Whenever I am asked why I am still working at my age of 95 going on 96, my answer is always, “With what can I retire since I have no retirement fund, much less a pension that I can rely on?”
That’s my problem as a journalist.
It’s unlike being a government worker, who has the Government Service and Insurance System that provides government workers with retirement funds and pension funds.
Likewise, in the private sector, there’s the Social Security System which guarantees private sector workers when they retire with a retirement and pension plan.
Santa Banana, I hate to mention it, but for all the years that I have been working (over 75 years) in media outlets (print, radio and television), the only pension fund I can rely on is a little over P3,000 a month from the SSS.
When I went to the SSS to find out why, I was told that it was only the defunct Philippines Herald that complied with the SSS mandate to contribute to the System.
In other words, the media outlets I was working for failed to comply with the law.
It’s now too late for the SSS to go after those media outlets I was working for.
On the side, I wonder if all journalists like me find themselves in the same situation as I am.
I mention, in the wake of journalists like me being unable to retire because they have no retirement fund and pension fund, they can expect that when they become elderly like me they will have nothing to back them up.
Although I am also a lawyer and a member of the Philippine Bar, I stuck to being a journalist, despite the fact that I did not continue with being a lawyer because of my love for the challenges that came my way as a journalist.
Journalists like me, if they are honest and believe in the unwritten ethics of journalists, that we should always be truthful, fair and stick to the tenets of balanced reporting, stay on despite all the threats and challenges that come our way.
Santa Banana, if you don’t like getting sued for libel, don’t be a journalist.
My gulay, you can even get convicted and sent to jail;.
Believe it or not, we journalists, unlike ordinary workers in government and the private sector, don’t get paid for working overtime, which is normal, my gulay, for journalists like me.
We journalists get threats every time we report the truth.
And we normally are underpaid.
Santa Banana, we journalists, if we are true to our profession, even get killed, like many of the journalists you read about every now and then who get shot.
And still we journalists continue writing about the truth.
That’s the reason I call journalism a “calling.”
We are like priests and nuns who are committed to the truth. Priests and nuns are committed to celibacy, obedience and charity.
It’s all for these reasons why I am sticking to The Manila Standard, despite opportunities for me to write for other newspapers.
I like the people I am working with at TMS, and I guess I will write my “30” in this newspaper.
Besides, what will I do if I stop writing?
I will age faster if my mind will not stay active.
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For the nth time, I wish President Bongbong Marcos would certify as urgent and a priority the Senate Bill creating the DDR or Department of Disaster Resilience.
While we have the NDRRMC, an ad hoc body that gets activated in times of disaster and calamity, it is only an ad hoc ‘temporary’ agency under the Department of National Defense called the CDO or Civil Defense Office, which has since devolved into regional, provincial and city agencies.
What the Philippines really needs is a DDR, considering we are a country prone to disasters and calamities, like super typhoons that ruin livelihood, cause so many deaths, devastate agriculture and infrastructure amounting to billions of pesos, and wreak havoc to communities.
And yet, BBM seems unmindful.
The frequent devastation of parts of Bicol, Eastern Visayas and especially Northern Mindanao, particularly Oriental Misamis and Occidental Misamis, by torrential rains that continue flooding communities and causing landslides and mudslides are the most recent to be ignored.
And still BBM seems unmindful of the need for a DDR, which will be a permanent body, always ready for rescue, relief and rehabilitation.
What I am surprised about, Santa Banana, is that there appears to be only one senator, Bong Go, pushing for a DDR, not even Senate President Migz Zubiri, who is from Mindanao.
Mister President, we need a DDR at the rate disasters and calamities hit the country.
This is my last appeal to you, Mister President, to realize that of all the priority efforts you are facing, a DDR is urgently needed, like yesterday.
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Even with President Marcos Jr., as secretary of the Department of Agriculture, the smuggling of agricultural products like the pricey onions, sugar and rice continues, Santa Banana!
The President knows full well that smuggling of agriculture products like fish and meat continues regularly.
While every now and then, smuggled agricultural products are seized, BBM should be told that there’s an old tactic by the smugglers who operate like a Mafia.
From the source of the smuggled goods, to the vessels that come to the Philippines, to the ports of entry often bypassing Customs, the smugglers are fully in control.
I covered Customs for some years, and I know this Mafia sacrifices a small portion of the smuggled shipments to be seized to satisfy the government.
This happens when Customs seizes a small portion of the smuggled goods , supposedly in a warehouse somewhere in Bulacan or in Rizal or Cavite or Batangas. It’s all part of the operations.
Thus, it would do well for BBM to finally crack down on smuggling, now that he is in full control of the DA.
The sad part of this is if agricultural products can easily be smuggled into the country, it’s no wonder the same Mafia operations go for illegal drugs.
The only difference is that it’s the police having links with cartels and syndicates involved in illegal drugs.
Note that everyday in the media there are reports of seized illegal drugs.
Now, you know how they are smuggled to the Philippines.
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The Senate – in its probe of what really happened last New Year’s Eve when a glitch occurred for nine hours stopping all communication, navigation and surveillance of incoming and departing domestic and international flights at the NInoy Aquino International Airport, the main gateway of the country — said it was not only incompetence and mismanagement that happened at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, but plain stupidity.
Santa Banana, it was found out the CAAP did not even have a close-circuit television systen to know what really happened when the CAAP officials claimed their circuit breaker broke down.
It was a truly international embarrassment, with some 65,000 passengers stranded and with the airlines unable to help passengers with anything.
As a result, with all the flights canceled, it took the airlines three to four days to normalize everything.
Yes, there are ongoing investigations to pinpoint accountability and responsibility.
But, it would do well for the secretary of transportation to suspend in the meantime all the CAAP board, since they are accountable.
And President Marcos Jr. must make heads roll because what happened was plain stupidity.
Santa Banana, not only was there a lack of CCTVs, but since the equipment was old and antiquated, there even was no backup.
To me, it was the height of stupidity on the part of the CCAP, and as an observer, all the CAAP officials should be fired, my gulay!
In the case of the more than 65,000 passengers, there is a need to revise the Rights of Air Passengers Act on cases like the glitch in NAIA.
Can you imagine what happened to all the thousands of domestic and international passengers who had to sleep on the cold floor without any help?
It is for this reason, Santa Banana, the Senate should also revisit the Rights of Air Passengers Act.
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With the Department of Health still hesitant to impose restrictions on the entry of travelers from China following the entry of the dreaded Chinese COVID-19 subvariant of Omicron XBB 1.5 – while countries like Japan, South Korea, Italy, United States and others have already restricted travelers from mainland China – I blame the DOH for the spread of the dreaded subvariant virus in the Philippines.