Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Christmas Congressional Compromise for Citizens


As I write this column, Speaker Paul Ryan announced that negotiators would unveil their trillion-dollar government-spending bill. The package is finalized just one day before the deadline to keep the government funded. This will ensure that Congress needs to pass another short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown.

From the point of view of Ryan, the package is a true compromise stating that there are wins and losses for both parties.

I must say that this is a good sign. It has been a long time coming that the leaders from both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C. start compromising and thinking of the interests of the American people for a change.

Lawmakers have closely watched the moves of Speaker Ryan since his election as a speaker a little more than a month ago most specifically the massive spending bill.

“Democrats wanted to see how involved they would be in the process while conservative Republicans wanted to see procedural changes in how different factions of the GOP were included.”

The compromise seems to satisfy most of the lawmakers momentarily. He does not think he has tamed his right flank, members of the House Freedom Caucus, however.

He says, "I reject the premise of taming any person."

For the benefit of his GOP constituents, Speaker Paul Ryan told House Republicans on Monday night that the yearlong $1.1 trillion government-funding bill contains policy victories for the GOP, but not as many as lawmakers will want.

Negotiation has been mainly with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for several days on the policy specifics of the massive spending bill, and an accompanying package to extend business-focused tax breaks.

According to press reports, Ryan declined to get into specifics about the bill on the call, but promised he would go through the details of the legislation in a closed party meeting, and would talk to the press about what he considers "wins" in the legislation. For example, Republicans have secured the lifting of a decades-old ban on exporting U.S. oil. But, GOP attempts to insert language into the bill to impose tougher controls on Syrian and Iraqi refugees were unsuccessful.

The expectation is that the omnibus package will get larger support from Democrats this time around. It is certain that some in the GOP will be disappointed. Republicans will likely carry the tax package, however.

It looks like government employees, and even Congress, will have a merrier Christmas this year due to this package!





Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Appreciating the Refugee Problem


I understand and appreciate the plight of refugees who are now flooding Europe and other countries. My appreciation comes first, from personal experience; second, as a student of US history; and third, from a substantive knowledge and interest of the necessary and unavoidable effects of wars, conflicts, terror, and oppression.

Personal

I was a refugee – recognized and registered by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees). So was my wife Tina Manglapus Maynigo, my eldest daughter Tanya, and cousin Prepedigna Maynigo Bugayong.

In the 1970s, we had to escape from the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos via kumpit  (pump boat) traveling to and staying in Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia for about four (4) months. Escaping with us was a Tausog family (Muslim from Sitangkay, Tawi-Tawi Island, Philippines) who was also avoiding political persecution. Gerry Jumat, Boots Ayson Jumat and children Lara and Wally were also refugees.

Disguised as Muslim barter traders and chased by armed pirates, we braved the high seas protected by Muslim soldiers armed with sub-machine guns. Taken care of initially by the Tawau Catholic Church, some Muslim contacts, the Malaysian Home Affairs and the Red Crescent, we were eventually paroled into the US after being officially recognized as UN refugees.

Philippine Refugees – Boat People

The route that we took, the disguise, the contacts, the Malaysian and UN connections became the official trail followed subsequently by noted Filipino refugees who played important roles in the eventual downfall of the Marcos dictatorship. Worth mentioning are Colonel Boni Gillego and Dr. Gasty Ortigas. The former was the person who helped then Senators Ninoy Aquino and Gene Magsaysay expose the “Jabidah Massacre”. He also exposed Marcos as a fake hero and his fake war medals. He eventually became Governor and Congressman upon return from exile.

Dr. Gasty Ortigas became Senator Raul Manglapus’ and the Movement for a Free Philippines’ Executive Director. He also became the President of the well renowned Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

We were the equivalent Philippine refugees of the Indo-Chinese “Boat People” during the period.

American History

Since the pilgrims fled religious persecution, America has been a charitable host to refugees coming to our shores. The refugees have been mostly from around the world.  They have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution, conflict, and war.

America’s kindness to those in need can be found not just in its citizens’ hearts and minds but also in its commitment by legislative fiat. Let me quote this note on the History of US Refugee Resettlement:

The U.S. Congress enacted the first refugee legislation in 1948 following the admission of more than 250,000 displaced Europeans from World War II. This legislation provided for the admission of an additional 400,000 displaced Europeans in the coming years. Later laws provided for admission of persons fleeing Communism, largely from China, Hungary, Korea, Poland and Yugoslavia, and in the 1960s, Cubans fleeing Fidel Castro’s regime. Most of these waves of refugees were assisted by American ethnic- and religious-based not-for-profit organizations, which formed the base for today’s vibrant public-private partnership in U.S. refugee resettlement efforts.

