Monday, April 09, 2007

They are not us and we are not them

sorry for the self-promotion...enjoy the week.

Inquirer Opinion / Columns
VIEWPOINT: Weekend mail
By Juan Mercado
Posted date: April 10, 2007
"THE PHILIPPINE government and politicians, dubbed corrupt by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy report...are not us and we are not them," writes Hecky Villanueva in a Filipino-American Network letter sent by Evelyn Opilas from Sydney. "It is not the country that is corrupt."

PERC is a perception study, based on interviews with 1,476 foreign businessmen in Asia. Of these, 100 were based here. But "it is unfortunate that this privileged class (of politicians and officials) having been elected and/or appointed, are deemed 'representatives of the country,' by PERC," Villanueva says.

Many good things are happening, in spite of government and politicians। Aside from Gawad Kalinga, he cites a spread of other people's initiatives. In information, communication and technology (ICT) or "infopreneurship," are the Brain Gain Network and Davao's Silicon Gulf. The Department of Science and Technology spearheads open source IT solutions through Bayanihan ICT.

The Philippine Environment Foundation (NOTE: I got misquoted here. I wrote Foundation for the Philippine Environment) pioneers in debt-for-nature swap strategy. The OFW movement is strong। Philippine literature is robust as the Panitikn portal shows. For graphic artists, check out Firefly's virtual reality work. Awesome art is found in ArtCebu or Canvas. And so on.

"Short of a coup d'etat or armed revolution, what are the options of Filipinos in transforming government service and politics?" By their actions and example, in both small and big matters, Filipinos pressure bureaucrats and politicians to become more transparent and accountable. Citizen successes will eventually confront them with the choice of reforming or becoming irrelevant.

"The scandal about overpriced Asean streetlamps in Cebu misses a major point," says John Silva in his
blog, forwarded by painter-author-editor Alfredo Roces in Australia। Silva focuses on loss of beauty। Expletives were blue-pencilled from the shortened version below, as required by Inquirer rules:

"Things get padded everywhere: from lamps to buttocks। These crooks just got caught.... The real scandal is how awful those lamps look. Someone had the gall to spread them without the slightest thought that 'they uglified a city.'" Whoever bought them shouldn't just be arrested for the overpricing. "They should be quartered ... for making us live with these lamps ... (They can't) seem to know what beauty means.

"I was driving down Zamboanga's boulevard। It's run-down. Their lampposts were old but elegant. Just perfect for a tropical city. They blended, they evoked, they reminded me of decent cosmopolitan times. But like Manila (where five different kinds of lampposts exist side by side in front of Malate church), Cebu must live with these lamps.

"Where did these lamps come from? Guandong, China। Zhongshan Guzhen Xinlishi Streetlamp makes them. (The company's) website starts: 'You are a gentle beam of sunshine in my heart. You bring me warmth and touch my soul. Your name is Streetlamp.'

"Introduce me to the copy writer and I'll smash his laptop so he won't harm the world। The designers are stupid nerds, whose parents--probably classical painters--were lobotomized during the Cultural Revolution. GMA and his generals are barking up the wrong tree. It's not communism they've exported in these parts.

"There will come a time when people, a little more cultured ... will not hesitate to tear them down. I may not see that day. But I'll prod people now .... The bitter joke (meanwhile) is these Filipino politicians plague us with this kitsch, then laugh all the way to the bank."

(Manila and Pasay lamps may have cost P800,000 each, defense lawyers of suspended Mayor Thadeo Ouano hint. That would be almost triple Cebu's most expensive lamp: P350,090--or 40 times the cost of lamps Naga town put up. Yet, no national official has been questioned so far.)

From Daytona Beach, Florida, Dr। R. Laxamana commented on obsolete BFAD (Bureau of Food and Drugs) rules on "expired medicine." US Food and Drug Administration studies found that medicines remained potent, long after expiry dates on their labels lapsed, noted the Viewpoint column titled "Is this sane?"

"The short answer is, this was insanity," Laxamana wrote। "Patrick O'Brien of Emory University Hospital, in Georgia, was right to say that many of poor patients are denied useful drugs that remain effective even after expiry dates, because of obsolete rules। A pharmacist friend, who served on similar medical missions to Haiti, had most of their drugs donated by drug companies. Many bore lapsed expiration dates.

"Drug companies 'date' their products to give the impression they cannot be used beyond those time boundaries। This is patently false. But by so doing, expiry dates impel customers, to get new prescriptions--which means more profits."

(An Associated Press report, published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, questioned: Why should 10 million doses of perfectly good flu vaccine, out of 110 million doses produced, be trashed midnight of 30 June, merely because of an "expiry date"? These still-useful medicines could be donated to poor countries, AP said। Another alternative was to extend shelf life। "This long-standing practice raises questions about its consequences.")

"The Inquirer column highlighted the need for local authorities to get real," Laxamana wrote. They should make it easier for medical missions, usually organized by Filipino-American doctors and nurses. "As Mr. O'Brien said, we don't need insanity to mix in with those missions of mercy."
* * *

No comments: