Why you trippin’?

With the Philippines banking so much on tourism, having crowd-sourced travel website TripAdvisor declare the Philippines fourth on a list of top 10 Asian “destinations on the rise” is good news. Or, at the very least, big news, going by these stories on the Philippine Star and on DZMM TeleRadyo.


The DZMM story goes, and no translation will be provided:


Sinabi pa ng report na ang naturang pagkilala sa Metro Manila ay matapos mailunsad ng Department of Tourism (DOT) ang bago nitong campaign na “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” kung saan pinapakita na maraming maaaring gawin sa Ka-Maynilaan tulad ng shopping, clubbing, dining at iba pang entertainment at lifestyle offerings.


To be fair, the Yahoo news report that both the Philippine Star and DZMM cite did not say that. The story merely said the “recent accolade for Manila comes as the Department of Tourism on Wednesday launched a new international television campaign promoting entertainment and lifestyle offerings in Metro Manila. ” What it also does not say is why inclusion on the TripAdvisor list is an accolade for Manila, or if it is one at all. Neither does it say how TripAdvisor came up with the list.


Not, you know, that that’s important or anything. Maybe it’s because we’ve been investing, or promising to invest, in better airports. Maybe it’s because things are looking up for our economy. Maybe it’s because we have two Catholic saints now instead of just one. Maybe tourist volume has been rising. Maybe there’s a huge influx of international flights coming into Ninoy Aquino International. It’s certainly not because Philippine aviation has been upgraded on aviation safety lists.


This report on USAToday explains how Manila made it to the list of “destinations on the rise” in Asia. Apparently, winners were chosen based on “an algorithm that took into account factors including traveler feedback quality through reviews and opinions on destination accommodations, restaurants, attractions as well as interest through clicks on TripAdvisor, and ‘want to go’ pins placed by travelers on the TripAdvisor Cities I’ve Visited Facebook app.” That sounds totally legit.

Hostage-taking ex-cop actually was an extortionist

Ex-cop Rolando Mendoza, who took tourists hostage last year to protest charges of extortion, which he said were used to extort money from him, actually was an extortionist, says the Court of Appeals.

In a 19-page decision, penned by Associate Justice Francisco Acosta, the CA’s Thirteenth Division, eventually cleared the names of (former ombudsman Merceditas) Gutierrez and (former deputy ombudsman Emilio) Gonzalez after it affirmed their ruling that Mendoza, who was killed during the hostage-taking, and his men were indeed “extortionists” which warranted their dismissal from the service.

The appellate court has junked the petition for review filed by petitioners Mendoza, P/ Insp. Nelson Lagasca, SPO1 Nestor David, PO3 Wilson Gavino and PO2 Roderick Lopeña.

Mendoza insisted he was innocent (of extortion, at least) and that his dismissal from the service was unjust. He was killed in a failed rescue attempt that night. Gonzalez lost his job after the incident for supposedly delaying action on Mendoza’s appeal and for supposedly trying to extort P150,000 from the dismissed cop.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who signed the order dismissing Gonzalez, said: “The circumstances surrounding the charges of gross neglect of duty and gross misconduct lent credence to Mendoza’s accusation during the hostage-taking incident that Gonzalez was extorting P150,000 from him in exchange for a favorable decision.”

Now, this development doesn’t mean Gonzalez didn’t try to extort money from Mendoza but it does sort of demolish the narrative that Mendoza was an honest man forced by a corrupt system to take over a bus of tourists to protest that corrupt system. Mendoza was, apparently, dismissed from the service for cause. Gonzalez was removed over, in the end, nothing.

The appellate court ruled that the Office of the Ombudsman was correct in ruling that Mendoza and their men should be sacked from the PNP roster.

“Besides, questions remain unanswered: We could not understand why the petitioners extendedly kept or detained Kalaw in the police station when the purported basis was just a mere traffic violation, i.e., illegal parking and/or driving without required license; and why the petitioners put so much attention on Kalaw’s alleged traffic violations when primarily it is their job to apprehend traffic violators in the City of Manila,” the decision stated.

Gutierrez resigned as ombudsman in March after she was impeached by the House of Representatives for her supposed lack of action on corruption cases, especially those concerning former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Gutierrez defended and cleared Gonzalez of any wrongdoing.

Well...this is awkward, isn't it?

House reps response to water crisis: absolutely nothing

Members of the House of Representatives have called on President Benigno Aquino III to initiate sterner measures to solve the water crisis in Metro Manila. Specifically, the declaration of a state of calamity that will do absolutely nothing.

Marikina Representative Marcelino Teodoro said “there is already a need for the President to declare a state of calamity to strengthen and empower the government agencies concerned.” Forgetting, however, that strengthening government agencies is something that is done in anticipation of crises, not when you’re in the middle of one.

“(An) action plan towards mitigating effects of climate change should already be put in play as we are clearly experiencing the effects of global warming,” Compostela Valley Representative Maria Carmen Apsay said, adding nothing to the discussion.