Special election for
Samar 2nd District may be called to choose a new House Representative
By CHITO DELA TORRE,
February 8, 2011
There could be a
special election for Member of the House of Representatives to
represent the Second District of Samar province. Yes?
The likelihood of a
special election could come about only if and when the House of
Representatives Electoral Tribunal or HRET of the Lower Chamber of the
Philippine Congress decides in favor of a petition that has already
been filed with it to disqualify sitting member Milagrosa “Mila” Tee
Tan, former 3-termer governor of Samar who was proclaimed by as winner
in the May 2010 congressional election in the Second District of that
Mila won over former
Basey, Samar mayor attorney Wilfredo “Didi” O. Estorninos and other
hopefuls, was proclaimed as duly elected member of the House of
Representatives, took her oath of office as such member, and has since
been doing her job as congresswoman.
The HRET could do
either of only two things: decide against Mila based on grounds raised
in that petition or sustain her election as House member. If the
latter prevails, Mila could continue with her legislative functions
and duties until the end of her term. Such ruling would be equal to
saying she has never been disqualified from the time the Comelec
received her certificate of candidacy for Representative.
If the House rules in
favor of the petition, then it will proclaim Mila as disqualified.
With that, the House will declare as vacant the seat of Member for the
Second District of Samar. The vacancy would be followed by the
enactment a law, or a passage of resolution, calling for a special
As to when this can
happen, only the Lower House can decide.
petition was filed with the HRET because this body alone has the sole
and exclusive jurisdiction thereon. Does the Commission on Elections
have a prior jurisdiction? Not anymore. The Comelec’s authority
stopped right after the winner in the May 2010 congressional election
was declared. Had a petition been filed with the Comelec to
disqualify Tan after her proclamation won in that election for the
Second District of Samar, it could have been dismissed outright by
that body, for reason of lack of jurisdiction.
The ground offered for
the disqualification of Tan, to stop her from working a day longer in
the House of Representatives in whose turf she is one of its honorable
legislators, is that she was allegedly “disqualified” to run for
Member of the House of Representatives right from the moment her
certificate of candidacy for that position was filed with the Comelec.
A highly reliable source in the Liberal Party said that she was
“disqualified” because she did not meet the basic qualification which
was to be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. Much, much
earlier, it was bruited about that Mila was born to a Chinese national
and years later was “naturalized”. The Philippine Constitution
requires that only a natural-born citizen can run for Congress,
according to the source. Requesting anonymity, the source said that
even if Mila was allowed under the Constitution as a naturalized
Filipino citizen, to run for Congress, still she must be disqualified
because of her alleged failure to take her “oath of allegiance” to the
Philippine flag, the Philippine government, and the Philippine
It was, however,
alleged by another source that Mila, or her lawyers, relied heavily on
her “naturalization” via her business permits and licenses for her
businesses in the Philippines, particularly in Samar, for which,
through her applications therefore, she declared or entered her
citizenship as “Filipino”.
QN’s source said, that
was not legally enough because the constitutional requirement must
first be satisfied. Even the oath of allegiance as Filipino must be
accompanied by certification about that fact of that oath having been
made and taken, the source said.
As of this writing,
Tan has not yet filed her answer to the petition. When done, the
petitioner and respondent would be submitting their respective
memorandum. From there, the HRET will render its verdict.
Whatever will be the
result of the HRET’s decision, either of the affected party can go to
the Supreme Court for a final relief.
With the special
election possibility brewing, eyes are on Atty. Estorninos. Since he
landed, according to the election proclamation at the provincial
level, second to Tan, many are now entertaining the belief that he
should join the race in order to win. Some of them, earlier, had said
that had Tan be disqualified even before her name could be entered by
the Comelec in the list of candidates in the official sample ballot,
Tan’s name would not have never been read even if appearing in the
ballots, or if read, every vote for her could have been considered
invalid or stray and therefore not counted. The walking rumors said
that had the early disqualification taken place at all, Didi could
have been the one proclaimed as winner, he having obtained the most
number of votes over his rivals. And then Didi could have been
congressman for the first time since noon time of June 30, 2010, and
perhaps he could already have introduced, or been introducing, the
reforms and kinds of development that he promised during his campaign
of which vigilant Samarnons cannot yet see from the sitting
congresswoman after more than seven months and for more than seven
Why the cross, Lord?
