Sec. Gina Lopez and the mining industry

 

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez

We all know that President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Ms. Gina Lopez as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the strength of her intensely passionate and unwavering advocacy for green or eco-friendly environment.

No one can ever question her resolve in protecting the environment and in so doing making it clean and friendly to the people. We have seen her zeal and devotion when she served as chairperson of Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and her involvement in Bantay Kalikasan (Nature Watch) which was launched as a response to the worsening state of the environment, especially in Metro Manila.

While many appreciate the idealism of Lopez for the environment, the same morals or philosophy, if you may, when applied to the mining companies in the country should have been tempered with greater understanding and rationality.

I am saying this because Lopez is now at the receiving end of the wrath expressed by some mining officials whose company was targeted for closure and/or suspension of operation for the reason that it has been causing havoc to the environment.

That Lopez has been the subject of displeasure and indignation by the mining companies, which is even affecting her confirmation as DENR secretary, is only fair and par for the course because its mining operation should have been vetted first on the context on whether or not they are International Standards Organization (ISO) compliant.

This should have been the due process extended to the mining companies instead of shutting them down unceremoniously.

There is no doubt Lopez knows about the ISO certification because she herself stated the following upon assuming the position from former DENR Secretary Ramon Paje: “ISO 14001 is one way of saying responsible mining.”

The ISO 14001 standard is the most important within the ISO 14000 series. ISO 14001 specifies the requirements of an environmental management system (EMS) for small to large organizations. An EMS is a systemic approach to handling environmental issues within an organization.

Lopez further added that the assessment will determine if mining operations are “… good to the people or are they killing the rivers, streams? Are they creating suffering to our farmers and fishermen? We have to evaluate it, but my stand on the common good is non-negotiable.”

The “non-negotiable” stand of Lopez can be likened to the shit hitting the fan!

This hardline policy/posturing of Lopez just won’t work especially if the mining industries earn billions of pesos for the country, creates job for the people in the community and contribute to the infrastructure needs of the community.

Personal or subjective opinion should never play a rule in this kind of controversial problems especially if it has to do with the economy, jobs, lives of employed workers, and yes, the environment. The benefits gained should not be held hostage just because the whim and caprice of a popular DENR Secretary is not accommodated.

To compromise is the way to go so it will not create a negative impact on all factors considered for a win-win situation could only be attained if a review of the ISO standards is done regularly by DENR so that anomalies can be corrected to help minimize the potential present and long term damage to the environment from mining activities.

 

Ballpoint in pens now made in China

 

ballpoint-penChina has been dumping its multifarious manufactured goods, from the mundane to the complex items, all over the world that you would think there is nothing that the world’s industrial and economic giant cannot produce. Right?

Wrong!

Apparently, the world’s largest manufacturer of ballpoint pens never succeeded in producing its own ballpoint, a vital component in a pen, until now. And to think that China manufactures 80% of the world’s ballpoint pens!

So, where, then, was China’s ballpoint pen makers getting the delicate tips for the variety of pens it was making and exporting to the countries of the world?

Admittedly, the delicate balls used were imported from Switzerland.

But, not anymore according to state-owned steel firm Taiyuan Iron & Steel which has announced its Eureka moment!

So why did a country renowned for ingeniously replicating technology struggle to create an everyday item for so long?

According to the firm, it did not have machines with the precision needed to cut a tiny ball-bearing accurately.

Also, it explained that despite being the world’s largest steel producer, China was unable to produce the high quality steel to case the ink-dispensing ball, resulting in the steel being imported from Germany or Japan.

The problem of the imperfect balls was brought to fore when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang complained on national TV that the country’s pens were “rough” in comparison with their Japanese, German and Swiss counterparts.

His comments led the Hong Kong Economic Journal to declare: “The day China can produce a 100% homemade ball pen will be the day it truly qualifies as a first-class industrial power.”

Well, it sure has been, but more so now and China is hoping to phase out pen tip imports completely within the next two years.

Duterte continues to dominate news

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

Being an unorthodox or an unconventional president when compared to past leaders, Rodrigo Duterte has been and will always be an extraordinary fodder for news.

And to think that Duterte is just in his seventh month of his four year presidential term!

Whether Duterte’s words or deeds project a good or bad image for the country really depends on who you are or where you find yourself in today.

For one who has made the war on illegal drugs, corruption and criminality as cornerstone of his presidency, Duterte has not only showed his unique style of leadership but has also served notice to the world that under his leadership the sovereign state, that is the Philippines, has to be respected.

This is what makes Duterte stand up head and shoulder over the past presidents – his humanity, his determination and his political will to apply unconventional ways if only to eliminate the scourges responsible for hindering the growth and development of the country, establish lasting peace all throughout the archipelago and once and for all improve the quality of lives of poor Filipinos.

