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FIRING LINE: De Lima’s Christmas

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

This Christmas, I can only imagine the joy former Senator Leila de Lima must feel, savoring the season’s warmth after being granted bail. In the wake of retired police Brigadier General Jerry Valeroso’s conscience-driven recantation of what he called were “lies” against the former senator, we now have a better idea of the complexities surrounding the remaining drug charge.

What adds a compelling layer to this narrative is not only Valeroso’s recantation but also the seven other witnesses who have stepped forward to retract their testimonies, citing coercion and undue influence. As the intricacies of the case unfold, it becomes increasingly evident that the foundation upon which these charges were built is being called into question.

De Lima’s resilience in the face of these challenges and her dedication to upholding justice amid a backdrop of recantations underscore the significance of her release on bail. Her unwavering trust in the legal process, even as witnesses express their intent to recant, exemplifies a resilience rarely witnessed.

This Christmas, she celebrates her newfound freedom and stands as a symbol of courage for those who believe in the pursuit of truth, even in the most challenging circumstances.

De Lima’s enduring commitment to justice shines through. 

China’s double-talking

In a striking display of audacity, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has declared that the Philippines should exercise caution in their actions and engage in dialogue to address the escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

However, this seemingly diplomatic call for dialogue is marred by the stark contrast of China’s vessels engaging in aggressive acts against Philippine ships in the West Philippine Sea. Wang Yi’s warning, coupled with baseless accusations of collusion, smacks of hypocrisy and intimidation.

As the Philippines seeks support from stronger allies in response to China’s coercion, Beijing’s attempts to shift blame and issue thinly veiled threats expose a disdain for genuine diplomacy. China must confront its aggressive actions before daring to lecture others on the merits of dialogue. This double-talking approach erodes the credibility of China’s calls for peaceful resolution.

Rethinking PUVMP

The Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) is a commendable effort to upgrade transportation, but the current approach raises critical concerns. The mandatory consolidation requirement jeopardizes the livelihoods of 140,000 drivers and 60,000 operators who may not afford the costly shift to modern vehicles. This abrupt phaseout of jeepneys, the lifeblood of many communities, disproportionately favors financially capable corporations.

The rushed year-end deadline, coupled with potential job losses, raises questions about the program’s realism. Displacing 28.5 million commuters in January 2024 could lead to a transport crisis.

Jeepney drivers and operators’ group, PISTON, is asking the Supreme Court to assess the constitutionality of the PUVMP. It is called upon to ensure the program does not infringe on the drivers’ right to association and livelihood. A more comprehensive and inclusive strategy is essential to address the economic challenges drivers and operators face while modernizing public transportation responsibly.

 
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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.thephilbiznews.com

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