Friday, October 4, 2013

Basta! Scrap the Pork calls at the #MillionPeopleMarch

WHO: Everyone enraged by the controversy generated after private citizen Janet Napoles was incriminated in the misuse of  government funds—specifically that of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allotted to elected official in both Houses of Congress—a practice that seems to persist in the Aquino administration despite its calls for clean governance since it assumed office in 2010.

The PDAF is commonly known as "pork barrel," hence the image on the poster. Poor swine.

WHAT: A form of protest action calling for the the national government to outrightly abolish the so-called Pork Barrel Fund not only in both Houses of Congress but also of the President's, (proposed at Php 1.3 Trillion for 2014) in light of controversies arising from the Napoles case.
WHEN: Today, 04 October 2013 from 2-8 pm
WHERE: Ayala Avenue, Makati City

a. Because despite today's Moody's 3rd investment upgrading and the stock market's historic highs, the majority of Filipinos in the Philippines still live below poverty level, jobs are scarce, average cost of living is high, average Filipinos still leave the country to work abroad in the hope of uplifting their living standards, and corruption is still prevalent in government agencies;

b. Because billions of unliquidated pesos supposedly meant for development and priority projects of senators and congressmen allegedly transferred hands among government officials and private citizen Napoles in the last 4 years alone (i.e. persisting even under the Aquino administration);

c. That the recently-unearthed DAP funds—a "mechanism" put in place (by the Budget Department in 2011) supposedly meant to accelerate government spending to foster economic growth—with full admissions from Senators coming in days after ambiguous denials and/or explanations related to such fund releases, have lead to more questions than answers about how the current administration spent its funds and savings yet not showing any concrete accomplishment since its implementation thereby "defeating its purpose," to paraphrase a Palace reporter.

d. That, practically in agreement with an article that quotes Alan Greenspan, despite the Aquino administration's economic growth achievements and efforts towards ridding agencies of corruption, the government's response to challenges or criticisms from its citizenry is:

"[...Some would say] flustered and in denial. Seemingly shrugging off the disappointing statistics, the country’s technocrats are flushed with what legendary ex-Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Alan Greenspan, characterized as “Irrational Exuberance”: The tendency among market participants to obstinately focus on instantaneous, shallow gains at the expense of recognizing more fundamental structural imbalances in the economy, which carry long-term risks of destabilization. They rather focus on the boom in the stock markets and the investment grade euphoria, than, let’s say, re-examine the merits of the current growth trajectory. In fact, some studies, as business columnist Ben Kritz notes, suggest that there is little correlation between acquiring an investment grade status, on one hand, and growth in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), on the other."

 Anyway, go and be counted if you can.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Read former Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno's take on the DAP:

"DAP as 'Fiscal Stimulus': a misnomer"
Oct. 2, 2013 / BusinessWorld Online

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"SOULUTIONS": Don't cut trees, pursue real transparency and accountability among voted officials

Copy-pasting an interesting opinion about pork barrel funds and transparency, resignations, and destructive solutions to the perennial flooding problem in Metro Manila.

The latter merited a petition on started by a Kathryna de Bustos which I signed today, and from where I came upon Neal Cruz' article in the Inquirer.

As I See It

Please don’t cut trees; plant them


 21 210 118

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s resignation as Senate President was a surprise even to his closest allies, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Tito Sotto. The best thing in JPE’s privilege speech that day was not the resignation itself but his call for a transparent audit of Senate finances.

Enrile said his irrevocable resignation was intended to make it very clear that he wants all senators, himself included, to be put under a microscopic scrutiny on how they utilized their fund allocations.
There were those who dismissed Enrile’s resignation as an empty gesture because it came on the second to the last day of the 15th Congress. As I see it, however, his resignation was such an important precedent that it should henceforth be the standard practice in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Senators and congressmen will be much more cautious in using their fund allocations if at the end of each Congress they know that a full and transparent audit is coming. I believe that by resigning, Enrile raised the bar of public accountability.

