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What’s the rush? EDITORIAL 06/01/2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What’s the rush?

Click to enlarge

Really now, just what is the rush in having the National Board of Canvassers (NBoC) proclaim the president-elect and vice president-elect?

Whoever is proclaimed won’t be able to do anything officially anyway until noon of June 30, which is a full month away, so what’s all this ado being whipped up by some quarters for the NBoC to drop all efforts to authenticate the count and check on whether the electronic count, from the automated machines is accurate and authentic?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino has not, as yet, been proclaimed, but he and his Liberal Party are obviously preparing themselves to take power once the term of Gloria Arroyo ends. Nothing is therefore lost. 

It is not as if the automated polls went without any hitches, irregularities and anomalies. Truth of the matter is that there have been much too many of them, with the electorate losing faith and confidence in automated elections — as being experienced today.

So what is it really that those bitching about the “slow canvass” of the NBoC really want? For the canvass board to sacrifice accuracy for speed? If so, then what these quarters really are saying is that the vote of the sovereign Filipino people can be ignored and that an inaccurate count and fake certificates of canvass are acceptable in Philippine elections.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100601com1.html

Too late the judgment FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 06/01/2010

Too late the judgment

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

It took the Catholic bishops nine years to come out openly and state that Gloria Arroyo failed in her performance and so-called achievements.

So why did it take that long for them to come out and say so? Is it because she is now on her way out and the bishops feel it is now safe for them to say what the Filipino people have been saying for so many years?

There were the many times when the Filipino people — and not just the flock — wanted Church support through condemnatory pastoral letters from the bishops to keep Gloria in line, yet they never did. Instead, they continued to support her, virtually casting a blind eye on the many scandals and allegations of her lying, cheating and stealing, to the point of even debunking the legal means of impeachment to get her to stand trial in the Senate, saying such a move was useless.

Then much, much later, the same bishops came up with this claim of corruption being endemic in the Philippines.
Yet they knew that corruption was already at a high in the Arroyo administration, much much earlier, since there were already the scandals being reported in the media, but they never came out strongly — not even when the evidence of electoral fraud in 2004 was right before their eyes.

One recalls in 1986, when there were allegations of cheating done by then President Ferdinand Marcos, the bishops came out with a strongly worded pastoral letter, stressing that Marcos cannot claim moral and constitutional legitimacy due to the corruption in his government and his cheating — which was, it should be pointed out — not proven.

Yet in the case of the Arroyo administration, whom the bishops supported to the hilt, even when there was proof of cheating, never did they condemn the cheating. As a matter of record, bishops even came out to state that the cheating was minimal, giving the public the conclusion that it was alright to cheat — as long as one doesn’t cheat big.

One of the reasons corruption in government grows even bigger, with every administration and a change of government is that civil society, media, the bishops and even the big businessmen, hardly ever take a strong position whenever early scandals rock a government that they support. Instead all these are hardly ever reported, as their aim is to protect their Malacañang tenant.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100601com2.html

Camels: Afghan proxy warriors FEATURE 06/01/2010

Camels: Afghan proxy warriors


MAZAR-I-SHARIF — Afghan warlords Ghawsudin and Sher Arab have been at war for most of their lives, sometimes fighting side by side as they did against the Soviets, other times fighting each other.

Now, almost nine years into a new era — a US-sponsored government challenged by a Taliban-led insurgency tearing their country apart — the two men are again at war, but this time they use proxies to fight their battles.

At sports festivals across Afghanistan’s relatively peaceful north, Ghawsudin and Sher Arab are represented in the ring by giant Central Asian camels.

Banned as un-Islamic under the Taliban’s radical 1996-2001 regime, camel fighting is a violent feature of daily life in Afghanistan, a country where the value of both men and animals is based on their fighting skills.

In the northern province of Balkh, Ghawsudin and Arab are well known, not only as veteran warriors but as owners of the best fighting camels in the land, and as masters of the game.

“We wait all year for this,” said Khwaja Habib, a farmer from Balkh’s Dawlat Abad district, ahead of a mighty clash between Luk and Nar, two enormous camels representing, respectively, Ghawsudin and Arab.

“They have the strongest camels, it’s going to be a real game,” Habib told AFP, as more than a dozen men escorted the two camels onto a dirt field circled by thousands of spectators, almost all of them men.

The animals are positioned face-to-face and then, spitting with fury, ram each other in a battle that resembles a men’s wrestling match.

