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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, November 19, 2019
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Digong and transparency

Ninfa Leonardia

I thought that was a big piece of news, but why was it relegated to page 8 of a national daily, and not even taken up by others? The report said that the House is set to approve charter changes in January. Oh? And the changes, it was mentioned will include, most of all, the shift to the federal form of government that was among the first changes announced by President Duterte as soon as he took over. For a while, most Filipinos thought that issue had been forgotten already.

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But why is it that the same item also said that Federalism is no longer a priority of the President? If that is so, why, then, are the members of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments still talking about it? The chairman of that committee claims that consultations in Luzon and Mindanao have shown “overwhelming support” for at least four amendments. But how come consultations were made only in Luzon and Mindanao? Are the Visayas no longer part of the group of islands called the Philippines?

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Another thing – there is also a plan to extend the term of congressmen from three to five years, and the same goes for local officials. Oh well, my grandmother who used to have a lot of sayings in “karay-a” liked to quote “Ang ga-uyat sang luwag, una magalo” that translates to “The one holding the ladle will be the first to scoop out the food”. Since the members of Congress are the ones writing their own rules, who is surprised if what they pass favors them first of all?

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By the way, a lot of people have commented on the language and behavior of our Foreign Affairs Secretary, the namesake of one of the country’s most admired journalists who, they say, does not sound a bit like his father at all. They say, that is, we are referring to President Duterte’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr., a.k.a. “Teddy Boy” who often sounds like a petulant boy (I didn’t say “brat”, note). Hasn’t he realized that his job now calls for being diplomatic, too? Is it the job that is too big, or is it the head?

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` Now I’ve heard it all! Did you ever hear of anybody from the Philippines who is not a movie star, who have documentaries on their lives submitted to the Academy Awards called the Oscars? Of course you have not, but not just one, but two are coming up. And they are candidates for “best documentary features”, at that. And the subjects, Ladies and Gentlemen, are two of our most outstanding, or notorious, personalities, whichever way you look at them.

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The subjects of the films are our incumbent president, Rodrigo Duterte, whose documentary film is titled “On the President’s Orders”. I give you one guess as to what those orders were about. The report said it had already been shown at the Lincoln Center during the Human Rights Watch Festival. The other documentary, titled “The Kingmaker” is about La Madama Imelda Romualdez Marcos that also premiered at the International Film Festival in Venice. Who was it who said that if you can’t be famous, at least be notorious?

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This is good news for destitute patients who need treatment and medicines but cannot afford them. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, or PAGCOR, is again accepting applications for medical assistance effective yesterday. The agency had stopped it recently because of the discovery of fictitious cases applying for medical assistance. To prevent further scams, PAGCOR and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office have agreed to work together in processing claims for medical assistance. Let’s hope this system works against fictitious claimants.

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Whoever heard of a person being “in the green of health”? Nobody, until the Presidential spokesman invented the term to assure us that our President is hale and hearty. Maybe he thinks of his boss as a plant, the greener of which means the healthier it is. But his boss is more forthright, he admits openly that his ailments are natural for someone his age. He is, after all, the oldest, at 74, to hold the office. And he doesn’t mind reciting his ailments, too. That is transparency for you!*

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