I support Kiefer

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

We’ve all asked the question before and chances are basketball sensation Kiefer Ravena must also be asking the same question after a random drug test that resulted “positive,” sidelined him for 18 months. According to Ravena it was all a result of an honest mistake when he bought a pre-workout drink that was out of stock and accepted a substitute from the store. That simple mistake resulted in an 18-month suspension which will surely affect if not stunt Ravena’s development as a competitive professional athlete. Forget the money, Ravena with his clean cut image and good looks could easily get into TV, product endorsements, movies, and hosting events in order to somehow make up for his monetary loss due to the suspension.

I honestly don’t agree with the 18-month suspension because it does more harm than good to the athlete. Eighteen months is too long especially for a rookie just out of college. An 18-month suspension is not about teaching the guy a lesson, it is cruel and unusual punishment considering the incident, events and intent had not been fully heard or studied. There is also the fact that Kiefer’s public history never raised a flag on doping or performance enhancement substances. I am “anti-doping” in sports but I am also against “cure-all” solutions and penalties that pass judgment (public or otherwise) before all the facts are in. I sincerely hope that the authorities and governing bodies are more careful on such matters because such publicized discoveries and punitive action are emotionally and mentally damaging to young athletes especially if they are actually innocent.

In any case, why did this “bad thing” befall Kiefer? They say “God works in mysterious ways.” Perhaps there is a greater purpose like bringing attention to the risks and dangers of energy drinks, OTCs or over the counter products that we casually buy or sell without thinking of possible consequences, or in Kiefer Ravena’s case, serious side effects physically and professionally speaking. Given the millions of Filipinos who drink energy boosters, take fat burners, or gulp down “stimulants,” how much real regulation and restrictions are in place to prevent health hazards or serious medical consequences?

As far as rumors or urban legends go, word is that a former PBA great who collapsed after a friendly ball game was a habitual drinker of “energy drinks.” On Facebook, I’ve received a couple of posts warning of the dangers or correlation of power drinks to athletes collapsing in the field. If Kiefer failed the test, the Food and Drug Administration failed alongside Kiefer Ravena because the market is in fact flooded with falsely suggestive nutrients and additives. The tiny office of the FDA is poorly funded or recognized for its important role. I’m glad Kiefer only tested positive. What if someone equally known actually kicked the bucket due to an adverse reaction? God is probably just using Kiefer as the magnet, but let’s not focus too much on Kiefer. Let us all start talking and doing something about OTC stuff that simply shouldn’t be there!

If anything, Kiefer Ravena ought to know a few things about why this “bad thing” happened to him: God is using him to bring attention to a serious problem that government has taken for granted. It is also a challenge for him to turn a bad situation into good; campaign against such OTC products like the one sold to him, and to take from all this the realization that people continue to believe him, trust him and support him. That is something he should always remind himself of and repay that with integrity and responsibility. Kiefer we support you!

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While interviewing Congressman Dax Cua of the ways and means committee, I asked if Congress actually monitored and studied the initial impact/effect of the TRAIN Law. I was assuming that this would be standard operating procedure given the important or serious effects of new taxes. Doing so would also give lawmakers an appreciation and valuable information to guide them in case they felt inclined to make changes or adjustments to the TRAIN Law.

Congressman Cua’s eyes lit up and said: “That’s a really great question,” the answer was NO because the only office or tool that Congress had that monitored taxes and related laws had been absorbed by the Department of Finance. This is a really bad situation because Congress must always have the people and the means to assess the results and impact of tax related laws they pass. If the authority and the office that studies the impact of TRAIN is garaged inside the DOF, it would not be presumptuous of me to say that we won’t be hearing from them in the near future. DOF Secretary Sonny Dominguez and his minions aren’t about to admit that something is seriously flawed with the law or its implementation.

The most serious flaw of TRAIN right now is the fact that the DOF told Congress that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would extend various forms of financial and livelihood assistance to people who get no benefits from the TRAIN law. The cash, rice and livelihood assistance would make up for the financial disruption on poor Filipinos in terms of food and transportation fare. Unfortunately the DOF was being presumptuous if not out of line to make commitments on behalf of the DSWD. Such an additional burden requires an extensive expansion on the operational capabilities of the DSWD, which is highly dependent on volunteers.

In the meantime the DOF is putting up a brave face boldly declaring “No suspension on excise tax of fuel.” DOF talking heads have even used their fan clubs in the business community as endorser for how good TRAIN is. The funny part is their Boss Sonny Dominguez seems to have distanced himself from the heat. Yes you can get out of the kitchen but you remain to be the cook of this unpalatable dish called TRAIN!

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