The puzzler in all of this is that those senators who have been asking for Enrile’s head by raising a howl over his disbursement of Senate funds to individual senators are now the ones who seem to be opposing a full-blown audit of the utilization of Senate funds.

Why are some senators moving heaven and earth to prevent such an audit? Why, indeed? Are they afraid that the Senate funds that they received will be found to have been diverted to buy pricey mansions in expensive addresses?

Who among the senators are afraid of the transparent audit Enrile has pushed by resigning? Let’s look at the noisy ones in the Senate to determine who they are.

As Senate President, JPE repeatedly stressed that he would be able to account for every centavo that his office had disbursed. This is something that many of his colleagues may find difficult to do because they have merely issued certifications on how their allocations were used.

For ordinary citizens and taxpayers, the real issue is what happens to the funds disbursed by the Office of the Senate President to the individual senators. After all, the end-users of the funds—in this case the individual senators—are the ones who should account for the money.

As Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago once said, “Ang sarap maging senador (It’s nice to be a senator).” Maybe not anymore, if the transparent liquidation and audit of Senate funds that Enrile called for is institutionalized.

In his speech, Enrile said he and Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the committee on accounts, had taken “the position that if we (senators and congressmen) were to be sensitive to the public pulse and with the agreement of both houses of Congress, we should revert back to the old system of liquidation and accounting for each centavo of public money entrusted to us.”

To that statement of Enrile, I say: By all means, let’s return to the old system and refuse to vote back into office any senator or congressman who will refuse to properly liquidate taxpayer money.

Pay special attention to the pork barrel, which is deodorized as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Some contractors claim that some legislators demand at least 30-percent kickback on projects. Include the bribe money given to engineers, treasurers, cashiers, local government officials, etc., and the loss can easily go up to 50 percent or more. That is why we have substandard public works projects: The contractors have to finish the projects with what is left to them after paying off government officials.

The PDAF amounts to several billions of pesos every year. Half of that is lost to corruption. Imagine how that lost fund could have contributed to improving the lives of all Filipinos—in terms of housing for the homeless, for example, or creating jobs for the jobless.

* * *

A reader, Moises Norman Z. Garcia, a professor at the University of Santo Tomas, reported in a letter that 350 mature trees along Lacson (formerly Governor Forbes) Avenue will be cut by the Department of Public Works and Highways to give way to an underpass intended to ease traffic at the intersection of España and Lacson avenues. According to Garcia, the loss to the environment far outweighs the benefits of an underpass there. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide oxygen, filter the pollutants from the air, and serve as shelter from the heat of the sun. Trees also moderate the hot microclimate in the urban jungle that Metro Manila has become.

“The cooling effect of a single tree is equivalent to 20 air conditioners,” Garcia said. Imagine how much electricity we would all save simply by planting more trees.

And why an underpass? Why not a flyover, which would require less excavation and therefore save the trees?

The DPWH (and the Metro Manila Development Authority) are quick to cut trees as it is the easy way to do things. We should plant more trees instead of cutting them. We have a National Greening Program that aims to plant 1.5 million trees. But here is the DPWH cutting grown trees instead.

* * *
Read more:
Follow the Philippine Daily Inquirer: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Sign the petition if you care for the trees not only in the City of Manila nor the inhabited 2,000 (of the 7,107) islands this archipelago is made of, and actually care that "soulutions "shouldn't be destructive but well-thought-out.

Monday, September 27, 2010

We're not at war. It was a big mistake.

Gawd knows how many unpublished drafts I have on this blog that need polishing, if not a convincingly complete thoughtfulness but I couldn't help commenting on this recent news.

So, the President proceeds to New York exactly a week ago today to finally fulfill an obligation to the country and the world. Yes, he'd do the trip totally the opposite of his predecessor's to save us precious reserves and all that and, by the way, will hold-off pouring over the IIRC findings—that's the hostage incident report the President put together and rushed to conclusion so the Chinese government can decide on what to do with our strained relationship before Christmastime—while he partakes of hotdogs in New York sidewalks for photo-op. No, really. He said he'd dine in simple fashion between meeting other heads of states and, chomping off NYC hotdogs, he was true to his word.

