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Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Opinion: Two Big Stories from the Native Country about Righting Wrongs; Per COA, OVP Sara Duterte Spent P125 Million of Confidential Funds in 2022 Compared to Zero during Leni Robredo Years; AI Requires Regulators like Insurance Companies By Manuel L. Caballero




(New York) Before starting, let me wish everyone Happy Independence Day. Let's be thankful that we, Filipino Americans, are part of the 246th year of American Independence.

Today, July 4th, is also Philippine American Friendship Day in the native country. In a statement, Mary Kay Carlson, US Ambassador to the PH said, "...we commemorate the deep bond between our nations built on shared values and aspirations."


Two big  unbelievable stories dominated the news from Manila this past week. Both stories involved wrongdoings that needed to be corrected right away. 

One story is about a friend and political ally of Pres. Bongbong Marcos, who was disbarred unanimously by the 15 Justices of the PH Supreme Court. The offense was violation of the Lawyers Code of Conduct . The disbarred Larry Gadon was  caught on video, which became viral, in the peak of anger, cursing and using profane language against a woman Filipino journalist. The justices concluded that the action of the ex-lawyer was misogynistic (anti-women) and showed he was intellectually and academically incompetent to continue as a lawyer. Thus, he was disbarred.

But, inspite the shameful disbarment, Mr. Gadon was given a position by Pres. Marcos, Jr. as Adviser for Poverty Alleviation, which, was readily criticized by Filipinos in social media. "Tell me who your friends are...".

Solita Monsod, a respected Manila columnist, said the appointment of Mr. Gadon was a major insult against the poor.

The lone opposition senator, Risa Hontiveros, said Pres. Marcos should withdraw the appointment.

For over five days since the Gadon disbarment, all commentaries I read in my Facebook from Pinoy netizens everywhere favored the Supreme Court decision and disagreed with the appointment.

By proceeding with the Marcos appointment , the BBM administration is committing a case of righting a wrong  by another wrong. We know that a wrong cannot be rectified by another wrong. A  public official must, at the very least, be intellectually competent, quality which became the basis of the Gadon disbarment by the Supreme Court. And to us, he or she must, to an extent, be a model of good manners and right conduct.

The ensuing story of the week was the short lived "rebranding slogan" to promote the PH abroad, which, according to the Tourism Head cost the taxpayers P49 million to create. 

The widely rejected and laughed-off slogan , "LOVE THE PHILIPPINES",which readily became the subject of jokes (Filipinos are very good at this funny joke business).

How in Heaven may one Love the Philippines when one year after the 2022 election, the legitimacy of the sitting public officials led by its president, is still being investigated and questioned due to supposed manipulation of votes by the nation's Comelec.

One netizen substituted Love with "Leave." Lol. Another replaced Love the PH with "God Save the Philippines." And another said, "Rob the Philippines" from the "Imelda Robs You More" speech in LA by the late Senator Ninoy Aquino.

The slogan did not only sound inappropriate to many. It was noted  by netizens that the video prepared by the contracted advertising agency to sell the PH contained materials which were grabbed from other countries, instead of PH native materials. I'm reminded of some election campaign materials of a candidate in 2022 showing pictures of meetings  in Malaysia instead of Manila with misleading captions aimed to deceive Filipino audiences, but were exposed and detected. Is DOT using the same PR group?

The Dept. of Tourism, pressured by mounting criticisms from all over, including members of Congress, terminated the contract with the promotions agency. Hopefully, those people at the DOT could recover the lost money and time, which amounted to P49 million of taxpayers' money.

What a messy administration!


Here is another story. This time, about the Office of Vice President Sara Duterte. Sharing part of PhilStar story today.

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Vice President (OVP) incurred P125 million in confidential expenses in 2022 while cutting down expenses on social subsidies such as medical and burial assistance for the underprivileged sectors by P147.56 million, the latest Commission on Audit (COA) report showed.

Meanwhile, in the same audit report, COA also flagged the OVP for rushing the establishment of its satellite offices (SOs), resulting in violation of the procurement law in connection with the purchase of property and equipment.

The OVP had previously said in a press statement that at least six regional SOs were established on July 1, 2022, the first day in office of Vice President Sara Duterte, supposedly to speed up the delivery of services to people in the provinces.

It seems somebody in the OVP is in a hurry to be president. 


We feel that in light of all the potential fears about Artificial Intelligence , regulatory offices  be set up in every State like the regulatories for insurance companies  and a national  federal office be established in DC.

To cite one big worry I have, Artificial Intelligence can create "artificial president." Some of my friends said it already did in the PH? 


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