“With the fall of Saigon in April of 1975, the U.S. faced the challenge of resettling hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees. As a result, Congress passed The Refugee Act of 1980, which standardized federally supported resettlement services for all refugees admitted to the United States. This Act incorporates the definition of "refugee" used in the U.N. Refugee Convention and provides for regular and emergency admission of refugees of all nationalities. The Refugee Act provided the legal basis for the establishment of The Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Since 1975, the U.S. has resettled more than three million refugees. Most come from Vietnam or the former Soviet Union, although more than 70 nationalities are represented. Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, annual admissions figures have ranged from a high of 207,116 in 1980, to a low of 27,100 the year following September 11, 2001. Seventy thousand refugees were admitted in both 2013 and 2014.”

I am proud to having been a refugee, either as a Filipino or as an American. Included in this pride is the knowledge that a number of prominent American citizens were refugees, namely: Albert Einstein and former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright.

As President Barack Obama said, “The ordeals refugees survive and the aspirations they hold resonate with us as Americans. This country was built by people who fled oppression and war, leapt at opportunity, and worked day and night to remake themselves in this new land.”



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Lettered Thanksgiving: A New Gift of “L” Added

At this stage of my being, I am thankful, grateful, and very appreciative of the gifts bestowed upon me by God Almighty.

I refer especially to the Gifts of Life, Liberty, Love, Luck, Logic, and Laughter. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, a new Gift of “L” is added. For the first time, I am a “Lolo” (grandfather) and hosting my Grandson LUCA.

SuperLUKA: Up, Up, and Away


LUCA is Italian Filipino American. He is the first and only son of my daughter Dr. Traci Maynigo and spouse Jason Myles Goss. My Grandson LUCA’s name is Italian for “Bringer of Light”. In a relatively dimming world where terrorism, war, criminality, and corruption seem to dominate the Headlines, LUCA’s arrival somehow gives a ray of hope as he “brings Light” and sparks a lot of Love benefiting his Lolo, Lola, and all that surround him.
In Life, I am afforded the opportunity to fulfill my obligations of the past, facing the enormous challenges of the present, and meeting the great responsibilities of the future.

In Liberty, I get to exercise freely and extensively inherent, and all legally bestowed, recognized human and civil rights. I am able to speak, write, read, smell, listen, touch, and use all my senses the way I see and feel fit.

In Love, I can express my innermost feelings up to the bottom of my heart as I appreciate what is beautiful in both the material and spiritual sense. Affection is shared not only with family, friends, followers, and fans but also with neighborhoods and communities. I feel I can move human hearts and human minds. I also feel loved and wanted.

In Luck, we experience the meeting of preparation and opportunity. It is when we feel that it is our destiny because we choose it and strive to achieve it.

In Logic, we behave and act with reason because we are rational beings.  We win life-long arguments because we approach them with clear and convincing logic and valid inferences as well as avoiding fallacies and falsehoods.

In Laughter, we show genuine joy and happiness. We share our wit and humor as we help others who feel ill or hurt with this proven and most effective medicine.

I am also thankful for receiving the Gifts of Learning, Language, Literature, Law, Logarithm, and Leadership.

In Learning, everyday that knowledge and/or skill are acquired, power is added exponentially in order to enjoy the other gifts we already possess.

In Language, we communicate and share our thoughts and knowledge to our loved ones and to those in need.

In Literature, we read, absorb, create, and share the experiences, the imagination, innovation, creation and stories of other learned authors.

In Law, we learn them because ignorance is no excuse. We have to know the rules that govern human behavior in a given civilized society. They are there to serve men, not the opposite.

In Logarithm, numbers always illustrate the facts, figures, and real stories with clarity, brevity, and unquestionable accuracy.

In Leadership, we plan, organize, manage and control. In most cases, we become friends, fans, and followers of others because we are their leaders. It is a gift!

There are Gifts that are material in nature but should not be disregarded nevertheless. We should manage and control them: the Gifts of Luxury, Land, Liquidity, and Lust.

In Luxury, we possess and enjoy things beyond our normal needs.

In Land, we occupy them in comfort, build homes on them, and own them as fixed assets.

In Liquidity, we maintain a flow of cash that responds to ordinary, necessary, and emergency expenses that we deal with during the occurrence of unexpected, unavoidable, and unforeseen circumstances. 

In Lust, we confront our human tendencies as we resist temptations to human desires and material instincts that have naturally befallen the whole of mankind.

Amidst the L gifts as described above, as important if not more, is celebrating Thanksgiving Day with the “F” Gifts: Family, Friends, Folks, Followers, Fans, and the whole Flock. In celebrating with those from a distance, there is always Face time and Facebook.


Thanksgiving FIESTA at CASA MAYNIGO!

We do it distinctively and uniquely Filipino – Food, Fun, Festivities and what we call FIESTA.






Thursday, November 12, 2015

Probabilities: 2016 Philippine Presidential Predictions


The 2013 national elections in the Philippines was a gauge of PNoy’s and his “Daang Matuwid” performance. I used the resulting numbers to analyze how it would affect the political climate in the very near future.