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
I REMEMBER a priest
friend of mine asking me one question that I'm sure is also in the
mind of many people. “Why does our Lord want us to carry the cross?
Why do we have to suffer? Did he create us only to suffer?”
Some years ago, that
question also engaged my mind in some torturous exercise. This
business of having to suffer simply goes against that primal human
desire and need to be happy. That's really what is burning in our
heart, isn't it?
We want pleasure, we
want comfort and convenience. We want wealth and power, and whatever
they are that fascinate our heart, and these can be endless. We are
told that in heaven, there will just be bliss, unmitigated joy and
goodness that “eyes have not seen, nor ears heard.” Then why do we
have to carry the cross?
I believe it is a
question that needs to be answered not only adequately, but also
repeatedly, giving fresh arguments, pieces of evidence, etc., because
we tend to lose sight of the whole picture with which it has to be
Besides, the question
possesses many aspects and side issues that also need to be tackled
properly. Given current human and world conditions that handicap deep
reflection and wholistic, integrative thinking, this duty to give
timely reminders of the entire truth of this matter acquires urgent
In the gospel, we are
encouraged to always give reasons for our hope of the promised
supernatural life of eternal happiness with God in heaven. This task
faces tremendous challenges and difficulties in view of the continuing
flow of hardships that many times lead people now not to look for
spiritual and moral solutions, but precisely the opposite.
Nowadays, big parts of
the world, especially in the so-called developed countries, are
lapsing into a neo-paganism era, where God is not anymore the
transcendent Supreme Being but rather we ourselves with our newly
acquired power especially in technology.
But indeed, why should
there be a cross in our life here on earth?
Offhand, we can say
that God for sure did not create us simply to suffer. We were created
for joy. That's why every pore of our being just longs for it. In
fact, everything that he created, he found it to be good. The creation
narrative simply says that very clearly.
The problem is that in
our case, and in that of the angels, who were both created spiritual
(the angels are pure spirits while we are spirit and body), and
therefore intelligent and free, we abused these endowments. We dared,
first through our first parents and then us, to detach our freedom
from God, its creator and law.
This is how evil
entered into our lives, and with it all sorts of suffering and
ultimately death. We actually cannot avoid suffering from then on.
Evil and suffering in all its forms are self-inflicted by us. It's not
what our Lord wants for us, though he took the risk and somehow knew
in his omniscience that it would happen.
But precisely because
of that he unleashes a much more tremendous display of his power by
undertaking a very complicated plan to redeem us in a way fit to our
wounded human nature and condition.
We could not argue
that if nothing is impossible with God, why then would he not make it
easy for us by simply making us anew and completely forgetting the
past as if it did not happen.
That would not sit
well with our human nature. It would be like annihilating us again
into nothingness then make us as a completely new creature. That's
like cheating. God does not go back to what he has created. From what
has taken place, we will do what is necessary to fix the problem.
To do that, he is
showing us how to handle suffering and ultimately death. The Son of
God has to become man to assume all the sins of men and with his
passion and death and later his resurrection, convert those sins into
the basis for a new creature, the new, re-created man in Christ.
For this, there was no
other way open to Christ but to suffer death on the cross. And so he
wants us to follow him all the way to the cross, since his
resurrection and ours could only be attained through it.
There's still a lot
more of points to clarify, but for now I think what have been
articulated suffice. May we not be afraid of the cross!
Sad state of nursing
in the USA and how it affects the Philippines
By BRUCE WHEATLEY,
So, you got into
nursing school, passed all the requirements, took and passed the NCLEX
and now, here you are wanting to go abroad and work as a nurse. But….
You can’t find an opportunity available. Why? …. Well here may be some
answers for you.
As it pertains to the
US, nursing is in a sad state of affairs. We are told that there is a
shortage of nurses in the US. But in reality, there is no actual
shortage. There IS a shortage of nurses willing to WORK as a nurse!
Every year, more ‘good’ nurses leave the field of nursing because of
the standards in which they are forced to work under have gotten worse
over the years they have been a nurse. It is a slow downward spiral.
We here in the US have
created a monster with a life of its own called HIGHER EDUCATION.
Nurses are now made to think more of themselves than they are actually
worth. Why be a ‘nurse’ when you can be a clinical nurse specialist or
a clinical educator or a nurse practitioner? School and more school
and more school is the way to go, or so say the professors of nursing
in those universities. The more students enrolled, the more income to
the school the higher the salaries to those same nursing professors
who are pushing unqualified and under qualified applicants into these
advanced programs just because the applicant can qualify for a student
loan or a grant.
