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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, September 11, 2019
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OPINIONS

And now comes the Ombusdman

Ninfa Leonardia

Who is surprised that tourist arrivals in Hongkong have dropped by some 40 percent? The surprise is that tourists are still bold enough to risk dealing with street protests that have been going on for three months now. The 60 percent who are still coming must be very brave souls, indeed, or are thrill seekers who want to see the action, or even be part of it. This all started when the Giant of Asia, China, emphasized its authority by making it known to Hongkong residents that they are in reality, Chinese nationals, too.

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And this was further stressed with the notice to Hongkongers that those of them who commit crimes will be tried in the mainland, and serve the sentences they may be meted there. This upset the Hongkong people, who must have thought that they were living in a democracy! Their leader, Madame Carrie Lam, wants to give up, but apparently China wants her to stay on. Now, such things do not happen in a democracy, do they? Is there any possibility that some Hongkong residents will opt to move to the Philippines? Heaven forbid, there are too many of their kababayans here already.

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In the meantime, I am sure senators were shocked to hear the revelations from convicts about the lifestyles of high profile prisoners whom they describe to be living like royalty. Not only were they allowed to stay in very comfortable “cells”, but they also had all the comforts of home, including such conveniences as airconditioning, cellphones, and even drugs and firearms! Not only that, they also have access to such mod cons as facebook, the internet, etc. etc. And most of them almost got freed, too, with the expanded application of the GCTA, or Good Conduct Time Allowance!

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About time, of course. We are referring to the headline in a national daily yesterday saying “Ombudsman suspends 27 corrections officials”. Maybe the Ombudsman found it too easy to determine the liability of the very charitable, but highly questionable decision to free high profile convicts. One cannot blame skeptics who claim that any convict can get out “if the price is right”. Right?

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As of latest count, only about 130 of the “released” inmates, among them those convicted for the most despicable crimes, have been accounted for. That is, these were the ones who knew that this administration was not kidding when it announced the possible fate of those who refuse to go back to the cells they had not stayed in long enough, that is, for the terms they had been meted. Maybe they want to take chances, but if one of them happens to be your loved one, would you encourage him or her to continue to defy the law? That could expose them to premature death sentences, you know.

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The news about there being 2,000 jobs available in Canada must have caused the ears of many jobless, or dissatisfied workers in our country, to perk up, and find out what advantages they could enjoy while working there. The area that is calling for skilled workers is in Yukon, that must be more advanced now. I remember a time when mentions of the Yukons brought pictures of backwood areas, but, apparently this is no longer true.

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I am sure Pinoys will be happier and better adjusted to Canada, unlike in the Middle East countries where they are not familiar with the language, in the first place. Since schooled Pinoys are all familiar with English – barring the accent of Canadians – this should be very attractive to them. The jobs are for nurses, cooks, heavy equipment operators, engineers, call center operators, caregivers and other forms of employment. And the pay is said to be from the equivalent of P80,000 to P300,000. But it was not indicated if that was a monthly or fortnightly salary.

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But those who do not want to leave home can still find jobs if they are not too choosy. The Philippine National Police has announced that it needs 4,000 workers for desk jobs, meaning those applying need not become policemen or women patrolling beats. But those interested to become cops can find spots, too, as the system still needs 37,000 policemen. But why are so many slots open? Seems requirements for policemen are more stringent that those for army men. Anybody can be a soldier, but cops must have college degrees and civil service eligibility. Is this because soldiers are expendable?*

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