“In a previous column/blog, I did an analysis of the results of the 2013 Senatorial Elections. The numbers reflected real votes counted and they amounted to millions. In the battle of coalitions, Team PNoy (Daang Matuwid) clobbered VP Binay’s UNA. There were nine (9) winners belonging to Team PNoy while there were only 3 among UNA candidates. 

A deeper analysis of the results in the regions and the bailiwicks of the leaders would give you very interesting results.


Regions

The Visayans and the Bicolanos delivered 10 winners for Team PNoy and only 2 UNA. The Mindanao provinces including the Muslims delivered 9-3 while NCR and all the Regions north of it delivered 8 – 4.

The Bicolanos made sure that 7 of the 9 UNA candidates led by Estrada and Enrile would not make it to the Magic 12. The Ilonggos and the Cebuanos also made sure that 7 out of 9 UNA candidates led by Estrada and Enrile would not make the winning 12.  

What this meant was that the Visayans led by Roxas and Drilon delivered to deserve the 2016 Presidential endorsement and the Senate Presidency, respectively.  It also meant that the Bicolanos led by Robredo and LP followers delivered to deserve and reserve the Vice Presidential seat for their region in 2016.

Bailiwicks

In Makati (Binay’s Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 8 winners while UNA only had 4. In fact, Nancy Binay was only No. 3 and Jack Enrile No. 17. In San Juan (Estrada’s Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 8 winners while UNA 4. JV Ejercito Estrada was only No. 2, Nancy Binay No. 14, and Jack Enrile No. 18. In Cagayan (Enrile’s Bailiwick), the results are the same – Team PNoy 8, UNA 4. But Jack Enrile was No. 1, Nancy Binay No.2, JV E. Estrada, No. 8.

In Tarlac (PNoy’s Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 9 winners, UNA 3. In Iloilo (Drilon’s Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 10 winners, UNA only 2. In Capiz, (Roxas’ Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 11 winners, UNA only 1.


Based on this analysis, there is a desire by the Filipino voters for Daang Matuwid to continue; that a Visayan deserves to be the next President, and someone from Bicol should be Vice President.”

The Certificates of Candidacy filed at COMELEC show the following:

Presidential Candidates: (Major and COMELEC-recognized):

1.             Mar Roxas                                 (Region: VISAYAS)
2.             Jejomar Binay                            (Region: Metro Manila)
3.             Grace Poe                                 (Region: VISAYAS / Fairfax, Va., USA)
4.             Miriam D. Santiago                   (Region: VISAYAS)
5.             Roy SeƱeres                              (Region: VISAYAS / Overseas)
6.             Augusto Syjuco, Jr.                    (Region: VISAYAS)

Note: Mayor Rod Duterte of MINDANAO might still change his mind and join the fray.

Vice Presidential Candidates: (Major and COMELEC-recognized):

1.             Leni Robredo                 (Region: BICOL)
2.             Gringo Honasan             (Region: BICOL)
3.             Chiz Escudero               (Region: BICOL)
4.             Bongbong Marcos         (Region: ILOCOS)
5.             Alan Cayetano                (Region: Metro Manila / BICOL)
6.             Antonio Trillanes              (Region: BICOL)

PROBABILITIES:

I predicted that the next President would come from the VISAYAS.  A careful look at the major presidential candidates show that as of today, there is about .833 (5 out of 6) probability that indeed the next President would come from the VISAYAS.

I also predicted that the next Vice President would come from the BICOL Region. Again, a careful look at the list of major VP candidates, it is also showing that the probability that the next Vice President would come from the BICOL Region is about .833 (5 out of 6).

It is as if the presidential candidates from the VISAYAS and the VP candidates from BICOL read my analysis and predictions, hence, decided that he or she could be the “chosen” one.

There are other parts of the predictions that I made, however. I wrote that the Presidential and VP candidates from the VISAYAS and BICOL regions respectively, must be endorsed and/or anointed by PNoy, continue the “Daang Matuwid” programs, and be the standard bearers of the Liberal Party and its allies.

Mar Roxas who is from the VISAYAS is the anointed one by PNoy to be the next president. Leni Robredo who is from BICOL is the anointed one by PNoy to be the next Vice President.

Roxas and Robredo are lucky beneficiaries of PNoy’s popularity. They are fortunate inheritors of the “Anti-Corruption” and “Daang Matuwid” Message. They are both happy heirs to the formidable and awesome Liberal Party political Machinery, the “Yellow Army”, the informal and personal DILG and government bureaucracy, and hosts of non-government organizations (NGOs), business groups and many other sectors.

Of course, accompanying the Message and Machinery are the Monetary, Material, Manpower and Management resources necessary to efficiently and effectively deliver the Message and mobilize the Machinery.

In 2010, I endorsed and campaigned for the presidential candidacy of PNoy. I did it because I thought he was bringing Hope, Honesty, Humility, and Honor to the presidency. I was not mistaken!


For 2016, PNoy wants to continue the gains made during his presidency and his “Daang Matuwid” programs. He wants the Filipino people to follow his lead by voting for Roxas and Robredo!