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Disappointing in general EDITORIAL 07/02/2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Disappointing in general

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Afallacy called political syllogism goes this way: “We must do something. This is something. Therefore, we must do this.”

This political syllogism best captured the meaning of the carnival-like inaugural day of President Noynoy Aquino, including his mediocre debut speech as leader of the land that contained mere rehashes of his campaign pitch and obviously meant to be played up to the gathered crowd at the Quirino Grandstand. The speech, however, left out many guessing where the hopes for change would lead under the Aquino administration.

It began with a desultory show of accountability with Noynoy’s convoy on the way to Malacañang, foregoing the sirens and stopping at red lights and ended with a street party that sought to recapture the People Power moments during the period of the nation’s history that led to Noynoy’s mother, the late President Cory Aquino, being swept to power in 1986.

Aquino’s inaugural speech sounded like a mere extension of his campaign lines about empowering the people and ending corruption and abuse in government, with many nagging questions about governance, including his position on land distribution -- considering his family-owned Hacienda Luisita -- likely intentionally left out.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100702com1.html

No breeding FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/02/2010

No breeding

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Renato Corona turned out to have a lot more good manners and proper breeding than the freshly-minted president, Noynoy Aquino.

He could have made himself unavailable for the inaugural rites, already having been insulted by Noynoy when he chose to have an associate justice swear him in. But he attended it anyway, as he was probably thinking more of the institution than himself.

It was, however, unpardonable of Noynoy to leave Corona out in acknowledging the presence of the special guests at this inaugural, merely acknowledging the “members of the SC.”

And yet Noynoy pledged, in his maiden speech, that he will uphold the law and the Constitution, even as it is clear that while the law and the Charter say that Corona is not a midnight appointee of Gloria Arroyo, he still refuses to acknowledge Corona as the Chief Justice of the high court... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100702com2.html

Russia sought long-term gains from US spy cell — expert FEATURE 07/02/2010

Russia sought long-term gains from US spy cell — expert


NEW YORK — Russia was happy to wait patiently for long-term rewards while its sleeper cell of US spies garnered a string of high-profile connections, a former CIA agent told AFP on Wednesday.

Among the 11 suspected Russian agents, one was a columnist for over 20 years with the Spanish-language newspaper La Prensa in New York, and another ran a consultancy using connections he made while at Harvard University.

“It is a kind of intelligence operation that you put in place not for today or tomorrow, but for years and years of operational activity,” former CIA agent Bruce Riedel said.

“Most intelligence services rely primarily on intelligence officers who have diplomatic immunity — this is more characteristic of a Russian and Communist system than Western intelligence.”

For one of the accused who used the false identity of a dead Canadian infant, Donald Heathfield, Harvard was a base he used to cultivate ties, said The New York Times.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100702com3.html

Inaugural highlights MR. EXPOSE Amb. Ernesto Maceda 07/02/2010

Inaugural highlights

Amb. Ernesto Maceda

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III delivered an excellent speech that gave high hopes to the suffering Filipinos for a better life.

Now that he is officially the Chief Executive of the Philippines, the hard work begins. Let’s give him 100 days to show what he will do, what he can do. Mr. President, the buck now stops at your desk, no longer GMA’s.

No inaugural ceremonies can go on without unexpected hitches. The first major problem was the programmed time of events that was not followed because P-Noy arrived 15 minutes early ahead of VP Binay. It was caused by P-Noy’s arriving at Malacañang earlier than the scheduled 10:30 a.m. departure.

Old protocol officer Miguel Perez Rubio did not manage the order of arrival to assure VP Binay’s arrival at the grandstand at 10:35 a.m. In this time of hi-tech cellphones, VP Binay should have been allowed to arrive at the grandstand first before the presidential convoy entered the Quirino Grandstand driveway... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100702com4.html

A festive day NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 07/02/2010

A festive day

Armida Siguion-Reyna

It’s been 12 years since we had a presidential inauguration in Manila. There was a proclamation somewhere in between, but it took place in the dead of night as if the people behind it knew there was uncertainty over who really won; the ensuing swearing in had to be held in far-off Cebu, far from the madding crowd of protesters and activists.

In the planning of this one, soon after the newly elected said he didn’t want an inaugural parade, we were reminded by an underling of the regime just past that President Noy ain’t the first bossing not to have a parade, but Gloria Arroyo. May utang na loob pa tayo ngayon sa kanya.

Her coterie has been trumpeting a list of achievements and accomplishments in media, some real, some imagined. Some 10 days ago, Elena Bautista-Horn, head of her Presidential Management Staff, touted, “Perhaps in the last week or so that remains for the Arroyo administration, people will look at what it has done… we know it will take a while before people actually realize the accomplishments, but we believe that history will judge President Arroyo fairly.”
... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100702com5.html

A simple balut from P(e)Noy DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/02/2010

A simple balut from P(e)Noy

Herman Tiu Laurel

Before Day One of this new government, my early skepticism of the incoming regime was invariably met with a not-too-unexpected “Give him a chance” advice. Everyone wants to be hopeful. My hard-nosed rejection of this great false hope which I believe should prompt continued focus on the task of real change was understandably perceived as either a “killjoy” or “sour-graping” act instead of an exercise in foresight.

Day One was a very important day for the entire nation as it was a first taste of the hopes of a number of people and an acid test of other’s skeptical views, including mine. The focal point, of course, was 21 minutes and 53 seconds of the incoming chief executive’s inaugural speech to which the more perceptive segment of 90 million Filipinos glued their ears. What was the judgment?
Stand-outs were the “wang-wang” moment and the melodrama about the long waits in traffic; references to the legacy of his parents who he claims shed blood for the nation; the reiteration of his “there will be no poverty if there’s no corruption” spiel and his pledge to set himself personally as the paradigm of virtue; cutting red tape; some references to “people power,” forgiveness and reconciliation with justice (impliedly referring to Gloria Arroyo); peace in Mindanao; respecting all minorities; one sentence on the “serious commitment which harmonizes national interest with international responsibilities (a genuflection to the foreign powers and multilateral agencies no doubt); his repeated paeans to change (or pagbabago) and good governance; then some more motherhood statements and emotional-rhetorical appeals, which made up 90 percent of the speech.

The few financial and economic specifics, which are really the crux, were as rhetorical — a continuation of Corazon Aquino’s infrastructure and Emergency Employment program (remembered only for the dozen or so Cory flyovers); the promise to set up “trading centers” for the procurement of farmers’ produce to eliminate middlemen and kotong cops; a “predictable and consistent place for investment where it all works;” strengthening tax collection; as well as, expanding the military and police force. Yet he misses the most fundamental point: Where’s the money for all these promises coming from?

Already in his first speech, the new Chief Executive failed to mention what he would do to the greatest single drain on the nation’s finances, which is far bigger than domestic corruption — the national debt that takes up 70 percent of the nation’s annual resources (from the budget and loans combined) running up to P700 billion a year.

Also announced on Day One was the final list of new Cabinet appointees, and this is where more tangible evidence of the direction of the new administration can be seen. All said, it’s a continuation of the “never had it so good” days for the Big Business sector of the country — with SGV money man Purisima in Finance, Ayala-Aboitiz man Almendras in Energy, Lopez man Ping de Jesus at the DoTC, DMCI-Maynilad man Singson at the DPWH, anti-nationalist neo-liberal “free trade” economist Paderanga at Neda, World Bank girl Kim Jacinto-Henares in the BIR, Swiss SGS agent Parayno in the BoC, and Makati Business Club honcho Bertie Lim in Tourism. Even the new DoH secretary signals the triumph of organ transplant trade with the appointment of kidney trade monopolist Dr. Enrique Ona over the service to the poor with cheaper natural and alternative herbal health advocate, and prior hands-down favorite, Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan.

Public sector people are meticulously scrutinized for conflict-of-interest issues yet these corporatists believe they are exempt from this basic ethical principle. Conflicts-of-interest issues are evident with Ping de Jesus whose principals have BayanTel; Bertie Lim’s bosses, the Ayalas of the Makati Business Club have long pushed for Ayala Center to become the tourism hub; Almendras’ principals are in electricity generation and distribution (Cory appointed Ernie Aboitiz himself and Gloria appointed Aboitiz’ Ibazeta); and Purisima is a financial broker to big corporations.

Venerable journalist Frank Griego, who likened today’s corporatocracy to the “sugar block” barons of old, stated at GNN Destiny Cable’s “Inauguration 2010” special coverage that “the Cabinet (today) is 70 percent ‘sugar block.’” Thus, after 24 years of economic and power crises, the new government is still reinvigorating the discredited economic paradigm.

Hard as we tried to look for the pro-poor in the Cabinet appointments, we couldn’t find any single one. Dinky Soliman of DSWD, in fact, made the country poorer after her group’s Code-NGO brokered the 10-year P10-billion zero coupon Peace Bonds that earned for them a cool P1 billion, which the people will have to shell out P35 billion this year.

While there is a mix of old and new faces, the current Cabinet’s overall character is no different from those of Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos or Gloria Arroyo. Much as some would like to be hopeful, the re-appointment of Bert Romulo and the mere consideration of Ronnie Puno for the DILG again (likely due to US lobbying) makes our case: The reality is that this government is a transition from the 2001 Arroyoquino regime (Gloria with Cory) to one that is Aquinorroyo today. Some may still want to wait for his first State of the Nation Address; but without doubt, P(e)Noy delivered only balut.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m.; Destiny Cable Channel 21, Talk News TV – Infowars Edition, Tuesday, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., with the topic, “Stop Privatization of Hydro-Electric Dams;” also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100702com6.html

Big blunder marks Noy’s first kick-out order By Aytch S. dela Cruz 07/02/2010

Palace downplays memo blooper, claims it was draft

Big blunder marks Noy’s first kick-out order

By Aytch S. dela Cruz
Inexperience and cluelessness say it all.

Without realizing that a presidential Memorandum Circular (MC), the first memorandum issued by President Aquino upon stepping into Malacañang, would result in the bureaucracy facing a huge collapse, the Aquino administration, on its very first day, committed a big blunder when the President, through his Executive Secretary, declared “all non-career executive positions vacant as of 30 June 2010, and extending the services of contractual employees whose contracts expire on 20 June 2010.”
The circular was handed to Malacañang reporters, only to have this replaced with a “revised circular” dated on the same day as the original.
The revised circular read: “Declaring all co-terminous third level positions vacant as of June 30, 2010; directing all non-career executive service officials (non-CESO) occupying career executive service (CES) positions to continue to perform their duties and responsibilities; and extending the services of certain contractual and/or casual employees whose contracts expire on June 30, 2010.”
The presidential spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, who appeared to have embraced this early, the art of prevarication, claimed that the first circular was merely a draft, and the second one was claimed to have been the official one, with the “language” fine-tuned.
The MC created too much confusion, with heads of bureaus leaving their posts, then returning to their posts, given the second circular that corrected the first.
Aquino’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, yesterday admitted to Palace reporters that there was a “lapse in the language” used in the first MC thus requiring the Office of the Executive Secretary to withdraw the order and provide a new one, evidently antedated, to plug the loopholes out so as to avoid miscommunication among the government employees.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100702hed1.html

Speech long on promises, empty in content — solons By Angie Rosales 07/02/2010

Speech long on promises, empty in content — solons

By Angie Rosales
Legislators described President Aquino’s inaugural speech as spiced with motherhood statements and promises to elicit thundering applause but was empty overall in its content.

Even Aquino’s former colleagues in the Senate expressed disappointment over the inaugural speech.

Sen. Edgardo Angara yesterday joined those who criticized Aquino’s speech, describing it as a mere enumeration of “doable problems,” far from the inspirational speeches expected of a leader of the country.

“There is no soaring oratorical rhetoric. There is no grand vision he described which usually a new president opens his administration with a challenge to the people because you need to motivate and inspire people. What he did, by way of inspiring people is to enumerate and list down practical, doable problems which every Filipino knows is close to, because it affects him,” Angara said.

“He hits the heartstring of the ordinary people. That’s his way, I guess, of inspiring,” the senator said, appearing in the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum.

Asked about his impression on Aquino’s speech, Angara admitted that he was expecting a “Kennedy-type or Obama-type” of oratory that expresses hope for a new Philippines.

Yet, the senator himself was still soft on the new Chief Executive, as he himself provided possible explanation as to the lack of fireworks in the inaugural speech.

“I’m just too traditional, old fashioned maybe,” he said, adding that avoiding the burning issue on the Hacienda Luisita dispute in the speech could have been deliberate as it may constitute subjudice as the case is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

“But on second thought, maybe it’s really not in the character of the President. I don’t know who his speechwriter,” he said.

Angara also cited some observations in some of the decisions made so far made by Aquino such as the the apparent inclination of the new administration to sectarian schools, based on his choice of Cabinet officials for the education sector and lack of reference to science and technology.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100702hed2.html

DoJ urged to indict GMA for NBN-ZTE deal By Benjamin B. Pulta 07/02/2010

DoJ urged to indict GMA for NBN-ZTE deal

By Benjamin B. Pulta

A criminal complaint has been filed before the Department of Justice (DoJ) by the Bayan Muna party through its representatives Teodoro Casiño and Neri Javier Colmenares against former President Gloria Arroyo in connection with the aborted $329-million NBN-ZTE contract.

