Thursday, December 25, 2008

My 2009 Ilocos Norte Calendar Project

First things first:  Merry Christmas, everybody!

Now on to today's journal entry.  After Christmas dinner and after opening all Christmas presents and gifts, one prepares for the New Year, right?  And we begin the year with replacing our 2008 calendars.

Enter my 2009 Ilocos Norte Calendar Project.  With the help of my niece, Triscia, and her friend Ivan, the photo entries of 2007's Zoom IN Contest, and my high school friend Michael Pesengco, we came out with a calendar.

The project was actually conceptualized many, many years ago when my dad came out with calendars with his face as the main picture (like all politicians with calendar giveaways).  I thought to myself, "What if people didn't want to look at your face every day."  "What if they just wanted to see scenery."

If a politician wants to be "remembered," why doesn't he just put his name at a corner of the calendar and put some worthy pictures instead.

It was only when I was armed with pictures from the Zoom IN contest aided with the help of Triscia and Ivan and sponsored by Michael that this personal dream came true.

Thanks, guys!  I owe you big time!

And here is the final product:

It reads, "Intayon, Ilocos Norte," which translates to, "Let's go, Ilocos Norte."  It means several things.  It can be a battle cry for Ilocanos to be better.  It can be a slogan to entice tourists to come.  So on and so on.

The calendar features 14 tourist spots of the province, namely:
1.  The La Paz Sand Dunes (alternatively, people can visit the Paoay Sand Dunes, which they say is much, much better);
2. Malacan ti Amianan, or Malacanan of the North, and Paoay Lake;
3. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos;
4. Saud Beach in Pagudpud;
5. The Sinking Belltower in Laoag City;
6. Currimao;
7. Pasaleng Bay in Pagudpud;
8. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos;
9. Northwind Windmills in Bangui;
10. The Tobacco Monopoly Monument in Laoag City;
11. Maira-ira Cove in Pagudpud;
12. Museo Ilocos in Laoag City;
13. Paoay Church; and,
14. The Marcos Museum in Sarrat.

Although this is my project, you see no picture of me.  Not even a shadow.  No big KRIS ABLAN name either.  Just a small logo in the upper right corner.  My name is spelled so tiny I don't even think you can read it.

When I showed it to some people here in Laoag, they asked me where my picture was.  I told them, "wala."  "Bakit wala?," tanong nila.  "Eh, wala eh."

I don't think naintindihan nila yung concept ko.
Anyway, beginning today I've been distributing these calendars around the area.  I hope people appreciate it and I provoke them into being "tourists" in their own province.  I am sure a lot of Ilocano haven't gone to Kapurpurawan Rock or to the Paoay Sand Dunes.  I hope, even in a small way, this tourist calendar would spur a little interest in my beautiful province of Ilocos Norte.

Here are some other drafts that did not make it to print:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Continuous Mocking of the 1987 Constitution

Yesterday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer I read an article about Pres. Joseph Estrada and Senator Loren Legarda being 'pushed' to run for President and Vice-President in the coming 2010 National Elections.

I was eating breakfast in Jollibee at that time and literally nawalan ako ng ganang kumain.

I cannot believe that Mr. Estrada is even thinking of running for president.

I cannot believe, with all of his lawyer friends, that people around him are pushing him to run for president.

Every law student knows (having studied Consti Law 1) that an elected president is barred from running for a 2nd term.  The Constitution is clear on this point.  Art. VII, Sec. 4 par. 1 reads:

"Section 4.  The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter.  The President shall not be eligible for any re-election.  No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time." (emphasis mine)

What part of "shall NOT be eligible for any re-election" don't these people understand?

President Joseph E. Estrada is not eligible to run for President again.

And yet.... at ito yung masakit... they will let him run.

They will try.

They will see if they could get away with it.

And it's just so sad that we continue to mock our constitution like this.

If the constitution was a person, it'd feel insulted.

The United Opposition will most probably argue that since President Estrada didn't serve more than 4 years (the period barring successors from running for president), the provision doesn't apply to him.

That's splitting hairs na.

The intent of our constitutional commissioners was to completely bar a president from seeking a 2nd term.  This was their knee-jerk reaction from Pres. Marcos' 20 year rule.

I hope President Estrada isn't serious in running.  I hope it's all just a threat to jitter their opponents.

Otherwise, I'd write a letter to all law deans asking them to stop teaching consti law since no one seems to respect it.

On the other hand, here are the KAMPI congressmen trying to get 198 signatures of fellow congressmen to amend the Constitution.  They adjourned last week to go on Christmas vacation but you can count on them to revive the signature campaign come January 2009.

This is another blatant mocking of the 1987 Constitution.

Art. XVII, Sec 1 reads:

"Section 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:
(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or
(2) A constitutional convention." (emphasis mine)

Administration congressman are mocking the Constitution by claiming that the 3/4s vote requirement means congress voting jointly (240 congressmen + 23 senators) kasi daw wala naman nakasabi na "voting separately."

Granted, hindi nalagay "voting separately," the intent was for them to vote separately.  Otherwise, mawawala lang yung delineation between the two chambers of our legislature.

