Year 2008: Crisis after crisis hits RP

Published by rudy Date posted on December 31, 2008

The see-saw economy, disasters both man-made and natural, sporting zeroes and heroes, and the usual political rigmarole dominated the headlines in the year just past.

What follows, in no particular order of importance or relevance, are stories that shook the country in the past 12 months, some of which may have lasting repercussions in the coming year.

• Fuel prices reach an all-time high of P62 per liter then plummet to P33 per liter as the country braces for world recession. Oil prices reached record highs in the middle of the year, translating to pump prices here reaching up to P62-63 a liter. Then towards the end of the year world crude prices plummeted on the back of a global economic slowdown, cutting prices nearly by half to 30-plus pesos a liter, even as the country braced for a worldwide recession with layoffs in the OFW and BPO sectors as prices of other commodities and services remained at relatively high levels.

• Rice crisis and long lines for the staple as inflation hits double digits for the first time in years. Rice hoarders and price speculators were clamped down on like economic saboteurs, grain warehouses were raided, and the government distributed coupons for the masses to line up for more affordable rice, which prime variety reached around P40 a kilo. Not only rice but bread, canned and other goods had their prices shoot up as inflation hit 11.4 percent in June, its highest level in 14 years. It, however, tapered back to single digit toward yearend.

• Princess of the Stars sinking. On June 21 the Sulpicio Lines ship Princess of the Stars sailed into the eye of typhoon “Frank” and capsized off the coast of Romblon, resulting in the death of more than 700 people. Rescue and subsequent retrieval operations were hampered when it was found that the ship’s cargo hold contained toxic pesticide. It was the worst sea tragedy since the Doña Paz sinking in December 1987.

• Aborted signing of MOA-AD with MILF. A temporary restraining order was issued by the Supreme Court on Aug. 4, eve of scheduled signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in Kuala Lumpur, that would have given expanded Muslim autonomy to sections of Mindanao. The SC heeded the request of local governments in the region that were ready to resort to vigilantism as Moro Islamic Liberation Front commanders wreaked havoc on villages of Central Mindanao in the aftermath. The MOA-AD was declared unconstitutional by the SC in October. Another important SC ruling was one that upheld executive privilege in government officials’ testimony on the broadband deal.

• Congress shakeup. (I) De Venecia ousted as speaker in February after having lost the confidence of his partymates in the ruling Lakas following the expose of his son and namesake on the government deal with broadband network provider ZTE; (II) Villar unseated as Senate president in November largely due to allegations of double insertion in the C-5 extension budget for 2008, as well his early declaration to run for the presidency in 2010, on fears he would use his office’s resources.

• RCBC bank robbery in Cabuyao. May 16 turned out to be a Black Friday as 10 people were killed in the RCBC branch in Cabuyao, Laguna, the victims executed gangland style in what has been tagged as the bloodiest bank robbery in the country’s history. About P10 million was said to have been carted away by the robbers who allegedly wore police uniforms.

• Return of witness Jun Lozada, which evoked a sense of deja vu in the airport named after one who was assassinated upon arrival. Fortunately no such thing happened to Lozada, who was either kidnapped or given intense security in February when he was going to testify on the broadband deal with ZTE Corp. of China, resulting in crying jags and a congregation of religious surrounding him, and a new word in vogue, “bubukol,” referring to greed that wouldn’t be easy to moderate.

• Return of witness Jocjoc Bolante, who was promptly whisked to St. Luke’s hospital in October complaining of chest pains among other ailments, shortly after extradition to testify on the fertilizer fund scam that he had allegedly masterminded in 2004 to divert funds for the election of President Arroyo. The fertilizer scam may also be linked to the murder of journalist Marlene Esperat in 2005, as she may have been hot on the trail of a corruption expose.

• Fourth impeachment complaint against GMA filed and junked.

For the fourth straight year since her election in 2004 the President faced an impeachment complaint, this time spearheaded by the son of her former ally and party-list congressmen, on allegations of corruption surrounding the broadband network among other deals. The complaint was promptly shot down by Mrs. Arroyo’s allies in Congress for being sufficient in form but not in substance, a familiar refrain such that if no impeachment complaint is filed against her in 2009 then maybe that would be news.

• Pacquiao rewrites boxing history with three big wins this year even as the Philippines comes up zilch for the third straight Olympics. Athlete of the year Manny Pacquiao reaffirmed his position as the country’s best boxer ever, finally overtaking the great Flash Elorde with wins over Juan Manuel Marquez, David Diaz and Oscar de la Hoya, the last two by knockout. The Pacman, who earned millions in pay per view revenue, is not ruling out a comeback in politics even as he continuously spreads the bounty among his less fortunate countrymen.

 (+) Transitions: Artist Sid Hildawa, National Artist Lucrecia Kasilag, labor leader and congressman Crispin Beltran, peace architect Manuel Yan, disc jockey Dante “Howlin’ Dave” David, jukebox queen Didith Reyes… –Juaniyo Arcellana, Philippine Star

June – Pride Month

“We are proud of everyone!”

 

Continuing
Solidarity with CTU Myanmar,
trade unions around the world,
for democracy in Myanmar,
with the daily protests of
people in Myanmar against
the military coup and
continuing oppression.

 

Accept National Unity Government
(NUG) of Myanmar.
Reject Military!

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