The crowd roars its approval as one of the camels — it is Luk, Ghawsudin’s beast — forces the other into submission by pressing down on his neck with his massive chest.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100601com3.html

Another Gulf of Tonkin? AN OUTSIDERS VIEW Ken Fuller 06/01/2010

Another Gulf of Tonkin?

Ken Fuller
Many Filipinos with relatives in Korea will be concerned as tension in the peninsula mounts following the allegation that a North Korean torpedo was responsible for the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March this year and the loss of its 46-strong crew. Me too. My 18-year-old son has been in Seoul since January and is due back in the Philippines in the middle of this month.

It was with more than casual interest, therefore, that I read a couple of pieces about the situation sent my way by a cyber-friend. Rather wordily titled (“The sinking of the Cheonan: We are being lied to” and “PCC Cheonan: An unacceptable provocation by the United States of America and the international community has a duty to respond”), the pieces are written by Scott Creighton and can be found on http://willyloman.wordpress.com, where they were posted on May 24 and 27, respectively.

The mass media, of course, has largely accepted the version of events purveyed by South Korea, as has US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has described the “evidence” as “overwhelming and condemning.” Creighton, as may be gleaned from his titles, casts doubt on the official version.

The current situation has been brought about by the publication of the report on May 20 of the investigation carried out by the South Koreans, assisted by “experts” from the USA, the UK, Australia and Sweden. These countries, says Creighton, “are about as ‘objective’ toward the United States as we (the USA) are toward Israel.” He acknowledges, however, that Sweden resisted the finding that the Cheonan was sunk by a torpedo and that North Korea was to blame until May 19. He also points out that the report is silent on the fact that the US and South Korean navies were engaged in war games at the time of the sinking.

The report found that the torpedo parts recovered with the salvaged Cheonan included “5x5 bladed contra-rotating propellers, propulsion motor and a steering section” which were a “perfect match” for “the schematics of the CHT-02D torpedo” as illustrated for export purposes in a North Korean brochure. 

Creighton, however, points to four differences between the recovered torpedo and the CHT-02D, including the size of the propeller-hubs, the shape of the propellers, and the positioning of a component that may be the stabilizers or the propulsion system.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100601com5.html

China, HK property retains allure despite wobbles focus 06/01/2010

China, HK property retains allure despite wobbles


HONG KONG — Real estate in mainland China and Hong Kong retains a strong long-term allure despite current fears of a damaging bubble, according to an influential player in the regional market.

Alastair Hughes, Asia-Pacific chief executive of Jones Lang LaSalle, a dominant presence in the Chinese property markets, sees plenty of reasons for optimism.

“For every expat who whinges about pollution, there are 20 people in London who’d like to be here,” he told AFP in an interview, gesturing out across Hong Kong’s famed skyline on a rare clear day in the city.

“I don’t think you’d find many people who’ve made money betting against Hong Kong,” Hughes added.

The market for luxury property in Shanghai and Beijing is seen as “a little bit frothy” because of wealthy individuals indulging in speculation, he said.

“On the other hand, you’ve got everywhere else in China,” he said, pointing to the annual migration of 50 million people from the Chinese countryside to cities in search of work and better housing.

As other parts of the world struggle out of recession, property markets in China and Hong Kong have been charging ahead, so much so that Beijing has taken increasingly aggressive steps to rein in the mainland market.

The government has restricted lending and made it harder for people to own second or third homes, or to buy outside their home towns. Largely in response, Shanghai’s stock market has fallen about 15 percent in two months.
One analyst, Carol Wu of DBS Vickers Securities, predicts a 20 to 30 percent fall in prices for top-tier mainland housing and a 10 to 15 percent drop in the “second tier.”... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100601com6.html

Returning Serbs pose Kosovo challenge FEATURE 06/01/2010

Returning Serbs pose Kosovo challenge


AC — They simply couldn’t wait any more for officialdom to catch up.
When the opportunity arose, Dragan Paralovic and 25 other Serbs quit their refugee center in Serbia and returned uninvited to Zac, their home village in Kosovo which they had fled 11 years ago.
In doing so, they have become an awkward test case for how Kosovo handles the return of those dislocated by the 1998-1999 separatist conflict that led, eventually, to its 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.

Their reappearance triggered suspicion and anger among Zac’s mainly ethnic Albanian residents, leading to protests and accusations that some of the Serbs coming back — and there will be more — were involved in war crimes.
For now, Paralovic’s home is a UN tent pitched next to the burnt-out shell of his old house in Zac, around 50 kilometers (41 miles) west of the capital Pristina.

