Department of Water

 

The Metro Manila(MM) water crisis not only has brought to the fore the difficulty the residents are being subjected to in different manner, shape and form, but it has also magnified the importance of a sustainable water supply from concessionaires, who in turn are dependent of their sources that is governed, managed and controlled by, supposedly, responsible government agencies.

Perhaps being more concern that it is an election year, the knee-jerk reaction of the Duterte administration, to assuage the gloomy feelings of the MM electorate, is to immediately propose the creation of a Department of Water (DOW).

Reportedly, the DOW is envisioned to have jurisdiction over the functions currently assigned to several agencies including the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management, National Irrigation Administration, Local Water Utilities Administration, National Water Resources Board and Laguna Lake Development Authority.

But do we really have to create another layer of bureaucracy over all these agencies just so water supply dilemma of this proportion happening in MM won’t recur?

Having all these agencies established and designed by government to either function dependently or independently of one another for sourcing, treatment and distribution of water have been thought of and studied well to serve the well being of the people in this country.

So, where and why have we failed disastrously this time after all these years?

If one looks at the mandate of these agencies, which can very well be described in their mission and vision statements, all is geared towards giving the best service to the people with competency, efficiency and integrity. Take time looking, for instance, at the mandate given the National Water and Resources Board (NWRB), a government agency responsible for the management of water resources in the country and you will know what I mean. I am making NWRB as an example because it has a responsibility that impacts importantly the water security all over the country.

But while the office is always characterized as such, the same cannot be said all the time of the people tasked to run the office.

Don’t get me wrong. There are very educated and highly capable people to run a department, but if such individual has the tendency to macromanage all the time, especially in service oriented organizations, then sometime or another that individual will fail. Leaving their employees too much on their own is a guaranteed recipe for failure.

Macromanaging can lead to inefficiency on the part of employees in regards to time spend on the job, work completed, and who they seek out for answers. I am not saying that micromanaging is a better style of management because it does more harm to the morale of the employees.

What I am just saying is that at the end of the day the head of the organization has to be on top of what is happening in his department so that proper guidance and direction can be adequately instituted, if needed.

 

Advertisements

Happiest countries

Recently there was an article published about the happiest countries in the world.

Immediately the normal reaction is to see where the Philippines stands in the ranking and obviously one is not surprise to find the country way down at 71 among the 156 surveyed by the 2019 UN World Happiness Report.

It is a fact, however, that happiness is relative. It comes in many ways affecting people differently. It varies from one person to another.

But when happiness affects the citizenry the same way, then the blissfulness becomes absolute and collectively it reflects on the country they are residents of.

This is how impressive Finland has become when, for a second year in a row, it has been named the happiest country in the world. What is amazing is that joining Finland in the top four are three other Nordic countries, namely, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The Netherlands joined them in the top five. Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Austria completed the top 10.

So what got these phenomenal places to occupy the coveted rankings of happiest countries in the world?

Well, not only are the countries mentioned above affluent and developed but the reality is that the countries’ affluence and progressiveness are being used by government to its greatest advantage in making its people happy and contented living where they are.

Again happiness to every person is relative, but when the government truly serves the people well, fights corruption and all the evils that plague society, provides excellent health care, ensures high-quality education system, protect individual rights and encourages people to participate in civil society, then these also make everyone thoughtful and considerate such that cooperation with government becomes an obligation for everybody.

What stands out most about these countries, however, is that they are not populous and therefore not as troublesome and onerous to govern. Even their immigrants are said to be the happiest immigrants in the world!

Certainly, this cannot be said of the USA which came in 19th place, dropping one spot since last year and a total of five spots since 2017. With President Trump at the helm seemingly causing divisiveness among his people and anxiety among world leaders in his treatment of immigrants, expect America to slide further down in the list of happiest nation in the years to come.

But woe especially to the third world countries like the Philippines where to be happy individually continue to be a dream and aspiration. With a population of 107 million people living in over 7,000 islands scattered all over the archipelago, and with a government that has always been fighting poverty, corruption, criminality and lately the menace of illegal drugs, not to mention that China is now occupying our backyard armed and dangerous, while seemingly helping finance the Build, Build, Build program of government, it is unimaginable that there will ever be a time when the Philippines will be included at the top of this exceptional list of happy nations.

 

Save Hanjin Philippines

 

The government of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is finding itself in a predicament over the declared bankruptcy early this year of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines – the Korean shipbuilding company based in the country.

Hanjin Philippines together with a big Japanese shipbuilding company, Tsuneishi, located in Cebu, has put the Philippines on the map as the fourth largest shipbuilder in the world.

But more than these companies being our sources of pride, it is about the boon it has given the country for employing thousands of workers most of which are skilled workers. Needless to say that Hanjin Philippines is one of the big employers in the country.

Whatever the truth is about the company’s closure, whether it is mismanagement, or liquidity problems to repay its debts, or the unexpected glut in shipbuilding demand, the fact remains that the huge Korean shipbuilding facility, which started construction in 2006 on a foreign investment locator within the Subic Freeport area, is not only a mecca for employment but also a valuable contributor to the economic growth of the country that it would be a grave mistake to leave it non-operational for a long time.

One can’t help but wonder why this misfortune affecting Hanjin Philippines came about when it is supposedly safeguarded by generous subsidies and strong support by government for foreign investors to thrive?

But that is neither here nor there now.

What is important is for President Duterte and his government to look for viable solutions to address what economist Gerardo Sicat described as “the biggest corporate bankruptcy to ever hit the Philippines.”

Offhand, Sicat’s glaring statement seems to warn that it would be foolish for government to declare a takeover for we are a big debtor country already, not to mention that we don’t have the capability and expertise to manage a complex shipbuilding operation the size of Hanjin Philippines.

Even Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s contention that the government’s takeover of Hanjin would result in our capability to build warships of all sorts needed to protect our territorial integrity is wishful thinking.

It would be to our country’s advantage if government instead invites the soonest possible time multinational shipbuilding companies, including China, and hear what they have to offer before the complex deteriorates.

National security breaches, as some politicians worry about, is not about the existence of foreign nationals in our country. That is nonsense. It is more about the competency and efficacy of our government operatives to make our country safe.

Duterte’s baffling statement

 

President Rodrigo Duterte and President Xi Jinping

Two years into his presidency and I can say with candor that I remain an avid supporter of Rodrigo Duterte.

I always seem to understand what he is trying to say, given his colorful language, the emotion,   and the tonality he puts on it

But Duterte’s recent statement, however, saying, “The assurances of [President] Xi Jinping were very encouraging… ‘We will not allow you to be taken out from your office, and we will not allow the Philippines to go to the dogs,’” is somewhat baffling to me.

In short what Duterte is trying to tell the Filipinos in particular, and the whole world in general, is that China’s leader, who finds himself elevated to the status of president for life, following the removal of the country’s presidential term limits, does not want Duterte ousted as the country’s leader.

This is definitely an instance where I can’t seem to fathom Duterte’s trend of thought.

Now, why would China say that and who are the people alluded to that would try to destabilize and oust Duterte? And why would the Philippines be going to the dogs?

Certainly, Duterte continues to have high trust and support rating from the Filipino people in his governance of the country and I don’t see any reason, therefore, why he is entertaining the thought of being ousted.

Or could it be that the close relationship now between China and the Philippines, especially with the absolute presence and militarization by China of the South China Sea (SCS), have made the two allies unite against one common enemy which is the U.S.?

There is no doubt that China’s military aggression in the SCS does not sit well with the Americans and the latter frowns upon the fact that the Philippines is not raising a hell of a lot more about China’s incursion in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Duterte had blamed the US instead for the current maritime tensions, saying they failed to stop China’s building and arming artificial islands in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

That is very true and there is nothing much the Philippines can do.

China has established their dominance in the region and nobody, but nobody, could make them move out from that strategic place.

Perhaps this is the only reason why Duterte is being assured of his continuance in office because of his seeming fealty to the Chinese leader. Perhaps an assurance also that after him another Duterte could take over with China’s help.

Sara Duterte?

Just asking.

 

Duterte’s decision to close Boracay

Perhaps one can say that this piece is already water under the bridge since President Rodrigo Duterte has already approved the recommendation of the three government agencies, namely, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to close the resort island of Boracay for six months.

The description by no less than the president of the famed place as “cesspool” indeed decidedly put a halt to the influx of tourist to the place.

“You go into the water, it’s smelly. Smells of what? Sh*t,” he had said.

Pretty strong and unfavorable words for the local government and stakeholders, but they all had it coming.

I am not writing this to discuss the inadequacies and ineptness of those governing and running their private entities while thinking only of the windfall of earnings they can make at the expense of the tourist who simply wants to experience fun in the Philippines, and the much talked about Boracay in particular, for this issue has received quite a beating already.

But it is perhaps proper and timely to mention here that the shortcomings, the myopic vision, and the vested interests of their own concerns took a toll on the environment, which is an important facet of tourism.

What I want to talk about, therefore, which certainly is not water under the bridge, is in the context of the urgency and necessity of the Boracay closure.

We must admit that the problems that caused embarrassment to Boracay, famous for its powdery white sand and shallow azure water, did not happen overnight, or to put it straightforward, during Duterte’s presidency.

It has been reported that Boracay’s degradation has been blamed on the failure of the local government to enforce ordinances on marine conservation, garbage and sanitation, and zoning and construction, among others.

Also, that at least 300 hotels, resorts and inns have been ignoring an ordinance that requires them to build their own sewage and wastewater treatment facilities. They have instead been dumping waste into canals meant only for rainwater and surface overflow.

Another upsetting revelation is that four of the nine wetlands on the island, meanwhile, are occupied by a shopping mall, a hotel and around 100 illegal settlers.

