Arming teachers won’t prevent school shooting

President Trump with high school students and teachers at the White House.

In the wake of a gruesome massacre at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School committed by a 19-year-old teenager identified as Nikolas Cruz using a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle where 17 lives were lost, a proposal coming from no less than US President Donald Trump sounded so absurd that one can’t believe it came from a leader of the greatest nation on earth.

Or perhaps it sounded so absurd precisely because it came from the stable genius himself, Donald Trump.

As controversial as Trump is already in the manner he is showing his leadership style to the whole world, his proposal to prevent another school shooting will not change the minds of many Americans as to who he really is, but in fact will highlight instead his inadequacies as a leader.

It will even accentuate further Trump’s servility to America’s National Rifle Association (NRA), the most powerful gun-rights organizations in the country, which has been reported to have donated more than $30 million to his presidential campaign in 2016.

What this means is that stiffer gun control, which is what most Americans want now, is not in Trump’s DNA.

While Trump expressed empathy, he clarified that he would not break from his base or the Republican Party’s position on the issue of the Second Amendment which protects the right of the American people to bear arms and such right not to be infringed.

Trump, like many of his Republican allies, believe that making it hard for people to acquire guns by putting up stringent regulations will not prevent similar tragedies from occurring.

And to think that school shootings predominantly occur in the US only. This speaks volume of what kind of gun control America has that even someone sick in the head would be able to buy one easily.

So what is Trump’s gun proposal then to prevent mass shooting in school?

Knowing Trump and his affinity to the NRA, his proposal is to arm school teachers instead! What?

My question is: How safe a gun is in the hands of the teachers now that they are allowed to possess one in school as oppose to not having any as before?

Since gun acquisition continues to be injudiciously unregulated, what then if another mentally unstable person gets inside the school and goes after the teacher first, knowing that the latter has a gun, before going on a shooting orgy again?

Does that solve the problem of school shooting?

Think about it?

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China’s interest in Philippine Rise

 

After what happened in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) where China claimed practically the whole of it, including what belongs to us in the context of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), only to convert it into militarized zone by turning reefs, atolls and other protrusions into islands complete with troops, airstrips and armaments of all kinds, would you blame the Filipino people now if most will question China’s interest in the Philippine Rise?

The 13-million-hectare Benham Rise is believed to be rich in maritime resources. The United Nations in 2012 recognized the Philippines’ exclusive economic rights to it as part of its continental shelf.

It is for this reason that I wrote a series of blogs about this new-found wealth of the country, which prompted me to say in one of the pieces, upon knowing that we own it, thus:  ‘I may never see it explored and developed in my generation, but it feels good heading towards the sunset years of my life that the succeeding generations faces a brighter future.’

You can open the following links for more information, if only to have an idea of what I am talking about:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/philippines-pin-hopes-on-benham-rise/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/thank-god-for-benham-rise-part-ii/

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/benham-rise/

What I am trying to say here now is that after China’s scientific study/exploration in the resource-rich Philippine Rise, which included the giving of Chinese names to some features it has discovered, that it should not further its interest in and of the area.

At most it is very reassuring that President Rodrigo Duterte has calmed the concern and anxiety of the nation by telling the public not to be alarmed over China’s move to name features in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise), even as he stressed Manila’s sovereign rights over the resource-rich waters.

“Benham Rise belongs to the Filipino. We will claim exclusive ownership of the economic zones — 200 nautical miles,” Duterte said.

“Let me be very clear about this: The Philippine Rise is ours and any insinuation that it is open to everybody should end with this declaration.”

Well said, but does this mean that we have to put our guards down just because it is coupled with the heartening words of Duterte?

I believe in Duterte’s ardor in protecting the interests of the country and the Filipino people, and he could not be corrupted.

But what happens when he is gone and the one succeeding does not have the political will and leadership capability that Duterte has in stopping China’s aggression, especially that the latter is  now at our own backyard in the West Philippine Sea?

This is the price we get for having China as our closest neighbor now, even honoring every which way their presence.

Garcia dismissal saved by Congress

 

Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia

I am talking of course about Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia who was ordered dismissed from service by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for grave misconduct in connection with the controversial purchase and development of the Balili property in the City of Naga, Cebu when she was still the governor.

I have written articles relative to this controversy some years back which you can see at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/balili-property/.

But as a refresher, this controversy started in 2008 when Garcia, on her second term as Cebu’s governor, authorized the purchase of the 24.92 hectares of the Balili beachfront property for a whooping amount of P98.926 million allegedly for Cebu’s human settlement and seaport project.

The problem however was that when the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) surveyed the site it found out that 19.67 hectares of the property was underwater.

As if the survey result was not anomalous enough, what made the deal even worse was that Garcia had no authority from the Sanguniang Panlalawigan (SP) when she entered into an agreement with the ABF Construction to undertake the projects intended for the property.

Thus, the graft and malversation case against Garcia that called for her dismissal and “the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits”, according to Morales.

But while the order for Garcia’s dismissal was coursed through House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the latter, however, refuses to implement or enforce it, saying, “there is nothing in the Constitution that allows me to do that.”

This is a very strong statement coming from the House leadership and I don’t think Morales will ever refute it, let alone implement it herself.

What his means therefore is that Garcia stays until her full term is over. Congress saved her.

What an injustice done to the people!

But that is okay.

What is important is that Garcia’s political career is coming to an end sooner or later.

What better and fitting fate for this arrogant woman than banning her from pursuing her political ambitions any longer.

Roque’s absurd statement on China’s reclaimed islands in the SCS

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

When President Rodrigo Duterte ditched Ernesto Abella for Rep. Harry Roque as presidential spokesperson, it was all thumbs up for me for there couldn’t have been a better choice than one who is more able to defend the president and articulate enough to speak for and in his behalf.

What really made Roque highly favorable for the position is that, like Duterte, he knows his law and they seem to be on the same wave length, despite the fact that both, too, have seemingly different views on human rights issue.

But knowing the law and making public assertions where the law has nothing to do are two entirely different aspects which could affect the sensitivities of people, especially those who are not dumb.

One does not have to be lawyer to understand what is happening in the South China Sea (SCS). Or to put it bluntly, one does not have to be a lawyer to understand what the Chinese are doing in the SCS or the West Philippine Sea (WPS) for that matter.

Thus, for Roque, therefore, to declare in an interview, “Clearly, eventually, those artificial islands will be ours if we can ask China to leave”, is plain ridiculous and absurd and an insult to our intelligence.

Just because the country is “asserting an independent foreign policy”, as Roque affirmed, that “we have ceased to be a lackey of any other state”.  I suppose Roque was referring to the US. So my question is: What are we now to China?

I could not agree more with Sen. Grace Poe who criticized Roque for saying the Philippines will someday thank China for its artificial islands in the WPS (SCS).

Poe said in a statement, “The WPS will freeze over first before China will even begin toying with the idea of giving us back those islands.”

Truth to tell is that we are at China’s mercy. The Chinese are using us more than we are using them. We are waging war against illegal drugs but in reality the drugs coming in are mostly from China, reports say.

Yes, China may be supplying us with arms and helping us build some of our infrastructure projects, but those are all small tokens in exchange for our peaceful, if not passive attitude towards them for their perpetual dominion in the area.

Talking about uncontested hegemony by China!

Duterte’s illogical advice to Suu Kyi

 

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi with President Rodrigo Duterte at the Asean-India Summit 2018.

I had been always a big supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte in his actions, and even in his words, as the leader of the Filipino nation.

In fact in the numerous pieces I wrote about him you have read me defending him from criticisms hurled against him here and abroad.

Although many of Duterte’s comments are considered to be tongue in cheek, as it is his nature when making ad-lib speeches, this time, however, I cannot just let it pass without commenting about its importance or significance.

I am referring to the remarks Duterte made to Myanmar (formerly Burma) leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his speech at the recent Asean-India Summit 2018, saying, that the latter should not bother about human rights activists as they are “just a noisy bunch”.

Note that Suu Kyi is facing international criticism for failing to address the plight of more than 600,000 members of the largely-Muslim Rohingya ethnic group who have fled to Bangladesh, after Myanmar’s military launched a campaign ostensibly aimed at eradicating Rohingya armed groups.

Those who have fled describe a campaign of killing, rape, and destruction, accounts that have been backed by human rights groups and journalists working in the region.

Suu Kyi has yet to recognize that atrocities are taking place and has not spoken out against the Burmese military.

In fact I have written about Suu Kyi and the sufferings of the Rohingyas which can be read at the following links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not/; https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not-part-ii/; https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/plight-of-the-rohingyas/

Many people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar regard the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The United Nations described Myanmar’s crackdown as ethnic cleansing, which Myanmar denies.

“I pity her because she seems to be caught in the middle of being a Nobel Prize winner for peace and this is now the ruckus, she is heavily criticized,” Duterte said in his speech.

Suu Kyi’s case is very much unlike Duterte’s when the latter was also criticized for human right abuses and alleged extrajudicial killings during his bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

Suu Kyi is not only a Nobel Prize winner for peace, but also Myanmar’s leader, and to be silent and insensitive to the plight of the Rohingyas living in her country speaks badly of her reputation.

What I am just saying is that Duterte should not have compared the fate of the more than half a million Rohingyas whose desire is simply to improve their lot with the criticism he got for killing drug personalities who are bent on destroying other people’s lives with impunity through the use of illegal drugs.

There is simply no logical comparison between one leader’s silence that caused adversity to hundreds of thousands of people and another leader’s strong political will to get rid of the scourge afflicting the country and its people and in the process killing thousands.