Obvious naman na nakalimutan lang lagyan ng "voting separately" (the legislative branch was supposed to be a unicameral assembly but the proposal lost by 1 vote).

Pero they will still insist na 198 signatures of congressmen is enough.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I haven't been to the office in weeks!

It's true, I haven't stepped foot in my office since last month. 

Don't get me wrong, I haven't stopped working.  In fact, I was able to pass 1 ordinance and 2 resolutions in that period (which is a lot, considering other local legislators finish a 3 year term without even passing a single ordinance).

It's just that I prefer to do my job at home, where I could concentrate...

AND so that I could avoid those come to my office for CHRISTMAS SOLICITATIONS. 

Now I learned my lesson from last year!  Last year I was at the office every day and every day sunod sunod yung mga nag-so-solicit sa akin nun.  Literally, naubusan ako ng pera.  I didn't have enough to buy gifts for my siblings (sa mga anak na lang nila).

Not this year!

November pa lang di na ako pumupunta sa office ko.  I hold staff meetings sa sala namin.  I do my research and draft my proposals in my room.  And go straight to the Capitol during sessions.

Meron pa rin nakakalusot, yung bang pag nalaman na wala ako sa office, pupuntahan talaga ako sa bahay.  It's okay.  At least hindi isang dosena at one time.

This Christmas, kahit na madami pa rin nabawasan sa bonus ko for Christmas Party Solicitations (You would think sa global recession Filipinos would opt to forego the Xmas Party, but NO, sige tuloy ang ligaya!) at least may na-save naman ako kahit konti.

Anyhoo, pag-January na tsaka na ako papasok uli sa opisina.

Til then, tago muna ako.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

2 Random Things I've Noticed

1.  This ad may have worked on TV, but in print the statement sounds silly.

It actually reads, "I'm convinced my name is Nicole."  It sounds like she's retarded.  Of course you're convinced.  You ARE nicole, idiot.

They should've put a period after the word 'convinced.'

2.  This next one is a picture of one of the municipal flags.  The guy on the seal has a striking resemblance to Apu Nahasapeemapetilon of The Simpsons, doesn't he?
Guy in local flag:
Apu of The Simpsons:

Wala lang!  

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

U.P. 2008 Belen Contest

Well, it's Christmas time in U.P.-Diliman!  People studying and living around the area annually anticipate the Lantern Parade and the Oblation Run.  But for the past couple of years, the U.P. Administration has added an additional event: the Belen Contest.  The contest is participated by the different local college councils in campus.  For this year, Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs, Ma'am Betsy Enriquez wanted former USC officers to judge the contest.  I was one of those chosen.

So, I went last Friday and met my fellow judges.  Percy Cendana (USC Chairman '97-'98) and Mariz Umali (USC Councilor '98-'99).  Nagkita-kita kami sa OVSCA and Ma'am Betsy's GA, Brian, brought us around campus.  Of the 25 colleges and schools, only 14 student councils were able to participate.  I forgot the exact theme of the contest, but I remember it was about Likhaing Pinoy.  Most of the belens used recycled materials.  Some had were good.  Some looked plain.  And there were some na okay siguro on paper pero pumalpak sa execution.

Here are some pictures:

The judges having a fun time discussing an entry.  

Asian Center

College of Law LSG

Asian Institute of Tourism SC


College of Human Kinetics SC


School of Statistics SC

College of Engineering SC


Hindi ko napicturan yung sa Architecture, Educ at UPEPP.  Sa December 17 i-a-announce kung sino ang 1st, 2nd at 3rd Place.

It was nice to visit my alma mater again.

Maligayang Pasko, U.P.!

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Resolution That Has Not Been Filed

For the past month I've noticed the dramatic decrease in the price of gas.  From as much as P60/liter about two months ago to just P35/liter today.  Almost kalahati!

As I expected, I learned that the LTFRB issued a Consolidated Order (Case Nos. 2008-1654 and 2008-0692) dated 4 December 2008 reducing the fares of Public Utility Buses (PUBs), Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJs) and Taxis, effective 15 December 2008 up to 15 March 2009.

Dapat lang, di ba?

Eh pa'no naman mga TRICYCLES?

Well, di jurisdiction ng LTFRB yan.  Nasa Local Government Units sila, specifically, the City and Municipal Councils.

So, naisip ko, kung may fare rollback sa bus, jeepney at taxi, di ba dapat sa mga tricycles din?

So, nag-draft na ako ng resolution calling on all local sanggunians to impose a fare rollback for tricycles in light of the dramatic decrease in crude oil prices.

Imagine from as much as $150/barrel to around $50/barrel?  Mura na ng Dubai Crude.

Yung P10/trip dapat ibalik na sa P8/trip.

Before I was supposed to file the draft resolution, naghanap muna ako ng mga co-sponsors ko.

They didn't want to co-sponsor the measure.

We will surely lose votes daw.  Not only of tricycle drivers but their families as well.  

As politicians, we should just wait daw for clamor from civil society groups.

