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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, November 27, 2019
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with Matè Espina

Good and bad news

Rock & Refuge

We’re just midway into the week and we have had a barrage of both good and bad news.

I was with a group of reporters who covered the Senate last Monday that provided good news for the sugar industry. As we trooped to the airport, I felt relieved to leave behind the ghastly traffic in Manila (though I’m not particularly happy as well with the worsening traffic we have here at home).

But I can definitely feel the frustrations of athletes from other countries who arrived for the SEA Games and who had to cancel practice in some faraway stadiums they were assigned as they got stuck in two-hour traffic.

We experienced the same when we accepted an invitation to have dinner at the posh Bonifacio Global City only to reach it very late as it took us over an hour and a half from Pasay City.

As we landed yesterday, our mobile phones got busy with notifications of the tragic fire that left six people dead, including the owner of Java Inn and his child and nanny.

Though the fire started before dawn, it was still raging when the sun rose and bystanders were able to capture in video the escape of several people from the rooftop with dark smoke and fire billowing around them.

It will be a sad Christmas for the families of those who lost their lives in that fire and our sympathies and prayers for them.

It’s sad, too, for the entire country that has been getting bad publicity because of the crappy welcome many visiting, and even local athletes got, not to mention mounting complaints about accommodations, transportation, meals and unfinished venues.

Netizens have been at it making memes and the main target is House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who heads the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phiscog), a private foundation that oversees preparations for the games with Cayetano himself boasting a month ago that they were 90 percent complete.

That didn’t sit well with Senator Bong Go whom we witnessed giving a privilege speech at the Senate, brushing aside the apology issued by Cayetano and urging the public to cooperate and help in ensuring the games goes smoothly. However, Go said that right after the games, he will initiate an investigation into the matter, contrary to what that lizard in the palace said that no heads will roll in the mishaps that happened.

This sounds like there is division among the president’s men. But I agree that we should support the games and help in however way we can, as the shame if our hosting flops is not only going to be directed at Cayetano and all the other government agencies involved, but to all of us as a nation.

And fortunately for us, good news is Ceres buses came to the rescue as posted by Inquirer reporter Cedelf “Borgy” Tupas, who said that Vallacar President Leo Rey Yanson is providing comfortable buses for the 17 football teams participating in the games in coordination with the Philippine Football Federation.

Borgy also posted that two buses have already been provided but the rest will start when LTFRB gives them permit. At this point when we hear horrifying news from players who say they have better public transport back home than the ones they were asked to use here, we don’t need red tape to delay this kind gesture.

Another good news, to me at least,that kept me glued to international news networks was the major upset in the recent elections in Hong Kong where the opposition got an overwhelming mandate against candidates who were considered pro-China.

Analysts called the electoral exercise “historic” with the high voters’ turnout that sent a strong message to embattled HK Chief Executive Carrie Lam that the people will stand against China’s policy and will remove politicians who kowtow to Beijing.

It is not yet certain whether the opposition’s victory will put order back in HK that has seen a huge drop in tourist arrivals and commerce. But it was clear that the spontaneous march on the streets of HK right after the results were known was a victory march to show Beijing and the entire world that a few millions of people against a billion more cannot be cowered by fear nor threats.

Of course in the headlines yesterday was the sacking of Vice-President LeniRobredo as co-chair in the administration’s anti-drug war, barely three weeks after her appointment.

I do not know whether to categorize this as good or bad news because it was not surprising that she will be struck down the moment she gets closer to the truth as expected by many. The fact that she was refused the high-priority targets list was already suspicious enough, coupled with the statements coming from law enforcements goups who distrust her in heading that agency.

Three weeks and they concluded she was incompetent! They somehow forgot that the president promised to solve the same in six months, then in a year, then three years, until admitting it can never be solved.

Why? The rest of the nation knows (outside of course that 16 million they forever harp on) and I agree with my vice-president – they are scared of what she may find out, of what the people will find out.*

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