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Trillanes links Duterte, son to Chinese Triads

Sen. Antonio Trillanes untypically kept his cool in yesterday’s Senate hearing on the 605-kilo shabu smuggling at the Manila ports. Thus was he able to insert revelations for arch-enemy President Rodrigo Duterte and public official-offspring to explain. Among those were recent photos of the President in the company of purported Chinese narco-traffickers. Too, lists of supposed hundred-million-peso bank deposits of his daughter, Davao City mayor Sara Duterte, conjugally with spouse Atty. Mans Carpio; and of vice mayor-son Pulong Duterte – as of Nov. 2015. Trillanes also showed on PowerPoint supposed emblems of narco-trading Chinese Triads, while alleging that Pulong has a similar colored tattoo on his back to indicate his underworld faction. It was Pulong’s lawyer, not the usual Trillanes, who was reduced to hysterics in the ensuing press conference.

Carpio and Pulong refused to sign waivers that Trillanes prepared to publicize the bank accounts. They may have valid reasons for that, like legal or business complications, or simply want to rankle their accuser Trillanes. But the thinking public has reason to be suspicious about huge unexplained bank deposits incongruous with meager salaries of public officials.

In replying to Trillanes’ questioning with silence, as Duterte advised them to, Carpio and Pulong elicited more doubts. The public doesn’t care much for legalistic rights to privacy and against self-incrimination. Common Filipinos judge in terms of daily life experiences, including confronting spouses and children, neighbors and co-workers. For them, silence often means guilt.

The lawyer’s snide remark that Trillanes is gay for wanting Pulong to bare his tattooed back didn’t help either. If at all, it only turned off the gay community. Besides, as the Tagalogs say, “Ang mapikon ay talo (He who gets piqued loses).”

Trillanes scored yesterday in his fight with Duterte. He might have learned the lesson too that by playing gentleman, hard as it may be for him, he can accomplish more.

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At long last the government is modernizing domestic shipping. The Maritime Industry Authority has come up with rules on importing and manufacture of passenger vessels. In compliance with a 42-year-old presidential decree, tax incentives are to be given to purchasers, lessees, and charterers of new ships. More so to local shipbuilders and repairers. Henceforth only vessels 20 years or younger and 500 tons in size may be brought into the country, fully manned by Filipinos. Inspections and certifications shall be strict, with violations subject to penalties.

Limiting passenger operations to new craft is for safety. There should now be lesser sea disasters of rundown, un-seaworthy ferries. Congratulations to MARINA administrator Marcial Amaro and his board directors.

Other reforms should follow. Urgently needed is to lessen the nearly one dozen ship classification societies to only one or two. Having too many classifications is insensible. The classification societies are not even qualified to survey and rate the vessels. Most ships that pass their certifications are not even insured against accidents, passenger injuries, crew illness, cargo loss, wreck removal, pollution, or damage to docks. That’s why it takes decades, if at all, for victims of sea disasters to be indemnified, oil spills to be cleaned up, wrecks to be salvaged, and wharves to be repaired.

Modern re-fleeting and rational classification will weed out fly-by-night operators. Only responsible liners will be serving sea commuters.

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First it was Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Jose Vicente Salazar who was on Malacañang’s shit list. He was suspended for insubordination and repeated breaches of internal procedures. Then, the Palace accused ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit, and Geronimo Sta. Ana, and director Debora Anastacia Layugan – all detractors of Salazar – of accepting expensive gifts and traveling lavishly. They have been charged with bribery, serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, and grave misconduct. Congress, as punishment, is reducing the ERC’s 2018 operating budget to only P1, in effect abolishing it.

Left hanging, in the meantime, are proposals to rework the ERC’s setting of electricity rates. Electricity prices are based largely on the investors’ return on equity, or profitability to recover capital expenses. The new way of computing rates in America and Europe is taking the consumers’ interest. Prices are fixed a wee bit higher, say, by two percent, but over a long term of, say, 25 years. Consumers are spared from price increases due to currency fluctuations or fuel price spikes. That way, power plants are forced to become more and more efficient in order to maximize savings and returns.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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