“We had been dreaming about returning home all these years. One day we just decided to pack our things and go back to our village,” he told AFP.

Yet because of the lingering tensions, police patrol round the clock, and Nato peacekeepers call by daily.

While the international community and Kosovo authorities are in favor of reintegration, the situation here is a sharp reminder how much is still to be accomplished on the ground.

Kosovo’s population is mainly Muslim and ethnic Albanian, and to avoid any spike in tensions, normal procedure is for local officials and international agencies to pave the way for what can be a sensitive repatriation process.

That can involve anything from rebuilding abandoned or destroyed homes to securing the green light from their neighbors.

Paralovic, a 52-year-old farmer, and his group didn’t want to wait after 11 years of “suffering” in refugee centers across Serbia.

Their tents are pitched beside the smoke-scarred, overgrown walls of their former homes, they live mostly on canned food and get power from generators.

“It is difficult. It really is,” said Nebojsa Drljevics. “But it was more difficult in refugee centers in Serbia.

“We will stay here despite the conditions, whatever happens.”... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100601com7.html

Produce the PCOS machines MR. EXPOSE Amb. Ernesto Maceda 06/01/2010

Produce the PCOS machines

Amb. Ernesto Maceda

Jose “Pol” Quiwa III (LP) has filed an election protest before the House Electoral Tribunal against winning re-electionist Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales (Lakas-Kampi, Pampanga, 3rd district). Quiwa earlier alleged in his complaint that “BEIs and John Does conspired to manipulate precinct count optical scan machines” to favor his Lakas-Kampi rival.

That brings to 36 the number of provinces and cities where electronic fraud has been charged, including Manila, Quezon City, Marikina, Pasay, Muntinlupa, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro.

Pablo Manalastas of CenPeg, a professor at the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila, pointed out that no less than Comelec Chairman Jose Melo has admitted that as much as three-digit or 270 vote discrepancies were found in the Random Manual Audit (RAM).

Global Filipino Nation (GFN), a cause oriented group that deployed observers in Pampanga, Quezon and Ilolio, has come out to challenge the legitimacy of the May 10 elections, citing five cases that “put to question the authenticity, integrity, confidentiality, veracity and accuracy of the vote count.”

There is more than enough reason for Congress to seriously consider all these observations before proclaiming a winner for the posts of President and Vice President. Leaving them hanging will put the proclaimed winner with nagging questions about his legitimacy which, like GMA, will hobble him from the start.
q q q
Errors. Comelec has also admitted that as many as 200 clustered precincts made erroneous transmissions using the defective flashcards used in the sealing and testing procedure of 10 votes per precinct. PPCRV has found 29 cases of discrepancies between the transmitted total and the result of the RMA, causing IT expert Robert Verzola to say the automated election system using PCOS machines should be junked.

Worse, Cesar Flores of Smartmatic has admitted and apologized for the AES reporting to the House of Representatives a quintupled 253 million voters, not the officially registered 50.7 million voters. It also showed a total of 158 million voters in the senatorial canvass conducted by the Comelec en banc.

q q q
Susano wins. Despite Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin’s obvious bias, Rep. Annie Rosa Susano has successfully proven to the “whole world” that the two flashcards in her possession are genuine, that they can be opened by a laptop computer and they can be edited.

An ordinary technician in the person of Alvin Sabile, assigned by Smartmatic to Quezon City, opened the flashcard in a laptop thus, making Cesar Flores a “liar” when he claimed that it cannot be done.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100601com4.html

Doubts linger despite Smartmatic AES demo By Gerry Baldo and Charlie V. Manalo 06/01/2010

Doubts linger despite Smartmatic AES demo

By Gerry Baldo and Charlie V. Manalo

Neither the many congressmen who went to the Smartmatic plant in Sta. Rosa, Cabuyao, for a testing of the precint count optical scan (PCOS) machines under controlled surroundings, nor the camp of former President Joseph Estrada were impressed or convinced that the automated election system, as programmed by Smartmatic, has yielded accurate results, and was fraud-free.

A congressional source who witnessed the demonstration in Cabuyao told the Tribune that the demonstration hardly proved anything, even if it was admitted that the four compact flash (CF) cards in the possession of the Parish Pastoral Council or Responsible Voting (PPCRV) taken from the junkyard in Cagayan de Oro, were genuine.

