October 12, 2020

Pres. Duterte to trap Cayetano today? Alan Peter still has way out

Evidence suggests that President Rodrigo Duterte may have put Speaker Cayetano on the horns of a dilemma, between Scylla and Charybdis, between the devil and the deep blue sea, between a rock and a hard place. 

But before we go any further, let me state that the special sessions that President Duterte ordered [0] should be enough to pass the 2021 National Budget in the House of Representatives. That is, the nation’s primary concern, a COVID-19 budget, should not be a problem anymore, thanks to PRRD’s intervention.

With that said, we can now discuss the secondary issue, the ongoing speakership war.

October 6, 2020

Duterte's precarious hold on power and the future of the Liberal Party

Being a Philippine President is like being the driver of the car called "the Philippine Government." Winning in 2016 is Duterte driver's license, but a license is not enough. 

Duterte also needs (1) fuel for the engines, and (2) lubricants to keep the car's parts from breaking down. He fuels the car with tax revenues then he lubricates its parts using political power so that other politicians – the car parts – follow his lead.

To be an effective president, Duterte needs a constant supply of funds (mostly via tax money) and political power (political influence). Unfortunately, the President is currently having difficulty securing both.

First, COVID-induced economic contractions mean lower tax collections. 

But lower revenues have a pretty straightforward solution: austerity measures coupled with loans until the economy gets back on its feet. Diminished influence, however, is much more complicated. 

Second, some of the President's supposedly staunchest allies are undermining his political influence.

Recent events indicate an attempt to decimate much of Duterte's political power (the "government lubricant") that will render him unable to make the government car run the way he wants.

For this nation's sake, I do not want that. I need to protect this President until his term ends in June 2022. 

June 24, 2020

Cebu City's #COVID19 Crisis: A throbbing migraine for General Cimatu

Latest data shows Cebu City has 3,987 cases [1] against a total population of 922,961 [2], translating to 4,320 cases per million residents, i.e., between Italy’s 3,948 [3] and the UK’s 4,511 [4].

Oddly, Cebu City registered 64 total deaths [5], translating to just 69 deaths per million, way below Italy’s 573 [6] and UK’s 632 [7].

If there are about as many cases per capita in Cebu City as in Italy and the UK, why is Cebu City’s mortality rate drastically lower than the two?

June 16, 2020

A short summary of the RTC decision on Maria Ressa's online libel case

Here is a concise summary of Manila RTC Branch 46 presiding judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa’s 37-page decision on People v. Maria Ressa et al., docketed as Criminal Case No. R-MNL-19-01141-CR for violation of Section 4(c)(4) of R.A. 10175 (Online Libel).

June 9, 2020

#JunkTerrorBill: Fake Facebook Accounts linked to Fake Death Threat?

University of the Philippines Los Banos student organization Defend UPLB announced on 07 June 2020 [1] that it took down one of its posts after it supposedly launched an investigation on the matter. It was referring to an earlier post claiming that a #JunkTerrorBill protester received a death threat from an unidentified number, a screenshot of which can be seen below:

As we all know, the post above was used to justify claims of various camps that the Duterte Administration or its allies are threatening members of the opposition.

But a little sleuthing reveals that there's something really fishy going on.

June 2, 2020

NCR to GCQ with Duque: Data shows Duterte between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Did the Philippines make the right decision when it eased the lockdown on NCR, the country's coronavirus epicenter?

March 9, 2020

#DrilonOnCNN: A case for firing “fact-checker” Vera Files

Vera Files' latest fact-checking stunt on the issue of Senator Franklin Drilon's CNN interview should be a ground for its expulsion from its "fact-checker"-ship.

February 19, 2020

In the service of the Filipino? How ABS-CBN's Lopezes used mass media since World War II

Davao businessman Dennis Uy recently asked President Rodrigo Duterte for a sovereign guarantee[1] to cover a Php 700 million loan for Uy’s Chelsea Logistics[2]. Eyebrows rose, of course, including those of Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares[3].

A Sovereign Guarantee is a Government assurance that it will pay loans should the original debtor fail to pay them[4]. That is, a sovereign guarantee means taxpayers will pay Chelsea’s loans if Chelsea fails to, after all.

Yes, I do understand the uproar, but, but I believe it’s still premature. For one, Malacañang has not even considered Uy’s request yet. Uy asked for a sovereign guarantee, but the President has not yet given one.

Besides, I sincerely doubt that Uy is a Lopez.

Wait! What? ABS-CBN’s Lopezes again? Yes, those Lopezes again.

January 26, 2020

Rufino-Prieto firms cannibalizing the financially ailing Philippine Daily Inquirer?

Documents show Philippine Daily Inquirer’s majority owners, the Rufino-Prieto Clan, are using their other family-owned companies to cannibalize what little is left of the newspaper company’s assets, at the expense of minority stockholders who may be left with nothing if and when the media firm declares bankruptcy.

January 18, 2020

UP Naming Binarat? UP gets only ₱22/sqm monthly from UP-Ayala Technohub

The University of the Philippines System’s 2018 Commission on Audit Report [1] states that UP has two Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects with Ayala Land: the UP-Ayala Technohub along Commonwealth and the UP Town Center along Katipunan.

The two projects are business deals, so common sense dictates that the revenue sharing structure should be commensurate to how much each business partner invested in the venture.

Documents, however, show that it isn’t the case, as Ayala keeps the lion’s share of profits.
[Full Disclosure: I was a Math Major in the University of the Philippines - Diliman.]

