Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Delivering Stories of Progress


FIRING LINE: Stop the golden building

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Hotel Okura Manila
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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Is it P8.9 billion or P23 billion? Senate President Chiz Escudero’s decision to suspend the new Senate building’s construction is a no-brainer. Originally budgeted at P8.9 billion, the project, so he finds out, ballooned to an eye-popping P23 billion.

This shocking escalation, amid a national economic crisis, is scandalous. No one can blame the new Senate President for his bold stand for fiscal responsibility.

He halted the project, demanding a detailed review of the costs, exposing deviations and quality concerns. By freezing the spending, Escudero ensures that taxpayer money is not squandered on gold-plated offices while Filipinos struggle to buy a kilo of rice.

‘Spy’ in Camp Crame

For a foreign national to walk the streets of another country with a gun tucked in his waist is a brazen act, but to carry suspected hacking equipment is downright alarming.

It’s been exactly two weeks today since the arrest of Chinese national Yuhang Liu in Makati City and he has since been transferred detention to the Philippine National Police Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

His arrest exposes a potential espionage threat right in our back yard. Armed with firearms and sophisticated electronic gear in his house and vehicle, Liu’s boldness raises chilling questions about our national security.

What was he planning? Why did he have equipment capable of intercepting communications? Agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group seized multi-band antennas, drones, and hacking devices. The implications are disturbing.

Was he acting alone or as part of a broader scheme? Normally, the discovery of a veritable arsenal from such a shady character would suggest mere criminal intent. Still, in these times when Beijing turns up aggression against Filipino vessels well within our side of maritime borders in the South China Sea, the deal with this Liu guy hints at espionage.

Ginger deal

So, prices of ginger have been climbing for the past two weeks, and here we are again facing soaring costs.

Apparently, the Department of Agriculture is always caught flatfooted when market prices of cooking essentials make a rally. A jump from P220 to P320 per kilo is unacceptable.

The DA talks about increased demand and dwindling supplies, but why does it not step up and stabilize prices before things get worse?

Clearly, its mechanisms are not working — especially in increasing production and improving storage. The funny thing is, every time this happens, imported ginger always if not always, is at prices that go incredibly cheap. Reeks of a spicy conspiracy, doesn’t it?

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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