President Aquino in NYC (still image from YouTube)
Also, the IIRC report was immediately sent off to Beijing ahead of any local institution or body that may have their own interest in its contents; bodies like the Houses of Congress, a Palace decision to withhold the IIRC contents from it which, naturally, angered the Congress' honorable members.

In the meantime, members of the Presidential communications group were grilled in the Lower House back in Manila. Because the proceedings were televised, the opposition took advantage of air time to pound on each of the members of the Palace communications group, hoping perhaps to finally squeeze out some admission from each of the Palace members their supposed factional, if not fractional ties, something the public thought could have contributed to the endangerment of the hostage negotiations back in 23 August.

Former business TV news reader and host Ricky Carandang, also ex-print media managing editor (now Presidential Communications Group head Secretary Carandang), he from the TV newsgroup some Twitter users have called "the alternative government news network," even made it a point to be funny in Congress when he revealed to Congress that the President left his mobile phone in the Palace when asked by the committee chair if Carandang had spoken with the President in New York.

So, the President had finally been welcomed in the U.S., was given his proprietary intelligence forces to make sure nothing untoward happens, and, surprise!, meets his former running-mate Mar Roxas who, official Palace communications said, was there to help introduce him to possible trade and business deals for the country's benefit.

Vice-president Binay, meanwhile, was left back in Manila not to oversee the welfare of our country while the President was away but to stick to "certain duties" given him, to which the vice president said sat just fine with him anyway. The Vice-president's office even issued a public statement that said "with all the available communications technology, appointing (him as) a caretaker would be unnecessary since the President can constantly keep in touch with the Cabinet and key government officials."

Yet it seems that the available communications technology, like the ubiquitous and Pinoy favorite cellphone, can break down if they get left behind indiscriminately in third-world state capitals.

It may not just break down at any time, the ubiquitous cellphone (or choppy the networks), but inefficient messaging and the transcription of important communications  can get in the way of competence and order, thereby resulting in more confusion not just among members of communications groups but with stately protocols.

Or it seems that the accredited and official media in the President's entourage may have simply enjoyed themselves lunching at the Big Apple's famed sidewalk snack carts so much they snapped away at ceremonial functions in the UN without noting that the Philippine flag had been displayed with the red field up. I mean, no one seemed to have noticed it the entire time, not even the embassy and UN representative officials!

Red field up means that the country is at war. It's in Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8491 (AN ACT PRESCRIBING THE CODE OF THE NATIONAL FLAG, ANTHEM, MOTTO, COAT-OF-ARMS AND OTHER HERALDIC ITEMS AND DEVICES OF THE PHILIPPINES) which states:
Sec. 10. The flag, if flown from a flagpole, shall have its blue field on top in time of peace and the red field on top in time of war; if in a hanging position, the blue field shall be to the right (left of the observer) in time of peace, and the red field to the right (left of the observer) in time of war.
The flagpole staff must be straight and slightly tapering at the top.
Since the evening of 26 Sept. 2010 (PHI time) the internet and news wires were abuzz with the official U.S. apology for releasing pictures of the President with American counterpart Barack Obama set against the Philippine flag with its red field up. Why? It did not have anything to do with the Philippine flag displayed in that manner.

Apparently, it had been hung from that staff for all to see in many other UN functions that day.

I get the feeling that we have been having a difficult time getting our grips on national directions lately.

Last week, the Congress had approved the law on how to sing the Lupang Hinirang (National Anthem) properly, as if the simple words in the existing law (R.A. 8491, Chapter II), within the same one stated above that tells us how to display the flag correctly, is not plain and understood enough.

Perhaps next time, our laws should be multilingual, something all Filipinos will understand, whether they be talking to each other or not, or whether we need a knock on the head regarding self propriety with gadgets slung from wires largely dependent on technology, or with old-fashioned ways.

Credits to the President's photos:
Third image (from bottom) of the President from the Official Gazette gallery of the Office of the President.
Second image from bottom is an image grab from the LA Times.
Bottom image is a grab from the Official Gazette of the Office of the President.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010



As of 10 pm today, May 10, 2010, the "partial, unofficial" results reported by networks show Benigno Aquino III leading the presidential race, followed by former president Joseph Estrada, once ousted for plunder, judged guilty not by the Senate tasked to look into his alleged wrong doings (e.g. coddling family and favored friends, for instance) but by a popular uprising he refers to as a revolt of the rich and the few.

For vice president, Jejomar Binay leads. Coming into power as the late Pres. Cory Aquino's appointed officer-in-charge of Makati immeditalely after EDSA, Binay had since been running the city alternately with his wife for the past 20 years.

The 12 slots for the Senate are filled by actors and politicians whose names and faces had done the rounds once before, not all of whom did anything significant and meaningful towards the upliftment of the lives of the 90 million or so Filipinos in terms of laws that firmly put in place their rights and privileges, strengthen institutions and benefit society at large.

Change, "pagbabago", is the most used, most abused word throughout the campaign season. All candidates wore a badge that screamed "pagbabago!", short of having this badge enlarged such as to make it look like a speech bubble stuck to their heads wherever they went, in case anybody missed it.

Change! they screamed. Change from our current situation, they say, of widespread poverty and corruption. How that would be, however, was lost on many of them because it did not matter how  change could be achieved. It mattered more that they said it the loudest, the most frequent, the angriest. "Change" became, to me, the promise that weighed the most, yet, little by little, transformed into the most hollow.

Change! For a Filipino public that they say has matured, grown tired of corruption. Change! For the Filipino hungry for new leadership! Change! Towards a path of a better tomorrow.

In the weeks before election day, surveys upon surveys showed that, for the Senatorial slots for instance, the popular names were constantly topping the lists; popular names of actors and scions of politicians who themselves were not [known to be] agents of change. Back then were glimmers of hope, however, albeit hidden in the pockets and linings of robes that, on the outside looked crisp and untainted but were actually reused or recycled rags sewn together haphazardly.

As election results are becoming apparent, the face of what will become the next Philippine government is slowly revealing itself as being too familiar for comfort. The surprise in all of this is not that our collective hopes for real change was to be realized promptly, with a little help from technology, but that the nightmares of the past we thought we had buried are coming together taking a life of its own.

Change? Wait, where are the agents of change? They're there, midway down in the list of candidates as voted by the "mature" Filipino voters hungry for a new leadership that will lead them to the path of a "better tomorrow". Yes, the "mature" Filipino voter slung by mud or thrown into the slime with the candidates throughout the campaign, no thanks to the power of media and its mouthpieces.

Anyway, who did they kid?

The "only" mature thing the Filipino voter did in the last 24 hours was to trust an unknown system, prepare their journey to the polls armed with a lot of patience and brave the unforgiving heat, some goons and a lot of glitches. For that, they, and all election volunteers and workers, are to be commended.

Just the second time in 4 elections since 1986
that my index finger was stained with
indelible ink. Let's see how long it will stay.
[ Notes ]
Tit for tat
I had always suspected that the "Villaroyo" propaganda came not from the LP body but from the Mar Roxas camp, specifically. Of course, this allegation cannot be proven because not one from the LP slate ever actually mouthed it in public. Instead, the propaganda emanated a lot from the programs, news shows and interviews of the media network identified with the Liberal Party (and with Mar Roxas specifically, by marriage, among other things)—ABS-CBN. So persistent was it that couldn't be missed by all the other media. It was reverse public psychology at best, considering how many of Aquino III's relatives are actually with the Arroyo government throughout the election period and how many more jumped over and into their backyard simply to hold on to power.

