflicted them with a desire to stay in the office longer than six years.


The idea of extending the president’s term began with the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos who declared martial law in 1972 prior to the expiration of his second term.  He remained in office until 1986 when the people who became fed up with his corrupt and brutal regime ousted him.


The late President Cory Aquino was the first to serve under the single six-year term. Close to the end of her term, many of her supporters encouraged her to run for a second term arguing that she was not covered by the single six-year term imposed by the 1987 Constitution.  She refused to run.  She also opposed attempts to amend the Constitution to do away with term limits; thus, allowing the reelection of incumbent presidents.   Her successor, Fidel V. Ramos tried to amend the Constitution by pushing for an initiative.  The initiative failed and never went beyond first base. 


Gloria’s game plan


In my column, “Betrayal of EDSA” (June 9, 2009), I wrote: “In 2001, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power by way of a sham People Power revolution that deposed president Joseph Estrada.  The people unwillingly relented hoping that Gloria would turn the country around.  But within a few days after she took over the presidency, a major corruption scandal occurred involving Gloria’s Secretary of Justice. Evidently, corruption was seeded into her administration the day she took over the presidency. EDSA was betrayed. They used her to gain power for themselves.


“With one year left in her term of office, many people are convinced that Gloria would do whatever it takes to remain in power beyond 2010. [In 2006] she almost succeeded in getting a Charter change approved through a people’s initiative. However, the Supreme Court rejected the legality of the people’s initiative. [Had the Supreme Court voted in favor of the ‘people’s initiative,’ Gloria would have been the country’s Prime Minister by now with an open-ended term of office. That is, as long as her political allies in Parliament would support her, she’d remain in power… indefinitely].

“On May 28, 2009, Gloria merged the Lakas-CMD and Kampi parties into one under her leadership. Right after the ceremonies merging the two largest political parties, the word was that Gloria talked to the congressmen behind closed doors. According to leaks from insiders, her marching orders to them were to pass House Resolution 1109 as soon as possible. HR 1109 would convene the House as a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) for the purpose of amending the 1987 constitution… without the Senate. According to news reports, Gloria supposedly promised each congressman P20 million for his or her ‘yes’ vote on HR 1109.

“On June 2, the House of Representatives passed -- nay, railroaded -- HR 1109 by voice vote. The debate was cut short denying the few oppositionists an opportunity to speak out against HR 1109. But what could the handful of oppositionists have done? Tyranny of the majority prevailed. Once again, EDSA was betrayed.”


New Constitution


HR 1109 triggered massive protest rallies against the attempt to rewrite the Constitution, which was perceived to be a move by Gloria’s allies in the House of Representatives to extend her term beyond June 2010.

With cha-cha stopped on its track, Gloria’s allies pursued another avenue — they pushed her to run for Congress.  She did and has been member of Congress since then.  Now she is posed to take another shot for a national office in conjunction with Duterte’s push for a charter change to replace the form of government to that of a federal system before the 2019 elections.


According to news reports, a draft of the new constitution is in the works.  There are also plans to call for a joint session of Congress, which would be converted into a constituent assembly (con-ass) to revise the1987 Constitution.  The body would then produce a draft of the proposed federal constitution, which would then be submitted in a plebiscite during the May barangay elections.


However, many believe that with a tight timetable, there might be attempts to cancel the 2019 elections for senators, congressmen, and thousands of local officials.   Known as No-El (No Election), it is expected to entice holdover national and local officials to go along with it.  But if Duterte fails to pursue No-El, well…. Duterte could always declare a revolutionary government (rev-gov).  With members of Congress on his side and the military could be “bought,” only the Supreme Court could stop him, unless he makes a move to abolish the Supreme Court. 


Incidentally, recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) polls show that a large number of Filipinos disagree with Duterte’s plan to declare rev-gov.  They found that 39% disagreed, 31% agreed, and 30% were undecided on declaring Duterte's anti-‘destabilization’ provision over the country.  But regardless whether the people agreed or disagreed, Duterte is believed to be bent on declaring a rev-gov if that would achieve his agenda, which many believe was taken from a page out of Marcos’ playbook.


Federal system


It is interesting to note that Gloria would seem to play an important role in Duterte’s plan. It’s been often mentioned that the federal system that what Duterte had in mind would be a parliamentary form of government.  If such is the case, then more than likely a prime minister would serve as the head of government while the president would remain head of state.  Or it could be similar to the French template, which has a strong president that sets policy and a prime minister that runs the state bureaucracy. 