January 4, 2020

ABS-CBN’s Franchise Renewal: Will Lopezes make ultimate sacrifice to save thousands of jobs?

Most of us are already familiar and have a working understanding of the ABS-CBN franchise renewal issue, but to give you a refresher, here’s the basic issue.

Every free-to-air TV or radio station is required to secure a congressional franchise in the form of a Republic Act, a franchise that usually lasts for 25 years[1]. A new franchise (READ: A New Republic Act) is needed to operate after those 25 years.

ABS-CBN received its franchise on 30 March 1995 via RA No. 7966[2], so it needs to get a new one before RA No. 7966 expires 25 years later on 30 March 2020.

And that’s the problem.

December 3, 2019

#2019SEAGames: Fact-checking Marlon Ramos' Inquirer exposé vs BCDA

Inquirer reporter Marlon Ramos, on the 02 December 2019 article “Deal to construct P13-B gov’t complex, sports hub at New Clark City questioned”, said that based on “documents,” Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and Malaysian MTD Capital Berhad (MTD) entered into an anomalous deal.

The deal in question is the New Government Administrative Center (NGAC) and Sports Complex project in New Clark City in Tarlac, i.e., the same sports complex used today for the 2019 SEA Games.

Let’s analyze.

October 2, 2019


Sabi ni Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano sa profile pic niya noong Marso, siya ay magiging isang "Speaker na Tapat".

Well, tingnan nga natin ang proposed 2020 budget niya.

Note: Sinulat ko 'to in conversational Taglish para mas madaling ma-gets ng mas nakararami.

September 24, 2019


Let's thoroughly dissect the House budget issue and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's excruciatingly problematic defense. Nililihis ang istorya e. Akala siguro e makalulusot.

September 14, 2019

#TPonMB: Perception in politics is as important as Reality

Politics is a game of Perception where what’s really taking place may be different from what the public thinks is happening, and anyone who enters the political arena should know this by heart. A public official, whether elective or appointive, should not only be qualified (Reality) but also look qualified (Perception).

[NOTE: This piece was first published in the Manila Bulletin on 07 September 2019].

To illustrate, US domestic support for the 2003 war in Iraq was possible after the Bush administration managed to make the public believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (Perception), even if it didn’t (Reality), something that the no less than the Bush administration admitted years later… but not before the US had taken over Iraq, killed Sadam, taken control of the country’s massive oil resources, and in the process left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead.

Form (Perception) is more important than substance (Reality) in the game of political survival, at least in the short- to medium-term. The sad reality in politics is that Perception takes precedence over Reality, and it’s the job of every public official to minimize the gap between the two.

September 7, 2019

#TPonMB: Personal advocacies and the ABCD of politics

The relative political calm in the months after the May, 2019, elections has come to an end: sentence reductions for convicted felons, the SOGIE bill, South China Sea tensions, Death Penalty’s revival, the Communist insurgency…the list goes on and on.

[NOTE: This piece was first published in the Manila Bulletin on 31 August 2019].

I have my own take on each of these issues and I have been quite vocal on most of them through my Facebook page ThinkingPinoy. More than just promoting my own views through this column, however, I feel that it’s more important, at least for now, to help everyone get back on track by sharing with my readers the four principles I generally follow when I publicly speak my mind.

Don’t get me wrong: I admit that I oftentimes fail to adhere to them, but I try to stick to them as best as I can. I think I am already done with the days when I approached issues with unbridled anger. After years of being in the public scene, I learned that moderation is key.

I noticed, throughout the years, that my efforts yielded better results whenever I seriously take into consideration the principles that I’m about to list down.

#TPonMB: Duterte Youth’s Cardema vs Comelec’s Guanzon

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been witness to the word war between former National Youth Commission and Duterte Youth party-list nominee Ronald Cardema and Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon, with the core issue being Cardema’s eligibility as Duterte Youth’s first nominee.

[NOTE: This piece was first published in the Manila Bulletin on 24 August 2019.]

#TPonMB: Policy suggestions to prevent the recruitment of Filipino youth into rebel groups

Several parents of senior high school students testified in a series of Senate hearings that leftist groups believed to fronts for the communist insurgent New People’s Army (NPA) are recruiting their children. And true enough, some of kids really went to the mountains and have become combatants for the rebel group.

I disagree with Leftist ideologies (I consider myself a Centrist) but I recognize every person’s right to have her own political views. Advocacy of leftist ideologies is not by itself illegal, but it should stop when it’s about to lead our youth, most especially our very impressionable minors, into a life of violence.

Whenever I point out a problem, I always try to propose a solution.

Thus, here are several policy recommendations in relation to the issue:

[NOTE: This piece was first published in the Manila Bulletin on 17 August 2019].

#TPonMB: Health Sec. Duque, let’s respect FDA’s independence

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque recently announced that he’ll consult with the UP-PGH Dengvaxia Task Force regarding the possible reintroduction of the controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, saying he wants a decision on Dengvaxia’s fate through a consensus among all sectors “because a lot of groups have varying positions about this.”

But before we go any further, here’s some context.
[NOTE: This piece was first published in the Manila Bulletin on 10 August 2019].

#TPonMB: What, exactly, is a ‘legitimate journalist’?

As I write my first column piece, I think it’s best to introduce myself first.

[NOTE: This piece was first published in the Manila Bulletin on 03 August 2019].