Monday 29 March 2010

News Sharing: GMA's German Cut

GMA’s German cut

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:07:00 03/28/2010

Filed Under: Government

IT was when Philippine Ambassador to Germany and former foreign secretary Delia Albert received the “Most Outstanding Filipino Woman in Global Diplomacy” award from President Macapagal-Arroyo in ceremonies in Malacañang that she received confirmation, from the President herself, of the swirling rumors. She was being replaced.

The smile-while-I-stick-the-knife-in-your-back announcement was part of a wave of recent presidential appointments, all made despite the election-period ban. Justice Secretary Alberto Agra, himself a new appointee, said there was “nothing irregular” with the latest round of mass hirings and dismissals. In a sense, he was right. Albert’s sudden replacement, together with other secretive appointments such as those involving the National Historical Institute and the National Museum, are in fact characteristic of Ms Arroyo’s management style. The last-minute advice to affected parties, the general lack of transparency (the Senate and House representatives to the board of the National Museum, for instance, were not informed of a key meeting), the strained rationalizations offered after the fact and, above all, the plain lack of courtesy—this recent wave of appointments has the President’s signature down to the last flourish.

The rationalizing of her spokespersons was characteristic too. The Palace had violated the strict protocols that govern diplomatic appointments, in part by skipping certain necessary steps, but all deputy spokesman Gary Olivar could say was: “No, it wasn’t hasty.” And that was that; no elaboration or explanation.

If it wasn’t hasty, why wasn’t Albert told well beforehand, following the usual 60-day recall notice, so that she could prepare for her return and advise the German foreign ministry? If it wasn’t hasty, why did the announcement of her replacement by the 87-year-old taipan Alfonso Yuchengco catch the Department of Foreign Affairs flatfooted? A DFA spokesperson was left to say, awkwardly: “We have learned of Yuchengco’s appointment but we have not received official copy of his appointment. Ambassador Albert stays so far.”

More crucial is the fact of replacement. Why would the Philippines appoint a new ambassador to Germany who can, at most, and assuming all legal obstacles are hurdled, serve for only three months? Yuchengco, the man behind Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. and other business interests, served the country as ambassador, at various times, to Japan, China and the United Nations. But even a diplomat with his experience cannot hope to do anything substantial in a mere three months.

The president of the Union of Foreign Service Officers, Assistant Secretary Vicky Bataclan, expressed her peers’ main concern. “Our beef is that Mr. Alfonso Yuchengco’s appointment is void. There is no Commission on Appointments to confirm his nomination, which is [needed for] the necessary steps, like requesting his agrément from the German government. In any case, all political ambassadors are coterminous with [the President]. This is, thus, a useless nomination to a nonexistent CA, almost void ab initio, if not unconstitutional.”

Like we said, characteristic of the President’s management style.

There is also the matter of the election ban. In the Supreme Court’s most controversial ruling to date, it decided that the President could appoint the Chief Justice even during election season, when the Constitution expressly prohibits appointments except for urgent requirements in the Executive. The President’s latest wave of appointments crashes against the breakwater of this decision (it certainly makes the majority justices even more vulnerable to accusations of being used, whether willfully or naively, by a Machiavellian administration).

Belatedly, administration spokespersons have argued that the latest appointments were all done before March 10, the date the election ban started. But one of those dismissed, Clarence Paul Oaminal, until very recently vice chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board, gave the lie to the Palace’s party line.

When he was informed of his misfortune, he said, he found out that his dismissal was made retroactive to March 5, or before the election ban took effect. Expect the same unkindest cut to be tried with Albert and the rest.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Good Neighborhood: Little Things Mean a Lot

There might not be any sun this weekend but my
dear neighbor Ursula S.was a shinning source of
joy when she knocked on our door and just handed me
this bunch of tulips saying "for simply being
a nice neighbor," and she meant me!

She declined to be my friend in Facebook as she wouldn't want
to have anything to do with any social networking. I also
prefer her that way...a friend, a thoughtful neighbor in person and
not just per clicking in virtual life.
Hmmmm, how do I return such simple gestures of niceness when
her husband got threatened when I knock on their door with
a plate of fingergoodies to taste. Would you care for a freshly
brewed gumamela (hibiscus) tea, dear Mr. S.?

Sunday 21 March 2010

Spring Again!

"It's spring again
and the birds on the wing again
start to sing again
the old melody"

Frank Sinatra

According to the calendar,it is the official
start of Spring, March 20.
Time to change the wardrobe, maybe get a new
haircut, new hair color,out of the greying zone,
get friends for brunch in street cafes, check
on the few potted tulips in the terrace. Emma B.,
a friend who has a green thumb even for cultivating
Alugbati* inside their
house suggested to loosen
the soil a bit so the tulips get out of their
wintry hiding. Nothing of that sort happens yet so one
buys ready to go tulips from the supermarket and
gets out with thick jacket and gloves not forgetting
the handy umbrella.
*Alugbati...I wrote the usual what is alugbati in
English, googled it and got this answer: Malabar Night Shade.
Other source said it is a kind of spinach. One more point
learned while waiting for spring.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

A nook of your own

I love drinking coffee even if I am alone. Solo eating, no.
In Frankfurt, I found this place recommended by
friends who also frequent this cafe.

For this set of croissant with cappuccino rather caffe macchiato
you pay 4.90Euro.

Nice nook to read or just to observe.

City Tips

For those who are thinking of visiting some cities in Germany, here
are some photos I took while visiting Frankfurt.
Photos show the area near Dom/Roemer, the magnet for all
Just to give you a rough idea how much fare costs:
With ICE train from Cologne to Frankfurt and back,
about 112 Euro. Check for cheaper tickets with
German trains. Trains could be b....expensive
in Germany.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Getting back to blogging...Lit Koeln

Sunday, March 14
Another rainy and grey Sunday this month of March.
Have to fight the addiction to click to my Farm
and talk to some avatars in this small network of buddies
I have created since I started virtual farming. You really
miss them and that's what this game is all have
your own mini world of contacts, not just the thrill of getting
XP experience points and coins from virtual harvesting, plowing
and get wishes, greetings, small talks, weather
checks from countries of your buddies, their work situation.
I have one dancing partner every now and then, and one woman
who calls me Hun...or ends her sentence with that term. Funny,
but endearing somehow.So while waiting for my pineapples to
mature and hating the thought that I have to sort papers out again,
I'm getting back to blogging...adding spice to my own private
I bumped into Manuel last Saturday while rushing to get my
train home. He said he had just returned from Lissabon the other
day but mentioned about a visiting Portuguese author who is
participating in this yearly LitCol,
said to be the biggest of its kind in Europe, a literary event.

What I have been missing by being a virtual farmer?
Read not reap the virtual fruits...the new slogan for me.