"Villaroyo" took its toll on the well-oiled campaign of Manny Villar so bad that when this propaganda succeeded, his survey ratings took a dive and never recovered towards election day. The "partial, unofficial" election results are showing that now.

Fate—tit, rather—does turn in strange ways that it looks like Mar Roxas didn't see tat coming his way, as he and his company forgot to occasionally lift their blinders for fear of losing their target (I suspect they even slept with these on).

Dark Horse
And so the possibility of a dark horse emerging from this elections was floated about just a few days ago. Never did I realize that it would happen so literally. I guess neither did Roxas.

Declaration and the first 100 days
As it now looks like Aquino III will be declared winner not later than tomorrow, 11 May 2010—swift, huh?—the one thing I'd like to hear from him as he accepts victory is a declaration to relinquish the .02%-something pittance of a share (or shares) he owns in the Luisita holdings (and other such proprietary rights) for good or as long as he presides over state matters in Malacanang.

His first 100 days should start with putting together a committee to look into real land distribution to the Luisita farmers, and end it not a day longer with awarding of titles devoid of limitations or proviso as he was forced to declare during the campaign. If he can do this then all the goodwill will follow;  he'd earn the respect of everyone and a place in history his mother once had the chance but passed up. He'd then be able to commit genuine respect and homage to all the tillers of the soil whose harvest, cultivated with  their blood, sweat and tears, he and the rest of us partake of.

And so life goes on if nothing happened. As if cries of corruption and incompetence in government did not cost us to nearly lose our values and self respect. As if the whole exercise of voting and choosing candidates we thought would help bring us to the next level (higher, not lower) was a grand event, a spectacle we shouldn't miss. Did the lure of novelty bring out the Filipino from unknown nooks and crevices on that very one day we hoped would be the start of a better future for all of us?

What will the next 6 years bring on? Did the 50 million Filipinos voters simply give up their future to clueless  boxers, ham actors and celebrities, to oligarchs who have lived in comfort all their lives, to warlords and gambling aficionados whose ways are by the gun, to familiar names that provided not enlightenment but temporal entertainment?

Where was genuine maturity and disdain for "the old, 'trapo' ways"? Where did the pursuit for intelligent, focused and productive discussions, statesmanship and real public service go? Were we delusional? Were we lied to? Were we asleep, mesmerized?

Only the second time
Twenty-four hours since the first automated elections and my outlook is quickly reversed. My last vote was cast in favor of Cory Aquino in the snap elections of February 1986, back there in San Juan in the same polling precinct as Marcos loyalist and OIC-replaced San Juan mayor Joseph Estrada voted, goons in tow. How proud we all were of the moment of casting, even if it meant having to listen to single digit votes for our candidate during the canvassing after polls closed.

Back then, the other half of the population would rather put a dog in place (in Malacanang) if it ever ran against Marcos. Fortunately, Doy Laurel acceded, Cory Aquino relented and the dog spared. It seemed like an easy choice. I still don't think my vote then was wasted, although there were regrets to many of her policies and decisions afterwards, not least of which were the lack of resolve and firm actions towards reconciliation, genuine concern for the working class and the masses and countless missed opportunities that would benefit the future of Filipinos.

Well, my vote yesterday was not wasted, too, and, to be clear, it was not for Noynoy Aquino out of respect for his mother whom I voted for and once believed in. Still, he soon will stand as my president just as Ramos and Estrada were and Arroyo is.

However, while May 10, 2010 for me is a step forward in terms of making processes less labor intensive, less questionable, with lesser loss of lives (hopefully) and a little bit more trust for the unknown, it was also a hundred steps back into the past. So life goes on.

Monday, May 10, 2010


At about noon today, 10 May 2010, COMELEC spokesman James Jimenez on Twitter (@jabjimenez) and on television announced that voting is extended to 7 pm from the original schedule of 7am to 6pm.

It's not too late: Alex Lacson

Bloggers document Alex Lacson for posterity, 25 Jan 2010
Bloggers night for Atty. Alex Lacson finally came through at his home on 25 January 2010. It was attended by around 30 people, a majority of them bloggers—some very active in political issues, some in other issues.

The first time the idea of Alex Lacson running for the senate—entering politics, if you will—was floated to me last year was by his college friend, my cousin, who asked if I remembered him and what I thought of Alex running. I said in reply:

"I cringe at the thought of pushing him too close to the fire, so to speak, as we all know what the air of politics is made of...
..."[He is] good, intelligent but too honorable, in the true sense of the word, for elective positions that bespeak too much of bowing to patronage and power and pressure..."
Since I knew Alex from college, too, I added:

"...and even then he struck me as one of the very few genuine gentlemen and upright guys in UP; candid but straightforward and very tempered..."
12 Little Things

Alex Lacson took up PoliSci in UP. He was a member of the college-based student organization, the Association of Political Science Majors (UP APSM) from where he, my cousin and a few more of their batch, including Chiz Escudero (now senator), Ingrid Gorre (lawyer, women's rights and environmental activist), Emma Sarne (NY consul), I eventually came to know.

Alex was the quiet guy among that group, yet firm and gentle in his ways. It was usual that PoliSci majors were expected to pursue law school and from that group, too, came some of the very dedicated ones including Alex. Even back in the mid-80s, the tradition of UP in making each student aware of not just campus politics but of national politics made for some very exciting and colorful campus life. Alex — with my couin and Chiz, too — were not as visible nor as vocal as what the establishment branded 'left-leaning' students were in on-campus protest activities. Even as PoliSci majors, these guys were more inclined to spend their time with books or in discussion with friends than march to wherever the path of student activism led most students.

I had not seen nor heard from and about him for years except from stories and, later, mentions about the book he later came out with called "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country" which got positive feedback in the papers.

I finally saw him again at the prodding of my cousins in the last quarter of 2009 at a Tandang Sora barangy hall. This meeting would have been more than 20 years since I last saw him.

There, speaking in front of a mixed crowd of barangay civic organization members composed mostly of women from middle and lower-middle income communities, was Alex with the microphone addressing the crowd of more than a hundred, with a few more milling about—men and teenage boys, barangay tanods and officials, cops.

We arrived halfway through the event as he was talking about what Filipinos can achieve, look up to, reach for and expect if we just opened our minds to our potentials as a people and practice basic niceties and respect for each other.

The talk was followed by a series of Q&As, with one coming from a grade-schooler who asked what advise Alex could give students so they could nurture a love for learning (or something to that effect). It ended with a book signing and some photo-op with the attendees and book buyers. Quite a queue it was.

Alex was approachable even back in UP. The men and women who lined up at the book signing in Tandang Sora were each addressed by their names by Alex and were written down on the title page of the book, each copy personally dedicated by him.

Responsible citizenship

Bloggers' Night with Alex would be a more revealing night for all of us. The attendees were a mix of generations and vocations. The event was opened with an introduction by Jay Jaboneta, one of the main organizers of the night, a volunteer for Alex and a neighbor of his in the subdivision. Jay started by relating how much of Alex was a living testament to what Alex Lacson advocates, like simple courtesies to people (e.g. the subdivision guards) and giving way to fellow drivers within their subdivision.

But it was the Alex himself who, with the same gentleness and firmness—and directness—would give himself away so tellingly.

Alex is softspoken. He moves with contained energy but with authority. He has a ready, genuine smile for everyone.

He was born and grew up in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental. He called himself a "Narra boy" along with some of his college buddies in attendance that evening: all residents of the Narra men's dorm in UP.

He is a self-made man, was a working student throughout his college life, and a scholar. He mentions without hesitation about his relatives back in Kabankalan: tricycle drivers, sari-sari store owners, ordinary folks, some of whom he helps send to school or help out in one way or other. Currently, he supports 10 more indigent scholars under of World Vision of which he is a member of the Board of Trustees.

