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Always the student EDITORIAL 10/31/2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Always the student

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
10/31/2010
The stock market and the peso are again in the limelight as Noynoy Aquino refers to the strengthening of both as indicators of an improving economy, or alternatively, confidence in his new administration -- claims that are both empty.

The improvement in both are related but not necessarily the product of those in government at the moment. The peso has been appreciating and is now around 43 per dollar, largely as a result of the still robust remittances of Filipinos working abroad and the influx of money from investments funds that are placed short term either in the money markets or the stock market.

Global funds, which are managed investments whose main target is maximum profit, are looking at the emerging markets mainly in Southeast Asia for high returns and the Philippines happens to be among these markets..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101031com1.html

Diplomatic gaffe FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 10/31/2010

Diplomatic gaffe

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
10/31/2010
If the wine sucks in Vietnam, as tweeted by Noynoy Aquino’s speechwriter, what Noynoy said to Myanmar Prime Minister Thien Sein must have also sucked.

According to a news report, quoting Noynoy’s one of three communications chiefs, Ricky Carandang, the Myanmar leader rejected the request of Noynoy to free Aung San Suu Kyi in time for the Nov. 7 elections in the junta-led country.

Thien Sein was said to have told Noynoy that election procedures are already in place, with the creation of a Comelec of sorts, and the legal processes will have to take its course.

Throughout the years, Philippine leaders, such as Cory Aquino and Gloria Arroyo and now Noynoy, have called for the release of Suu Kyi, but this has always been turned down by the junta general..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101031com2.html

Saudi businesswomen seek to shrug off male guardians focus 10/31/2010

Saudi businesswomen seek to shrug off male guardians

focus

10/31/2010
JEDDAH — Banned from driving and denied the right to travel without permission, Saudi women are taking bold steps in business and trying to do away with the male guardian system that hobbles them.

“What we need today is the right to take decisions by ourselves without having to get the consent of the male guardian,” said Rania al-Sulaimani, 33, who owns a beauty center in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Like all women in the ultra-conservative kingdom, businesswomen need male permission for virtually everything, so even those who own companies are forced by law to appoint a male director, if just in name.
But two women managed to avoid the required appointment for their business, after knocking on the minister of commerce’s door demanding an exemption, which they surprisingly got.

“We have managed to break the taboo by convincing the minister of commerce and industry not (to insist on) appointing a male director for our private company,” said Dania Nassif, 35, who established with Dania al-Hamrani, 36, a production company for television documentaries..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune
 
URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101031com3.html

Midnight decree BLURBAL THRUSTS Louie Logarta 10/31/2010

Midnight decree

BLURBAL THRUSTS
Louie Logarta
10/31/2010
Indeed, why have Quezon City authorities continued to withhold official action regarding the illicit activities of a big massage parlor located along busy E. Rodriguez Ave., near the Cubao business district, despite numerous exposes indicating that it doubles as a prostitution den where sex can be had any ol’ time for a modest price?

Their continued refusal to even a lift a finger to look into the serious allegations that have been aired twice already during a segment of the weekly public affairs forum “Meet the Press” aired on the government-owned TV station Channel 4 and published on quite a few occasions in some hard-hitting tabloid newspapers merely lends credence to suspicions that the owners of the joint, the Happy Sauna establishment, are “well-connected.”

What’s really telling is the fact that Happy Sauna has been open to the public for close to two decades, meaning QC authorities have been condoning the illicit activities going on inside where sex-for-pay is par for the course, without as much as a pip from concerned barangay dicks as well as the serve-and-protect dodos of the QC police department.

They have no excuse, considering that the alleged prostitution joint is literally a stone’s throw away from the residence of Speaker (and former QC Mayor) Sonny Belmonte, whose family owns a big nationally-circulated newspaper; while further down the road, on New York Street, is the house of incumbent QC Mayor Herbert Bautista.

There is this saying that goes this way: When elephants collide, it is the teeny, weeny ants that get trampled on. Or something to this effect..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101031com4.html

Trouble at Customs C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 10/31/2010

Trouble at Customs

C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S
Jonathan De la Cruz
10/31/2010
Calling Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez and his boss, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Sirs, are we expecting a solution to the current impasse between personnel of the Bureau of Customs at the NAIA and the Board of Airline Representatives (BoAR) anytime soon? I certainly hope so. Otherwise, all the talk about increasing tourist arrivals and inviting more investors into the country, among others, will simply be that — talk. For how can we claim that things are on the up and up and the Philippines is now “ready for business” when delays and long lines of disgruntled passengers are the daily fare at the NAIA, the country’s premier airport, ever since Customs personnel refused to render overtime work after the Court of Appeals upheld an earlier RTC ruling that the airlines need not pay for that service anymore. Apparently, the Customs bureau does not have any funding for this overtime work which, in the words of Tourism Secretary Bertie Lim, should be a 24/7 job considering the times allocated for the use of the already congested NAIA complex.

We note that since 1974, BoAR members have been paying for the overtime work done by Customs in accordance with the Tariff and Customs Code mandating all international airlines using the then Manila International Airport to shoulder overtime pay and other allowances of these personnel. I understand the practice has been extended to other personnel such as immigration officers as well. That pay was pegged to the US dollar and has been adjusted a number of times as a result. When the last increase ordered by then Finance Secretary Gary Teves in 2008 was about to be implemented the BoAR members comprised of all the international airlines using the NAIA complex balked and brought this case to court. Since then, Customs personnel have been on a kind of boycott mode which has now blossomed into almost a full blown one requiring the intervention of the highest finance officials..... MORE
SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101031com5.html

Extended Halloween TABLETS OF STONE Larry Faraon, OP 10/31/2010

Extended Halloween

TABLETS OF STONE
Larry Faraon, OP
10/31/2010
There is depth and relevance in the next two days celebration of the Catholic Church’s dogma on the “communion of saints” — namely, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Evening news about real ghosts is overturning the tables of media ratings away from the regular horror movies and TV shows so characteristic of media and entertainment fare these days of cemeteries and memorial parks.

Top rated is the “ghost family beneficiaries” or the fake beneficiaries of Malacañang’s multibillion-peso cash doleout under the P21 billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, to be managed and disbursed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), under the scam-laden Code-NGO Arroyo handed over to Secretary Dinky Soliman.

It is too ghostly and ghastly for such a noble department that caters to the poor and underprivileged in our society, that requires a “heart,” especially that of a woman and mother, one that has always been a valedictorian compared to other executive departments in corruption rankings, or one that has alway been wracked with so minimal a budget compared to education and the military, to be at the center of much negative focus.

