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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, July 20, 2016
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with Ninfa Leonardia

Mosquitoes and the Olympics

Ninfa Leonardia That was a very attractive picture published in almost all of the national dailies yesterday, showing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the reigning Miss Universe from the Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach. I am glad nobody was mischievous enough to caption it “Beauty and the Beast”. But seriously, the president even looked quite good in the photos. Maybe beauty is catching.


But the picture, as well as the accompanying news that the likelihood or having the next Miss Universe contest in the Philippines, was enough to make up for the kind of reports found in the inside pages. One daily, for instance, had these heads for their stories on the second page:

•  “Nine people killed in attacks in Tibet”

•  Ex-US Marine kills 3 policemen

•  Attackers in Nice had rage-filled history

•  Bombers kill 5 soldiers in ex-Qaeda stronghold in Yemen

•  South Sudan struggles to avert catastrophe


I did not mention anymore the killings going on in our country, because they have already become “ordinary”. Not a day passes by when we do not read or hear about drug suspects being killed while resisting arrest, engaged in a shoot-out with cops, etcetera. After all, the President has already announced that he will pardon the policemen who did them. By the way, can those who have not yet been tried and convicted be pardoned already? Just wondering.


Speaking of pardons, there will be no need for former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to seek one because the Supreme Court acquitted her yesterday by dismissing the charges against her, and probably the rest included in them. What now can we expect, aside from a speedy recovery from all those ailments? Remember how quickly Senator Juan Ponce Enrile got better when he was granted bail? Let's not be surprised if GMA, now a congresswoman, seeks the Senate, or even the presidency in the next election.


This is something local government officials who are bowing out of office should bear in mind: Do not try to protect your favored employees by promoting them, or appointing new ones at “midnight”. The outgoing governor of Nueva Ecija had promoted or appointed 214 employees immediately before and after the election, which the incoming one revoked. The office of the Ombudsman dismissed the charges against the governor, but the Civil Service Commission favored the employees. Elevated to the Court of Appeals, however, the decision was reversed, with the CA noting that there was violation of the Omnibus Election Code, and there was no appropriation or certification of availability of funds to cover the salaries of the personnel involved.


Remember the case of the Airbus A320 of EgyptAir that had crashed in the sea on its way to Cairo from Paris last May? Investigators recently noted that the word “Fire” had come out from the plane's voice recorder. Earlier, its black box had confirmed a smoke alarm before the crash. The plane was then carrying a virtually multi-national group of passengers: 40 Egyptians, 15 French, 2 Iraqis, 2 Canadians, and one each from Algeria, Belgium, Britain Chad, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. One can just imagine the grieving of families in all those countries.


Caloocan City has announced that it is building a drug rehabilitation center that will rise in 2017. When in 2017? It is a good plan, but the urgent need for such centers is now. With the thousands of surrendered users, pushers and traders sprouting like mushrooms all over the land, government should speed up centers, even if they have to accommodate the victims in gyms or tents. Anyway, the users are the ones who need help most, pushers and traders need punishment more. Let's zero in on the real need of the hour.


I was more amused than assured at the news that Pinoy athletes going to the Rio Olympics will be bringing insect repellents as protection against Zika carrying mosquitoes. I hope the repellents do not stink, otherwise they may be disqualified from contact sports. Meanwhile there are reports of athletes from other countries refusing to join the games because of fear of contracting the disease Zika bugs could cause. Just imagine, a mere mosquito affecting an international, competition like the Olympics!*

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