“What we were given was a demonstration of the system under controlled conditions. It was in their (Smartmatic) warehouse. Their technicians were there to operate the system. They (Smarmatic officials) tell us that while one can edit the CF cards, once edited, the machine will no longer accept the card and data from this CF card can no longer be transmitted.“But it should be remembered that Smartmatic controls everything, which means that they could have easily changed the programming of the machines beforehand, to show exactly that which they wanted to show us,” the sources said.

The camp of former President Joseph Estrada, meanwhile, made it clear it is not convinced the machines and the automated system are fraud free, even with a demonstration made by Smartmatic officials amid claims that the recent automated elections were foolproof.

Lawyer Boy imperial, one of Estrada’s lawyers, said that while Smartmatic proved that the PCOS machines would not be able to transmit another election return after another transmission, it bolstered the claim of “Koala Boy” that his group had transmitted ER’s ahead of the genuine ER that should have come from the precincts.

Imperial also said that Smartmatic failed to explain in full the “command instructions for the PCOS machines on how the votes for a particular candidate should be counted.

“While they had shown that the PCOS machines had refused to transmit an ER after an earlier ER has been transmitted, the allegations raised by Koala Boy could still be relevant,” Imperial said yesterday after the House committee on suffrage conducted an ocular inspection of Smartmatic’s warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna.

Imperial also said that Smartmatic had refused to show the “log” of all the transmissions that the Smartmatic server had received during the election. 

It had also refused to provide all interested parties the images of all the ballots captured by the CF cards.
“The coordinates for each of the candidates were not also shown,” Imperial said. 

A “coordinate” is the exact place of name and the adjacent oval space that has to be shaded.

He said that the log of all the transmissions received by the server and a comparison of the images of the ballots with the ERs for a candidate should also show proof that the counting machines were indeed transmitting the right figures for each candidate.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100601hed1.html

Lozada to tesify vs Neri in NBN-ZTE scam By Charlie V. Manalo 06/01/2010

Lozada to tesify vs Neri in NBN-ZTE scam

By Charlie V. Manalo

National Broadband Network (NBN-ZTE) whistleblower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada will be summoned to testify as the principal witness in the $329-million botched NBN deal against former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri and former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos before the Sandiganbayan.

This was after the Office of the Ombudsman had filed formal charges of graft against Abalos and Neri before the Sandiganbayan.

The Ombudsman cleared President Arroyo and her spouse, First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, however.
The reason given by the Ombudsman in clearing Arroyo was that as she is the sitting president, she cannot be sued.
But the Ombudsman failed to explain why the presidential spouse was absolved, since it was evident that he was present in China playing golf with the ZTE officials, as well as the recounting of Joey de Venecia that the presidential spouse, in the company of Abalos, told him (De Venecia) to back off.

The presidential spouse does not have any immunity from suit.

Ironically, Neri is Lozada’s former boss. And if Lozada is to be believed, it was Neri who had asked him to review the NBN-ZTE contract.

Two separate pieces of information had been lodged against Neri and Abalos in relation to their involvement in the NBN-ZTE anomaly both for violation of Section 3 (h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In the said documents, the Office of the Ombudsman, signed and approved by Overall Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, recommended bail for the temporary liberty of the two accused in the amount of P30 thousand each.

Aside from Lozada, other witnesses to the NBN-ZTE deal would be Neri himself against Abalos, along with Joey de Venecia, son of former Speaker Jose De Venecia Jr., and columnist Jarius Bondoc.

It will be recalled that Lozada disclosed before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that Neri knows a lot about the contract and stressed that Neri holds the key as to whether or not President Arroyo and the First Gentleman meddled in the said contract.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100601hed2.html

Aquino wants Abunda in gov’t; ‘King of Talk’ may become secretary By Angie M. Rosales 06/01/2010

Aquino wants Abunda in gov’t; ‘King of Talk’ may become secretary

By Angie M. Rosales

Perhaps presumptive president apparent Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino can ask his would-be appointees in government to face the mirror and judge themselves if they are of the purest of hearts.

And among them would be television host and show biz columnist Eugenio Abunda, Jr., popularly known as Boy Abunda, whom Aquino wants appointed in his government for his strong marketing and communication skills.
“Think about it from a marketing perspective, things that you would want to market the Philippines for. He will be a good communicator,” Aquino was quoted by the GMA-7 News website.

Abunda is a close friend of Aquino’s youngest sister Kris, who is a big celebrity, herself.

Known as as the local “King of Talk,” Abundo often asks his celebrity guests to face an imaginary mirror before he asks them to speak about sensitive matters.

According to the GMA-7 website, Aquino spoke to reporters at his Times Street home after meeting with envoys from the European Union. 

