Saturday, February 13, 2016

Senator and VP candidate Gringo Honasan on his platform, taxes, BBL and FOI

With almost 20 years of legislative experience, it comes as no surprise that Senator and now vice presidential candidate Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan is well-versed in a wide variety of national issues.
During the four times he was elected in the Senate since 1995, Honasan has been one of the country’s most productive lawmakers having authored or co-authored several significant landmark legislations such as the Clean Air Act of 1999, the Clean Water Act, Republic Act 8368 that decriminalized squatting, the National Security Policy, the Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and the POGI bill or as most people know it, the Freedom of Information or People’s Ownership of Government Information Act of 2012.
“There is also the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Law which is being applied whenever calamities like typhoons and earthquake strike. There’s the Firearms and Explosives laws; Anti-Drunk Driving, three extensions of the Agrarian Reform Law to address the needs of the agricultural sector, the most oppressed sector in the country,” he added during a recent interview with OrangeTV magazine.
“As far as peace and order is concerned, I also added several amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1995. As for the peace process in Mindanao, I am also the author of the mini martial plan in Mindanao.”
With all these achievements, it still comes as a surprise to many why the good senator has decided to pursue the office of the Vice President which is generally perceived as “a president in waiting” or basically a “spare tire.”
Senator Honasan agrees that the job of the Vice President is indeed to wait. But that is not necessarily to simply wait to take over the presidency in case the highest official of the land can no longer exercise his official duties and functions.
In recent years, the Vice President has, in fact, played a vital role in nation building. Even with a very active and hands-on president, the VP can become equally busy with whatever portfolio is handed to him by the chief executive.
“In the case of Vice President Binay who is the presidential standard bearer of our party UNA, he has given me the housing sector and OFW concerns. I think, if I were to be asked, I would also volunteer to craft a pro-active and responsive national security policy and strategy in whatever capacity that will address our problems at home so that we can give our 100 percent focus on our problems abroad like Western Philippine (Sea) issue,” Honasan revealed.
“So my objective is to go after kidnappers, rapists, drug pushers, and terrorists. After we have managed that adequately and put up the systems, then we can concentrate 100 percent on the Western Philippine Sea issue with China based on or backed up by the information systems that emanate from the barangay and street levels.”
In addition to his and his party’s platform of government and like any other candidate vying for an electoral post in the national level, Honasan is often asked about his stand on several burning issues.
Given his military background and his past role in the controversial Reform The Armed Forces Movement, there are concerns on how he will respect the human rights of the perceived criminals that he will go after if elected.
“We must never forget those that even those alleged criminals, those violators of the law have rights that must also be respected. Our society has no room for summary executions. There must be due process and applied rule of law,” Honasan stressed.
With regards to the issue of lowering income taxes which is also part of the platform of other presidential candidates, Honasan agrees that it should definitely be reduced.
“Taxing our people, especially those who are already having a difficult time should be the last option. They say there are two sure things in life: debt and taxes. Taxes are meant to accelerate debt or accumulate debt to inflict more taxes on our people. So, I am for reducing it at all cost and considering it as a last option, especially when it hits the middle class and the lower class,” he pointed out.
On the Bangsamoro Basic Law that is being pushed by several quarters and largely supported by the present administration.
“The BBL in its present form is not good for us. There are infringing violations of the constitution. That’s why it has been debated on, in the Senate. And I don’t see any end in sight. You know, when we talk about BBL, you cannot make it synonymous with the peace process because the peace process does not simply mean an end to the armed conflict,” Honasan explained.
“After that, is the more difficult part of development and you’re talking about basic services. That will address food, clothing, shelter, education and health services. Unless we address that, whether you are Muslim, Christian, or Lumad, the BBL will not serve that purpose.”
The senator said that as a soldier, he spent many years fighting in Mindanao and he knows what happens when government and the rebels go into what he calls a “vicious cycle” from peace talks to violation of the peace process.
“The worst part is displacement of innocent civilians and destruction to lives and property. The rebels namely the MILF and MNLF both claim they are protecting the marginalized, the oppressed, the victims of injustice, the hungry, the poor. Government is saying the same thing. What I cannot understand, up to now, is why they are fighting each other and the first collateral victims are the very civilians – the women, children civilians, that they claimed to fight for. So, that should be factored in to any concept of the peace process.”
On renaming the Freedom of Information Bill to the People’s Ownership of Government Information bill or POGI, Honasan said it’s because the government is for the people, by the people and of the people.
“Transparency. This painful experience with PDAF and DAP could have been avoided kung may FOI bill tayo. And of course, except for sensitive issues related to foreign policy and security policy, everything should be transparent - open to our people for discussion, for debate, even for question,” he mused.
While Honasan is all for pushing FOI, he also understands the aversion of government to it. With FOI, anyone can demand information.
“That can become a weapon. And I’m not implying anything but the way some irresponsible elements in media behave – very irresponsible, very free, very powerful then the tendency always is to try people and institutions through publicity. Then, so, we render our courts irrelevant.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

HIV Poster Tour de Pilipinas

Two of the people behind it from Brazil will be coming and touring around the Philippines together with Faustine Angeles of Pedal for HIV to raise awareness on HIV and on their project.

