Juan L. Mercado

Toxin-laced symbols

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“Only when the last river has been polluted, the last tree cut and the last fish caught, will we realize we cannot eat money.” Is this why 50 of the country’s 421 rivers are “biologically dead”?

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When the strong weep

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How would Sen. Jose Diokno (1922-1987) see those six tarred senators who twisted in the wind at Monday’s rallies against the pork barrel scam?

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Creeping amnesia

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Sept 21, 2013 is the 41st anniversary of the imposition of martial law. There were 22 Manila-based journalists arrested by military teams that shoved “assos” into our faces. “What’s an ‘asso?’” asked our grandson, a University of California Irvine freshman.

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Geography as destiny

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Suppose our 80 provinces were countries. How would we compare with 185 other nations, say in increasing life expectancy? What about improving health? Or keeping kids in school longer, plus tamping down gender bias?

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Yes, you — Sir

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“Who, me?” asked Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. He denied raking in from the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam. At the blue ribbon hearing, whistle-blower Benhur Luy said he visited the senator’s office in 2011 and 2012. “Sexy” had slimmed down, he added.

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Leapfrogging infection

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Doctors dub it “metastasis.” That’s when a disease leapfrogs from one part of the body to another. The Commission on Audit has documented persisting metastasis of the pork barrel.

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Austere laurels — or pork?

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“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a tree without a root.” This Asian axiom is apt for the 135th birthday of Sergio Osmeña on Sept. 9. As the fourth Philippine president, he led a war-ruined country into a new republic.

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Forgetting to weep

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Scavengers sifting through garbage dumps of Manila’s Payatas, “Smokey Mountain” of Cebu, and Mandurriao in Iloilo, are half a world away from Brazil. That’s where over three million people gathered for World Youth Day.

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Quaking in Florsheim shoes

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Mid-July, Benhur Luy blew the whistle on the P10 billion cornered by Janet Lim-Napoles through 20 bogus nongovernment organizations. Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Gregorio Honasan, plus 23 congressmen, delivered the shekels, he claimed.

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Flawed head counts

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Come July 23, the first-ever Latin American pontiff will launch, in Brazil, the 14th World Youth Day. “WYDRio2013” will run until Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. Pope Francis will offer Mass and interact with youngsters from countries ranging from Slovakia to the Philippines to Indonesia against the backdrop of the “Christ the Redeemer” statue towering on Sugarloaf Mountain.

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