Aquino, however, could yet announce Abunda’s possible designation.

When asked if Abunda would be named among his secretaries, Aquino replied: “It’s possible or lower. Usec, asec also.” Talks have it that Aqunio is considering Abunda for the Department of Tourism.

Abunda had acted as a family spokesman when Cory Aquino died last August.

According to Aquino, Abunda finished a degree at the Ateneo de Manila University and later took up further studies in international relations.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100601hed5.html

LP admits being shorthanded in bid for Senate presidency By Angie M. Rosales 06/01/2010

LP admits being shorthanded in bid for Senate presidency

By Angie M. Rosales

The Liberal Party (LP) of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino admitted yesterday that it will have a hard time in seating a Senate president from its ranks in the coming 15th Congress unless the party succeeds in working out alliances to get at least the majority 13 votes.

“We’re trying to reach out to other senators who are non-LP. Although the LP’s position will be critical (under the incoming administration), I think what’s more critical now is the capacity of the party to convince non-LP (members) to coalesce with us. That’s the bottomline and that’s what’s needed most to get (the needed) 13 (votes),” Sen. Francis Pangilinan told reporters.

A vote of 13 in the 24-man chamber is required by the Constitution in electing a Senate President. Pangilinan, who admitted eyeing the Senate presidency, said the LP is yet to resolve who among its members in the Senate will be fielded for the position.

Both Pangilinan, who acted as LP spokesman for senatorial candidates in the just-concluded polls, and Senator-elect Franklin Drilon, are said to be gunning for the third highest position in the country.

The LP reportedly met last Thursday to discuss their strategy to capture the leadership in the chamber but so far, the only agreement they have reached was to field a candidate for the Senate presidency.

“There are four of us (LP members in the Senate) and two are candidates. So that’s what we’re trying to resolve now, who between the two of us and at the same time, the matter of reaching out to other senators,” he said.

Senators-elect Sergio Osmeña III and Ralph Recto are the two other LP members who will comprise the upper chamber beginning July.

Pangilinan appeared bent on being LP’s bet for the position as saying that he remains optimistic that he will the one fielded, in the end.... MORE  

  SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100601hed6.html

After Dato and GMA, Mikey makes it to Congress, too By Marie A. Surbano 06/01/2010

After Dato and GMA, Mikey makes it to Congress, too

By Marie A. Surbano

When before there were two, now there are three.

Three Arroyos will be present in the House of Representatives when the 15th Congress opens next month. This, after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday proclaimed winner in the recent polls Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) Party-list, whose first nominee is former Pampanga Rep. and presidential son Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.
Based on its certificate of candidacy, AGP seeks to represent tricycle drivers, security guards, and other “marginalized sectors” in Congress.

Outgoing President Gloria Arroyo earlier had been proclaimed winner in the congressional race for the second district of Pampanga province, while her other son, Diosdado “Dao”’ Arroyo was reelected as representative of the First District of Camarines Sur province.

In winning the post, Mrs. Arroyo merely took over Mikey’s former congressional seat.

According to AGP chairman Charlie Chua, Mikey was not present during the proclamation yesterday at the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila as he is on vacation in the United States. He, though, confirmed that Mikey will represent the group in the next Congress.

Chua said AGP will not only represent security guards but also small businessmen and farmers.

“He (Mikey) has helped farmers, by providing fertilizers for them,” he said.

Aside from AGP, the group of boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, the Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) was also proclaimed and was given one seat in Congress.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100601nat2.html

SC: Arlegui property case decision final 06/01/2010

SC: Arlegui property case decision final


Any plans for the new Chief Executive to move in to the so-called Arlegui guest house across Malacañang maybe fraught with complications.

SC Court Administrator and spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the high court had ordered the entry of judgment in connection with the sprawling Arlegui property as early as Dec. 16, 2008.
The Arlegui property was a residential house that was seized from its real owners during martial law by the cronies of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Marquez said the high court “affirmed with modification” the Oct. 4, 2007 decision, and the records of the case were remanded to the Manila Regional Trial Court on March 18 last year, for the execution of the decision.
“The motion for reconsideration before the SC concerning the Arlegui house has been denied with finality and entry of judgment has been made,” he said in a text message to reporters, but declined to give details.
It remains unclear whether the government and the owner of the Arlegui property — Tarcila Laperal Mendoza, who is now in her 90s – have already forged a settlement, although sources said the court-ordered payments had already been settled.... MORE 

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100601nat4.html

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