Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Archive for November, 2009

Mexican flu vaccinations

Posted by butalidnl on 23 November 2009

Today is the first day of the massive vaccination of children against the Mexican flu (H1N1) in the Netherlands.  All children from 6 months to 4 years old will be getting the injection. The family members of children younger than 6 months old will also get the vaccination. In total, about a milllion people are covered by this vaccination order.The vaccination will be given within the span of two weeks, in a military-like operation which was ordered just two weeks ago.

It seems that up to 80% of those called for the vaccination are indeed coming to have their injections.

The Netherlands is ready with enough vaccine for the whole population, if that is needed. So far, it is only the “risk groups” of old people, people with heart or lung sickness, health workers, and now the children who have been called to have their vaccinations. The other groups are in the process of having their vaccinations.

This is the biggest vaccination campaign ever in the Netherlands. It is in response to the pandemic of Mexican flu which has claimed 22 lives in the country.

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Yes to Ladlad

Posted by butalidnl on 14 November 2009

The COMELEC rejected the registration of Ang Ladlad, an LBGT (Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gay and Transexuals) group that wanted to run for the party-list elections for the House of Representatives. The reason they gave was that this group “tolerates immorality”.  To bolster their claim, they cited passages in the Bible and Koran to prove that the group “violates moral and faith”.

This decision is a gross violation of the rights of Ang Ladlad. Why are the Bible and Koran referred to in the decision of the Comelec? Aren’t they supposed to decide on the merits of the application only? As far as I know,  Ang Ladlad has met the requirements put forward by the Party List Law,  and the LBGT sector is definitely an under-represented sector in Congress. The commissioners have no right to put personal prejudices to play in this matter.

“It is a disgusting display of ignorance and bigotry. It betrays a disturbing ignorance of their mandate as a poll body, and the commissioners involved should be forced to review their duty as election officials,” Rep. Hontiveros (Akbayan  party list representative) said. “They should be made to read the constitution.”

The Supreme Court should force the Comelec to revise its decision, on the basis of the separation of Church and State.

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Bikes in the LRT

Posted by butalidnl on 10 November 2009

The LRT in Manila is now allowing bicycles on their trains – the last car of each train can now accomodate up to 4 folding bicycles.  While this is a positive step in promoting bicycling in Manila,  I wonder why only 4 folding bicycles are allowed on board.

Here in the Netherlands, the policy is to accomodate bikes on trains, as long as the bike’s fare is paid for (at half-rate per bike) or at no extra cost if the bike is of the folding type.  This is logical, since bikes use up space – at least when you use the regular type.  But the folding type of bikes don’t use up that much space, and that’s the reason why they can board trains for free.

I think the LRT should just allow an unlimited amount of bikes on trains, as long as these are foldable. These foldable types do not get in the way after all, and occupy as much space as a big bag. Initially, the number of bikes on LRT trains will not be that much, anyway; but as time goes on, it could stand a chance at becoming commonplace in the LRTs.

To really make the bikes commonplace, there would need to be bike shops at the LRT stations, which would offer foldable bikes for rent, and where people could leave their bikes. This will offer flexibility to the bikers who would have the option of biking to the station, and walking to their destination, or the other way around, of walking to the station, and biking to their destination.

Posted in environment | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

A national ID system would eliminate need for Comelec registration

Posted by butalidnl on 4 November 2009

We have heard about the long lines and long waiting times for those who want to register for the coming elections. It seems that the Comelec personnel are overstretched, and the people are becoming impatient with them.

But this does not need to happen. The long lines etc are there because of the system of getting an ID for everything we do. Thus, we line up for a Comelec ID, and before that, there was the GSIS/SSS ID, and other IDs – so much so, that a friend of mine was surprised that I didn’t have a spare ID photo with me, since this could be quite handy what with the various ID needs there are in the Philippines.

My experience here in the Netherlands is different.  Whenever we move to a new city, we register with the Civil Registry.  With this, we are able to get our national ID.  During elections, we just get a paper that says where and when we should show up to vote. No lining up for an ID.

The national ID and registration is year round, and thus there is no rush to register at a given time. After all, the national ID is valid for 5 years. The national ID is also handy when one goes abroad, since it is accepted by other EU countries. Thus, it serves as a sort of passport for most of people’s travels. I have applied for a separate passport, though, because the Philippines does not accept our national ID as a valid travel document.

It may be a good idea to look into having a national ID system, if only to lessen our having to line up for all kinds of IDs.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | 1 Comment »