January 23, 2018, 11:44 pm
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Phaseout of jeepneys

I SUPPOSE the phaseout of jeepneys that are 15 years old or older has already started. The government decreed that they should be removed from the streets starting this month as part of its transport modernization program. 
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte aka Digong admonished the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (Piston) for opposing the program with the warning that “come January 1, if I see an unregistered jeepney, old ones, I will have it towed in front of you. If you want disarray, I have lots of policemen.” 
“There is a time for friendship and there is a time to be reasonable and there is a time for reconciliation and a time for hatred,” Digong said. 
“Filipinos are at stake here. I am the president of the nation. I have to abandon the civilities and the niceties of life. When I was mayor, you were my friends…This time I am the president of the Republic of the Philippines and it’s not about me. It’s about the law,” he added. 
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said “the public utility vehicle modernization program of the Duterte administration is not anti-poor, contrary to the claims of some transport groups.” 
And, if I may add, the Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Teodoro Locsin, Jr. 
Locsin asked the government to reconsider the phaseout of the jeepneys and instead consider banning luxury cars that cost more than $20,000. 
Just how many luxury cars are there in the country that are used for daily commuting by the owners? And will banning them really help ease the gridlock we have everyday all over Metro Manila and other cities? 
“Just extend interest free loans to jeepney owners to keep the old banged up appearance that bears the scars of Philippine history. Just change the engine to that of a Benz,” Locsin said. 
Huh? Wouldn’t that be less practical and more expensive than replacing the old jeepneys with the proposed vehicle that Locsin considers “silly and infantile”? 

MARIJUANA FOR EXPORT

According to a CNN report, there is a growing number of countries that have legalized the use of marijuana or cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. And the list is getting longer. 
Consequently, the world demand for the weed has also significantly increased. 
Already, the Australian government said it was legalizing overseas exports of marijuana products for medical uses. 
“We’d like to potentially be the world’s number one supplier,” its health minister said. 
CNN also reported that a US-based market research and consulting firm forecast that the global market for medicinal marijuana would hit more than $55 billion by 2025. 
CNN cited Canada and The Netherlands as the major producers of medicinal marijuana, while import markets include Germany and Croatia. 
In the US, recreational use of marijuana is being legalized on a state-by-state basis. California has already done it effective January 1 this year. Canada is expected to follow soon. 
CNN said that according to Marijuana Business Daily, recreational sales for marijuana are expected to total $7.1 billion to $10.3 billion in the U.S. by 2021. 
I’ve read and heard of clandestine marijuana planting in the country. We could be a big supplier of the weed if we legalized its cultivation strictly for exports only, under stringent governmental regulations and supervision, couldn’t we? It would help a lot of marginal farmers in the countryside earn more. It could also be a good source of much-needed foreign exchange. 
Just thinking aloud, but it’s an idea that the Department of Agriculture and other relevant agencies may wish to explore. 

DIGONG’S
ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE

Next on the chopping block of Digong of government officials who travel too much could be CHED head Patricia Licuanan. The last one was Marcial Amaro of Marina. He followed Terry Ridon of the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor and Development Academy of the Philippines head Elba Cruz.
Licuanan was once asked to stop attending Cabinet meetings, but for some reason managed to stick to her job. 
But what I cannot help wondering about is the complaint made by Digong’s new appointee as board member of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Sandra Cam.
Cam accused PCSO chief Alexander Balutan of allegedly spending P10 million for the agency’s Christmas party in the luxury five-star Shangrila Hotel on Edsa. 
Balutan claimed only P5 million was spent for the party.
As I said in my last column, P5 million, by any stretch of the imagination, is too much for a party, especially for a government office whose existence it owes to the majority of the poor people who shell out a few pesos each lottery draw in the fervent hope that they’d win and get them out of their misery. Theirs is the same money that the PCSO revelers spent for their party.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, at the time, said: “I think you know that the President does not tolerate extravagance… I’m sure the President will look into the matter.” 
Has he? Nothing has been heard about the matter since. 
In the meantime, Cam and Balutan are squabbling and hurling accusations against each other which obviously is not good for the agency. What is Digong going to do about it? 

SERENO

I daresay Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno’s goose is cooked. 
With 10 out of 14 of her colleagues in the high court testifying against her, I think her ouster is a foregone conclusion. 
And even if she survives impeachment, how could she function effectively with the majority of her colleagues against her? Without any respect for her? 
I join others who believe that her best recourse would be to resign effective immediately… unless there is truth to the rumor that she is banking on being bailed out by an unnamed tycoon who will pay every senator who votes to acquit her P200 million. 
It’s a wild story but then again, we have seen it happen before for a much lesser amount, albeit paid for a guilty vote. 
*** 
I would like to express sincere condolences to the family of our esteemed publisher, Amado “Jake” P. Macasaet, who passed away last Sunday morning. May the Almighty grant him eternal peace. 
*** 
REMINDERS
This segment is intended to remind the administration of some of its yet unfulfilled promises and matters that need attention and/or follow-up action.
1) Digong’s promise to rid the country of foreign troops. This, of course, includes re-visiting the lopsided VFA and the EDCA with the US.
2) Reciprocal visa arrangements with the US and other countries.
3) The retrieval of the Balangiga bells.
4) The return of the Canadian waste.
5) The immediate implementation of the FOI.
*** 
Today is the 243rd day of the eleventh year of the enforced disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of the late press icon and founder of this newspaper.
After the acquittal of Major Harry Baliaga, Jr., the only person formally charged with Jonas’ kidnapping, I guess what happens next is now up to Divine Providence.
*** 
From an internet friend: 
Two nerdy male students meet on campus one day.
One of them notices that the other is on a shiny new racing bike.
He calls out to the other: “Hey -- nice bike! Where did you get it?” 
“Well,” replies the other, “I was walking to class the other day when this pretty, young co-ed rides up on this bike. She jumps off, takes off all of her clothes, and says ‘You can have ANYTHING you want!!’” 
“Good choice,” says the first, “her clothes wouldn’t have fit you anyway.” 
*** 
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