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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, February 9, 2019
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Where the pigs are

Ninfa Leonardia

Maybe their motto has always been “If there’s a will, there’s a way”, but there is another one that goes, “The best laid plans of mice and men, Gang oft a-gley”. And guess where we can apply these? To our own “august” body, and its “Honorable” members, the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines! And why? Because, after we had all been thinking that the package that had been a big source of corruption for lawmakers, known by the very appropriate name of “Pork Barrel”, had somehow slipped into the budget for this year!

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No wonder we are already in the second month of the Year of the Pig, but no approved budget yet. Now it seems the “pigs” had not yet gone through the law’s fine-toothed comb, also of some the group members, who were the ones who heard its squeals, or maybe smelled its stink! Just imagine, a big headline yesterday screamed that our lawmakers had managed to keep no less than P75 BILLION in that budget, probably hoping it wouldn’t be identified in the rush to get it passed. Now that has been discovered, it will be up to the President to act on it. Will he approve that budget with that bundle hidden in it, or will he throw a fit?

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Whatever his reaction, or action, one thing is already confirmed, this budget may be again delayed, and this is very questionable because those lawmakers have all the time to prepare it, but probably dilly-dallied while searching for areas where to slip it in, or for new names to disguise it. The Daily Inquirer claims that senators will get P3 billion each, and congressmen and women P160 million each. No wonder we have so many hoping for a chance to “serve” in these two capacities!

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President Duterte has asked the Philippine Statistics Authority to hurry up the implementation of the National Identification System. While I know a lot of people who raise their eyebrows at such requirement, I personally believe it will beneficial because one will no longer need to carry a bunch of I.D. cards in order to facilitate transactions. The law has reportedly been signed in August yet, but how come nothing has been heard about it almost seven months now? And funds for it have already been appropriated. Ah, it may start in September yet, Palace sources said. I guess, like many other plans, it has to take one year to implement, never earlier. Well, we are a waiting people.

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Who cares now what the United States President said in his State of the Union Address? At least he was able to deliver it after all that fuss over his controversial Wall project. Still there is no assurance that he will get what he wants after this. There is still no “give” in the tug of war between him, on one side, and Congress on the other. So don’t be surprised it, after he has delivered his masterpiece, it will back to the barracks, I mean, to the stand-off again, with no wall and virtually nothing more attained.

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So far, surveys being held on the “senatoriables”, seem to be led by two women, who just change places at the top. The two are Grace Poe and Cynthia Villar, with the latter seeming to stay longer in the lead. This could be because of her very visible person, she seems to be here, there, and everywhere in the country, meeting people, sponsoring projects, giving speeches, with her very efficient staff. Remember, she even came to town for the performance of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, whose sortie here she also helped accommodate.

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Meanwhile, although Grace Poe is still a big favorite, we have not even seen her around here, I think since the last campaign days. And she is supposed to be considered part Bacoleña, her mother, the actress, Susan Roces, having grown-up and studied in La Consolacion College here. I hope she does not get complacent, she is much admired here, but she could be overshadowed by the very visible and helpful other lady senator, who does not have any roots here.

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This report should be heartwarming to senior citizens of the country. But they should keep their fingers crossed and pray that what she is being planned for them becomes a law. So far, the House of Representatives has approved a bill that will provide that citizens who reach the age of 85 will receive P25,000 in cash, those who reach 90 will receive another P25,000 those at 95 an additional P50,000 and those who reach 100 years, will receive P100,000, with a letter of congratulations from the President. And, best of all, even senior citizens residing outside the country are included! It isn’t clear, though, if those who are already senior citizens of other countries are still included, even if they have repudiated their own.*

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