Secretary Dinky Soliman should be made to realize that she is unnecessarily dragging the whole department down the drain, and therefore, should take a leave..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101031com6.html

Typhoon ‘Juan’: Humanizing. Uniting. Defining VIEWPOINTS Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz 10/31/2010

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Typhoon ‘Juan’: Humanizing. Uniting. Defining

VIEWPOINTS
Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz
10/31/2010
Lives were lost. Properties were destroyed. Nature was hurt. Such are but some of the more signal liabilities brought about by the super-typhoon “Juan.” This is not to mention the wide and big havoc it brought to travel and communications, to business and industry. On second thought however, Juan — just like any serious calamity adversely affecting day to day living plus its many assumptions — delivered certain very positive and laudable results.
Juan humanized people who could have forgotten that they remain vulnerable, irrespective of their intelligence and potentials, notwithstanding their power and wealth. They were reminded that there were realities beyond their control; there were factors out of their dominion. Juan showed them how really futile were their posturing and pretenses when confronted by a destructive natural phenomenon. More in some places and instances, many of them remembered God, even said fervent prayers and asked for deliverance. They remain human after all.

Juan unified people. They were after all one in facing the same fate, in helping one another. Those who were helpless precisely got help from others who were able. Those who were strong came to the aid of the weak. Those in tenure authority and/or in command of possibilities went to seek the lost, assisted the disabled, and extended a helping hand to those in need. They have different beliefs, harbor different value system, subscribe to different political persuasions. Yet Juan made them one — even if only for some time.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101031com7.html

Smartmatic-TIM sued for auto polls fraud 10/31/2010

FORMER CONGRESSMAN SEEKS P30M IN DAMAGES

Smartmatic-TIM sued for auto polls fraud

10/31/2010
Former Bulacan representative and losing candidate for San Jose del Monte city mayor Angelito Sarmiento had sued officials of 2010 automated poll supplier Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) consortium for what he claimed as massive disenfranchisement of voters in the past elections.

Sarmiento said he is claiming P30 million in damages in the case filed with the Bulacan regional trial court against Juan Villa Jr., chairman of Smartmatic-TIM Corp.; Salvador Aque, senior vice president of TIM Corp.; Armando Yanes,  chief financial officer of Smartmatic Intenational Corp.; and Cesar Flores country president in the Philippines of Smartmatic-TIM Corp.

Sarmiento said his foremost intention in filing the case was his desire to put the electoral process in order by suing the obviously negligent and fault-laden Samrtmatic-TIM and its officials.

Findings of several groups that conducted probes into the conduct of the automated elections had found numerous irregularities in the use of the precinct count optical machines (PCOS) machines that was supplied by the consortium..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101031hed1.html

Stranded IPP debts pile up to P471B — FDC 10/31/2010

Stranded IPP debts pile up to P471B — FDC

10/31/2010
The so-called stranded electricity costs which were the result mostly of onerous contracts with independent power producers (IPPs) during the term of former President Fidel Ramos had ballooned to P471 billion and the government is now at a loss on how to pay off the huge amount.

State power assets holding firm Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) had sought authority with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to spread out the collection of the amount for 17 years to be tagged on monthly electricity bills but the current Psalm officials appointed by President Aquino now wanted to withdraw the petition that would have translated to more than 30 centavos per kilowatthour increase in power rates.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) asked Psalm to totally withdraw the stranded debts and contract costs recovery petitions before the ERC to protect the welfare of electricity consumers and challenged the Aquino administration to renegotiate the terms of the IPP contracts. The culprit for the ballooning debt of state power firm National Power Corp. (Napocor) with the IPPs is the so-called take or pay provision in the power contracts which required the government to pay a fixed amount to IPPs even if the power plants do not actually supply electricity.

Recently-appointed Psalm president Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. had announced in a press conference about the firm’s plan to withdraw its P471-billion stranded debts recovery bid and three other applications which had been initially intended for pass-on to consumers under the universal charge (UC) component of the electric bills..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101031hed3.html

‘Ghost families’ exorcised from CCT —Palace By Aytch S. de la Cruz 10/31/2010

‘Ghost families’ exorcised from CCT —Palace

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 10/31/2010

The Palace claimed yesterday that the Aquino administration had exorcised the controversial P21-billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of so-called ghost-family recipients and that beneficiaries in the program are guaranteed to be among the poorest of the Filipino poor while expressing confidence yesterday Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, who will implement the program, will hurdle the confirmation process in the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA).

Soliman has lately been under siege from critics who are questioning her ability to undertake the expensive program effectively and are accusing her of involvement in the P10-billion Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate (PEACe) bonds scam.

Members of the House of Representatives expressed fears that the huge CCT funds will not go to target beneficiaries because of the reported lack of safeguards from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in effectively implementing the program.

Legislators had said a similar program under the previous administration, which introduced the cash transfer concept, was found to be packed with ghost beneficiaries and they expressed worries that it will recur in the CCT especially with Soliman at the DSWD’s helm..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101031hed4.html

No timetable set for Morong 43’s release, says Malacañang By Aytch S. de la Cruz 10/31/2010

No timetable set for Morong 43’s release, says Malacañang

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 10/31/2010

As President Aquino went active in joining other world leaders in their campaign to release detained Burmese politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, hopes continue to stay bleak for the state of 43 health workers who were arrested in Morong, Rizal province, that they would be accorded similar attention.

It was implied yesterday by deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte that while Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has already submitted her recom-mendations on the case of the so-called “Morong 43” to the President, he is yet to act on them.

Aquino has earlier stated his position on this matter, signifying his intention to leave their cases to the court first out of respect to its jurisdiction even as he recognized the fact that the pieces of evidence against them by the military were obtained illegally.

Valte conveyed to reporters, in an interview over the state-run dzRB, to just wait for further developments as the President pores over the recommendations presented by De Lima where he would base whatever decisions he has to make regarding the matter.

“DoJ (Department of Justice) Secretary Leila de Lima has already made recommendations on this matter and from what I remember; the last statement of the President on this matter was to leave it to the courts because there is what we call evidence that is the fruit of the poisonous tree which is ill-gotten. So let’s just wait for developments there,” Valte said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101031hed5.html

Noy speech writer apologizes for slur against Vietnam 10/31/2010

Noy speech writer apologizes for slur against Vietnam

10/31/2010
Malacañang yesterday aired apologies concerning the reported undiplomatic comments once posted by a presidential speech writer in a popular social networking site against Vietnam where she was hosted as part of President Benigno’s official delegation who was on a state visit there.

Assistant Secretary Maria Carmen “Mai” Mislang who heads the speech writing group under the office of Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning (PCDSP) Secretary Ricky Carandang recently created a fuss in the Internet after complaining about the wine served by Vietnam in one of the state banquet she attended with the President.

“The wine sucks,” Mislang reportedly tweeted in her official Twitter account (www.twitter.com/maimislang).

Apart from insulting the Vietnam wine, Mislang also reportedly ranted about the streets of Vietnam, saying: “Crossing the speedy motorcycle-laden streets of Hanoi is the easiest ways to die. You think you’re safe on the sidewalk? Think again!”

Apart from insulting the Vietnam wine, Mislang also reportedly ranted about the streets of Vietnam, saying: “Crossing the speedy motorcycle-laden streets of Hanoi is the easiest ways to die. You think you’re safe on the sidewalk? Think again!” .... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101031hed6.html

Bishop calls for SK abolition 10/31/2010

DUE TO RAMPANT VOTE BUYING

Bishop calls for SK abolition

10/31/2010

The head of the Catholic hierarchy’s youth apostolate has joined clamors for the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) following incidents of vote buying and vote selling in the recent Barangay and SK polls.