There are long waiting
lists to get into these already full programs. And of course, there is
a shortage of nurses willing to be ‘just’ a bedside nurse and actually
(gasp) do basic nursing functions with their patients. Since most of
these nurses think they are too good to do basic care, the hospitals
have hired aides and simple care givers to take care of those dreaded
basic nursing tasks.
Since we now have a
shortage of bedside nurses, a shortage that is actually a false
shortage, a made up shortage, but still there are not enough nurses
willing to work AS A NURSE. So, in past years, there have been at
least 2 approaches to fix the situation. One was, as you know, to
allow foreign nurses the opportunity to come to the US on a special
visa to work as a nurse. The other was to ‘dumb down’ the requirements
to actually get into and pass nursing school. Let’s talk about the
dumbing down part first.
Prior to say the
1980s, nursing schools had entrance requirements and personal
standards that must be met. Those standards have been ‘relaxed’ many
times. I have a relative who was a professor of nursing at the
associate degree level school for maybe 25+ years. In her last couple
of years of teaching, she was ORDERED not to fail anyone. The
demographics of the nursing classes had changed (read racial make up)
and it was not politically correct for a nursing school to have a
failure rate of certain groups of students, which may effect the
school’s ability to get more students and tuition income. If an
instructor tried to fail a bad student, the instructor would be called
a racist for not making special accommodations for that student……
Basically unless you
as a student dropped out, if you showed up every day, you were allowed
to pass and this was rationalized by the nursing professors in that
the ‘really bad’ students would not be able to pass the NCLEX exam. It
ended up with that ONE EXAM being the gate keeper between the patient
and a nursing disaster being able to work as a nurse.
The end result is that
in the US, we now have several generations of people working as a
nurse, which are only working because the standards were lowered to
allow them into the field of nursing. It is reasonable to say that
there have been thousands of felons working as nurses, and many more
thousands in or have been in ‘impaired nurse programs’ that are set up
for drug addicted nurses to allow them to continue to work while going
through some drug program. As long as the student nurse properly
disclosed their criminal record on their application to the state
Nursing Board, there was a good chance the Board would allow that
person a license. Get arrested as a nurse for drug charges? Same
Business as usual.
Still with me? Good.
We will be getting to the
Faced with the growing
number of marginally qualified nurses coming into the workforce, the
older, qualified nurses started to retire or get out of nursing and
into a different profession. This increased the shortage of bed side
nurses. The older nurse who went to nursing school to be a NURSE found
these new grads were thinking they were too good to do basic nursing
care… “Isn’t there a nurses aide to give him a bath? I did not go to
nursing school to give some old man a bath….” And the downward spiral
Ah! Now the
So, while you may have
heard about special visa for Pinoy / Pinay nurses to come to the US
and work, actually that special visa is for “foreigners” not just
Philippine nurses. And THAT my friends is the problem!
The US today is trying
to be a friend to the world and trying to be all inclusive. It is not
politically correct to leave anyone out. At least officially that is.
I mentioned earlier about the 2 ways the
was addressing the shortage of nursing. Well now we talk about the
importation of foreign nurses into the US workforce.
Philippines. In reality, since the Philippines is mostly a Catholic
country and English is taught in schools, it is easy for a Philippine
nurse to blend into the
work force and learn how to adapt. No special handling needed! With
the limited number of visas available and the screening process for
the nurse applicants, the US benefited from quality as a person and
qualified-ness as a nurse of the Pinay.
But, in an effort to
be all inclusive, those special visas were also available to ‘other
nations’. Where the training, personal hygiene, language, and ethics
were not the same as the Philippine nurse imports. Hospitals were
confronted with foreign nurses who were easily offended, lacked
training standards, who brought strange religions with them, demanded
special holidays off and were not as easily accepted by the patients.
These same foreign
nurses once here, demanded more accommodations and if the hospital
said no, then the hospital could face discrimination charges and legal
issues and costs. At the same time, many of these foreign nurses came
from countries in which if lets say a patient has a broken leg, that
patient may wait 2-5 days to see a doctor. So that foreign nurse did
not understand that in the US, patients expect minimal delays. There
were many issues of patients or their families having ‘problem’ in the
various aspects of patient care / interaction with these foreign
Over time, our
politicians were made aware of these problems and every once in a
while these same politicians were patients or their family members
were patients and they saw first hand what was happening in
hospitals. Also, it should be noted that the majority of Pinay nurses
work in California, New York or in some smaller areas and the vast
majority or Americans outside these areas see foreign nurses from
countries other than the Philippines!
