Issue of December 31, 2017
Mt. Province

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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During the New Year you should beware of Digong and Bato

As usual, let us welcome the New Year with a bang. But you should beware of “Digong” and “Bato.” They are dangerous and can be very destructive. Stay safe and keep away from them.

“Digong” and “Bato” are the names of the latest versions of powerful firecrackers. Even firecracker producers are warning against their use.

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Congressmen opposed to the powers that be, found that they will get no infrastructure budget for their districts. Liberal Party congressmen also found that their budgets have been slashed. This certainly is an assault against dissent which is crucial in a democracy. It has been said that “dissent is the health of the democratic state.” The late Sen. Jose W. Diokno stated it succinctly: “Criticism, we welcome. Distortion, we deplore.”

Dissent is constitutionally protected under freedom of speech. For congressmen, it is also constitutionally protected under their parliamentary privilege and immunity.

Are we slowly drifting away from democracy?

The constituents of opposition congressmen will not get a fair share in the budget, even if they faithfully pay their taxes. James Otis once said that “taxation without representation is tyranny.” We hope these Filipinos who are discriminated against will not think of refusing to pay their taxes. Why pay when you get less in return compared to other districts?

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Under the Chinese Zodiac, the new year of 2018, which will start in February, will be the Year of the Dog. The Earth Dog.

The last time we had a year of the Earth Dog was in 1958. That was the year when Fidel Castro began his successful assault on Havana, Cuba. It was also the year when the European Union was founded.

Do you believe in horoscopes? We were reviewing some predictions for 2018, the Year of the Dog, and it is said that it will be a year of “turbulence and battles for stability for many nations.” It may bring “revolutions and government overthrows.”

On the optimistic side, there is a prediction that “actions based solely on individual drive and demagoguery are unmasked and rejected by the majority, giving way during this period to the more universal values of empathy and social justice.”

Ironically for Dog People, or those born under the Year of the Dog, the predictions are not too auspicious, although they are not dire either. They will experience ups and downs during the year.

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The year 2017 has already been a difficult and turbulent year for some of us. We saw many of our political, cultural, and constitutional values eroded and maligned. Yet that is no reason to despair. A new year will soon be upon us. There is always hope for change.

During the dark days of Martial Law many of us almost lost hope for change. It was Ka Pepe Diokno who kept telling us: “There is one dream that we all Filipinos share: that our children may have a better life than we have had. To make this country, our country, a nation for our children.” And he said: “I know my people. We will be free. We will develop. We will build our own societies. We will sing our own songs.”

And one new year came and his words proved true. We did it before, it can be done again.

To one and all, our hopes and prayers for a better New Year!

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