In a pastoral statement entitled “Corrupting our Minors, Corrupting the Future” issued last Saturday, Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon affirmed the large scope and magnitude of “corruption and cheating” during the elections in his diocese alone.

“We, the bishops and the clergies of the Diocese of Legazpi, condemn in the strongest terms this culture of vote buying and cheating that has corrupted our people, especially our youth,” Baylon said.

“We are calling for the abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan. This institution may have lofty goals and some positive contributions but has been found generally wanting.”

Baylon chairs the Episcopal Commission on Youth of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101031nat2.html

Solons: Be wary on peso’s runaway trend 10/31/2010

Solons: Be wary on peso’s runaway trend

10/31/2010
Two solons yesterday called on President Aquino and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to closely pay attention to the present monetary trend and immediately draw up “creative solutions” to arrest a runaway currency problem without resorting to currency control.

“A stronger currency should not be equated with good economy because it can be the opposite depending the prevailing economic trend. A runaway currency especially in a country that is largely dependent on the remittances of its migrant workers can be devastating,” said Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco who was an economic analyst and a micro-entrepreneur before joining politics.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles shared the same observation as he noted that the families of the estimated 11 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the estimated $4.7 a year export sector might fall into ruin if the peso’s ascent against the dollar becomes out of control.

He added that the country’s $7 billion a-year business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, also known as call centers, are also affected by the strengthening of the Philippine peso because they dollar-dependent just like the export sector..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101031nat4.html

A scam is a scam is a scam EDITORIAL 10/30/2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A scam is a scam is a scam

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
10/30/2010
Dinky Soliman and her Code-NGO were hardly known entities before Gloria Arroyo and a treasonous military chief of staff, along with his highly unprofessional service chiefs, mounted a coup against the democratically elected Joseph Estrada; which coup was blessed by the disgraceful Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. with Gloria ascending to the presidency.

As Soliman and her group were supporters, including Teresita Deles, of the coup and of Gloria, they landed Cabinet jobs in the Arroyo government.
It is fact that Gloria, flushed with success at becoming president through the coup, quickly announced that Dinky would be her Social Welfare secretary. The next announced appointee was Deles, which already showed just how close their ties were with Gloria, as well as their being very influential in her government — until of course 2005, after their attempted “constitutional coup” against Gloria collapsed and they were then forced to go public, distance themselves from Gloria and demand her resignation.

Incidentally, with Dinky and Deles worming themselves into the Noynoy camp, they too, exert a lot of influence in the Noynoy government today. As it was with Gloria, so it was that Noynoy’s first announced secretaries were Soliman and Deles.
During the early years of the Gloria presidency, it was more than evident that Dinky and her Code-NGO had the ear of Gloria, as they also appear to have the ear of Noynoy, so much so that he quickly absolves them of any and all allegations.

The fact alone that a then unknown non-government organization, calling itself Code-NGO of which Dinky Soliman was its chairman, could get the Philippine government under Gloria to get a P10 billion float going through the Code-NGO’s PEACe Bonds, and for which the Filipino people will have to pay through the nose by next year, the amount of P35 billion, already showed its ties and influence with the Gloria government..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101030com3.html

Hikes in Toll Fees, Mass Transit Fares A Consequence of Public-Private Partnerships

Hikes in Toll Fees, Mass Transit Fares A Consequence of Public-Private Partnerships

Published on October 30, 2010
President Benigno Aquino III boldly declared during his first State of the Nation Address that public-private partnerships would be the solution to the government’s lack of funds and the need to develop the country’s infrastructure. But at whose expense?
By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com
MANILA – When the Supreme Court lifted last week its restraining order on the toll fee hikes in SLEx, Skyway and NLEx, critics cried foul and said the high court has also defended private profit against the people’s interest. The 72-page Supreme Court decision argued for the “right to reasonable profit” of private developers contracted by the government to build and operate what should have been government-controlled services, according to critics.

“The roads form part of a government’s public service,” said Modesto Floranda, president of the national capital region chapter of Piston, a progressive drivers’ and operators’ association in the Philippines. “It should be the government who has control of the country’s roads. Why hand it over to private capitalists whose only motivation is to profit from their investments?”

In his first State of the Nation Address last July, President Benigno Aquino extolled the public-private enterprises as his government’s way of providing for the country’s needed infrastructure development. He boasted that with it, the government which is supposed to be short on funds would not have to shell out money to build what needs to be built.

But today’s back-to-back threats of increased fees for use of toll roads and fare for the mass transit system— spooking Filipinos just a couple of weeks after Aquino’s first hundred days in office— are exposing the seamy side of public-private enterprises. “We have improved roads, yes. But we drivers cannot feed our family,” said George San Mateo, secretary general of Piston. The transport group estimates that the P200 to P300 (or $4.66 to $6.99) daily earnings of jeepney drivers plying the SLEx route in Alabang alone would be wholly eaten up by the proposed toll fee increases. San Mateo said they face break-even at best, deficits at worst..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/10/30/a-consequence-of-public-private-partnerships/

Trial and conviction by publicity FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 10/30/2010

Trial and conviction by publicity

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
10/30/2010
Fhilippine media have this penchant for giving the accused a trial and conviction by publicity as media usually take on the role of investigator, judge and jury, making it extremely difficult for the accused who is tried and convicted by media publicity to even get a fair trial.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as well as the Department of Justice (DoJ) officials also aid in this usual media trial and conviction of persons whom they accuse of having committed a crime, as they come up with their theories and suspicions openly, even when they hardly have any strong evidence to back these up.

Some judges, along with public officials, also get into the trial and conviction by publicity act, as most public officials — usually connected with the administration — want the publicity and some judges, wanting either a promotion or are influenced by the media reports’ early conviction of the accused, end up convicting the accused, not bothering to judge the case on its merits.

This has happened before, in the case of Hubert Webb in the Vizconde muder case. The NBI then and the then Justice chief, Frank Drilon, kept up with the publicity of the rape and murder even before Webb was arrested while media tried and convicted Webb even before the trial.

All that the government case had against Webb was the testimony of a drug addict, Jessica Alfaro, whose testimony, incidentally didn’t quite match the physical inspection of the crime scene findings, apart from which, she even failed to recognize the other co-accused in court.... MORE

SourceDaily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101030com2.html

Woman Political Prisoner Released After Appeals Court Reverses Lower Court Decision Published on October 30, 2010

Woman Political Prisoner Released After Appeals Court Reverses Lower Court Decision

Published on October 30, 2010

“They wasted two years of my life,” Lita Mahilum, a political prisoner who was in jail for two years before being cleared by the Court of Appeals of the charges filed against her by the military, said.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com
MANILA — Lita Mahilum, 44, a domestic helper in Cebu, and his boyfriend Pedro Lumantas were traveling last July 26, 2008 to make preparations for their wedding. When they arrived at the Sibulan Port, Negros Oriental, around 9 a.m., Mahilum and Lumantas were arrested by elements of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

In its press release , the Philippine Army claimed that Lumantas is a finance and logistics officer of the New People’s Army (NPA) regional committee in Central Visayas. The military also accused Mahilum of being a former member of the NPA unit which is operating in Bohol.