For more information on the HIV Poster you may visit

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ballet Manila Honors the Heroes of Edsa in "Rebel"

Ballet Manila Artistic Director and CEO Lisa Macuja-Elizalde joins the 30th anniversary celebration of the People Power Revolution with "Rebel" a full-length ballet about a hero’s journey to freedom.
Inspired by the story of “Spartacus” and set against the backdrop of the 1986 Edsa Revolution, “Rebel” is Lisa’s dream project.  "I’ve had this in mind since 2010,” says the prima ballerina.  “I was waiting for the right choreographer to share my ideas with and when I met Mr. Lawrance two years ago, the concept resonated well with him. I knew he was the one so we shook hands and went to work right away.” she said.

The Edsa Revolution of 1986 is delicately etched in Lisa’s heart and mind. Having witnessed the historic event from afar and relying on television reports and her parents for news, Lisa longed to come home. “I was in Russia completing my contract with the Kirov Ballet. I was far away and virtually isolated during those Cold War years. I returned to Manila later that same year to find a nation finding its balance amid a sweeping and sudden transition. Interestingly, it was also in that same year that I made a bold career move to remain Philippine-based while pursuing an international career as a guest principal artist.  It was a risky choice that called for many sacrifices but which, looking back, I never ever regretted. So in a way, 1986 was also a radical year for me personally in terms of making a crucial decision about my future as a ballerina."

“Rebel” is Lisa’s own way of bringing back the spirit of nationhood which earned praises world wide. “Edsa gave every Filipino a strong sense of pride, and I believe It is important that the younger generation realizes its value. Whether they learned about People Power in text books or have lived through the experience themselves, we want to remind the audience of that proud moment in time when faith, non-violence, and unity swayed the course of our nation’s destiny. We hope that in some way, the memory will help revive our idealism to commit ourselves to be the change we all want to see.”

The characters in "Rebel" are Ferdinand the dictator, his wife Imelda, Ninoy the rebel and his beloved Corazon. Lisa takes on the pivotal role of Inang Bayan in the production.  Also featured are internationally acclaimed singer-actress Joanna Ampil and the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Gerard Salonga.  “Rebel” features music from “Spartacus” by Aram Khachaturian.

“Rebel” is presented in cooperation with the Manila Broadcasting Company, Star City, ACS Manufacturing Corporation, First United Travel, NCCA with Official TV Partner - 2nd Avenue.  Special thanks to Philcom, Empire Salon, Island Rose, Ramada Hotel, Oasis Park Hotel, Manang’s Chicken, Papa John’s Pizza, Slimmer’s World, Microtel, Armada Hotel and Hot Star Chicken.

Ballet Manila’s "Rebel" goes onstage at 8pm on February 25, 26, and 27, and at 3pm on February 28 at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City. Tickets are available through Ticketworld at 891-9999 or at
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Reading between the lines : Spotlight | Heroism of telling the truth

By Ymmanwel Rico Provinio

"Crime does not pay" an adage that holds the truth, even in this 21st century.
Spotlighting a decade-long and numerous sexual abuses inflicted upon the youth, altar boys or helpers, became a recurring sickening diseases within the darkened walls of the Catholic Church.
Not only the innocent minors suffered, but also their parents and the other family members bore the burden of the demonic nightmares. Through the years, even decades, these sexual abuses to the youth would remain an open wound that no amount of cure could heal.

Some scandalous secrets would remain locked within the Catholic Church, locked within the confines of the victims' homes, and tucked within the minds and hearts of the innocents as well. Not until...
The 6-Oscar nominated film, SPOTLIGHT, presents the brave and courageous group of newspaperman of Boston Globe in their search for the truth. The movie is based on the research that received the prestigious Pulitzer Prize Award. It is therefore based on true events.
No one had stepped-up to speak the truth regarding these rampant abuses. And nobody sought justice.

"How can you say 'No' to God?" asked a young victim who had kept the blistering abuses inflicted upon him. Through the years, the sufferings that caused him were still apparent.
The group of journalists who would become known as Spotlight discovered that minors who were victimized rooted from families of low-income brackets. "To receive attention from our parish priest," confessed by a parent of a victim, "especially to our son, is a big blessing." But a deadly blessing from a wretched wolf under the cloak of a sheep.

One of the actors, who recently earned an Oscar Best Supporting Nomination for his role, Mark Ruffalo quips, "Indeed, it is difficult to watch a molestation of a priest to a minor."
Not one among the abusers had served their times in prison. Incidentally, those accused priests were sent to other countries where they continue their evil acts.
It is high time that justice must be served.
Heading the cast of SPOTLIGHT are Michael Keaton (known for his Batman role and had received an Oscar Best Actor nomination), together with him is Mark Ruffalo (known for his green-eyed monster, The Incredible Hulk role and had received a Oscar Best Supporting Actor nomination), Rachel McAdams (known for her lead role in the romantic & blockbuster film, The Notebook), and other award-winning actors.

To date, SPOTLIGHT has already earned numerous awards of excellence from various bodies of critics. It has garnered 6 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (for McAdams), Best Editing, and one for Ruffalo.
The film SPOTLIGHT is exclusively distributed by Solar Pictures for Solar Entertainment Corporation and has been rated R16 (without cuts) by the MTRCB. It is to be shown in numerous theaters nationwide starting on the 10th of February of this year.

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