The special visas used
to bring foreign nurses here to the US expired as a matter of law and
they were not renewed in a timely manner or in the same numbers as
Which brings us up to
today and of course… you! You are ready to travel, trained, affairs in
order and then you find no job visa available.
Now, lets talk about
cause and effect and how it relates to time and the Philippines.
Remember, there is a
period of time to pass between any action and a reaction. Sometimes it
is years before there is a correction.
In past years, it was
easy to get a special work visa to go to the US and work as a nurse.
In the US, you can work and make between $25 to $45 an hour (P1,100 to
P2,000 an HOUR). An entire industry came to be in nursing schools.
Selling the students on the idea of going to nursing school, getting
the NCLEX certification and then going to the US and making enough
money live and send money home for your family. Maybe save and build a
big house for your retirement. A good life / dream come true for
And then the
Philippine hospitals realized that the
hospitals wanted any foreign nurses to have a certain number of years
working as a nurse before the US hospitals would accept them as a
candidate for a position.
Hospitals in any
country work on money! Private or public makes no matter. Without
money, there is no budget to pay for supplies and of course salaries.
Local governments who must use a certain amount of tax money to
support hospitals also like to save money.
realized that the number of nursing programs had grown by leaps and
bounds, and then there was competition between nursing schools for
clinical time for their students. In a few years, there were far more
nurses graduating then there were hospital jobs available. From a
purely business point of view, why PAY nurses, when there was a huge
supply of recently graduated nurses who would work for free just to
get the job experience needed to qualify for that special visa to work
abroad and make some ‘real money’. Suddenly, hospitals did not have to
budget so much money for nurses salaries! And there also the bad
stories in Philippine media of hospitals requiring some recent grads
to pay to get that free job in order to get that required experience.
So here we are. What
is next? Can a special appeal be made to the new US Ambassador to the
Philippines to request congressional approval for special work visas
of JUST the Philippines? Doubtful. Is it fair that the Pinay nurse is
losing out on a good job opportunity because of the ‘issues’ caused by
foreign nurses of other countries? NO!
But with the US trying
to show that we are supporting the world and everyone is equal in the
world…. It does not look like anything will change anytime soon.
What is needed in my
opinion? What will benefit both the US and the Philippines? Well that
is easy. The US needs to come to terms with the fact that not all
people are equal or able to get along with other cultures. It is OK to
not like some people or to give preference to some people that will
benefit the host country. It is time to stop being a friend to the
world and start doing things that benefit the US.
A good start would be
to allow a 5 year visa for Philippine nurses, with 2 renewal periods
allowed before that nurse must return to the Philippines. This allows
the individual nurse to work for up to 15 years and save enough money
to retire to in the Philippines. That nursing job is then opened to
another Philippine nurse and the 5-10-15 yr cycle starts for that new
nurse. The retiring nurse brings back to the Philippines up to 15
years of quality nursing experience where she / he can retire and work
for the government as a nursing instructor or as a community outreach
nurse. This benefits the US, helps to reduce the shortage of nurses
for us, brings money back into the Philippines and ends up with a well
qualified nurse then retiring and giving back into the Philippine
community…. And the cycle starts again!
But in the short
order… I see no real changes coming soon. And that, is bad for both
the USA and the Philippines.
the author. Bruce Wheatley is a retired US nurse and is now into
business in Florida. He obtained his LPN in 1991 and his RN in 1994, a
board certified in Prenatal (OB/Gyn) Nursing in 1997. He worked as OB/Gyn
and spent years both in OB/Gyn clinic and high risk L&D in a hospital.
Since 2009, he was able to visit Catbalogan 5 times, and using his own
money, is planning to set-up a small clinic for community outreach
program with free medicines and rice to poor Samareños in Catbalogan.
By RODRIGO S. VICTORIA, PIA 8
The untimely death of
couple, Marcos Maestre, 52 years old and his wife Veneranda, 49 years
old of Brgy Paypayon, Oras, Eastern Samar due to drowning as their
boat capsized after it was swept away by rampaging waters on their way
home from Sitio Tapol, Brgy Agsam, was among in the recent lists of
casualties in Eastern Visayas brought by flooding and landslide that
hit the region.