The two were charged with illegal possession of explosives. Mahilum said they only had biscuits, coffee and cigarettes with them when they were arrested. She said the three fragmentation grenades later presented by the military in court as evidence were planted.

On Nov. 6, 2008, the local court in Dumaguete convicted Mahilum and Lumantas of illegal possession of explosives and sentenced them to 18 years in prison. After more than two years of languishing in jail, Mahilum was acquitted by virtue of a decision of the Court of Appeals (CA).... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/10/30/woman-political-prisoner-released-after-appeals-court-reverses-lower-court-decision/

Broad Alliance Bats for Zero Toll Fee Increase, Govt Take-over and Subsidy of Toll Roads

Broad Alliance Bats for Zero Toll Fee Increase, Govt Take-over and Subsidy of Toll Roads

Published on October 30, 2010
Leaders and representatives of commuters, drivers, workers, transport workers and transport operators including pier-based truckers and bus companies, an association of independent oil companies and a legal expert banded together to oppose the impending toll fee hike.
By MARYA SALAMAT

Bulatlat.com
MANILA— The looming 250-percent toll fee hike in the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) and varied hikes in other major toll roads have united disparate organizations in vowing to fight for “zero-toll fee increase.” In a press conference held in Quezon City Friday Oct 29, leaders and representatives of commuters, drivers, workers, transport workers and transport operators including pier-based truckers and bus companies, an association of independent oil companies and a legal expert opposed to the toll fee hike, stated why they think the Aquino government should stop the toll fee hike and its unfortunate “domino-effect” of higher prices and reduced income for most Filipinos.

“The Supreme Court decision on the validity of the STOAs (supplemental toll operation agreements) is not yet final. The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) cannot and must not implement it yet,” said lawyer Ernesto Francisco, one of the petitioners against the toll fee hikes who joined the alliance of commuters, workers and transport operators against the said hikes. Francisco said he will file next week a motion for reconsideration of the high court’s decision that recently gave the go-signal to the dreaded toll fee hikes.

In a joint statement, the groups said they do not expect any positive outcome from the Toll Regulatory Board’s hearings and processes as ordered by the High Court. “In the past,” the groups explained in Filipino, “this agency seems to have favored more the interest of the investors in the tollways than the interests of the people.”

Preventable Burden 

The groups reiterated that the 250-percent toll fee hike in SLEx previously approved by the TRB would be a “huge burden and would create grave damage on the livelihood of people passing by the SLEx and on the entire population in general.”.... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/10/30/broad-alliance-bats-for-zero-toll-fee-increase-govt-take-over-and-subsidy-of-toll-roads/

Military Terrorizes Batangas Community, Forcibly Recruiting Minors to Join Paramilitary

Military Terrorizes Batangas Community, Forcibly Recruiting Minors to Join Paramilitary

Published on October 30, 2010
A minor’s refusal to join the CAFGU resulted in him being beaten up and threatened by soldiers. And he is not alone in his ordeal.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO

Bulatlat.com
MANILA – Leon, 17, (not his real name) should be living a normal life, spending time with his mother, an overseas Filipino worker who has just returned to the country, or with his friends. Sadly, Leon’s life took a downward spin ever since soldiers entered their community.
Since February this year, the military has set up a detachment in barangay (village) Quipo in San Juan, Batangas, purportedly to protect the villagers from possible violence during the May 2010 elections. But they never left. In fact, more soldiers were deployed in the village.

The military, according to Juna Arante of Karapatan – Batangas, is said to be very friendly toward Leon, who they frequently invite to join their drinking sprees. On June 18, soldiers went to Leon’s house in sitio (sub-village) Calabasahan to formally recruit him to the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU).
“His parents were worried. They heard that CAFGUs are almost always placed at the frontline during military operations. So it is natural that they did not allow him to join,” Arante told Bulatlat, “Plus, of course, he is still a minor.”

Leon’s refusal, however, was not taken lightly by the military. When Leon joined his childhood friends in an out-of-town-trip organized by the Philippine Air Force, in Laiya, San Juan, Batangas on August 28, Leon accidentally opened the door of a restroom for women at around 9:00 p.m. He was then dragged by three drunken soldiers to the men’s room where he was beaten up..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/10/30/military-terrorizes-batangas-community-forcibly-recruiting-minors-to-join-paramilitary/

Twisting the Justice System to Render Agrarian Reform Inutile Published on October 30, 2010

Twisting the Justice System to Render Agrarian Reform Inutile

Published on October 30, 2010
Big landowners in Negros Occidental have found another way to retain and re-concentrate the land in their hands: file criminal cases against peasants and farm workers.

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com
MANILA — Early morning of November 15, 2009, 22 peasant families went to Lot No. 1156 of Hacienda Filomena in Escalante City, Negros Occidental to demand what was due to them. They cultivated the land because the landlord has not paid the monetary claims they have won in the case they filed before the National Labor Relations Commission. In return, however, the landlord filed several criminal cases against them.

Rebecca Bucabal, 56, one of the peasants who cultivated the five-hectare-Lot No. 1156, was aware of the possible criminal charges that might be filed against them. “But we do not have much choice,” she told Bulatlat in a mix of Tagalog and Visayan language, “We are hungry.”

Bucabal’s parents were already working in the 60-hectare Hacienda Filomena way before she was born. Bucabal later married Rufino, now 59 years old, who also works in Hacienda Filomena. Since the time of Bucabal’s parents until the present, farm workers in the hacienda endured the low salary being given to them, which was no more than P80 ($1.86) a day, depending on the type and amount of work being assigned to them.

In 1996, many farm workers were dismissed without prior notice by the Ocdenaria family, the landowners. Only 34 of them were brave enough to file a case against Ocdernarias before the National Labor Relations Commission for illegal dismissal and non-payment of their rightful salaries..... MORE

SourceBulatlat.com

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/10/30/twisting-the-justice-system-to-render-agrarian-reform-inutile/

‘Ghost families’ payouts certain By Gerry Baldo 10/30/2010

NO SAFEGUARDS IN DINKY’S P21-B DOLEOUTS

‘Ghost families’ payouts certain

By Gerry Baldo 10/30/2010

Bogus beneficiaries or “ghost families” are certain to benefit from Malacañang’s multibillion-peso cash doleout under the P21 billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, which funds will be handled exclusively by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The House committee on appropriations has decided to keep the P21.194 billion fund for the DSWD’s CCT program intact, after President Aquino and his budget secretary, Butch Abad, released the pork barrel allocations of the congressmen, as well as their having been given P500,000 in bonuses, prior to the congressional recess, sweetening the approval pot.

Despite the committee’s approval of the CCT allocation without cuts, some congressional members yesterday questioned the agency’s capability to implement the program in the light of reports that the list of its supposed beneficiaries is filled with “ghost familes.”

