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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, January 11, 2019
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OPINIONS

Not even a wall

Ninfa Leonardia

It was virtually a sea of people who made up the procession in honor of Jesus the Nazarene in Manila on Wednesday. The front pages of the leading national dailies all featured the throngs of devotees who came from various regions of the country, just to join the annual ritual. For many of them, their presence was to give thanks for favors granted through their devotion, for others, the sacrifice of jostling with the throngs, was to seek for help with problems. And the ever-growing number of participants seem to show that their faith has been justified.

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I was expecting the President to say something about the practice, but, to date, I have not seen any report or quotation from him making fun of it. After his recent statement calling the belief in the Holy Trinity by Catholics “silly”, I was sure he would have something equally ascerbic to say. Obviously, he has more respect for the Nazarene. But it could also be the fact the he had seen what a big “following” this image has, and from what it represents, and decided to keep his thoughts to himself. It’s almost election time, you know!

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Among the many things the American President has on the brain are the migrants from Mexico that he wants to shut away completely. This time his plan is to build a wall in the border between the United States and Mexico. It seems, however, that many are lukewarm to the idea, so he has to think up many reasons why the wall is necessary. The latest justification he has given is that the lack of a wall enables the entry of drugs to the U.S. The crossing of ideas between him and those against such plan is believed to have caused the stand-off among them.

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Somebody should tell him that it is very unlikely that a wall would stop the entry of the illegal stuff into his country. Drug traffickers are the most ingenious operators and they will still find ways to get in, wall or no wall. Not even countries surrounded by seas can do much to stop it, and how tall would the wall have to be a successful, 100 percent deterrent? Now his country is in chaos because of the “stand-off”, and workers have not been paid, Even his fellow Republicans are bothered, but they have only themselves to blame for inflicting on their country a leader like him.

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I am elated to see that the women are still leading the surveys for the senatorial aspirants in this country. Of the 70 or so who have been listed by the Commission on Election, two have consistently held the top in the list, and they are former presidential bet Grace Poe and incumbent senator Cynthia Villar. The latest survey showed Sonny Angara in third place, and he is one of the upper house members who deserves it. Good luck to them! I hear, though, that most of the incumbent ones are also in the winning line-up. No rotten apples there?

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In the Philippines, meanwhile, government workers must not expect hikes in their pay this year because Congress has not approved the 2019 budget until now. Top officials of the country, especially those involved in the budget, are at odds over the issue, and are even threatening to sue each other! Is it true that it is Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno who is to blame? But Diokno is pointing to Congress that he claims was not able to approve the budget before the end of the year. And so workers will have to suffer while the officials do the finger-pointing.

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What happened to the government-owned new hotel in Mambucal, the leading tourist spot of Negros Occidental? Reports said it was partially damaged when the roof of the kitchen collapsed. A photo of the site published in this paper yesterday, showed an unsightly scene that one could not have expected from a newly constructed structure. What if the accident happened to the areas where the living quarters were, and these were occupied? It was indeed a good move of Vice Governor, Eugenio Jose Lacson, to immediately inspect the damage.

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Meanwhile, what do the contractors say about this incident? How come a new building, yet to be turned over to the government, has already shown such vulnerability? The news on it blamed strong winds that caused the branches of a tree to slam into it, but, goodness gracious, ours is a country where winds are often strong, so builders should know how to anticipate their effects on structures they erect. And Mambucal is known for its big, leafy and sturdy trees – didn’t they take that into consideration? Methinks government engineers should take a very, very close look at this.*

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