Since wala pa namang clamor, 'di daw namin kelangan aksyonan.


Politics talaga.

Sa akin lang kasi, wala naman kasing civil society group dito sa probinsya.  Wala naman consumer rights organization dito unlike sa Metro Manila.  Kami na yun.  Kami na yung boses ng tao.  Kaya nga kami hinalal, di ba?

Pero ano pa magagawa ko?  Walang gustong mag-co-sponsor sa resolution ko (except one guy), eh di matatalo din ako sa botohan.

So, i-table ko muna 'tong resolution hanggang may NGO na mag-reklamo.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

You know it's Christmas when...

There are bazaars and tiangges left and right!

Here is the missus shopping in the Noel Christmas Bazaar in World Trade Center:

There is another one again at World Trade Center.  World Christmas Bazaar ata yung name, sponsored by ABS.  I hope we have time this weekend so we could go and shop, lest magtampo mga kamaganak na wala silang gifts. 

Happy shopping, Christmas shoppers!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A lesson learned in voting within a collegial body

Lesson learned:  No matter how convincing your arguments are, before moving for division of the house, make sure you have the numbers.

Pending with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Ilocos Norte is an administrative case against a municipal official, who happens to be the SK Federated President.  Apparently, the youth leader was a participant in a sex video being circulated around the province.

The complainant is a girl, and only 14 years old at the time of the incident.  The complainant and the SK president had sex during an eye-ball.  They videotaped themselves doing the deed.  It was their secret until the guy allegedly leaked them to other people.  Her friends and school mates started harrassing her, she felt embarrassed and ashamed.  Hence, she filed an administrative complaint with us.

Natanggap namin yung ANSWER today, just before the session, and since the issues have been joined, I moved that we recommend to the governor the preventive suspension of the respondent.

I thought, due to the gravity of the offense, all of my colleagues would support my motion.  I mean, who wouldn't?  Out of the 13, 9 were parents.   

And the law was on my side.

Section 60 of the Local Government Code states:

"SECTION 60. Grounds for Displinary Actions. - An elective local official may be disciplined, suspended, or removed from office on any of the following grounds:
x x x
(d) Commission of any offense involving moral turpitude or an offense punishable by at least prision mayor;
x x x
(h) Such other ground as may be provided in this Code and other laws.
x x x"

For a public official, and a youth leader at that, to have sexual intercourse, even if consensual, with a minor, is liable under Sec. 60(d).  Obviously that is an offense involving moral turpitude.

(Moral turpitude is an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. [case title withheld for tactical reasons])

And even if one argues that its not, the act is an offense punishable by prision mayor.  Let's see, pwede siyang "Corruption of Minors" (Art. 340, Revised Penal Code), Qualified Seduction (kahit na prision correctional lang), Simple Seduction (kahit na arresto mayor lang), Sexual Abuse (Sec. 5(b), RA 7610), and Obscene Publication and Indecent Show (Sec. 9, RA 7610).

And even if one can argue that its not (which is highly unlikely), the respondent can fall under Sec. 60 (h).  He is liable under The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which requires all public officials (including SK and Barangay)  to at all times respect the rights of others, and refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest (Sec. 4(c), RA 6713).

So walang lusot.

Section 63(b) or RA 7160 sets the ground rules for a preventive suspension.  The law provides:

"(b) Preventive suspension may be imposed at any time after the issues are joined, when evidence of guilt is strong, and given the gravity of the offense, there is great probability that the continuance in office of the respondent could influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence. x x x"

First, evidence of guilt is strong.  Both parties admit to having sexual intercourse and videotaping it.

Second, there is great probability that the continuance in office of the respondent could influence the witnesses. In this case, the respondent could use his being SK president to influence potential witnesses (as to who leaked the video).
Because of this, and because I wanted us to act expeditiously on the matter (ang bagal bagal kasi, admin case na nga lang, ang bagal bagal), I moved to recommend to the governor the respondent's preventive suspension.

After a lengthy debate with the Vice-Governor, I forced a vote.

I thought the motion would be carried.

Imagine my surprise when my motion lost 5 to 6.

I couldn't believe it.

After we adjourned (it was the last business of the day), some of my colleagues who voted against me explained their vote.  They wanted to have a formal hearing first.  In fairness to them, if that's what they truly feel, I respect that.

But I just want to clarify that in preventive suspension di na kelangan ng hearing.  The Supreme Court reiterated the rule that the preventive suspension of a civil service officer or employee can be ordered even without a hearing, because such suspension is not a penalty but only a preliminary step to administrative investigation.  Its purpose is to prevent the respondent from using his position or office to influence prospective witnesses, or to tamper with the records which may be vital in the prosecution of the case against him. [case title withheld for tactical reasons]

So di kelangan ng hearing.  As long as the issues have been joined--and they have, then we can recommend the preventive suspension.

Ang mali ko lang, di ko nasabihan yung isang kakampi ko na habang nagsasalita ako, eh, siguraduhin niya na lamang kami.

Lesson learned.

Before calling for a division of the house, make sure you have the numbers.