December 8, 2023

Welcome to 2020, the Year of the Rat.
In the Chinese zodiac, it is the year for those born in 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, and 2020.
Rat people are supposed to be quick-witted, resourceful, and smart. They are diligent, thrifty, and are thought to be wealthy.
Lucky you. Buti pa kayo!
On the negative side, you are supposed to be hot-tempered, prone to jealousy, lack confidence, opportunistic, and picky. But who cares, as long as you are wealthy, ‘di ba?

And of course, it’s New Year’s resolution time again. It should not be difficult to make a list. In fact, for many of us, all we have to do is look for our list last year, or even the year before. Then we simply recycle them.
We did not fulfill any of them anyway. And we can do the same next year.
Maybe, New Year resolutions should now be declared obsolete. We do not follow them or take them seriously anyway.

Kennon Road was opened during the Christmas season. The opening was supposed to be one-way, or only for those coming up to Baguio, except for those residing along Kennon Road, who could go up or down.
We were among those who used Kennon Road on the way back from Manila after the holidays. We met many vehicles coming down. They were simply too many, that we doubt if they were all really legitimate residents of Kennon Road and therefore exempt from the ban. Looks like many were “fake” residents given a special privilege.
After the long closure of Kennon Road, one can see that, in fairness, much work has indeed been done. But there is still a lot more that has to be done.
Now that the Christmas season is over, perhaps it may not be a bad idea to completely close the road once again, so that the workers can get their job done with the least bother and disturbance from traffic, especially from “fake”Kennon residents going down the road.

Opening that TPLEX portion going to Rosario was a funny way to announce an “achievement.” Contrary to what many thought, the new extension does not really connect with the TPLEX. Not yet anyway.
You go in the extension, then you go out the old highway again, and then after some distance you go in the TPLEX again or vice-versa. The consolation, of course, is that you are allowed to use the short “extension” for free. Some consolation.

Because the U.S. is poised to impose a ban to enter that country against those involved in the imprisonment of Sen. Leila de Lima, the Philippines has also imposed a ban against the U.S. senators responsible for the U.S. ban.
Interestingly, the Philippine government has also said that it will also require U.S. citizens and Filipino Americans to obtain a visa before they are allowed entry to the Philippines. It is our first time to hear that U.S. citizens were previously allowed to enter the Philippines without obtaining a visa.
That is simply unfair and inequitable. Many Filipinos line up in front of the U.S.Embassy in Manila, come rain or come shine, just to get a U.S. visa. And U.S. citizens can enter the Philippines without a visa?
We thought we were sovereign co-equals? But then, that, of course, is wishful thinking.

The U.S. ban against alien corrupt officials and human rights violators is not new. And it is not only applicable to the Philippines. It is sourced from the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of the U.S. Other countries have similar laws.
We spent several days of our Christmas vacation reading a book entitled “Red Notice” by Bill Browder. It details the many years spent in order to finally pass and enact the Magnitsky Act in the U.S. Congress.
It tells the tragic story of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer, and how his arrest, detention, torture, and murder by Russian government officials and agents led to the passage of the Magnitsky Act.
If you have the time it is a must reading. And it will not be the first time that you will hear about the Magnitsky Act. As the present administration runs its final years, more and more people, and countries, may increasingly call for the application of that global law, and other similar laws, to the Philippine situation.