Solidarity in the time of COVID-19 -- MS Supplement

Visas upon arrival

"The practice brings way too many problems."


Whether or not there is a transport crisis is beside the point, even as Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo insists there is none.

For commuters who have to take public transport every day, the controversy is irrelevant. Whatever is said, they would still have to spend two or three hours a day, one way, in traffic to get to their destinations. If they don’t want to be late, they have to leave earlier.

Train riders will also have to utter a prayer that the LRT or MRT would not encounter a glitch. Otherwise, their travel time will get even longer.

Panelo, who reminds me of a clown, pulled a stunt on Friday where he spent nearly four hours on the road as he took public transportation from his Marikina home to Malacañang. I do not think this did anything to lighten the daily struggles of commuters.

Will there ever be a time when commuting would be easy and convenient?

There could be, if, for instance, the government approves the unsolicited proposal to build a 10-lane expressway over Edsa. But since all unsolicited proposals have to go through the eye of the needle, and since the geniuses at the Investment Coordinating Council at the National Economic and Development Authority may make this difficult for San Miguel’s Ramon Ang, I am still crossing my fingers. We’ll see in three to five years.

This was the problem of Bangkok many years ago. When my wife and I traveled there, it took us hours to get from the airport to our hotel. Eventually, Bangkok built more expressways and railways, and now the traffic problem has been solved.

* * *

Some people have been asking me whether President Duterte is sick. I don’t really know—I’m not his doctor.

All I know is what the President has made publicly known—that he has Buerger’s disease because he used to be a heavy smoker, that he has a back ailment after falling from a motorcycle, and that he has been taking Fentanyl, a pain remedy more potent than morphine.

Duterte has also said his migraine prevents him from attending many occasions. And then, we also see he has discoloration of the face.

More recently, Panelo said the President had some sort of neuro-muscular sickness common to the elderly.

Malacañang should come out with a regular bulletin. The people have the right to know how healthy, or not, our leader is.

* * *

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee investigating the so-called ninja cops, says nothing will stop him from filing appropriate charges against former Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde, who stepped down yesterday.

Some generals have pinpointed Albayalde as having knowledge of the activities of ninja cops, when he was still chief of Region 3.

Gordon says that even if Albayalde obtains the services of a lawyer like Estelito Mendoza, Marcos’ minister of justice, the evidence is still clear and sufficient to charge him.

Do you know that just for accepting a case, Mendoza charges P1 million? Also, he charges by the hour. Albayalde must be very rich to afford that!

Now whether or not Albayalde goes scot-free is immaterial, I think. In the minds of the people, he is as guilty as hell after witnesses established his connections with the ninja cops.

* * *

During the first year of President Duterte, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, together with Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation chairperson Andrea Domingo, recommended the privatization of 47 Pagcor casinos nationwide. The government could use the proceeds to fund its Build, Build, Build program.

Dominguez and Domingo know only too well that Pagcor, as a gaming regulator, should not be running casinos. It is conflict of interest, pure and simple.

Until now, however, there have been no efforts toward privatization.

* * *

With Duterte’s pivot to China comes the easing of rules and regulations on the Chinese coming to the Philippines. Sometimes they get their visas only upon arrival. The visas are supposedly good for three months.

There are other problems that go with this practice: Criminal activities, including prostitution. Many “tourists” get jobs at Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations. They end up staying indefinitely.

We should stop the problematic “visas-upon-arrival” practice.

Topics: Salvador Panelo , National Economic and Development Authority , Investment Coordinating Council , Ramon Ang , Rodrigo Duterte , Carlos Domingues , China
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