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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, January 24, 2019
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Beware at SEDA Hotel!

Ninfa Leonardia

They have shut down the Manila Zoo and there is no assurance if it will ever be opened again. I am sorry for the children who will miss seeing the strange animals that are not found in the Philippines and which they know about only from pictures and, maybe the movies. I feel sad about it because I myself found my first visit to it very interesting and educational. I envied the pupils in Manila and neighboring provinces who could go on field trips and visit the zoo often.

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But the order to shut it reportedly came from Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, because the Department of Environment and Natural Resources called it the major pollutant of Manila Bay. Seems it was discovered only lately that the zoo does not have a sewage treatment plant to handle waste matter coming from it. And the pollutants get carried off to the Manila Bay. And that is where a lot of children often go swimming! Have the authorities traced any diseases that may have been caused by exposure to the polluted waters?

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In the meantime, government concern is focused on the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, or BOL. However, I heard earlier that the “No” votes were leading the count, but since the election is being held in Mindanao, we can still expect changes when the count is finished. Maybe today we will know the final count, and because most officials seem to be in favor of it, the “No’s” may yet be overcome by the “Yeses”. I hope the plebiscite was not like those elections in the past in Mindanao where it was claimed that “birds and aswangs” cast their ballots too!

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As for the controversy on the so-called “age of liability” where some lawmakers are working to reduce it to nine years old from the former 15, I think there is sense in the counter proposal to make it 12 rather than nine years old. But while we are at it why hasn’t anybody suggested to our legislators that they make it 13, instead? As such, they will be already teenagers, and no longer children. But is there still time for them to rethink their focus on nine, and later on 12?

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It looks as if President Duterte is “almost” accepting the fact that his dream of changing our form of government to a federal one, may not come true within his term. Until now the idea has not caught on, and in fact, a lot of people I know, and have discussed the matter with, are very lukewarm, if not entirely opposed to the idea. But he is apparently still hoping to make federalism palatable to Filipinos, who may take a lot of convincing before accepting it. Of course they acknowledge that the Presidential form is not perfect, and has its flaws, but maybe they believe in the saying “Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t know.”

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After so many suggestions and advice from relatives and friends, especially the ones knowledgeable in law, I am now seriously considering filing charges against the SEDA hotel for the injury I suffered at its premises. Until now, my finger that almost got half an inch cut off, still has to be treated and still causes me discomfort and pain. This happened almost a month, i.e. 28 days ago, but it has not healed yet and even typing this column is very cumbersome for me. My finger got caught in the very heavy door of their restroom, ironically, in the cubicle for PWDs, or Persons with disabilities!

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Me, I entered it hale and hearty, and left with a severe disability, that is affecting my usual activities, to say nothing of the expenses involved in the treatment and stitching up of the cut in the hospital. It could have assuaged my pain and discomfort if I had gotten some words of sympathy and concern from SEDA. But aside from saying “Sorry” when I met the manager in the hallway with my hand being held up to stop the bleeding, as I was being rushed to the hospital, the management never even sought to find out if I still had my finger! How heartless can those people be?

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That is why I am now inclined to file a case against SEDA Hotel, I am also advising my relatives, friends and readers to be very careful if they cannot avoid going there. Because no one will help, or even sympathize with them in case of any mishap. I should know. I am still a victim, and a very disappointed supposed “guest” there, who will bear a blackened finger, possibly all my life.*

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