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No coincidences, these EDITORIAL 07/10/2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

No coincidences, these

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After almost five long years, the Ombudsman is finally tackling the fertilizer fund scam and is reportedly ready to charge former Department of Agriculture Secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo and his former undersecretary, Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante.

From initial reports, however, the charges aren’t anywhere near plunder, which means that if the Ombudsman does get to elevate this case to the Sandiganbayan, the two, and whoever else is charged along with them, will be able to post bail.
This move from the Ombudsman should have been welcomed, especially after the long wait, but such moves at this particular time are highly suspect, considering the fact that this comes shortly after Cito Lorenzo returned to the country, and worse, had met and spoken with Noynoy Aquino, the new Malacañang tenant, who had told the media that yes, they met. Yes, they talked, and suggested that Lorenzo may well become a state witness.

Like it or not, such a meeting between the two, even at a yellow party, followed by the Ombudsman’s move to file charges against Lorenzo and of course Bolante, is highly suspicious, as this smacks of Aquino and his Malacañang interfering in the justice system.

It could also be that the Ombudsman moved quickly to save the skins of Lorenzo and Bolante and shield the others. But it could also be a push from some people in political power today, to make it easy for Lorenzo, but had to include Bolante and not for plunder but technical malversation. After all, how can Bolante just be solely charged, without Lorenzo?

But this development is unfortunate, as once again, the perception has built that despite presidential claims of wanting to reform the justice system, as well as strengthen the institutions, there is again that suspicion of the Palace occupant meddling in such “political” cases, making the “wheels of justice” tread softly on the new Palace occupant’s allies.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100710com1.html

Chance to prove auto fraud FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/10/2010

Chance to prove auto fraud

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
At least two candidates who lost in the last elections have filed protests, one on the local level, by former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, and another on the national level, by former Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas, who ran for the vice presidency last May, and lost to Vice President Jojo Binay.
With these two protests, there may finally be evidence obtained to prove allegations that electoral fraud was committed, both in the local and national levels.

More importantly, these protests, expensive as they are, will very likely will take too long a time for the specific ballot review bodies to resolve, given past experiences with protests and their resolutions. But these protests will also check on the reliability and accuracy of those very expensive leased precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and just how cheating can be done.

But there appears to be a move to thwart even this, as the latest report has it that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be using the PCOS machines to resolve election protest cases filed before this body even saying that Roxas’ protest is a waste of time.

Chairman Jose Melo was quoted as saying that should there be cases requiring a recount, the poll body will be using the machines for the recount, as the commission will forgo the manual counting of the ballots.

“It is going to be a machine count. There is no way there will be a human count,” Melo said, adding that conducting a manual count would bring back the risk of committing human errors in the process.

“That will bring back the human intervention problem in the manual system again. No way. After the 2010 automated elections, manual counting is obsolete,” Melo added.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100710com2.html

As polls loom, Obama is dealt tough hand focus 07/10/2010

As polls loom, Obama is dealt tough hand


LAS VEGAS — With crucial elections looming, President Barack Obama is lumbered with a tough political hand, touting a recovery many Americans do not feel, while economic data suggest the rebound may be slowing.

The US President rested up in the gambling paradise of Las Vegas Thursday, after a day of politicking as November’s mid-term congressional polls approach with odds apparently lengthening for his Democrats.

After a brutal year featuring prolonged high unemployment and bitter political battles, Democrats had hoped to be reaping the benefits by now of rescue policies Obama says staved off a second Great Depression.

But while the economy is posting solid growth and creating jobs again, the party has seen negligible political benefit, with the jobless rate still at 9.5 percent, and confidence in the rebound ebbing.

If political logical holds, and the economy dictates the course of elections, Obama and the Democrats could be in for trouble come November.

So Obama is engaged on a mission to convince voters he understands things are still tough, while insisting the economy is healthier than it seems.

He also argues that his policies will secure future growth and that had he not acted, things would have been much worse.

On Thursday, in Missouri, Obama bemoaned the “sledgehammer” impact of the recession on the middle class, but warned things may not get better quickly.

