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#TalkOnTW: Isko’s Liquor Ban near schools in Manila

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DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect that of TomasinoWeb, its members, its officers, and the University.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso signed an executive order on Thursday, July 25, mandating strict implementation of city ordinances prohibiting the selling of alcoholic beverages within the 200-meter range of schools and universities in Manila. The regulation immediately took effect upon issuance.

Executive Order No. 17 mandates the Bureau of Permits and License Office (BPLO), City Treasurer’s Office, and business establishments to strictly observe Ordinance No. 8520 and Ordinance No. 3532, with the former pertaining to the prohibiting of selling intoxicating liquor to minors in “any store, mall, bar, restaurant, eatery or any commercial establishment in Manila” and the latter pertaining to the prohibiting of selling liquor in said establishments located within the 200-meter radius of learning institutions, such as schools and universities.

With the resumption of classes slowly approaching the calendar, TomasinoWeb launched an online discussion regarding the recently signed regulation. The following are the thoughts of the students on the issue:

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno also joined the discussion:

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Opinion

It’s just a two-week event

On one side, you have a glamorous event with a 50-million cauldron and a “world-class” sports facility. On the other, you have the families displaced by these infrastructures, and the crisis faced by the Filipino people burdening their daily lives—transport problems, security threats, and agricultural problems among others.

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A 50-million cauldron. A multi-billion budget. This is how the government poured its resources in the 2019 South East Asian (SEA) Games. Last night, many of us Filipinos must be in awe of the spectacle brought by its opening ceremonies at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan and in New Clark City in Tarlac.

For a night, we may have been proud again as Filipinos after days of failures and mistakes brought by the government who organizes the major event. But did the glamour of the fireworks, lights and performances made us forget the major issues of our country behind this event?

Despite this huge budget for a third-world country, the event which has been in preparation for more than a year still faced a lot of mishaps and defects. From promotional materials like its mascot, the unfinished, rushed sports facilities in Manila, to the unpresentable innutritious food served to the athletes and members of the media, the first days of the SEA Games 2019 may have debunked the Filipinos being known for hospitality.

It may be good for boosting the country’s tourism and image, but should not our government focus first on solving the problems that burden many Filipinos?

It is also quite ironic for the country to host a major sports event when in reality it lacks proper support for its athletes and development of its sports facilities. Our leaders only express their support when an athlete is already at the podium with medals. But before those achievements, who are these athletes to them?

In fact, 2005 Karate gold medalist Gretchen Malalad expressed her frustration over the huge budget allotted for the 2019 SEA Games when their requests for budget and support from the government were frequently denied. 

This major event seems to be a move or a tactic of the current administration to cover-up the major issues plaguing the country. They are saying that our economy is booming due to the foreign investments, particularly from China, and this event, for them, is a reflection of where the Philippines stands.

Albay second district representative Joey Salceda, for example, said the 50-million cauldron is “reasonable” as it shows the country’s strong economy. The same goes for Senator Sonny Angara, who said that it shows the country’s ingenuity in hosting the event. 

Spending a sprawling amount of money have become reasonable for our politicians for just an event that will last for merely less than a month.

Building the New Clark City in the farm lands of Capas, Tarlac already has a price tag of around P9.5 billion. The P7.5 billion budget for the SEA Games event itself is controlled by only a single person, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano who also chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), regardless of agencies concerned over the budget.

Not to mention the long-term drawbacks of the facilities built exclusively for the event which may cost more budget coming also from our taxes.

Questionable budget and corruption has been long entrenched in our government, and some of us may have become passive and just accepted it. It’s the normal for many of us.

On one side, you have a glamorous event with a 50-million cauldron and a “world-class” sports facility. On the other, you have the families displaced by these infrastructures, and the crisis faced by the Filipino people burdening their daily lives—transport problems, security threats, and agricultural problems among others.

Politicians may have thought that the people will only care about it for some time, for a week, and then they divert the latter’s attention to other things through unnecessary publicity stunts like media coverage of the President eating in a random restaurant or spreading false news in the internet.

In fact, those who criticize these questionable budget and events are treated with online spam messages of trolls, or served with threats to their life. Criticisms of the event are translated as crab mentality when people are only expressing what they actually see and feel regarding the event.

But is spending a multi-billion budget for an anomalous event which displaced indigenous communities, and caused an international attention for its mess acceptable for us? Is spending 50-million pesos for a torch cauldron that could build 50 or more classrooms has become normal for us?

Why not pour the same amount of resources in our lousy transport system or in our neglected healthcare system? Is this now the norm in the country’s government? Pouring resources to events which serve as publicity stunts to cover-up the issues plaguing our country?

