What we worry about most 

By Alex P. Vidal 

“The government is so out of control. It is so bloated and infested with fraud and deceit and corruption and abuse of power.“ —Ted Nugent

WE have two major things to worry about in advance amid the ordeal and sufferings our brothers and sisters have been grappling with in the shattered Mount Kanlaon in Negros and its environs.

Government thieves are more to be feared now than lahar, which has started cascading in the cities and municipalities near the Mt. Kanlaon parameters.

We worry a lot for the residents first and foremost, but we worry more that corrupt, rapacious and dishonest LGU leaders and unscrupulous contractors will strike once more and take advantage of the people’s woes.

For sure, millions of pesos worth of infrastructure projects, rehabilitation and other health and social assistance will start to pour into the affected areas through the government agencies concerned.

We just cannot trust some characters in government that showed “concern” and “pain” for our beleaguered countrymen during calamities and catastrophes, yet these greedy and avaricious individuals are the ones that will profit along the way. History will prove us right.

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As of this writing, lahar, a flow of debris consisting of volcanic material, reportedly roared through a town in La Castellana near the foot of Kanlaon volcano in Negros, two days after the volcano erupted on Monday (June 3) night, sending a tall plume of ash into the sky.

Alert Level 2 had been raised in the area due to increased volcanic unrest.

We remember in the 90s when Mount Pinatubo, an active stratovolcano in the Zambales Mountains on the northern Philippine exploded, at least three Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials have been blamed for widespread fraud in awarding billions of pesos worth of contracts to rehabilitate damaged areas around Mount Pinatubo.

It was the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century in the Philippines on June 15, 1991.

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“Everything that could possibly go wrong with a major relief and rehabilitation effort happened in the case of the Mount Pinatubo effort,” the senate Blue Ribbon Committee said then in a scathing 41-page report.

The late former senator Ernesto Maceda, chairman of the 13- member committee, described the anomalies as “the worst, most scandalous, most unconscionable and most terrible” he has witnessed in six years as a member of the senate.

He said the scandal was a “tragic-comic tale held together by threads of greed and stupidity”.

As the probe widened, anomalies were found in work performed by up to 70 per cent of the firms contracted by the government to rehabilitate damaged areas in central Luzon Island.

In its initial findings, the committee found: millions of pesos were spent on the construction of “inefficient and inappropriate” damns; many contractors awarded multi-million contracts weren’t qualified—some had no offices.

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Over 37 percent of New York City residents were born in another country, according to a report, the highest percentage in over 100 years.

A record high 3.07 million foreign-born immigrants live in New York City, more than any other city in the world.

For perspective: There are more foreign-born New Yorkers than there are people living in America’s third-largest city, Chicago, or roughly the same as the populations of Philadelphia and Phoenix combined.

And unlike at the beginning of the twentieth century, when New York City’s immigrant population was primarily European, the city’s foreign-born are now from all over the world.

“In just 30 years, what was a city with a population of primarily European origins has now become a place with no dominant race/ethnic or nationality group,” reads the Department of City Planning report, “The Newest New Yorkers,” which uses data from an American Community Survey conducted between 2007 and 2011. “Indeed, New York’s unmatched diversity epitomizes the world city.”

The city’s largest foreign-born group hails from the Dominican Republic, but maybe not for long. The foreign-born Chinese population in New York City has grown 34 percent in the last 11 years. The Chinese population in New York City is the largest outside of China itself, according to WNYC.

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According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, one of the causes of Ernest Hemingway’s “deepest depression” was due to “Writer’s Block” which could happen to any writer.

When asked to write a speech for the inaugural of President JFK, Hemingway, America’s all-time best Nobel Prize in Literature winner, suffered a “Writer’s Block” and could not start a sentence. Several days later, he shot himself to death with a shotgun!

(The author, whois now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)

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