Good news

1.  Plunder charges were finally filed in connection with the pork barrel scam, with the second batch set in two weeks.  Next week, the charges in connection with the Malampaya Fund.  This is the first big step forward in the legal process.  In particular, the people look forward to the speedy and final resolution of the pork barrel/PDAF scam which according to Ombudsman Morales will be decided in a year or less.  I’m sure Filipinos, 90M in all, send her their collective strength to accomplish the necessary tasks ahead.  The Ombudsman, in cases of corruption, is the people’s defense lawyer.  If Napoles et. al have the best individual lawyers in town, the Ombudsman and her team have the Filipino nation.     

2.  Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the pork barrel/PDAF is unconstitutional, Local Government Units have no reason to cite “lack of funds” as impediment to the implementation of their plans.  Scholarships and the like which Members of Congress were abnormally fond of are expected to be relegated back to the LGUs as among their primary responsibilities.  Now, with Members of Congress and Senate bereft of their pork barrel, these institutions find themselves face-to-face with the question they have long ignored and ran away from: what is the role of Congress, the Senate? For the individual Congress men and women and Senators, now that the temptations arising from handling too much public funds gone: what is the essence of public service?  why am I in public service?

3.   There are now legal sanctions for Saudi nationals who abuse Filipino household workers.  This according to the report is an offshoot of the Philippine-Saudi bilateral agreement.  Countries with significant populations of overseas workers should subscribe to the Decent Work Agenda and the initial steps that Saudi has taken toward this sets the stage for the others.

At the Zamboanga City airport, from the window inside the plane, I saw a lone white seagull hovering over the plane parked a few meters from ours.  I thought this an interesting sighting.  For one, the Zamboanga City siege crisis has been contained and the communities directly affected are being assisted and their needs responded to (although much more needs to be done) so I thought shouldn’t I be looking at a dove instead?  It was also the morning after Haiyan left the PAR.  Then, I only had sketchy news about the devastation but it wasn’t long before the deluge of information poured in.  And then I came across this

The event was the annual Caravan of Peace held in January where the Pope released two doves.  According to Time,  the second bird was not so lucky. Soon after it had landed on a ledge below the window, it was attacked by a seagull who happened to be taking an afternoon flight through the famous plaza. Fortunately the dove, maybe owing to some sort of divine intervention, was able to fight off the much larger seagull and fly away.  The title of the article:  Pope’s Dove of Peace Attacked By Seagull of Irony.

Anton Chekov’s The Seagull dwells on the ever changing behavior, psychology, and frailties of its characters which the author ingeniously portrayed as if from a hall of mirrors, the effect being confronted with something like a gallery of fools.

The Philippines is home to a lot of ironies.  And these ironies are unique “only in the da Pilipins”, meaning it is only the Filipinos who get it and because he gets it he and only he is humored by it.  Foreigners wonder and are amused at how we could smile and laugh in the midst of the most horrific events.  It’s because they don’t get it.  The seagull of irony.

Take for example the “prepositioning of emergency supplies”.  In the rest of the world, there is a system to do just that which is parallel to that of food production.  Just look at the neat packaging and branding of emergency relief goods of USAID.  They’ve been produced and prepared through the usual food supply chain and warehoused until such time they’re needed.  This is prepositioning.

“In da Pilipins”, you only have food packing activity happening after the disaster often even weeks into the calamity.  The way I look at this mano mano system is that instead of saving lives at the most critical time it stretches the agony (of hunger, etc.) of survivors waiting out there thereby victimizing them again (via incompetent inappropriate production means).  I commend ourselves for responding to the call for help but we need to understand that this is different and separate from a production methodology that is inappropriate.  Bayanihan doesn’t have to be done using antiquated tools (or no tools at all).  Such a system of preparing the goods for delivery to the survivors is humorous to the extreme.  What’s even funnier is no one in there realizes it or thinks to question it.  Besides, I think that the system unnecessarily inconveniences everyone.  It also victimizes the volunteers (by depriving them of sleep for instance as when loads of people repack until midnight!  I think that agencies are not in a position to deprive volunteers of say the right amount of sleep because they’re these people are not on the agencies’ health insurance and benefits roll.  Agencies should also look out for the health of their volunteers, and so let them off the work at the usual cut off time, get them home to bed and rest, so that they can show up everyday for xx stipulated days with the same level of energy.  Even volunteers have the right to a decent working environment.).  We’re in the 21st century when you can operate your house remotely from your iPhone, for god’s sake.  Below is a photo of the conveyor belt system utilized by the Maryland Food Bank Distribution Center (yes, food bank and we need many of these in the regions) where as we can see repacking of donated goods (meaning, donors are approached very early on) is an activity before any emergency occurs and technology used is relevant to the times, not Stone Aged.   In order that prepositioning will work, efficiency is the game.

What does this seagull meandering have to do with ‘good news’, the topic of this article?  I guess my point is there’s also a touch of irony even in the good news which if I let my imagination run free is the representation of that lone seagull at the airport.

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