ON CHIP TSAO’S APOLOGY
The government should make a negative example of Chip Tsao by pursuing the filing of a damage suit despite his purported apology. Let us also be reminded by his racist diatribe of the graver problems confronting our heroines in Hong Kong.
1) There are 127 Filipinos, 94 of them women, who are languishing in Hong Kong jails as of the last report of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Senate.
2) Our consulate in HK needs more personnel to attend to the welfare and distress calls of 157,000 Filipinos there.
3) The current assistance fund for Filipinos there is sorely insufficient to provide aid and succor to Filipinos.
It is not enough for the government to ride on the crest of the tempest generated by one unfounded insult. Indignities more painful than what was caused by the wholesale slander of our people need to be addressed as well.
ON RISING OIL PRICES
We should start exploring alternative and innovative ways of providing cheaper fuel through research and development. I urge the oil companies to invest on this as a public service to their customers and make it an essential part of their corporate social responsibility agenda.
CHIZ: PAY EQUAL ATTENTION TO KIDNAPPED TEACHERS
Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero on Wednesday said the government should give the same attention now being directed at freeing kidnapped Red Cross workers to the plight of other kidnap victims, particularly five abducted teachers, in Mindanao.
“While I commend the efforts being undertaken for the safe release of the three humanitarian workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the same amount of energy should be evident in actions to free other captives, especially teachers, now held in captivity in different parts of Mindanao,” the opposition senator said.Six teachers have been abducted on two different occasions in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Three teachers from Zamboanga City were kidnapped in January and are believed to have been taken to Basilan island. Last March 13, police reported that a gang of pirates snatched elementary teachers Jocelyn Enriquez, Jocelyn Inion and Noemi Mandi in the island barangay of Bangkaw-Bangkaw, Naga town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.One of the teachers, Noemi Mandi, died in captivity because of complications due to a recent medical operation, according to reports.Kidnappers are also holding a Sri Lankan peace worker and a lending firm employee.
“The real tragedy here is that most of the captives are teachers. They sacrifice a lot just to bring education to children in hard-to-reach barangays in Mindanao, and who knows those children are even relatives of their captors, and this is what they get for their heroism and sacrifices” Escudero said.“Time is also running out for these abducted teachers. The government must act fast to prevent another tragedy from taking place,” he said.
Escudero also said that although authorities cannot cover every nook and cranny of the southern Philippines, the government must focus its intelligence funds in those areas where kidnapping has become a major fund-raising activity.
“Sana intelligent ang paggamit ng intel funds para maiwasan itong mangyaring muli,” he said.
CHIZ: DECEPTION BY INSERTION
Sen. Chiz Escudero said yesterday that the stimulus fund package culled from the 2009 budget could be used for other purposes beneficial to the administration through insertions.
“That’s why I have always touted the importance of transparency and even triple checking so that we will not be deceived by such terms like ‘double budgeting’ or ‘insertion’,” the opposition senator said in a statement.
He added that it was important to know who inserted what and how much to prevent wastage and determine culpability for any misappropriation.
Escudero noted that by vetoing the transparency provision in the P1.415-trillion budget, President Arroyo’s administration is no longer required to give a breakdown of lump sum allotments to different agencies.
“Now that the 2009 budget has been passed, we should be more vigilant to prevent scams and shenanigans involving the use of government funds,” he said.
The government has said that the stimulus fund package of at least P50 billion is designed to enable the country to ride out the global economic crunch.
Escudero questioned the lack of discussions on the proposal, since some of the funds for the package were taken from a realignment of the executive department’s budget.
“We have seen the creation of the Property Development Assistance Fund that primarily included the diversion of almost P20 billion in proposed spending for debt services and agrarian reform to increase allocations for public works, local governments and Congress, he said.
“We have to remember that this is an election year. And worse, it might also be a cha-cha year. We have more than enough reasons to make sure that this budget is spent for the right reasons,” Escudero said.