Death toll like what
the Maestre couple suffered would not happened and could be prevented
not because of the aid of sophisticated early warning device or system
used by weather bureaus in times of weather disturbances or in the
event a public storm signal is hoisted, but a color is enough to save
lives if people in the community are better informed what it meant.
Each color has its own
distinct meaning and interpretation depending on how we use and apply
it and on the way how each individual perceived it to be.
White generally means
peace and purity and black to many is a color of death or something
resembles that ominous things are coming.
But unknown to many of
us, much more to ordinary layman at the grassroots, colors play a
significant role in giving warning in the first place and generally
save lives in times of any types of disasters and calamities.
The use of colors
provided in the Code Alert System designed by the Department of Health
(DOH) is a useful tool in the preparation, prevention and mitigation
aspects in natural disaster like what has occurred in
Eastern Visayas and even in man-made disaster and other types of disasters
In DOH Administrative
Order No. 2008-0024 or the Integrated Code Alert System of 2008, three
colors are used as indicators in determining what conditions of
natural, man-made and other types of disasters and calamities are
present, the human resource requirements needed for responding and
other necessary requirements.
In Code White,
conditions include forecast typhoons (signal no. 2 up), national or
local elections and other political exercises, national events,
holidays or celebrations with potential Mass Casualty Incident (MCI),
any emergency with potential 10-50 casualties (deaths, injuries),
notification of reliable information of terrorist attack/activities,
any other hazard that may result in emergency and unconfirmed report
of re-emerging diseases (e.g. bird flu, SARS).
Code White requires an
emergency officer on duty, driver and security guard, reliever on
stand by and a response chief to perform continuous monitoring and
serve as medical controller for mass casualty incident plus the
checking of all available medicines and supplies, do proactive
monitoring, alert all health facilities that might be affected or
needed to respond or receive patients and do other necessary actions
to addressed the calamity or disaster.
In Code Blue,
conditions include the conditions in Code White plus any of the two
conditions like mobilization of DOH resources (manpower, materials),
30%-50% of health facilities in the area affected or damaged, no
capability of LGU and/or lack of resources of the region to respond to
the affected area, magnitude of the disaster based on the geographical
coverage and number of affected population (more than 30%), any MCI
with 50-100 casualties irrespective of color code, high case fatality
rates for epidemic and confirmed human to human for Avian Flu or SARS.
Code Blue requires for
a response director or officer to be physically present in the
operation center, driver and security guard to assist at the operation
center, incoming on call officer for immediate mobilization, logistics
officer on duty and at least one DOH representative to go on duty to
DRRMC plus do coordination with concerned government agencies, prepare
possible drugs and medicines needed for movement to affected areas,
check all possible means of transportation, anticipate need of medical
teams and other experts, prepare all needed reports and presentation
required for DRRMC meetings, plan for support to the affected regions
in case of long term emergencies and make coordinative meetings with
In Code Red,
conditions include any natural, man-made, technological or societal
disaster where all of the following conditions are present like
declaration of disaster to the affected area, 100 or more casualties
in the area, health personnel in the region not capable to handle
entire operation, mobilization of the health sector needed,
mobilization of key offices and uncontrolled human to human
transmission of SARS/Avian Flu.
Code Red requires for
personnel and staff augmentation from other offices to be divided into
three teams to go on a 24 hour duty rotation every three days composed
of team leader, two data collector/encoder, logistics, communication,
administrative officer, support staff/clerk, driver and I staff to be
assigned at the OCD operation center on a 24 hours duty plus
representation of the agency to DRRMC and other agencies and leads in
the coordination of international partners in health and nutrition,
all members of the health sectors, international and local donor
agencies, prepare updated reports, assists in the preparation of
recovery and rehabilitation plans and recommends in the activation of
the crisis committee.
Every one of us knew
the white, blue and red and other colors, yet we simply disregard its
deep meaning in the lives of people especially in times when other
people’s lives are lost and properties are destroyed.
Tragic incidents like
what had happened to the Maestre couple of Oras in Eastern Samar in
January 9 this year could have been prevented if we give its real
meaning, intent and purpose to the disaster affected community, only
then that we realized how important the white, blue and red colors are
in saving the lives of people.