July 2009


Here I am at a hotel in Dubai, staying for 1 night on my way to Bangladesh. I was actually quite excited to stay in Dubai knowing that I would see Filipinos everywhere. It definitely came true. Their stories are not new or different than those I heard from returning OFWs at home or from  my English students aspiring to go abroad. Yet, they still don’t fail to hit me. I met one girl who in 2 years time had only gone home once on emergency – the emergency being when her mother died. She’s just from Muñoz, an area I know well and not far from our house in La Loma. Others work long hours – the same receptionist that checked us in at 7 PM last night is here again working since 8 AM this morning.

Mga bagong bayani, that’s what GMA calls them. And for once, she’s right. There is no lack of evidence proving that the money these brave and lonely souls send home is the onlyt hing keeping the Philippine economy afloat and keeping even more of our people from starving. Talk about foreign investment. Pero, what that means is kulang ang mga tao na naewan sa pilipinas para baguhin ang bansa. The best and the brightest, the masipag, the educated, are either working here serving foreigners or doing all in their power with the hopes of going abroad to serve foreigners.

Sama ba ako into that framework? I suppose in some ways, yes, in many ways, no. Pero sad talaga ang situwasyon natin when people who love their country are forced into economic exile. It’s a stark contrast to the mayabang and oblivious Fil-Ams who are all to happy to flaunt their blue passports or greencards. We’ve all got to work harder so our mga bayani can go home.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

EDITORIAL: Obama the sanitizer

Somebody at the National Security Council dropped the ball. On Thursday, President Obama is welcoming Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the White House for his presidency’s first visit by a Southeast Asian leader. The choice of Mrs. Arroyo for this honor was a mistake because Mr. Obama is being used to give political cover for the Philippine president’s troubles back home.

Mrs. Arroyo’s domestic political position is precarious. A poll released June 8 by the Pulse Asia polling firm pegged Mrs. Arroyo’s public approval at only 26 percent. Street demonstrations against her are routine and growing in size. These protests are in response to a dubious mandate following a dirty 2004 election and numerous allegations of corruption against her family and administration. Her husband, Mike Arroyo, has left the country and used doctors’ notes to say he is too ill to obey court summons related to corruption charges.

The Philippines has become less free during Mrs. Arroyo’s 10-year presidency. According to Freedom House, “Corruption is extensive throughout the Philippine state apparatus, from the lowest to the highest levels. Bribes and extortion seem to be a regular element of the complex connections among bureaucrats, politicians, businessmen, the press and the public.” In Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index, the Philippines ranked 141st out of 180 nations on a list in which No. 1 is the least corrupt. The level of Philippine corruption is tied with Iran and Yemen and worse than in dodgy places such as Libya and Nigeria.

The corruption problem is affecting Manila’s relationship with other allies. A senior Philippine official told The Washington Times that German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent Mrs. Arroyo an ultimatum last month that Berlin-Manila ties are at risk if the Philippines doesn’t pay $60 million owed to the German government for Manila’s new international airport. The Philippine government seized the airport and refused to pay a German company — which is partly owned by the German state — for its construction after revelations that the contract allegedly was laden with millions in bribes and kickbacks.

There are also serious human-rights abuses in the archipelago. According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, “The Philippines ranks sixth worldwide among countries that fail to prosecute cases of journalists killed for their work.” Between 1992 and 2008, at least 34 journalists were murdered in the Philippines; there were convictions in only three of these cases. Four more members of the press were killed this June alone. Opposition voices regularly disappear as well.

On top of all this are machinations by Mrs. Arroyo to cling to power by setting aside next May’s presidential election. The president and her allies are pushing to amend the Philippine constitution to change the current U.S.-style presidential system into a parliamentary system whereby Mrs. Arroyo could serve as prime minister. This would allow her to circumvent the presidential term limit which prevents her from staying in office. This move, incidentally, is similar to the strategy strongman Ferdinand Marcos used to stay in power after declaring martial law in 1972.

The relationship between Washington and Manila is an old and important one. After the U.S. victory in the Spanish-American war in 1898, the Philippine islands were a U.S. colony for half a century and have remained a close ally in the six decades since independence was granted in 1946. The current Visiting Forces Agreement between the two countries allows U.S. troops on Philippine soil to help in the war on terrorism and to assist the Philippines with its fight against Islamic insurrection in the southern islands.

But the nation should be differentiated from its lame-duck leader. Welcoming Mrs. Arroyo to the White House only validates her troubled rule.

District Reps. that voted for 1109 that won with less than 50% of votes

Name Percentage Votes Won Total Votes Cast Province Party
CAJAYON, MARY MITZI LIM

27.96%

33575

120099

Kalookan LP
AGYAO, MANUEL SWEGEN

29.05%

23890

82241

Kalinga KAMPI
ARENAS, MA. RACHEL JIMENEZ

30.11%

62046

206049

Pangasinan Lakas-CMD
UY, ROLANDO ADLAO

30.75%

17,513

56,962

Cagayan de Oro City Independent
SOLIS, JOSE GUYALA

31.90%

34,860

109,262

Sorsogon KAMPI
GARAY, FLORENCIO CUATON

32.93%

29,219

88,730

Surigao del Sur Uno
LUNA, CECILIA SEARES

34.87%

34103

97808

Abra LP
ARAGO, MARIA EVITA RODA

35.87%

60,449

168,528

Laguna LP
AQUINO, JOSE II SABIJON

36.28%

43,215

119,126

Agusan del Norte Lakas-CMD
DUEÑAS, HENRY JR. MONTES

36.65%

28564

77935

Taguig KDT
BELMONTE, VICENTE JR. FLORENDO

37.14%

60,054

161,706

Lanao del Norte UNO
PIÑOL, BERNARDO JR. FANTIN

37.41%

62,973

168,315

Cotabato (North) Lakas-CMD
GO, ARNULFO FEGARIDO

37.63%

30757

81726

Sultan Kudarat KAMPI
JIKIRI, YUSOP HUSSIN

38.04%

38,839

102,102

Sulu Lakas-CMD
BAGATSING, AMADO SEVILLA

38.77%

42138

108685

Manila KAMPI
PANCRUDO, CANDIDO JR. PIOS

38.96%

39,136

100,461

Bukidnon Lakas-CMD
SANDOVAL, ALVIN SOTECO

40.19%

71490

177867

Malabon LP
BICHARA, AL FRANCIS DEL CASTILLO

40.46%

62,370

154,141

Albay NP
SUSANO, MARY ANN LABORERO

40.85%

119089

291502

QC Lakas-CMD
ANGPING, MARIA ZENAIDA

41.99%

33427

79,603

Manila NPC
SALVACION, ANDRES JR. DALDE

42.22%

29,720

70,399

Leyte PDSP
UNGAB, ISIDRO TOM

43.14%

49,264

114,195

Davao City PDP-Laban
DUMPIT, THOMAS JR. DE LARA

44.81%

69022

154021

La Union KAMPI
ROMULO, ROMAN TECSON

45.02%

97204

215900

Pasig KAMPI
ABANTE, BIENVENIDO JR. MIRANDO

45.31%

40371

89102

Manila Lakas-CMD
GONZALES, AURELIO JR. DUEÑAS

45.45%

84797

186564

Pampanga KAMPI
MENDOZA, MARK LLANDRO LATORRE

45.73%

97218

212592

Batangas NPC
SY-ALVARADO, MA. VICTORIA REYES

46.05%

98664

214268

Bulacan Lakas-CMD
RUIZ, NERISSA CORAZON SOON

46.16%

116,115

251,525

Cebu KAMPI
EMANO, YEVGENY VINCENTE BEJA

48.32%

77,076

159,519

Misamis Oriental Lakas-CMD
SAN LUIS, EDGAR SULIT

48.46%

96038

198184

Laguna Independent
NICOLAS, REYLINA GESTUVO

48.94%

88121

180047

Bulacan Lakas-CMD
ENVERGA, WILFRIDO MARK

49.41%

74921

151635

Quezon KAMPI
ABLAN, ROQUE JR. RAVELO

49.90%

58292

116820

Ilocos Norte Lakas-CMD
SALIMBANGON, BENHUR LAGO

49.90%

67,277

134,813

Cebu KAMPI

District Reps. that voted for 1109 with smallest margins of victory in 2007 – Bottom 30

Name Votes won Votes won by #2 Difference Province Party
SALIMBANGON, BENHUR LAGO

67,277

67,173

104

Cebu KAMPI
PANCRUDO, CANDIDO JR. PIOS

39,136

38,935

201

Bukidnon Lakas-CMD
LUNA, CECILIA SEARES

34103

33493

610

Abra LP
ARENAS, MA. RACHEL JIMENEZ

62046

61429

617

Pangasinan Lakas-CMD
GARAY, FLORENCIO CUATON

29,219

28,547

672

Surigao del Sur Uno
BRAVO, NARCISO JR. RECIO

27,726

26,917

809

Masbate KAMPI
MAMBA, MANUEL NOVENO

71413

70549

864

Cagayan LP
UY, ROLANDO ADLAO

17,513

16,555

958

Cagayan de Oro City Independent
DIASNES, CARLO OLIVER DONA

4430

3454

976

Batanes KAMPI
SANDOVAL, ALVIN SOTECO

71490

70331

1159

Malabon LP
DUEÑAS, HENRY JR. MONTES

28564

27107

1457

Taguig KDT
SALVACION, ANDRES JR. DALDE

29,720

28,244

1476

Leyte PDSP
AGYAO, MANUEL SWEGEN

23890

22408

1482

Kalinga KAMPI
MERCADO, ROGER GAVIOLA

82,583

80,956

1627

Southern Leyte KAMPI
ABLAN, ROQUE JR. RAVELO

58292

56072

2220

Ilocos Norte Lakas-CMD
SOLIS, JOSE GUYALA

34,860

31,840

3020

Sorsogon KAMPI
BARZAGA, ELPIDIO JR. FRANI

188009

184626

3383

Cavite KAMPI
RUIZ, NERISSA CORAZON SOON

116,115

112,475

3640

Cebu KAMPI
CAJAYON, MARY MITZI LIM

33575

29773

3802

Kalookan LP
AQUINO, JOSE II SABIJON

43,215

39,403

3812

Agusan del Norte Lakas-CMD
TUPAS, NIEL JR. CAUSING

66,437

62,368

4069

Iloilo LP
ABANTE, BIENVENIDO JR. MIRANDO

40371

35089

5282

Manila Lakas-CMD
CHONG, GLENN ANG

36,097

30,356

5741

Biliran LP
ROBES, ARTURO BARDILLON

55278

49485

5793

San Jose del Monte City KAMPI
NAVA, JOAQUIN CARLOS RAHMAN ARANO

37,285

31,223

6062

Guimaras KAMPI
BAGATSING, AMADO SEVILLA

42138

36023

6115

Manila KAMPI
GATCHALIAN, REXLON TING

36251

29944

6307

Valenzuela NPC
MENDOZA, MARK LLANDRO LATORRE

97218

90184

7034

Batangas NPC
ROMARATE, GUILLERMO JR. ABITONA

68,534

61,431

7103

Surigao del Norte KAMPI/Padajon Surigao
COQUILLA, TEODULO MONTANCES

86,232

78,956

7276

Eastern Samar PMP

District Reps. that voted for 1109 with smallest margins of victory in 2007 – Bottom 30

Name Votes won Votes won by #2 Difference Province Party
SALIMBANGON, BENHUR LAGO

67,277

67,173

104

Cebu KAMPI
PANCRUDO, CANDIDO JR. PIOS

39,136

38,935

201

Bukidnon Lakas-CMD
LUNA, CECILIA SEARES

34103

33493

610

Abra LP
ARENAS, MA. RACHEL JIMENEZ

62046

61429

617

Pangasinan Lakas-CMD
GARAY, FLORENCIO CUATON

29,219

28,547

672

Surigao del Sur Uno
BRAVO, NARCISO JR. RECIO

27,726

26,917

809

Masbate KAMPI
MAMBA, MANUEL NOVENO

71413

70549

864

Cagayan LP
UY, ROLANDO ADLAO

17,513

16,555

958

Cagayan de Oro City Independent
DIASNES, CARLO OLIVER DONA

4430

3454

976

Batanes KAMPI
SANDOVAL, ALVIN SOTECO

71490

70331

1159

Malabon LP
DUEÑAS, HENRY JR. MONTES

28564

27107

1457

Taguig KDT
SALVACION, ANDRES JR. DALDE

29,720

28,244

1476

Leyte PDSP
AGYAO, MANUEL SWEGEN

23890

22408

1482

Kalinga KAMPI
MERCADO, ROGER GAVIOLA

82,583

80,956

1627

Southern Leyte KAMPI
ABLAN, ROQUE JR. RAVELO

58292

56072

2220

Ilocos Norte Lakas-CMD
SOLIS, JOSE GUYALA

34,860

31,840

3020

Sorsogon KAMPI
BARZAGA, ELPIDIO JR. FRANI

188009

184626

3383

Cavite KAMPI
RUIZ, NERISSA CORAZON SOON

116,115

112,475

3640

Cebu KAMPI
CAJAYON, MARY MITZI LIM

33575

29773

3802

Kalookan LP
AQUINO, JOSE II SABIJON

43,215

39,403

3812

Agusan del Norte Lakas-CMD
TUPAS, NIEL JR. CAUSING

66,437

62,368

4069

Iloilo LP
ABANTE, BIENVENIDO JR. MIRANDO

40371

35089

5282

Manila Lakas-CMD
CHONG, GLENN ANG

36,097

30,356

5741

Biliran LP
ROBES, ARTURO BARDILLON

55278

49485

5793

San Jose del Monte City KAMPI
NAVA, JOAQUIN CARLOS RAHMAN ARANO

37,285

31,223

6062

Guimaras KAMPI
BAGATSING, AMADO SEVILLA

42138

36023

6115

Manila KAMPI
GATCHALIAN, REXLON TING

36251

29944

6307

Valenzuela NPC
MENDOZA, MARK LLANDRO LATORRE

97218

90184

7034

Batangas NPC
ROMARATE, GUILLERMO JR. ABITONA

68,534

61,431

7103

Surigao del Norte KAMPI/Padajon Surigao
COQUILLA, TEODULO MONTANCES

86,232

78,956

7276

Eastern Samar PMP