Friday, April 27, 2012

Radical changes by MMDA

Filipino artists paint a mural on a wall in EDSA, a main highway, with air-purifying paint in Metro Manila February 1, 2012. A local paint manufacturing company is doing large massive artworks using paints that can clean noxious air pollutants along EDSA, a 24 kilometer stretch highway in Metro Manila, which is reported to have the fourth most polluted air among major cities in the world.

To develop Metro Manila, it may be necessary for the city to move out.

Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino said Friday that to make a better Metro Manila, there must be radical changes, which might include relocating the seaport to Batangas.

The old seaport space could then house a new Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Speaking before the Philippine Tour Operators Association, Tolentino said Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan have airports by the sea. "It's only here where the airport is inside a subdivision," he said.

In a related development, Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas II said over DZMM on Friday that air operations may also have to be moved to Clark in Angeles because the runways in NAIA are congested.

Clearing the seaport will also remove container vans and large trucks in the port and San Marcelino areas, Tolentino said.

However, to execute such a plan and to extend planned Roxas Boulevard all the way to Navotas, require a large-scale relocation of residents, he said.

Metro Manila will also have to expand to parts of Rizal, Bulacan, and Laguna, he said.

A six-lane Skybridge from Quezon City to Makati is also being eyed. Tolentino said the Skybridge is expected to reduce 40 percent of traffic from Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue.

A planned extension of train lines to Cavite and Antipolo is also expected to decongest Metro Manila, which has around 14 million residents.

He said these proposals are part of Metro Manila Greenprint 2030, a long-term development plan that seeks to raise the standard of living in the metropolis.

Greenprint is currently being formulated and a final development plan is expected by June next year.

"The model here is to relocate little by little our government center," he said.

He said the same was done in Malaysia, where government offices were moved to Putrajaya from Kuala Lumpur in 1999. 

Brazil also founded Brasilia in the 1960s to replace Rio De Janeiro as the capital.

"We can retain the current spaces for heritage, residential, and mixed-use purposes," he said, but Manila has to move away from the center.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Scarborough Shoal Incursion

A diplomatic cable released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks said China could not specify a historical document to support its claims to disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.

In diplomatic cable 08BEIJING3499 sent to Washington by the US embassy in Beijing on Sept. 9, 2008, a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) official and a local scholar could not identify specific historical records to justify China’s “Nine Dashes” claim that covers the whole Spratlys and areas within other countries’ exclusive economic zones.

MFA Department of Treaty and Law Oceans and Law of the Sea Division Deputy Director Yin Wenqiang told a US embassy political officer on Aug. 30, 2008 that “China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters.”

China has dispatched a powerful military vessel in the South China Sea after rejecting a Philippine proposal to submit the Panatag Shoal dispute, now on its 10th day, to international arbitration, Chinese media reported Thursday.

The English-language China Daily based in Beijing said China’s most advanced fishing patrol vessel, the Yuzheng 310, had been sent to protect Chinese fishermen in the region, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

The newspaper, regarded as a guide to official Chinese policy, said that Beijing’s latest moves underscored its “determination to protect its maritime interests in response to Manila’s refusal to withdraw ships from Chinese waters.”

Yuzheng 310, described as the fastest fishery administration vessel, left Guangzhou on the Pearl River just outside Hong Kong Wednesday morning for an undisclosed place in the South China Sea, it said.

“Yin admitted he is not aware of the historical basis for the ‘Nine Dashes’ and only mentioned unspecified ‘Chinese historical documents’ that indicate the basis for China’s claims on territory west of the Philippines,” the US embassy official said.

According to Wikileaks, Yang said China’s claims “date back to ancient times, prior to the development of the modern nation-state.”

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Are prostitutes criminals?

R.A. 10158, an act decriminalizing vagrancy or Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code, was published today Apr. 4, in Manila Bulletin and The Philippine Star. The law takes effect on April 19, 2012 or 15 days after publication.

Liza Gonzales, a survivor of prostitution, said in a statement furnished by Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), “They just passed a law which is highly discriminatory against women. We were singled out, targeted as criminals, while the pimps are decriminalized."

Originally, pimps were identified as belonging to the class of vagrants under the Revised Penal Code. Therefore, with vagrants dropped from the Code under the new law, pimps have also been excluded from being criminally liable.

Jean Enriquez, executive director of CATW-AP said she was shocked by the developments. “It’s the height of betrayal this Lent,” she told. CATW-AP also organized the march held Tuesday.

CATW-AP said that along with allied organizations, they have spent the last nine years lobbying to pass a comprehensive anti-prostitution law which will repeal the Vagrancy Act, not amend it. Their intent is to decriminalize the victims, but punish the buyers and the business.

Enriquez said that prostitutes never “dreamt to be a prostitute as a girl nor were they lazy.” They were “pushed by economic and gender-based violence” and “pulled by the market of buyers and sex profiteers.”

During the dramatization of the Stations of Cross at the rally, “a victim of prostitution and incest spoke,” said Enriquez. She represented the second station, which protestors renamed “Magdalena was sexually abused by her own uncle and grandfather.”

However, they were unaware then that the bill had already been signed into law by on March 27, or seven days earlier, by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino.