Balangiga our next tourism destination
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - December 13, 2018 - 12:00am

US Ambassador Sung Kim said “117 years after they were pulled down from the belfry of a Samar church by US troops as war booty, the bells of Balangiga are home now, in the Philippines, where they belong,” Kim added, “the bells took a ‘very long road home,’ with countless Filipinos and Americans working tirelessly for decades to make their return possible.” Also present at the handover ceremony were US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Felter, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., US Indo-Pacific Command chief Admiral Philip Davidson and Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez.

The US Ambassador said, “By returning the bells, the United States could restore to its friend and ally an important symbol of national independence and demonstrate our commitment to a relationship of two sovereign nations, two equal partners and mutual respect.” He said the bells should be returned rightly to the people of Balangiga and to the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir where they had hung for years before US soldiers on a punitive expedition took them away in September 1901.

This should make the Town of Balangiga our newest tourist destination. If the Twin Towers of the New York Trade Center became a tourist destination, I don’t see why the Bells of Balangiga can’t be a tourist destination.

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Six people died in Sta. Rosa, Laguna when a 14-wheeler truck smashed into 17 vehicles with passengers and a bakery. I really don’t know what the exact figure for road fatalities are, but I’m sure it is a very high figure. Road accidents are a part of our lives and there seem to be no effort to try to bring these figures down. In the Island of Cebu, one of the daily occurrences are accidents by reckless motorists. Yes, I’m referring to motorcycles that run on our roads without any care. This year I was hit by a motorcycle and my bumper was taken off… I took a photo of the rider, including his driver’s license… but the fellow could not pay for the damage he did to my car… leaving me to pay for it myself!

If there is one reality in this country… it is that not everyone pays for his or her insurance, which means when there are big or small road accidents, the two or three vehicles involved in these accidents have to wait for the police to record the accident… but in the meantime the traffic gets horrendous while waiting for the accident investigators. If you ask me, this is one thing that I would like to believe that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte ought to fix! We have already been told that our road traffic means motorists have to spend millions of pesos each day… then add an accident to that list and things only get worse.

At this point, I would like to present this problem to no less than Pres. Duterte for him to solve this enigma on the road. I dare say that it is high time that the Duterte administration solves this problem to ease our stress on our roads.

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If you think that the issue of the release of then Sen. Ramon Revilla is over and done with, I had to ask the question, what if the Senator refuses to return the P124.5 million to the national treasury? What would happen to the decision that the Sandiganbayan made to release the former Senator? Apparently I got a news report that said that Revilla is not liable to return any portion of the P124.5 million in public funds found by the Sandiganbayan to have been illegally amassed in connection with the pork barrel scam. This was revealed by one of his lawyers!

Sen. Revilla’s lawyers, Atty. Ramon Esguerra revealed “He (Revilla) has no obligation under the (Sandiganbayan) judgment to return anything. How can he be held civilly liable if he was not found criminally liable?” If you ask me, this legal question has to be answered by the Sandiganbayan as to why Revilla has to return the P124.5 million if he was not found criminally liable for that crime?

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Business tycoon Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president and chief operating officer (COO) of Ayala Corp. was named this year’s “Management Man of the Year” awardee and he rallied fellow businessmen to build a future-ready Philippines. But I would like Mr. Ayala to clarify what it means to be a future-ready Philippines? According to him, “Through the Management Association of the Philippines and the other business organizations in the country, the private sector can accelerate efforts to build a progressive, inclusive, dynamic and future-ready Philippines that we can all be proud of.” Fernando Zobel de Ayala said this in his acceptance speech during the awarding ceremony where he formally received his award from MAP.

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