The 2019 SEA Games opening really is a spectacle, but its fireworks did not cover the poor situation faced by many Filipinos. Its harmonious sounds did not prevail over the cries for help of victims of injustices and impunity and the call for better services and governance.

But it is clear for common Filipinos that it is not the reflection of where the country currently stands. The glory of this event lasts only for less than a month and after that, everything will be back to normal: the normal transport problems, the normal killings, and the normal plight of the Filipinos.

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Editorial

Repeating the bloody history

For the past three years, it is apparent that history is still repeating itself. Those who express criticism are forcefully silenced, sometimes through bloody measures. From farmers and members of the media being killed, critics being faced with trumped-up charges, progressives being red-tagged, and the plans of legislated policies to silence the people. 

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Photo by Jaime Taganas/TomasinoWeb

In the past months, we have seen how the current administration used its ultimate power to silence critics and defend its current control of the government. Behind its infrastructure projects and “world class” events lies issues which have long burdened the Filipino people. Its efforts to silence critics through crackdown and intimidation, and the continuing impunity and injustice in the country, we will be ending the year again in a state of ‘de facto,’ strongman rule. 

History proved that strongman rulers are not only opportunistic, but also feared collective movements and criticism. Post-WW1 Germany focused on foreign capital and investments — a clear indicator that the country was reliant on the schematics of the global economy to survive. When the Great Depression hit multiple economies around 1929, it was inevitable that Germany will share the same fate. With Communism which slowly took over the economically-crippled Germany, the late dictator Adolf Hitler saw these turn of events as an opportunity to take over the country.

Hitler rallied the German people towards his right-wing and nationalist beliefs. He then used the dominant anti-Semitic ideology to promote Aryan supremacy while demolishing the freedom of the press to fabricate the perfect Nazi propaganda. Although his expansionist campaign ended with his death in 1945, it was more than enough to send a message: tyrannical campaigns are short-lived. 74 years after the World War 2, a Hitler-esque strongman tightens his grasp in the Philippines through bloodshed and opportunism.

Ferdinand Marcos’ administration also took advantage of the country’s inclination on foreign investments to advance neoliberal policies. Behind his foreign policies and infrastructure programs, thousands of critics from the media and other individuals were either tortured or killed. After two decades, his rule concluded in the historic people power revolution.

For the past three years, it is apparent that history is still repeating itself. Those who express criticism are forcefully silenced, sometimes through bloody measures. From farmers and members of the media being killed, critics being faced with trumped-up charges, progressives being red-tagged, and the plans of legislated policies to silence the people. 

The move to amend the Human Security Act which will permit warrantless arrests and detention to up to 60 days of anyone suspected to be a terrorist. There is also a plan to revive the Anti-Subversion Law of the Marcos’ dictatorial rule is also underway which will illegalize any form of ‘subversive’ activities and any form of criticism or opposition might be among these. All of these among with the current approach of state authorities of red-tagging progressives will silence critics and progressives and further the ‘strongman’ rule of the current administration.

In the Congress, the Senator Bato Dela Rosa currently pushes for the implementation of the Senate Committee Report  No. 10 which will strengthen its “witch hunt” of progressive students in schools and universities. The aim to review the “Sotto-Enrile accord” is also underway which prohibits police and military from entering schools and universities will further the control and surveillance of the military and police in schools and threaten the safety of students and teachers alike in these “zones of peace.”

Through Executive Order No. 70, otherwise known as the “National Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict”, Duterte aims to institutionalize a “de-facto” martial law through a horrendous crackdown against human rights workers and progressive groups. He revives the communist scare through red-tagging, which victimizes even the slightest dissent. Instead of addressing the root cause of armed conflict, he continues to rule with an iron fist. Martial law to consolidate need not to be declared to consolidate power for a legislated reign of terror is enough to show otherwise.

Through the implementation of extravagant projects and policies, Duterte is capable of shifting the discussion away from his atrocities. His “Build-Build-Build” infrastructure program is nothing short of neoliberalism and Chinese subservience — he aims to deliver us from poverty by gifting away our national sovereignty to foreign powers. The Kaliwa Dam project, one of the most controversial projects under his infrastructure plan is a proof that the current administration is more willing to displace local communities and destroy the country’s natural resources rather than protecting the nation it serves. 

No infrastructure can hide Duterte’s unwillingness to serve the people. The current political landscape is a spectacle for those who find glamor in his governance — his word is law and his orders are benevolent. Political critics are deemed as heretics waiting to be cast into the lake of fire. With a strong support of his cronies and large-scale troll armies, his cult is slowly turning the country into a mass grave of innocent Filipinos sacrificed for his will. Then again, nothing lasts in this world, and so is the current “de-facto” rule. Time is only waiting for the Filipinos to once again unite and fight for their country.