In a 12-page complaint, Casiño and Colmenares asked the DoJ to indict Arroyo who stepped down as President and has taken her seat as a representative for her home province of Pampanga, for her alleged part on the ano-malous broadband contract and subsequent filing of criminal charges against Arroyo before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Casiño said his group filed the complaint before the DoJ in line with President Aquino’s order for newly
appointed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to investigate alleged criminal acts committed during the Arroyo administration.

He explained that the DoJ has the mandate not only to prosecute but also to conduct investigation.

“The DoJ like its counterparts in many countries abroad has the power and duty to conduct its own investigation and gather evidence to build up its case rather than placing the burden on ordinary citizens, especially in cases involving powerful public officials,” he stressed.

“We are not asking the DoJ to prosecute it already... We want the DoJ to do the case build-up and the additional investigation if needed...What we don’t want to happen is to give all the evidence to the Ombudsman and what happened few months ago will happen again. Remember, this was already dismissed by the Ombudsman,” he added.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100702hed3.html

Rep. Gloria files Cha-cha via con-con bill By Gerry Baldo and Charlie V. Manalo 07/02/2010

Rep. Gloria files Cha-cha via con-con bill

By Gerry Baldo and Charlie V. Manalo
Former President Gloria Arroyo yesterday launched a bid to change the 1987 Constitution, raising speculation from incumbent President Aquino’s yellows that she is plotting to grab back power while trying to shield herself from prosecution. The Aquino Palace appears set to have this move stopped.

Arroyo, 63, filed a bill in Congress, calling for a constitutional convention (con-con) that calls for the election of delegates.

If successful, the con-con could change the system of government to one ruled by a prime minister rather than a president.

But Arroyo’s successor, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, played down the initiative, saying she does not have the support in Congress to succeed.

“The filing of the Charter change (resolution) is not a threat as far as we are concerned,” Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters.

“If we are able to convince the members of the house that this is not a valid or a good time to amend the Constitution, then that will be dead in the water.”

During the term of Arroyo, her critics said that the time to change the Charter would be after her term. 

There have, as records show, bills filed, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, seeking a constitutional change through the con-con.

It is also of record that even the congressmen allied with the Liberal Party today, as well as the Catholic bishops, called for Cha-cha through a con-con after Arroyo’s term. Today, however, the allies of Aquino, including the new President, appear to be against Charter change, as they are today in power and position.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100702hed4.html

Mar Roxas set on poll protest, wants null votes review 07/02/2010

Mar Roxas set on poll protest, wants null votes review


Liberal Party (LP) president and defeated vice presidential candidate, former Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas, waited for President Aquino to take his oath of office
to announce that he will be filing an electoral protest before the Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) for a recount of the vice presidential vote, which electronically, failed to read what has been termed as the “null votes”, consisting of lightly shaded ovals not read by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, and correctly shaded votes that were not read by the same machine.

Television reports quoted Roxas as saying that this matter had already been discussed with Noynoy Aquino and that there was no objection from Aquino.

This announcement was made during a gathering organized by the Filipinos for Good Governance in Manila.

The Roxas legal team, even during the canvassing by the Congress, acting as the National Board of Canvassers, sough to have the null votes set aside or examined and read manually, saying that there were over 3 to 4 million null votes recorded nationwide, with GMA’s Q TV report saying that Roxas and his team claimed half a million votes cast in Central and Western Visayas – known Roxas bailiwicks – were considered null votes by the Comelec.
The report said that Roxas told his audience that Aquino agreed with his move to file an electoral protest not only for Roxas’ sake but also because Aquino still has reservations about the credibility of the first-ever automated elections.

Roxas said Aquino had even encouraged him to file the protest because he (Aquino) felt that he obtained fewer votes than expected by him.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100702hed5.html

US envoy reminds RP gov’t of value of VFA By Michaela P. del Callar 07/02/2010

US envoy reminds RP gov’t of value of VFA

By Michaela P. del Callar

The United States envoy to the Philippines yesterday called on the government to “live up to its treaty obligations” with Washington amid calls for the abrogation of a bilateral military agreement that allows the entry of American forces to the country.

US Ambassador Harry Thomas said the Philippines as a sovereign nation has the right to conduct a review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), but stressed that it is “extremely important” that both countries have a military exchange program.

Despite strong resistance by militant groups and several lawmakers to US presence in the country, Thomas said Washington remains committed to assisting the cash-strapped Philippine military to eradicate terrorism and radical extremism, and provide aid when needed in times of natural calamities.

“The most important thing about the VFA is, it allowed us last year to quickly bring in the US military to assist in the typhoons, to feed, house, clothe people who were desperate. Without the VFA, it would have been much more difficult to bring in that aid so quickly,” Thomas told ANC News.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100702hed6.html

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