He passed the bar and practiced for some time, then took up post-grad in the U.S. It was when he was abroad, he said, that he saw and experienced prejudice and discrimination. It was also then he saw how much potential each Filipino in the Philippines had but how little aware they were of their inherent skills and talents.

Alex may be too idealistic for comfort. Surely, nothing is wrong with being an idealist. Anyhow, idealists seem to make more effort at making things better than pessimists do.

In my view, Alex is also too real, upright and untarnished for a position in politics. Politics, for me, is a snake pit, an arena that has been been filled with filth and left in shambles by the very people who run it, and by supporters that are silent about deals that sell principles. It has been sullied by personalities who were voted into offices because of rubbed-off virtues, inherited names and mythicized persona. With Alex in politics, his straightforward manners and direct deals may well rub off on the other politicians who have all this time believed that to be valid, one has to be smart-talking, snide, attached to scandals and endorsed by celebrities.

Alex's advocacies are simple and doable.

"Condemn it."

When asked about his views on the Luisita Massacre issue during bloggers' night, Alex, a lawyer in the firm that lists the Luisita enterprises (Hacienda Luisita, Inc., Luisita Realty Corporation) among its clients, was silent for a few seconds, then slowly but firmly, clearly said "I would like them to condemn it. Let those who are guilty be charged."

It was our turn, the audience, to be speechless upon hearing this. The silence was soon followed by a spontaneous round of applause. Was his answer unexpected? Of course it was! Alex was seen on TV collecting peso coins from strangers for Noynoy Aquino's campaign after Mar Roxas' withdrawal to run for president at Club Filipino. Alex was among those who convinced Aquino to run after all.

Was Alex sincere in his answer? I believe the spontaneous applause, even coming from the gentleman from Mindanao who was relentless with his questions to Alex, left the event that evening more than just convinced.

Luisita is attached to Noynoy Aquino since declaring his candidacy and anyone closely associated with him, let alone his lawyer and friend, will surely be dodging the issue. This association notwithstanding, Alex always makes his thoughts known, thus he stands out of the crowd by himself, free of any shadows of doubt cast upon him.

When I had the chance to ask how, in the company of traditional politicians both in his own party and in the Senate (lest we forget the 12 hold-over senators from the previous election), he could make his plans and platform work without resorting to horse-trading and selling out, he replied (and I quote from memory),

"I am realistic and know that I only have 6 years to [see to it that my] plans are fulfilled. If it does not work out, them I go back [to what I had been doing]. I am not in it to [be there] forever..."
By the end of the event, the usual book signing queue took place. Even the staff and crew of the local caterer fell in line behind the bloggers and other attendees. Though no celebrity he is, they, too, I'm sure, understood his programs well, identified with his story and were moved by Alex's vision of country with a respectful, responsible, "kapwa-tao"-driven citizenry.

Alex Lacson hands over a signed copy of "12 Little Things" and a poster

to the caterer's staff who stood in line at the end of the event.
An open endorsement

It is dificult to write about a person I know without being patronizing but because I mean this post to be an open endorsement of Alex Lacson for Senator, it already is.

Here is a genuine person, humble and responsible, and one who easily makes a connection with almost anyone—effortlessly—and who makes any campaign slate relevant, including Alex's own team of Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas. Without Alex in it, without him in the 2010 elections, everybody else's campaign is simply a rehash of the politics of old: the privileged, those with a distorted sense entitlement and the moneyed.

When given the chance and you do not know Alex Lacson yet, please make time to see him. Very much of what Alex Lacson lives by is a lesson that people born into politics should learn from. [~26 January 2010]

I'm actually glad Alex Lacson is not among the candidates in the major religious groups' endorsements. Why, the self-made man that he is can stand on his own merit, sans whistle-blowing antics and shady deals. It'll be a shame to not give him the opportunity to serve. [~09 May 2010]