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Opinion

Manila Deserves A Cleaner Underpass

This city has elected a mayor who they trust to bring his vision to life. We have seen too much of littered streets and congested passageways. The people are tired and so are you. We understand. I understand. But, I’m going to tell you something else.

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Manila, as part of its “culture”, has its walls decorated by graffiti. It is often commissioned by the passion of the masses. When accompanied by carelessness, it becomes vandalism. The city was almost born with this “birthmark”. It is like a memoir to its people – a diary to the current events today. The city walls have become a witness to the struggles of the masses. From traffic, to contagious diseases, and to the poor public transportation. The roads have seen the struggle of this rocky journey we, Filipinos, have taken. It is unavoidable, almost, due to the neglect of the ones who hold power. Promises were held up only as a false pretense to what the Filipinos wants the future to look like. Up until now, is it still a false pretense? Only the people on the seat could know. What is the answer of the people, then? Most likely, given the disposition Manila holds right now, it might as well be.

As we all know, Isko Moreno Domagoso is the mayor of the City of Manila right now. Isko looks and sounds like the epitome of an ideal leader that Manila was looking for. He is far younger than the previous mayors, all of which are near the age of retirement. Domagoso is a fresh face of hope, as to what we might have expected. In his first few months in office, one cannot deny that he has been a charismatic leader. He has ultimately been dedicated in developing the tourism of the city. Not only that, he also joins in cleaning the streets and as well as giving senior citizens allowance per month to help out with the costs of daily living. It was a beautiful sight, a breath of fresh air, almost. Until the people have started to uncover the mayor’s ulterior moves. 

They were nothing “diabolical” as to how the previous mayor allegedly spent the money of the government for personal leisures but he, however, removed the hope of the Filipino to eat at least once or twice a day. Domagoso was known to remove illegal vendors that sell various goods from general merchandise, fruits, books, clothes, and everything in between. There has been almost no sustainable solution offered to them by his office to get by. Many people here in Manila, especially the marginalized, have resorted to such means to survive. To think that they have been doing this for decades with almost no deviation on improvement, would say a lot about the government. This also speaks how the previous mayors and Domagoso himself has been handling the case. And speaking of the case, there has been a new vandal on the block, right at the newly painted underpass near the city hall.

This has brought much dismay to the mayor. Who would not be angry to see a newly painted wall to see it vandalized? It looked like a fresh face of hope. Isko Moreno happens to be one of them. Disappointed and frustrated, he said in an interview, “Huwag kayong pahuhuli sa akin. Sige, human rights… ‘pag nahuli ko kayo, padidila ko sa inyo ‘to. Buburahin niyo ‘to ng dila niyo”. 

He continued, “Kayo ang nambababoy. Hindi makatwiran ‘yan. We don’t deserve this. The people of Manila don’t deserve this.” 

Isko, you are right. The people of Manila do not deserve a vandalized underpass. A cleaner, more accommodating walkway is much preferable than one that is hot, humid, and dirty. Who would be pleased to walk there? No one, of course. This city has elected a mayor who they trust to bring his vision to life. We have seen too much of littered streets and congested passageways. The people are tired and so are you. We understand. I understand. But, I’m going to tell you something else.

The people of Manila deserve a government where its leaders do not alienate and discriminate them for their social class. It is already difficult to look at the marginalized. What more if you actually experience their day to day life? 

The growth and development of the city does not rely on its aesthetics. It does not rely on the cleanliness and the clear roads paved for its people. Growth and development means that everyone is given equal rights  and proper treatment – especially those who are greatly in need. If one would greatly depend it on the cleanliness of the city, then it is safe to say that Manila has been somehow progressive. But how about the people? Are they given fair compensation for what they work for? Are the people of Manila truly given the right avenue for them to be heard? The easy answer is yes. How so?

It is known that Domagoso is receptive on social media. He is prompt to answer messages immediately, to which many has caught the attention of. It is rare for a government official to be quick on its feet on social media, especially when it comes to hearing the concerns of its people. But if it already has reached to the point of getting the fight on the streets and in the underpass, then it simply indicates that there is something wrong with the system.

Some are quick to dismiss that the fight could only brought up in the streets. It has been said that it is counterproductive. At a certain extent, it is, but why do people resort to that? This is because the means how they could reach out have been exhausted. If the fight has been taken once more to the streets, then it simply is an indicator that the people have been struggling in a system straight-up blames the problems on the poor. You are not progressive if you continuously point fingers as you blind yourself from the root problem of it all.

Manila deserves a government that cares about its people and not only its aesthetics. The mayor is only doing the bare minimum here. There’s literally so much to fix beyond congested streets and vandalized underpasses.

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