Stop those photos giving Sinulog a bad image!

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

Here is my last piece as a postscript for Sinulog 2015 and I hope that Mayor Michael Rama and Sinulog Foundation executive director Ricky Ballesteros would seriously study this issue. What has gone viral in the social media networks being spread by MyCebu.Ph in the aftermath of the Sinulog Festival, which was never heard of in previous Sinulog events are the photographs of dead drunk revelers lying on the pavement asleep. Those photos were taken from the Baseline Residences and in Century Plaza Complex and I'm sure there were many other poor stoned drunks lying around elsewhere.

You just can't imagine that when these photographs went viral in the social media networks. It had a huge negative impact on our well-loved Sinulog Festival. During the 888 News Forum last Tuesday at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, I revealed this to our panel guests, led by Vice-Gov. Agnes Magpale, Ricky Ballesteros, Cebu City Chief Supt. Conrado Capa, and Mr. Bobby Joseph in the hope that they would do something about this.

I suggested that the police round up all the drunks after the Sinulog Festival so photos like what we saw on Facebook wouldn't give the Sinulog Festival a bad image. I'm all ears on what solutions the Sinulog Foundation can cough up. But one thing is sure, we cannot allow the status quo to remain. Things should change for the better because as Ricky Ballesteros told the 888 News Forum, "The Sinulog is not the Cebu City government, it is not the Sinulog Foundation. It belongs to the Cebuanos!


Finally the verdict is out on that disqualification case that former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim filed against concurrent Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada. Months back, the rumor was that the Supreme Court would finally side with Pres. Aquino and please the Liberal Party by removing Mayor Erap from his seat as Manila mayor.

In a vote of 11-3, the Supreme Court  unanimously junked the petition for disqualification against Mayor Estrada saying that he was eligible to run for the 2013 elections. Apparently the SC upheld a previous Comelec decision, which also dismissed the disqualification case against Mayor Estrada lodge by the same petitioner. So the SC didn't really have to look far in Erap's disqualification case.

It was never made clear to the public what kind of pardon Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo granted former Pres. Joseph "Erap" Estrada. But now we know that it was an absolute pardon that was given to Erap, which literally extinguishes any culpability on his conviction of plunder. It is the first time that the Filipino people saw this Supreme Court vote on obvious political lines.

People have always tagged me as Pro-Gloria. After all, she was president for 9 whole years! But in truth, I chastised Pres. Arroyo for pardoning the convicted former president because he was the biggest fish that this nation hauled to court, tried, convicted and jailed, only to be pardoned so he could run again for public office! This is why I find Justice in this country a total farce! In my book, the power to pardon prisoners should not be the sole decision of the president of the Philippines but by a joint SC and the Executive Branch. Erap's' pardon was a travesty to justice! Now karma has struck the former president for she is in the same bind as Erap.

Interestingly, months prior to this SC decision, speculation was very high that Erap would be disqualified, more so that the Supreme Court had literally "Kissed and made up" with Pres. Aquino and SC Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno. In fact because of this, Erap issued many statements, among them that he was going to retire from politics. Perhaps the more intriguing story of the 11-3 SC vote on this case is that the dissenters are CJ Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, all known henchmen of the Aquino family.

I strongly believe that we should listen to the words of Pope Francis during his Encounter with the Youth, "To change Filipino society into a better nation." And I believe it is time to change our system of governance where political patronage has ruined the very people whom we elect to serve us. Incidentally the elections for the Sangguniang Kabataan are here. In my book, the SK should have been abolished as it breeds the youth to corruption, as they are the training ground for our corrupt political elite.


Our heartfelt condolences to the family of Esperanza Briones "Inday" Blanco who passed  a way last Wednesday. She is the widow of our dear friend and a long time Rotarian Dr. Guimo Blanco. They were contemporaries of my parents and when I joined the Rotary Club of Cebu. I could no longer call them Tito and Tita. May I request the pious reader to pray for the repose of her soul.


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