Obviously, some sectors like the members of the Catholic Church and human rights advocates and some political adversaries are making so much noise and blaming Duterte for the killings and this is what is making news abroad, too, but fortunately or unfortunately this is apparently how it goes as Duterte has proven it in making Davao City a peaceful and progressive place.

But what really has the country and the whole world talking about Duterte are his overtures towards China and Russia while in the process of letting go the coattails of the U.S., which the Philippines has always been pictured to be hanging to.

Duterte’s promotion and upholding of his independent foreign policy stand is how he was able to earn the respect of the other leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) and with the Philippine strongman now fully committed to the organization, ASEAN could be a force to reckon with in years to come.

No wonder, therefore, that China’s magazine, the equivalent of America’s Time magazine, has named Duterte as the “Person of the Year”.

What seems to be a certainty in the future, too, is that the Philippines will no longer be conducting joint military exercises with the U.S., but rather with Russia and China, and in such a controversial place like the South China Sea, which no doubt is part of China’s domain now.

Indeed, it is interesting to see how this will be viewed by the incoming U.S. President Donald Trump.

Talking about unceasing news on Duterte’s presidency.

Duterte pressures BSP and AMLC

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

What President Rodrigo Duterte is doing in censuring and pressuring the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to cooperate with government is nothing again but an exercise of fearless political will very much lacking in past leaders of the country.

Acting as sole protectors of what is all secret in depository agencies, the officials of AMLC have been playing hard-nosed, as their role demands perhaps, even when the interest of the nation, and more so of the truth, is at stake.

This cavalier attitude did not and do not sit well with Duterte. The latter feels that those in charge have been obstructing instead of assisting him in his fight against money laundering, especially in the light of the scourge brought about by illegal drug business which prompting him to describe the officials as “hard to deal with”.

But while it may be true that the AMLC is mandated to protect and preserve the integrity and confidentiality of bank accounts, it is also, however, decreed to ensure that the country shall not be used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity.

That is how categorical and essential the mandate is.

Thus, it is only reasonable for Duterte to get upset and express his displeasure over the monetary official’s disdainful attitude.

The AMLC is composed of the Governor of the (BSP) as Chairman and the Commissioner of the Insurance Commission (IC) and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as members. It acts unanimously in the discharge of its functions.

Duterte emphasized it was imperative that “we cooperate in this government as a Republic to protect and preserve our people.”

“Do not make it hard for us otherwise I will make it hard for you. Simply I said, you failed miserably,” the president remarked in his scathing assessment.

I could not agree more with Duterte, especially when he cited his own experience when Sen. Antonio Trillanes accused him of having P200 million in bank deposits which he allegedly failed to declare in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, but which AMLC did not do anything about it, much less deny it.

No doubt AMLC was the source of Trillanes’ allegations, yet the same agency is not cooperating where and when it matters most.

Duterte’s scorching remarks to BSP and AMLC should prod them to get their acts together and not be humiliated over their zealous but scandalous participation in case fraudulent activities involving their people are found out to exist.

 

A refloated ship, yes; a sinking ship, no

 

Former Pres. Fidel Ramos

Former Pres. Fidel Ramos

With due respect to former President Fidel Ramos’ military and political leadership, I beg to disagree with his recent pronouncement implying that the Philippines is a sinking ship under the Duterte presidency.

Perhaps as a true-blue Amboy, being a product of the famed US West Point Academy, Ramos seems to be worried, at best, and, at worst, devastated, that his protégé, President Rodrigo Duterte, has turned bellicose against the US and is seriously embarking on an independent foreign policy that will likely lead to establishing closer relationships with China and Russia.

But just because Duterte has shown utter displeasure over the way US has been showing the ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude towards his administration relative to his bloody war on drugs, not to mention the ‘little brown brother’ treatment Filipinos have been getting from their imperious ‘big white American brother’, and is turning now to the Chinese and Russians for better deal and understanding does not mean that the country is now in dire state of disrepair and is sinking for that matter.

Why, was the ship of state, as Ramos described it, ever floating even during his time and until the Aquino administration of last?

We must remember that Duterte just completed his 100 days in office and what he has done in fighting drugs is no small feat for a man and a politician from Mindanao catapulted to the presidency by the mandate of majority of Filipinos who trusted him and believed in his strong-fist, no-nonsense leadership.

Everybody now agrees that what got this ship of state sinking in the first place are the presence of unscrupulous people involved in the outrageous, if not heinous, drug business that mainly included convicted inmates in the New Bilibid Prison, who are more known as the drug lords, from where illegal drugs are being pushed to victimize millions of Filipinos from all walks of life.

In identifying and solving brutally the drug plague which is fortunately being supported by the citizens themselves and by many sectors of our society including the businessmen, we are now seeing for the first time that the ship of state is being refloated successfully.

But you see, not until Duterte starts full swing his promise to wage relentless fight also against corruption and criminality in order to get rid of the equally deleterious scourge that is trying to sink the ship of state as well, will we see the same ship of state fully afloat and sailing towards progress and prosperity.

