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Comparing Oranges with Apples


The fact that President Arroyo had to fulfill international commitments scheduled long before the onslaught of killer Typhoon Frank caused another sea tragedy involving that recidivist, Sulpicio Lines, is not a scandal by any standard.

First of all, the President left before the onslaught of the typhoon. Nobody wanted that to result in a disaster. And with the available technology, it’s as if she has not left at all. She has been monitoring everything in the country and managing everything, hands-on, every hour of the day and even night.

In other words, the President’s 10-day trip to the US is no junket at all. It’s a working visit which could end with more benefits and investments for the country.

But, what’s really scandalous were the hangers-on members of Congress, 59 of them, with only 24 of them obtaining travel authority to join the President. Actually, even 24 shouldn’t have been authorized; they left with members of their families. Santa Banana, all at our expense since members of Congress get P100,000 monthly travel allowance whether they spend it or not? Their motto is “join Congress and see the world with your family.” Sadly, all at the expense of the people.

If only to give credence to Speaker Prospero Nograles’ pledge of accountability and transparency, he would do well to publish all the name of those traveling, authorized or not so that their constituents know what kind of lawmakers they elected to office.

And, my gulay, members of the GMA trip who are just blowing away people’s money while their districts and constituencies were ravaged by the typhoon should be told to come home right away.

It’s criminal for them to go on traveling while their constituencies suffer.

It’s no longer news that the Philippines is perceived to be the most corrupt among East Asia’s 10 top economies.

But, what was worrisome in a World Bank study of corruption was the finding that showed that many developing countries were making important gains in controlling corruption. Some reportedly even matched the efforts of rich countries in over-all governance measures. The bad news is that the Philippines was not one of them.

But let’s look at the World Bank’s worldwide governance indicators for 2008. Singapore was first on the list, naturally. Second came Hong Kong. Then Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Vietnam and Indonesia, with the Philippine embarrassingly at the bottom.

Singapore is a authoritarian city-state, and so is Hong Kong, being a Special Autonomous Region of China, a communist country with Taiwan next, another authoritarian state. And so is South Korea, although it claims to be democratic. Malaysia is definitely authoritarian, China and Vietnam are a communist, and Indonesia, erstwhile perceived to be the more corrupt than the Philippines, is controlled by the military.

The Philippines is admittedly the most democratic in the list, with its democracy like that of the US. That’s why when the World Bank listed the top 10 East Asia economist which listed the Philippines as the worst in corruption, it’s like comparing apples with oranges.

Santa Banana, the fact that the Philippines is slowly but surely developing in spite of its democratic space, and in spite of having the freest press in this part of the world, where assent and dissent is an everyday occurrence, and despite of the fact that dirty politics has set us back, is short of a miracle.

I admit there’s a lot of corruption from top to bottom. But to compare us to communist, authoritarian and military-controlled governments is not fair. In these states, stories of corruption are not as open and transparent because reporting is suppressed.

The sad reality of movie houses going through the throes of low revenues and decreasing sales of original discs recently prompted the organization of an anti-flicker piracy seminar. The Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council, organized by one Ric Camaligan, who heads the theaters in SM malls nationwide, aims to create a strong network among movie producers, cinema operators, and the Justice Department, specifically the National Bureau of Investigation, in a bid to fight flicker piracy, which is now better know as filmnapping. This brings the question, is film piracy now an incurable cancer?

Flicker piracy involves camcording or the illegal copying of films being shown in cinema, using video or mobile phone cameras or more advanced recording tools. Filmnapping is the act of stealing film prints delivered from place to place.

The council’s lawyer and vice chairman Joji Alonso and Manny Nuqui, respectively, insist that RA 8293 or the Intellectual Property Law should be more detailed and firm on the penalties for flicker pirates and filmnappers. There is no arguing with that.

But, again, as I have stressed in my previous columns, from where I stand, it’s the mall owners’ responsibility as well to prevent firm piracy inside theaters in their establishments. They should not stand by and let things happen right under their very noses while crying that present laws are helpless in preventing the crime that’s being done in their malls.

It’s plain as day that those who close their eyes to illegal activities going on in their establishments should also be held liable, just as those who commit the illegal acts. The fact that owners and operators are not vigilant enough about these illegal activities leads to the impression that some of them may be in cahoots with the pirates.

Film producers and distributors adhere to a certain policy,which is to stop providing prints to commercial establishments that encourage pirates to sell their illegal goods within its premises. Camaligan, who is SM Leisure’s VP for operations, said that the policy has negatively affected the theaters in SM branches, and Tutuban Mall as well as other Metro Manila mall cinemas.

I don’t know where Camaligan is coming from, but the way I see it, isn’t that in effect owning up to the laxity on his part that these things happen under his watch? For one thing, one of the people in his organization is alleged to be making a living out of flicker piracy. Camaligan should look into this matter before he leads a nationwide crusade that is meant to address a problem that is happening in his own backyard.


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