Talking about impunity by both the governing body and the governed!

While past administrations acted like the three proverbial monkeys exemplifying the proverbial principle of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”, Duterte used his leadership and political will to make a difference in Boracay.

After all, it is the long range plan of sustaining the grandeur of Boracay for the country’s tourism industry that matters most.

 

Cambridge Analytica a non-factor in electing Duterte president

Long before Cambridge Analytica, a British political data firm, got embroiled in controversy of scandalous proportion when it was alleged to have secretly and inappropriately made a Facebook data breach and harvested personal contents from some 87 million users, including, it said, over a million in the Philippines, to influence the country’s 2016 presidential election result, the way it is said to have catapulted America’s Donald Trump to the presidency, the majority of the Filipino people by then had already decided that, for a change, they will no longer be voting for a traditional politician.

It was no surprise therefore that when then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte finally declared his candidacy for president, the Filipinos went crazy rooting for him. Their prayers were answered. They now had an out-of-the-box candidate, a no-nonsense one at that, whose track record in governance is something most politicians should be envious about, but whose heart really beats for the Filipino people and whose dream is to make the whole country a livable place, in the same manner Duterte made Davao City a comfortable place for the Davaoeños.

Senator Antonio Trillanes and President Rodrigo Duterte

The reason why I am saying that Cambridge Analytica has nothing to do at all with Duterte being elected president stems from the fact that opposition senator and known Duterte basher, Antonio Trillanes, has been reported to be filing a resolution calling for a Senate probe into the role of Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 presidential elections, the same way the British firm is being accused now of capturing Facebook users’ data to corrupt the minds of the Americans into making the controversy-laden Donald Trump their president during the 2016 US presidential election.

The reality is that it was the intense hunger of Filipinos for a fearless and selfless down-to-earth Filipino leader with political will that made Duterte an overwhelming choice for the presidency.

The majority of poor voters who gave Duterte a margin of 6 million votes over his closest rival are proof enough that Cambridge Analytica was a non-factor, for they were not relishing in having a Facebook account.

Thus, I find Trillanes’ move for a Senate probe a mere grandstanding and purely nothing but a witch-hunt.

For not finding anymore culpability to spew barbs at Duterte, the way the latter continues to get support, trust and high approval ratings in his performance as president, Trillanes somehow thought he has found a bomb to be used against Duterte in the Cambridge Analytica controversy.

Soon Trillanes will come to realize that the bomb is a dud after all!

China’s interest in Philippine Rise – Part II

 

I decided to make this a sequel to the first part of this article, which can be read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/chinas-interest-in-philippine-rise/, for the simple reason that President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest statement, saying, that he would ‘go to war’ to defend Philippine Rise, is very much in the purview of the subject.

Although it has been clarified by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that Duterte’s warning of war has China excluded, for obvious reasons, still it is very reassuring to know that at least Duterte recognizes the significance and importance of this area for the generation of Filipinos to come.

What makes it equally reassuring is that China recognizes that the Philippines have sovereign rights over the area.

What was undoable at the South China Sea (SCS) or the West Philippine Sea, the country is now implementing it at the Philippine Rise, and for the same obvious reason stated above that like us, other claimant nations did not also have stronger counter claim against China’s historical rights over the area, notwithstanding the existence of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Not even the greatest power on earth, the US, could stop China’s hegemony in the area. Thus, China was able to flex its muscle with impunity, to the extent that their man made militarized islands are now near our vicinity.

Could one blame Duterte, therefore, if he is seen now tugging the coattails of China rather than making the giant nation his and the country’s enemy?

But not at Philippine Rise, and this is why Duterte has now a battalion of Marines ordered to watch over the territory for any incursions without his knowledge.

So, can anybody say now that Duterte’s inevitable and close friendship with China is a big folly or is it somehow paying off?

The fact that China now is looking into joint exploration with the Philippines in disputed areas in the South China Sea – which Duterte sees as a recognition of “co-ownership” – is better than not being able to benefit anything at all from what is underneath this early on. For the truth is that even if the Chinese were not there, we could never exploit the area on our own because we do not have the means and the capability to do it, such that we still have to tie up with foreign entities to be able to extract whatever resources are there beneath the sea.

That is the reality of the situation now in the SCS and whether we like it or not, it is a pact we have to make and take advantage of if it is what it takes to make the lives of Filipinos better.

So the question now is: How about Philippine Rise?

Well, it will really depend on how the Chinese behave in the long haul. While we see them very active at the SCS, it does not mean that they are not, likewise, salivating at the prospect of being able to exploit the gas, oil, and mineral resources of the Philippine Rise.

It is safe to say, therefore, that the better option is to have ‘a wait and see attitude’ on how the Chinese operates at the SCS. If the Chinese remains the same in having the devious notion in business, as in: ‘what is ours, is ours, and what is yours, is ours’, then let us save the Philippine Rise from their clutches.

Let it be a learning process for the generations to come.