Party-list Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez pointed out that the program, which was initiated during the time of former President Gloria Arroyo, may not get the desired results under DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman who is plagued with questions about her involvement in the multi-billion PEACe bonds scam..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101030hed1.html

Glorietta blast reinvestigation under way — DoJ chief By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/30/2010

Glorietta blast reinvestigation under way — DoJ chief

By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/30/2010

A fact-finding panel has been formed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) to take a second look at the October 2007 Glorietta 2 explosion following a retired Army officer’s claim that a high explosive bomb caused the incident, contrary to authorities’ earlier findings that the blast was caused by a buildup of methane in the basement of Glorietta.

In Department Order No. 716, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima directed Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong and State Prosecutor Gino Paolo Santiago to investigate the Glorietta blast within 45 days.

She ordered the conduct of preliminary verification into the recent disclosure of retired Col. Allan Sollano that the explosion in Makati City on Oct. 19, 2007 was not an accident but was allegedly caused by an explosive.

“The prosecutors shall review reports of investigative agencies made relative to the blast, assess and evaluate existing evidence, gather more evidence and take additional statements from witnesses as may be available and submit their report and recommendation thereon within 45 days from receipt of this order,” De Lima said in her department order dated Oct. 26..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101030hed2.html

Criminal raps filed vs Globe Asiatique, Pag-IBIG exec By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/30/2010

Criminal raps filed vs Globe Asiatique, Pag-IBIG exec

By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/30/2010

Criminal charges of economic sabotage by syndicated estafa were filed yesterday before the Department of Justice (DoJ) by the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against officers of a developer and an employee of Pag-IBIG in connection with the multibillion-peso housing project in Pampanga.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered the case handled by a prosecution panel which will look into the scandal-ridden housing project.

“Then that will be assigned to the appropriate task force. I think it will be a task force on the business scam, the same task force that is handling the legacy cases or create another panel. It should have been the panel given to the task force, considering the magnitude or amount involved,” she said.

Charged with syndicated estafa are Delfin Lee, Globe Asiatique (GA) Realty Holdings Corp. board chairman.
Also named in the charge sheet were Dexter Lee, GA executive vice present, chief finance officer, treasurer and board member; Cristina Salagan and Christina Sagun, heads of Accounting/Finance Department and Documentation Department, respectively, of GA and Lerma Vitug, Tintin.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101030hed3.html

NBI hunts second Bar blast suspect By Pat C. Santos and Gerry Baldo 10/30/2010

NBI hunts second Bar blast suspect

By Pat C. Santos and Gerry Baldo 10/30/2010

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is mounting a hunt for a second suspect allegedly involved in the De La Salle Bar exams bombing last month after it filed a criminal complaint against the suspected bomber the other day.

The NBI also released the artist sketch of the unidentified man who poked a gun at the group of men who allegedly mobbed Anthony Nepomuceno after hurling an MK2 fragmentation grenade in front of DLSU, resulting in the injuries to 50 persons.

The second suspect was described as a fair-complexioned man, who was holding a .45 cal. pistol in his left hand, between 23 and 24 years old, 5’7” to 5’9” and stocky.

The NBI said the second suspect poked a gun at the group of Jojo del Rosario who
ganged up on Nepomuceno after the bomb blast..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101030hed4.html

Battles on to aid tsunami survivors as toll tops 400 By Pat C. Santos and Gerry Baldo 10/30/2010

Battles on to aid tsunami survivors as toll tops 400

By Pat C. Santos and Gerry Baldo 10/30/2010
NORTH PAGAI — Indonesia battled Friday to deliver aid to remote islands where a tsunami has killed over 400 people, as bodies lay strewn on beaches and buried in debris days after the wave hit.

Disaster response officials believe the final death toll from the huge wave that pummeled the Mentawai island chain off the west coast of Sumatra Monday could exceed 600, with many victims sucked out to sea as the tsunami receded.

Almost 13,000 people are living in makeshift camps on the islands after their homes were wiped out in the killer wave, which was triggered by a powerful 7.7 mag-nitude earthquake.

Survivors in a village reached by an Agence France Presse (AFP) photographer said as many as 30 of the community’s 100 children had been killed. One man complained they still had not received any assistance from the government.

Elsewhere in the disaster-prone archipelago, the nation’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi, was spewing lava and searing gas, after an eruption on Tuesday killed 34 people..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101030hed5.html

Nurse in ventilator accident Nurse in ventilator accident By Michaela P. del Callar 10/30/2010

Nurse in ventilator accident Nurse in ventilator accident

By Michaela P. del Callar 10/30/2010

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has confirmed that the female nurse caught on video accidentally turning off a ventilator that left her paralyzed patient brain-damaged last year is a Filipina.

Foreign Affairs spokes-man Eduardo Malaya identified the Filipina as Violeta Aylward, 55, whose license was suspended in October 2009 by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the British government’s regulatory board, following the incident.

A formal hearing of the case has yet to take place.

Malaya said the matter has been the subject of investigation by the United Kingdom Crown Prosecution Service, which did not find sufficient basis to file a criminal case against the Filipina, who was found turning off the life support system of 37-year-old Jamie Merrett on CCTV.

Merrett became paralyzed from the neck down after a 2002 car accident..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101030hed6.html

Palace: GMA has right to remain silent By Aytch S. de la Cruz 10/30/2010

Palace: GMA has right to remain silent

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 10/30/2010

Stressing the importance of keeping one’s faith with the court’s rules of procedures, Malacanang yesterday said there is nothing with the recent ruling of the Sandiganbayan forcing former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appear before the court to testify.

In a phone interview with reporters, deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte echoed the statement of Sandiganbayan justices granting the petition of Arroyo’s counsel, Estelito Mendoza, that explained why his client should not be compelled by the anti-graft court to testify against her former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri who is currently being tried for graft charges owing to his involvement in the anomalous national broadband network (NBN) controversy.

“That ruling was made on the basis of the fact that Congresswoman Arroyo is also one of those charged in that same case. So, as an accused, she is accorded the right not to testify in her own behalf. So, under the rules of procedure and under the rights of the accused, she cannot be compelled to testify on her own (case). It has to be on her own volition. You cannot force an accused to testify especially if there will be a statement that will be incriminating to the accused. So that’s in accordance with the legal procedures,” Valte explained.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101030nat5.html

Been there; heard that EDITORIAL 10/29/2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Been there; heard that

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
10/29/2010
The last time a Palace occupant felt irritated by a “small” newspaper that she claimed she never read and swore for her administration not to subscribe to it, even when she and her Cabinet reacted vehemently to its reports, and read it anyway, top-level pressure started to be applied on this newspaper in an attempt to choke it of its primary source of income, advertisements.

Failing to do that, the pressure was gradually raised in intensity until in 2006, Malacañang tried to forcefully take over the operations of The Tribune, padlocked the printing press, confiscated several documents without any search warrant through an illegal raid by her police forces.

So here we go again. The other day, Noynoy Aquino ranted in Vietnam that a small newspaper with very “minimal readers” had upset him since it printed a warning from a prelate that he may not complete his six-year term as a result of his poor management skills and his reliance on a two-man team in the Palace in the crafting of major policies and decisions.

