BELOW THE LINE
By JOSE ABETO ZAIDE
I was reminded of the Elvis Presley hip-shaking ditty “I’m All Shook Up” (better known in Pinoy as “Amoy Suka”), when DOST revealed after lab tests that eight out of 10 vinegar brands sold locally are “fake” and have synthetic acetic acid.
I couldn’t believe that anyone would be oblivious to its health hazard and market fake vinegar for commercial gain. If fake vinegar pervades in our domestic market, DOST should identify brands safe for human consumption and establish a new Vinegar Standard for adobo-addicted Philippines.
Last Saturday (March 18), 29 commuters and four staff personnel were seriously hurt when two LRT-2 coaches collided near Anonas Station in QC. LRTA Administrator Gen. Reynaldo Berroya said that the mass transit facility would “shoulder the medical expenses of the injured and will provide all necessary assistance.” He assured everyone that LRTA will resume operations after the clearing operations and completion of safety checks. A fact-finding committee probed the cause of the accident which, he said, was an “isolated case” and a “first” for the LRT-2 since its launch in 2003.
One week after, we have yet to learn of the cause of the accident and measures taken to safeguard Metro Manila’s 6.13 million commuters on the LRT-2 line from Santolan in Markinia to C.M. Recto. (LRT-1 serves another 14.06 million commuters from Baclaran to Roosevelt Station in QC.)
POST-ELECTION RESOLVE. Oca Violago said that our Comelec-issued ID should be revised and updated with hi-tech to enable voters to cast their vote at the nearest voters’ precinct where-and-when and only-once-for-every-election. Technology should make this possible and fool-proof. (Half a century ago, Banco Filipino introduced “Deposit Dito, Withdraw Doon” for all its clients to be able transact with its branches nationally.)
A government which can expend P70 billion to support istambays should be able to pay for the technology which enfranchises voters and enables them to exercise the power and protection of the vote. Registration could be in anywhere, but voters should be able to update and revalidate their registration on the week of the vote. The fool-proofed voter ID should prevent anyone from voting twice, or multiple times. (Anyone attempting this will automatically have his votes cancelled.) A simple numerical or coded mark on the voter ID makes this possible.
Besides preventing multiple votes, this innovation will encourage citizens to exercise their vote. In this day and age, use technology work for better elections.
DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. recalled our ambassador and diplomats from Ottawa, after Canada missed the May 15 deadline to ship back the 69 containers of trash that it had shipped to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014.
After President Rodrigo Duterte ordered its return, Canada said that it would take back the tons of garbage. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had spoken with DFA Secretary Locsin to “reiterate Canada’s firm commitment to promptly repatriate the waste to Canada.” Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna said that Bolloré Logistics, which was awarded the contract to repatriate the trash, will complete the removal of the trash by the end of June at Canada’s expense. She added that Canada has updated its environmental laws to prevent similar situations in the future.
More than 100 Canadian containers were delivered to the Philippines by a private Canadian company, marked as recyclable materials, but actually contained some 2,500 tons of household waste, including plastic bottles and used adult diapers. BAN Toxics, a local environmental group, accused Canada of dragging foot on the issue, and pointed out that the trash had been rotting here for years.
Last Wednesday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that the President Duterte had ordered officials to ship the trash back to Canada at the Philippines’ expense. On Thursday, Malacañang rejected Ottawa’s timetable for garbage removal by end of June. Panelo said Philippine authorities are working to return the waste “soonest,” citing information from Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
Apart from the garbage row, ties between the two countries soured after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2017 raised concerns over Duterte’s drug war.
The Philippines’ vigorous sparring with a historically friendly partner is lamentable. I would be curious if we would be as forthright and pugnacious in addressing apparently intractable issues with other countries.