Gloria is a trusted confidant of Duterte, which would ensure strong working relationship between the two should they share power as president and prime minister.


But what is unusual in their seemingly strange relationship is that Duterte is a hard-nosed anti-corruption crusader while Gloria had presided over one of the most – if not the most – corrupt administrations in the Philippines.  It would be hard to imagine how they could work together in that kind of environment. 


With Duterte and Gloria working in tandem, it would be hard for the opposition – if any -- to “fiscalize” them.  There would be no checks and balances since it is expected that the legislature would be stacked up with Duterte’s political allies who would do Duterte’s bidding.  Do you remember Marcos’ Kilusang Bagong Bayan (New Society Movement) where he got 98% of the parliament’s vote all the time?


But the real danger in Duterte’s attempt to shift to federalism is not the system itself but the people who would run the system.  Then the danger of autocratic rule seeps in, which could lead to repression of the people’s rights.  Then what?


At this point in the country’s history where relative peace and economic progress is taking quantum leap, it is best to maintain the status quo and not to disturb the social equilibrium of the nation and derail its prosperity.


At the end of the day, dancing cha-cha to Duterte’s tune could lead to missteps to the detriment of the people.


(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Racism has no place in America

Published in On Distant Shore

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”


This repulsive comment did not come from the mouth of a Ku Klux Klan member or a known neo-Nazist, but the leader of a nation made great by people from all races and from all over the world, including those who came from countries US President Donald Trump describes as “shitholes.”


Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said in a meeting at the Oval Office with Trump, lawmakers were speaking about immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti who have temporary protected status in the US due to disasters and political upheavals in their home countries when the President interjected and made that remark that will go down in infamy: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”


According to some present, Mr. Trump went on to suggest that the United States should consider bringing more people from places like Norway.


Of course, Trump now denies he ever said those words, although insiders say the President was never apologetic nor showed remorse when talking to friends, obviously bigots like him, about the racist remark.

If it were the first incident of racist nature involving Trump, perhaps people can accept that it was spoken during an unguarded moment. But Trump has trekked a long path of bigotry and racism for us to take such remark with a grain of salt.


New York Times columnists David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick compiled a long list of incidents that showed Trump’s long history of racism and bigotry. Here are some of them:


• Trump’s real-estate company was sued twice by the federal government in the 1970s for discouraging the renting of apartments to African-Americans and preferring white tenants, such as “Jews and executives.”


• Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former president of one of Trump’s resort hotel said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”  


• In 1989, Trump took out ads in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park; he continued to argue that they were guilty as late as October 2016, more than 10 years after DNA evidence had exonerated them.


• He began his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. 


• In December 2015, Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, including refusing to readmit Muslim-American citizens who were outside of the country at the time.


• In June 2017, Trump said 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS”  and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.


• He often casts heavily black American cities as dystopian war zones. In a 2016 debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump said, “Our inner cities, African Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.” Trump also said to black voters: “You’re living in poverty; your schools are no good; you have no jobs.”


• He called some of those who marched alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., last August “very fine people.”


• In the 1990s, Trump took out advertisements alleging that the “Mohawk Indian record of criminality is well documented.” At the time, he was fighting competition for his casino business.


That Trump made his “shithole” remark just a few days before the day commemorating the life of civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr. speaks highly of his contempt for people of color. His campaign promise to make American great again obviously means to make America white again because he mistakenly thinks whites are superior to people of color, that the white people alone made this country the great nation that it is, and that recent immigrants, particularly those coming from “shithole” countries are bringing down America.


On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the March in Washington on Jobs and Freedom. In that speech, he said:


“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal."


“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”


That dream that the civil rights movement fought hard to achieve through decades of struggle could become a nightmare as Trump seeks to enforce a policy of discrimination, racism and bigotry.


As Filipino-Americans of the new generation, we don’t want to see signs that greeted the early Filipinos in America wishing to get into hotels and restaurants: “Positively no Filipinos allowed.”


As Americans, we need to make a stand against racism. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, says, “It’s not enough to just respond with anger. We have to build a political movement in this country which says that that is not who we are and we will not tolerate that type of moral inadequacy."


We must join a call by one political columnist who called on “voters of good conscience” to rid the Senate and the House of Representatives of Trump’s and racism’s defenders, apologists and accomplices in the mid-term elections this year. And make sure Trump doesn’t get a second term in 2020.


Racism has no place in America, especially in the White House and other corridors of power. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

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