While not mentioning the name of the paper he was referring to, he described it as a “Manila-based newspaper of minor circulation, minor only because it only has few readers,” it was evident that he meant this paper since it was only The Tribune, that carried in its front page a story quoting Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez on his assessment of Aquino’s leadership skills on the day Noynoy went nuts in Vietnam..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com1.html

Bordering on paranoia FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 10/29/2010

Bordering on paranoia

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
10/29/2010
Whoever opposes him and criticizes him, Noynoy sees as his enemy.

Thus, the Daily Tribune, whom he called a “small newspaper” and small because it has few readers, that criticizes him constantly, and which he said before the Filipino community in Vietnam, benefited from the past administration and therefore out to destroy him, is his enemy.

That’s really very paranoid of him, apart from which, Noynoy should really be told a few home truths.

One: The Tribune certainly did not benefit anything at all from the past and previous administrations, as it has always been critical of the Malacañang tenant — whoever it is sitting as head of government--including Cory Aquino.

Proof of this is the fact that not only did the previous Palace occupants make life economically hard on the Tribune all these years, but also the fact that the Arroyo administration went to the extent of raiding the Tribune offices, and having her police force padlock the paper’s offices and printing press, with even the chief of the police force going on live TV to announce that it was taking over the newspaper..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com2.html

2010 rout may not augur ill for Obama in 2012 ANALYSIS 10/29/2010

2010 rout may not augur ill for Obama in 2012

ANALYSIS

10/29/2010
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s foes will rejoice if his Democrats get thumped in mid-term congressional elections, but even if his presidency needs a rethink, it may be premature to prepare his political obituary for 2012.

Obama is facing a rebuke from voters on Nov. 2, only two years after they swept him to power, with Republicans tipped to grab back the House of Representatives and thin Democratic margins in the Senate.
Pundits are asking why Obama has lost the magic of 2008, and whether he will suffer the ignominy of going down as a one-term president.

“The weeks and months following the election will be a time of testing for President Obama,” said William Galston, a former Clinton administration official now at the Brookings Institution.

“He will need to look into himself and at the situation.”

If Republicans do emerge triumphant next Tuesday, confrontation will be a certainty as the parties feud over taxes and the deficit in a divided Washington and as the already-stirring 2012 presidential race heats up..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com3.html

Am back NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 10/29/2010

Am back

NO HOLDS BARRED
Armida Siguion-Reyna
10/29/2010
We flew in Tuesday night. Wednesday morning saw me reporting for how-are-yous with the tulisanes of the 365 Club at the coffee shop of Hotel Intercon. A quick trip to the parlor, a catnap in between, and then this lola was off to a cocktail party at the Makati Shangri-La, upon the invitation of Vice President Jojo Binay, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, for National Housing Day.

The affair was for the diplomatic corps, for them to see where the government’s efforts to provide decent public housing stood. Among those mingling with the diplomats were Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ompong Plaza, JV Bautista, Rene Diaz, big names in real estate, the Binay family of children and grandchildren, including the Makati City mayor, the second district representarive and a talented boy who played his instrument with such musicality and grace, prodding his grandma Doc Ellen to proudly turn to me, with “Sige na nga, ibibili ko na siya ng marimba!”

It’s good to go home to a major event. You see familiar faces, hear so many solicitous inquiries, receive quite a number of warm hugs. Except that with all eyes and ears on the Vice President as he delivered his speech on the rostrum that evening, I could not give out a complete answer to, “Nagpa-check up ka raw sa Amerika? Ano’ng resulta?”

But, yes, to all who care enough to know, I saw my doctors in the US. Nothing wrong with me in a major, major way, save for the unavoidable body changes that come with years. True, I could have had the tests done here, pero ‘yun na nga, you get older, you also get more impatient faster. You have expectations, you make demands, and when few of these are met, local providers tend to dismiss you like it’s your fault, as if what is wrong with you is only.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com4.html

Ten minutes vs power plunder DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 10/29/2010

Ten minutes vs power plunder

DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel
10/29/2010
Our last column outlined the “power plunder” being inflicted on the people by the collusion between Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), as well as by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, with Therma Marine Inc. of the Aboitiz group.

All told, their profits increased between 60 and 100 percent in the span of just one year, and they were able to manipulate the rate-setting mechanisms to escalate the cost of our energy use by up to 300 percent!

A few days after the said column came out, yet another confirmation of this profiteering was headlined by BusinessWorld: “Meralco powers past Petron in BW’s Top 1,000.”

Meralco came up with a “red herring” to mitigate any adverse reaction to the No. 1 ranking by saying that this came despite “a 2.8-percent drop in gross revenues to P183.7 billion due to reduced generation and transmission charges last year.”

In truth, generation and transmission charges had nothing to do with Meralco’s net income jumping midway this year by 82.3 percent (from P3.15 billion from the same period last year to P5.8 billion so far), as well as with the company’s 2009 P7.7 billion net income surpassing its target of P11 billion for 2010. In fact, Meralco had been raking in this doubling of profits since 2008 when its net income jumped from P3.5 billion to P7.7 billion in 2009.

All through these periods, there was not any real increase in the size and volume of the market. Meralco has taken great pains to hide this with its so-called statistics of 11 to 17 percent growth in the volume of its sales.
What has actually happened was that the massive increases came as a result of the shift from the old Return-on-Rate Base (RoRB) to the new Performance-Based Rate (PBR) setting mechanism that increased allowable returns from the previous 12 percent to the current 15.8 percent!

On top of this, we are faced with the massive overcharging of electricity consumers. The Commission on Audit has already found that Meralco overcharged us by at least P7 billion in 2004 and 2007 alone, which indicates the strong likelihood that the same has happened for the intervening years and beyond.

In fact, an 81-year-old veteran of the Lawyers Against Monopolies (LAMP), Genaro Lualhati, who has fought against this overcharging and won for us 4 million Meralco consumers P28 billion in refunds, filed another petition in 2008 for the power firm to refund another P35 billion worth of overcharges in the past 10 years.

But even as the ERC is obliged by law to resolve the issue within 30 days, it took the regulatory body three long years to issue a decision, and only after Lualhati pressed further. It was revealed in our GNN program by Mang Naro, as Lualhati is called, that the ERC deliberately dilly-dallied and dwelt on irrelevant issues, only to declare his petition “moot and academic.”

Not be deterred, Mang Naro’s one demand is for the other crusaders in this fight to be active again. With Mang Naro on my show was Butch Junia, who came out of retirement for this fight, as well as Pete Ilagan of Nasecore, former QC Mayor Jun Simon, Jojo Borja of Mindanao and many others.

Volunteer lawyers have since been recruited to take all these issues to court so that someday we may finally see ERC pay for its betrayal of public trust.

Butch Junia updated us on the comparative electricity rates of different countries, such as Tokyo’s $0.20/kWh compared to Meralco’s $0.23/kWh, making the Philippines the highest in Asia in terms of power cost today.

Our rates are simply astronomical compared to Jakarta’s $0.06/kWh; Kuala Lumpur’s $0.06/kWh; Paris’ $0.11/kWh; Shanghai’s $0.07/kWh; and even Singapore’s $0.21/kWh.

