Free Falls

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2019 - 12:00am

The video posted by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go of the President indulging his motorcycle riding interest inside the PSG compound is amazing. Whoever said that he has been showing wear and tear had better look again. That there is a very vital man. 

Even if he did take a minor fall, no one should begrudge the big dog the well earned respite of taking his big bike out for a spin. Its quite cool, really, to relax this way. And relatively bloodless since he does it within the Presidential grounds before retiring for the night. For sure, its not as huge a production number as playing a round of golf where an entire course is closed off for security considerations. That’s how US President Donald Trump unwinds.

Golf is also how some PNP officials in the past would spend hours of their weekly routine, at the course inside Camp Aguinaldo. This policy of PNP OIC Archie Gamboa and NCRPO Debold Sinas, himself a golfer, is truly sensible. Golf is the most expensive sport to play. Its wrapped in exclusivity and privilege because its hardly affordable. The cost of equipment and green fees put it out of reach of the masses. Team sports need no more than a court or a field. Golf requires hectares of land, landscaped accordingly, as its playing ground. Above all, it costs a lot in terms of time spent playing the game. For a regular round, at least four hours to negotiate 18 holes, even in as compact a course as Aguinaldo.  Of course, if the entire course is reserved for you, you can manage in two hours. 

The policy is part of the PNP’s avowed campaign to restore falling public trust. The one whose trust they must recapture is the person who gave all to the force – PRRD himself. Salaries, benefits (including humongous benefits of the doubt) yet still reaping ultimate disappointment for their involvement in drugs. Just yesterday, it was disclosed that Albayalde’s PNP had not implemented a recommendation to dismiss four policemen involved in a questionable drug raid in Antipolo last May. The curious development is that these four policemen were among the 13 ninja cops implicated in the Pampanga raid back in 2013.

Gamboa and whoever replaces him and the administration itself whose anti-illegal drug campaign these rogue cops have hijacked, has their work cut out for them. Yesterday, the chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee disclosed that it was recommending the filing of graft charges against the 13 cops, including PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde, for alleged involvement in the reselling of confiscated illegal drugs and its cover up.

Wow! Five million tourists and counting. Access and air connectivity have combined to send us even more international visitors. The opening of international gateways at the Mactan and Panglao airports and route development won us in the first three months an additional 1.4 million new seats. The target is 8.2 million total arrivals for 2019. We entice more by the promotion of lesser known, emerging destinations. Congratulations Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.

With the opening of the South East Asian Games (SEAG) in a month, expect a surge of additional guests. Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of Philippine SEAG organizing committee, with Senate sports committee chair, Senator Bong Go, personally inspected the facilities and pronounced them ready for the battle.

Countdown. We couldn’t have asked for a better buildup domestically. No, we’re not talking about the SOGIE debates which has brought to the fore even the issue of transgender athletes and their place in competition. IOC rules recognize the rights of athletes to compete even in their non natal gender.

It’s the heroics of Carlos Yulo, E.J. Obiena, and Nesty Petecio in their individual events. Yulo’s bonus is not unlike the Michael Martinez surprise (ice skating). Gymnastics like ice skating has never really been a strength. It must have been a curious experience for the gymnastics community congregated at that stadium in Stuttgart, Germany to hear the strains of Lupang Hinirang and to see a strange Red White and Blue flag being raised as Yulo stood at podium.

In team play, it’s the Azkals with the biggest story. If you’re wondering what’s so great about playing to a 0-0 draw against China, well its only because China is one of the strongest teams in Asia. For perspective, the last time Phl defeated a Chinese team was in 1919. In the century hence, we have only managed to lose and lose again. Until this draw.

China is 59 places higher in football world rankings. Its remarkable what we accomplish with what is essentially a squad playing pick up ball. This draw is a great victory and an invaluable boost for our morale, leading to the SEAG. In goal for our national team was Cardiff City’s No. 1 goalkeeper, Neil Dula Etheridge who turned in a performance for the ages – repeatedly denying Chinese attacks and saving his clean sheet.

Nothing wrong. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has done his due diligence. The DITO – AFP co-location agreement is the same as the ones previously entered into with Smart and Globe. As we pointed out, it’s really the security advantage and ideal location that makes co-locating attractive. If the Defense Secretary is comfortable with telecom providers riding piggy back on the military towers, installations and facilities (he downplays fears by saying they’re separate anyway) we should really stop worrying. After all, with the intense scrutiny from our Senators, it would be a straightforward matter to confirm this level of comfort. And the bottom line is that the Defense Secretary is unabashedly pro Philippines. No one can accuse this man of remotely being partial.

What is really more problematic is the acceptance of equipment and services in exchange for the advantage. Valuation issues and the potential for mischief to enter. Hence, the proposition so long forwarded that its time the AFP sets up its own dedicated telecommunications network. They don’t have to rely on (and gamble on) the Globes and the Smarts.

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