The human rights activists may have been “just a noisy bunch” to Duterte, but definitely where Suu Kyi is concern she deserves condemnation not just of the “noisy bunch”, but of freedom-loving leaders as well, including Duterte.

Thus, I consider Duterte’s advice to Suu Kyi not to mind human rights activists as illogical.

 

“America” instead of “Landscape With Snow”

 

“America”

You might be thinking what this is that I am writing about. Well, a little perspective will probably help.

Both “America” and “Landscape With Snow” are works of art by different artists kept at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Often referred to as The Guggenheim, it is the permanent home of a continuously expanding collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, early modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year.

The Guggenheim, as well as other art museums, is the customary place where the White House (WH) occupants borrow major works of art during their time office to adorn the Oval Office, their private living quarters and the other rooms.

The Smithsonian museum for instance loaned the Kennedys a Eugène Delacroix painting, “The Smoker”. The Obamas preferred abstract art, choosing works by Mark Rothko and Jasper Johns.

“Landscape With Snow”

President Donald Trump’s WH, however, is said to have requested from the Guggenheim’s chief curator Van Gogh’s “Landscape With Snow” painting depicting a man in a black hat walking along a path in Arles, France, with his dog, to be placed inside the couple’s room.

Nancy Spector, the chief curator, reportedly denied the request, in her email to the WH, saying, the 19th century painting was “prohibited from travel except for the rarest of occasions”. She further explained that the painting was on its way to be exhibited at the Guggenheim’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, and then would return to New York “for the foreseeable future.”

Spector instead offered an alternative that is “America”, an 18-karat, fully functioning, solid gold toilet which is a creation of contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan. She even enclosed a photo of it – for their reference.

Cattelan’s “America” caused something of a sensation after the Guggenheim unveiled it in 2016, drawing more than a few headlines of amazement and amusement.

For a year, Cattelan’s gleaming gold toilet was on display at the Guggenheim restroom for the private use of members of the public with a guard posted outside and where a crew would arrive every 15 minutes or so with specially chosen wipes to clean the gold.

Now that the exhibition was over, the artist would “like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan”, Spector said in her email.

Asked to explain the meaning of the installation and why he offered it to the Trumps, 57-year-old Cattelan answered: “What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense.”

Spector called the toilet “a cipher for the excesses of affluence” and said more than 100,000 people had queued “for the opportunity to commune with art and with nature”.

Though crafted from millions of dollars’ worth of gold, the sculpture is actually a great leveler. As Cattelan has said, “Whatever you eat, a US$200 lunch or a US$2 hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise.”

But there is no doubt that the offer for “America” to be installed at Trump’s WH is a dig at Trump himself, given the latter’s well-documented history of installing gold-plated fixtures in his residences, his properties and even his airplane.

 

Robredo’s bleak picture of the country

Vice President Leni Robredo

I had high hopes when Leni Robredo won the vice presidency in 2016 against her closest rival, the dictator’s namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Had even higher expectations when Robredo, despite her being an opposition, was given a Cabinet portfolio in the early part of the Duterte administration.

Was thinking that she would be an exemplary model of a non-traditional politician, following her late husband’s political approach, who could work with an unconventional politician like President Rodrigo Duterte.

Alas, Robredo valued to lead an opposition party, the Liberal Party (LP), and be among a group of traditional politicians – trapos – who had nothing to show and crow about during the preceding Aquino administration except to take care of their own personal and political interests.

What is becoming worse with Robredo is that she is falsely lamenting and maliciously depicting a bleak picture of the country when, during the 72nd anniversary of the LP, she exhorted her dwindling party mates “to remain true to what is right and not lose heart in the face of the “darkness” shrouding the nation.” She was being melodramatic in her black dress.

“Many ask us if there is still hope, where we are headed. Darkness envelops us. But we should not lose hope. Our party history is about fighting,” Robredo said.

I mean what darkness is she talking about and fighting for what?

At least Duterte is keeping true to his promise during the campaign that he will be fighting for the country and its people by going relentless against drugs, corruption and criminality, which were found later to be prevalent during Aquino’s LP administration but nothing forceful was done to curve the plagues.

Thus, I could not agree more with Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s statement that Robredo’s remarks were “completely out of touch with the existing realities on the ground.”

“The darkness that Vice President Robredo may be referring to perhaps pertains to the future of those discredited politicians who wish to return to power,” Roque added. It cannot be more nearer to the truth than this.

And it is precisely for this reason that Filipinos, in every poll survey now and then, have always given Duterte high marks in satisfaction, approval and trust ratings because they no longer want the deplorable ways of the traditional politicians that Robredo sadly has embraced, to make a comeback only to forsake the respect and meaningful changes we are gaining now as people and as a country.