Few places, in fact, can beat Meralco’s rate; with the only possible exception being New York’s $0.29/kWh — but then, how can you compare the two?

Worse, the situation of Meralco’s 4 million electricity consumers is further aggravated by the formula where regular consumers pay up to P3/kWh in distribution cost while the very large consumers, such as malls and big industries, pay only as low as P0.28/kWh.

As the public is made aware of these facts, the momentum for the consumer campaign is sure to grow.
Action plans have been drawn up, with a “soft launch” on Nov. 1 of the “lights out protest.” The plan calls on all Meralco consumers to turn off their lights from 7 to 7:10 p.m. every Monday.

As people are made aware, then the number of “lights out” days will be increased, helping consumers save money while at the same time synergizing neighborhoods toward the cause. This action has been done before but this new initiative shows the growing support for the struggle. All sectors should thus “volt-in” for a nuclear chain reaction.

Media workers can help in the information campaign; even the UP Law Department can help while businessmen can donate stickers, tarps, and posters to spread the word.

Remember: Lights out every Monday 7 to 7:10 p.m. Let’s knock the lights out of those power plunderers!
(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; watch “Electrocuting Power Consumers: The ERC-Meralco Collusion, Part II” with former mayor Jun Simon, Pete Ilagan, et. al on Politics Today with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 21; visit our blogs, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

(Reprinted with permission by Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com5.html

South Africa in race against toxic mine water threat focus 10/29/2010

South Africa in race against toxic mine water threat

focus

10/29/2010
WESTONARIA — For years Neels Van Wyk suspected something was wrong with the water on his farm, worries that grew as mining and government officials started frequenting the area to test nearby rivers.

Van Wyk, 48, lives in Westonaria on the southwestern outskirts of Johannesburg, surrounded by four major mines which over the last 120 years extracted gold and uranium.

Most of the mines closed down 11 years ago, when pumping of underground water reserves also stopped.
Now researchers worry that toxic mine water is rising toward the surface and seeping into nearby water supplies, contaminating rivers with a cocktail of acidic and sometimes radioactive waste.

“My concern is that I use borehole water which could be contaminated. I sell peaches and vegetables to the hawkers and they sell it to the community. What if the vegetables are contaminated and we don’t know that,” Van Wyk said.

Activists fear rising water levels in the mines have created an underground time bomb that could threaten the country’s nearby financial capital Johannesburg in 16 months.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com6.html

Hispanic vote important for Democrats, but harder to get FEATURE 10/29/2010

Hispanic vote important for Democrats, but harder to get

FEATURE

10/29/2010
WASHINGTON — Democrats are courting Hispanic voters to blunt a likely Republican advance in US legislative elections Tuesday, but they may prove hard to get after three years of hard economic times.

“The Latino community, like the rest of the country, has gone through a very difficult two years. And so it’s understandable that people feel frustrated,” President Barack Obama said last week in an interview with Hispanic news organizations.

“Now, if I’m the Latino community, the notion that somehow I would sit back and not participate and not have my voice heard (...) that makes no sense whatsoever,” Obama said.

Two years ago, Obama won the presidency thanks in part to a record turnout by 9.7 million Hispanics, casting 7.4 percent of the ballots nationwide. Obama got 67 percent of their votes.

And as this campaign goes into its last frenetic week, the Democratic Party spent a million dollars to air nationally a spot featuring Obama speaking Spanish in its latest attempt to get out the vote.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com7.html

Dinky faces Gloria grilling in House bonds probe By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales 10/29/2010

Dinky faces Gloria grilling in House bonds probe

By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales 10/29/2010

The woes of Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman are far from over, and she still hasn’t faced the bicameral Commission on Appointments for her confirmation, as some members of the House of Representatives are bent on probing her for her role in the P10-billion PEACe Bonds scam.

Soliman is also expected to get a beating again from former President Arroyo when the House starts its own probe on the Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate (PEACe) bonds which earned a windfall P1.4-billion for a non-government organization then headed by Soliman.

At the same time, a former Senate President, Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, yesterday pointed out that the Department of Social Welfare and Development, under the law, should have ceased from existing several years ago and its functions, already should have been turned over by this time to local government units.
And as the DSWD is an “illegal” entity, it should not therefore be tasked with a P21 billion fund for the government’s conditional cash transfer program..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed1.html

NBI files criminal raps vs Bar bomber suspect 10/29/2010

NBI files criminal raps vs Bar bomber suspect

10/29/2010
A day after the suspected Bar examinations bomber, Anthony Nepomuceno, voluntarily agreed to be interrogated by the National Bureau of Investigation agents, the NBI yesterday filed a criminal complaint for multiple frustrated and multiple attempted murders against him before the Department of Justice.

Nepomuceno, a member of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity and a call center agent Wednesday appeared before the NBI and denied allegations he was involved in the blast at De La Salle University, insisting that he was nowhere in that area on Taft Avenue when the bombing occurred.

He claimed he was nowhere near La Salle when the incident happened, although the NBI said the suspect was positively identified by witnesses as the person who lobbed the grenade.

The bombing incident injured 47 individuals, including law students and Bar examinees themselves.
NBI spokesman Cecilio Zamora said the NBI also charged some “John Does” who are now the subject of extensive investigation to establish their identities..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed2.html

Enrile takes rap for fat pays of Senate execs By Angie M. Rosales 10/29/2010

Enrile takes rap for fat pays of Senate execs

By Angie M. Rosales 10/29/2010

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile assumed responsibility for the grant of huge allowances to some upper chamber executives, ranging from P30,000 to as high as P200,000 a month, which was recently questioned as being excessive, saying that those who got these deserve what they’ve received.

“I take full responsibility,” Enrile said in addressing the Senate employees during a gathering in relation to the celebration of the upper chamber’s 94th anniversary.

But former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who was a guest in the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum, said the upper chamber should not spare even its own employees believed to be similarly situated with executives from government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) by subjecting them into an investigation as well.

“If we, as an institution, criticize other agencies of government for excessive allowances, I think we should also take a look at ourselves accordingly,” Pimentel told reporters.

Several executives of state firms and financial institutions were found to be receiving huge salaries and excessive allowances in a recent series on inquiries conducted by the Senate finance committee prompting President Aquino to order the suspension of their allowances at least until the end of the year..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed3.html

Truth body to hamper delivery of justice — Pimentel 10/29/2010

Truth body to hamper delivery of justice — Pimentel

10/29/2010
The matter of the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) delivering justice and finally providing closure to the alleged irregularities committed under the Arroyo administration was put into question again yesterday.

“I think that the Truth Commission is an abnormality that should never have been created. Why? Because the tendency of the commission is merely to delay the administration of justice. There are existing agencies of government which have the jurisdiction already to look into accusations against anyone. There’s the DoJ (Department of Justice), (Office of the) Ombudsman. Now, what is the effect of the EO (creating the Truth Commission)? You remove that jurisdiction and give that to a toothless tiger,” former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said yesterday.

Pimentel’s comments came in the light of the series of petitions being filed before the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the issuances made by President Aquino.

The constitutionality of EO 1 has been questioned by the minority bloc in the House of Representatives.
The former senator, appearing as guest in the weekly Kapihan sa Senado, expressed serious doubts on the effectiveness of the commission in conducting investigations as the body does not even have the power to issue a subpoena to those individuals subject of an investigation..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed4.html

Webb seeks acquittal due to missing DNA sample By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/29/2010

Webb seeks acquittal due to missing DNA sample

By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/29/2010

Convicted rapist Hubert Webb’s lawyer has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order his acquittal citing government investigators’ failure to keep the semen specimen for DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) forensic analysis.

In a motion, the son of former Sen. Freddie Webb urged the SC to reverse his conviction in the Vizconde massacre case citing the failure of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to produce the semen specimen taken from the body of one of his victims for DNA analysis.

Defense lawyer Demetrio Custodio Jr. stressed that the semen specimen extracted from the remains of Carmela Vizconde during her autopsy on June 30, 1991 “plays a significant role” in his client’s defense.

“Even if the NBI’s failure to produce the semen specimen were not due to willful suppression but by negligence, the failure to deliver this evidence to appellant Webb for DNA testing denies him a complete defense and violates his right to due process,” Custodio said. “For this reason, he is entitled to an acquittal,” he added.

Custodio noted that a DNA analysis of the semen specimen excluding appellant Webb as the source of that specimen would disprove the prosecution’s evidence against him..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed5.html

DoJ to wait out ex-Lacson aide’s appeal in extradition case 10/29/2010

DoJ to wait out ex-Lacson aide’s appeal in extradition case

10/29/2010
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday confirmed that a United States court has granted the Philippine government’s request for the extradition of former police Senior Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, a key aide of fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

“Once the ruling becomes final, the DoJ (Department of Justice) shall work on his (Aquino) deportation to face the criminal charges against him here,” she said.

De Lima explained that she “was told that this latest ruling is still appealable to a higher court. So if Michael Ray Aquino avails of that remedy, we will have to wait for that ruling.”

The US court granted the request of the Philippine government to extradite Aquino to face the trial in the November 2000 killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

Aquino and another police official, former Senior Supt. Cezar Mancao, fled to the US reportedly upon the instructions of Lacson to escape prosecution. Lacson has been in hiding since January this year after being implicated in the murders..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed6.html

DFA drops RP acronym, now PHL in usage By Michaela P. del Callar 10/29/2010

DFA drops RP acronym, now PHL in usage

By Michaela P. del Callar 10/29/2010

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and its foreign diplomatic posts began using the initials PH or PHL when referring to the Philippines, and not anymore “RP,” an acronym for the Republic of the Philippines, in compliance with the country codes set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Moreover, the DFA said the use of the designated country codes would “avoid the ambiguity and confusion with the use of the initials RP.”

“The long standing usage of the initials RP is not in accordance with ISO codes, leading to ambiguous initials that can also refer to other countries,” the DFA noted.

In a Department Order dated Oct. 20, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo directed the DFA’s 67 embassies, 23 consulates general and four permanent missions to use the initials PH or PHL in their dispatches and reports to the Home Office.

The ISO developed the ISO3166-1 codes, assigning two letter (alpha-2) and three letter (alpha-3) code to member countries..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101029nat5.html

Still ‘highly corrupt’ EDITORIAL 10/28/2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Still ‘highly corrupt’

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
10/28/2010
Despite the entry of a new administration and its vow to rid the country of corruption, the Philippines remains “highly corrupt,” going by the latest Transparency International Report of 2010, with the ranking compiled from “a combination of polls, drawing on corruption-related data from expert and business surveys carried out by a variety of independent and reputable institutions,” the TI report said.

The TI survey consists of a composite of business surveys conducted between January 2009 and September 2010, where the Noynoy Aquino administration already shares a quarter time of the survey period.

The Philippines retained its rank as among Asia’s most corrupt, landing in 134th place, out of 178 countries ranked.

While the rating of the country showed an improvement from last year’s 139th place, the country was still at the tail-end in Asian countries..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101028com1.html

Not kosher at all FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 10/28/2010

Not kosher at all

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
10/28/2010
Reports are out that poll Chairman Jose Melo has opted for early retirement, as he is also said to have accepted an offer from Noynoy Aquino to join his administration.

This is a puzzling development, to say the least, considering the fact that Noynoy, shortly after the chaos and confusion of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, marked moreover with irregularities and violence, not to mention disenfranchisement of voters and fraud, said he was holding the Commission on Elections (Comelec) responsible and liable for the messed up polls.

But if he blames the Comelec for the snafus that accompanied the village and SK elections — and for certain, as Melo is its chairman, then obviously, he too, must be held responsible and accountable, as all the other commissioners and their officials must be held liable — why then is Noynoy offering an administration job to the Comelec chairman?

Doing so is akin to absolving Melo, nay the entire Comelec, since Melo as its chairman, is the face of the Comelec..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101028com2.html

Indian doctors, foreign patients play down ‘superbug’ fears FEATURE 10/28/2010

Indian doctors, foreign patients play down ‘superbug’ fears

FEATURE

10/28/2010
MUMBAI — Carla looked out over Mumbai from the window of a luxury hotel, the line of stitches under her ears and yellowing bruises on her cheeks partially obscured by her dark, shoulder-length hair and glasses.

The 50-year-old Italian entrepreneur, who lives in the United States and Europe, had a complete facelift in a private hospital two weeks earlier and was about to leave the city, now looking, she said, as young as she feels.

“It was excellent,” she told AFP about the care she received. “Actually it was beyond what I expected. I was really happy with the experience, happy with the doctor, the hospital and the nurses.”

Carla, who asked for her real name not to be used, is one of more than 150,000 foreign nationals who come to India every year for medical treatment at a fraction of the cost in their own countries.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India has estimated that the medical tourism sector is growing at an annual rate of about 30 percent and could be worth more than $2 billion by 2012..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101028com3.html

At odds over Atong BLURBAL THRUSTS Louie Logarta 10/28/2010

At odds over Atong

BLURBAL THRUSTS
Louie Logarta
10/28/2010
The only way to decongest Edsa of its horrible traffic, according to Sen. Ralph Recto, and put some sanity in the mayhem that descends upon Metro Manila’s biggest thoroughfare each and every working day (Saturday is the worst because this is when all vehicle restrictions are lifted) is if the authorities are to sideline one-half of the estimated 7,000 passenger buses that had been granted routes by the national government.

Recto cited figures culled from studies by the World Bank which said that the optimum number of buses that should be plying the 17-kilometer long highway, considered to be the backbone of the metropolis, is only around 1,600.

Well, he must be referring to the 2,000 colorums which the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has estimated to be operating alongside the legit buses on the heavily-traversed Edsa route.

But if he is, his proposal would be just a pie in the sky because it is an open secret that the only reason these colorum buses continue to operate along Edsa to the detriment of the general public is due to the weekly payola their owners dole out to corrupt MMDA and transport officials.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101028com4.html

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