I find it, therefore, somewhat unfair and self-serving Ramos’ comments, saying, that what stands out in Duterte’s first 100 days are the following: first, a vicious and bloody campaign against illegal drugs and its users and dealers; second, a hardening of presidential policy statements against longtime ally and mentor, the US; and three, failure to cut red tape and corruption in the bureaucracy.

Come on, for chrissake! Give it more time!

For a man and a leader who has repeatedly made it known wherever he goes that he has his life, his honor and the presidency at stake in his quest for a better Philippines, it only means that what he is doing now and the things he still has to do before his term is over will ensure not only the sustained growth and development of the country but also guarantees the well being of every Filipino.

 

Duterte’s war on drugs paving way for bullish economy

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte only recently got appraised on his 50th day in office and while his bloody campaign against illegal drugs became the fodder for media nobody can deny, however, that we may be seeing the turn-around of the country for the better.

It looks like trust and confidence in Duterte’s leadership among Filipinos has even grown stronger because he is doing exactly what he promised to do if elected, which was to waged war against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.

Not only has Duterte consolidated his political power in congress but he seem to be getting also the support of practically all sectors of Philippine society, even some ranking officials of the Catholic church, because they have all seen the seriousness and determination of his resolve to put an end to the ills that have been plaguing the country all these years so it could start moving forward towards economic growth and development.

While the Duterte administration is busy conducting a violent and highly controversial anti-drugs campaign, the president has not lost sight of the fact that peace and stability are important factors for a country’s sustained growth and development, thus, his initiative to be in harmony with the communists and the Muslim rebels in Mindanao.

This gesture of promoting friendship, reconciliation, unity and smoking the peace pipe is very much welcomed by the business community which is now foreseeing a surge in new investments by local and foreign nationals.

Other factors that are giving the business sector a positive outlook for the future is the government’s plan to start immediately prioritizing infrastructure spending and cutting of red tapes.

That Duterte has asked congress for an emergency power to address the horrendous traffic problem in Manila is an added boost to the morale of the businessmen.

In May, Duterte told the country’s main telecom providers to speed up the internet, or he would junk laws that prohibit foreign competition.

Duterte’s economic plan also includes lowering corporate and income taxes.

While the outside world may be critical of the killings following Duterte’s war against illegal drugs, it has in no way affected the economic performance of the country.

Only recently the government announced that the Philippine economy grew at 7 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, its highest level in three years. It makes the Philippines the fastest growing among all countries that have reported so far for the second quarter.

It has been reported that the mainstays of the economy – remittances and the outsourcing sector – are flourishing and boosting domestic consumption.

What this means simply is that Duterte is leading this country in the right direction, regardless of how many are killed in his war against drugs or whether he has called the US ambassador gay or he has ruffled the feathers of the UN by calling some members stupid.

That is the long and short of it.

Duterte’s 50 days in office

 

50 daysI have seen Philippine presidents come and go and got a little excited in two, namely, Ferdinand Marcos and Cory Aquino as prospects who could make a difference and propel this country to greatness.

Alas, what we saw and witness in their presidency is that one was successful in destroying democracy and the other was hailed as having triumphantly restored the same.

The others after Cory, well, I don’t think they really had the interest of the country and the welfare of the Filipinos in mind for one can only see where we are until today. Recent history will surely tell that not only had we been electing the wrong people, but corruption, drugs and criminality were allowed to flourish because of lack of political will.

Thus as the nation observes President Rodrigo Duterte’s 50 days in office one cannot help but feel encouraged, cheerful and optimistic that this time the Filipinos have finally elected a leader who is showing the character  and the supremacy that could make this country turn around towards growth, progress and respectability.

One can only feel admiration and awe that so much have been done in so short a time that is no doubt benefitting the larger number of Filipinos.

The world is watching us after Duterte declared war against drugs, criminality and corruption and while some human rights advocates here and abroad are complaining about the drug related killings, many are, however, applauding it for it was on this promise to end the ills of society that Duterte was given the overwhelming mandate to lead the country and he has walked the talk.

Duterte even came out with the name-and-shame list of government officials linked to illegal drugs, the latest casualty of which is former justice secretary and now senator, Leila de Lima.

It takes one to have real balls to do this and thank goodness Duterte has them!

One can only wonder if the Roxases, the Poes and the Binays could have generated the same excitement, comfort and upbeat feeling for the country and its people in just 50, if any of them were elected president.

To Duterte’s credit he has also been able to appoint leftists in his Cabinet, establish the much needed one-stop shop for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), implement the freedom of information (FOI) in the executive branch that has been badly sought by the people, put into use the RH law for good, resume peace talks with the communist  and Muslim rebel groups, sustain a robust economy, initiate salary increase for the police and military personnel, clean up and administer new guards at the New Bilibid Prison, etc.

All these and more in just 50 days!

Unimaginable?

You bet it is and we will just wait with greater expectations what the next 50 days will bring.