“We knew it took years to dig the hole we were in, and it would take some time to get out,” he said.

Obama’s Republican foes are not making it easy, lambasting the president over employment growth — with the refrain “where are the jobs?” and pointing out high deficit and debt levels.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100710com3.html

Like Arroyo Like Aquino? Same Cabinet/Government – Same Anti-people Policies Published on July 10, 2010

Like Arroyo Like Aquino? Same Cabinet/Government – Same Anti-people Policies

Published on July 10, 2010


MANILA – Of all decisions Aquino made in his first week, it is “his cabinet appointments that raised more questions than hope,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bayan (New Patriotic Alliance). “The cabinet appointments are a reflection of the policy direction the new administration will take. Some of the appointments don’t give much hope for change.”

“The cabinet that he has formed recycles old faces – former Arroyo officials who will now occupy key positions – with new ones particularly in the justice post basically providing the embellishment of token reform,” said a CENPEG analysis of the new president’s administration.

Except for the new Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, many of the Aquino cabinet appointees are either representatives or members of big businesses and landed elite, or, as Terry Ridon, national chair of League of Filipino Students, described them, they are “recycled” government technocrats that “have long pursued the policy of limiting the role of government in the delivery of social services and access to basic infrastructure such as electricity, water and petroleum products.”

With such people at the helm, “change for the worse” seems to loom over ordinary Filipinos such as the health workers, said Emma Manuel, chair of Alliance of Health Workers, who cited as example the new Health secretary Dr. Enrique Ona.

“We are hoping for change that will move forward, not backward, in terms of providing health for all,” Dr. Geneve Rivera, secretary-general of Health Alliance for Democracy, said in a statement. Dr. Ona was former director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI). His track record there, said Dr Rivera, was marked not just by union-busting but also by pushing heavily for “corporatization of government hospitals and medical tourism, the exact opposite of what the Filipino people urgently need in terms of health care.”
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/10/like-arroyo-like-aquino-same-cabinetgovernment-%E2%80%93-same-anti-people-policies/

Peasant Women, Coping on the Fringes Published on July 10, 2010

Peasant Women, Coping on the Fringes

Published on July 10, 2010

With their small parcels of land no longer producing enough for their families, peasant women and men try to make do with odd jobs. 

RIZAL PROVINCE — To Nanay Ceding, 62, a mother of eight, and her neighbors in a suburban peasant village, coping up with extreme poverty and the erratic climate meant leaving the family and the farms for at least six hours every day.

Nanay Ceding is a woman peasant of Rizal province, near Metro Manila. Her husband, Carding, was also a farmer, but since his death in 1999, Nanay Ceding had to care and provide for the family alone. She also provides for her eldest son who has married and has a growing family of four. (Nanay Ceding that her full name as well as that of her family members be withheld.)

They came from Aklan in the early ’70s to look for greener pastures in Manila but were forced to settle in Rizal for lack of qualifications to land a decent job in the city. Some of her neighbors are Ilonggos, who had settled earlier in a piece of land entrusted to their uncle who came from Iloilo in 1950. He is now 94 years old.

Like many other peasant women in her neighborhood, Nanay Ceding has to go out of the village to do household chores for middle-income families, mostly professionals and businessmen, government employees and office workers who find it hard to do the laundry and housekeeping while they work the whole day.
.... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/10/peasant-women-coping-on-the-fringes/

Stage-Managing the War on Terror Published on July 10, 2010

Stage-Managing the War on Terror

Published on July 10, 2010

Posted by

Informers have by now become our first line of defense in our battles with the evildoers, the go-to guys in the never-ending domestic war on terror. They regularly do the dirty work — suggesting and encouraging the plots, laboring as bag men to move the money, fashioning the bombs, and eliciting the flamboyant dialogue, even while following the scripts of their handlers to the letter. They have attended to all the little details that make for the successful and now familiar arrests, criminal complaints, trials, and (for the most part)
convictions in the ever-distracting war against… what? Al-Qaeda? Terror? Muslims? The inept? The poor?

The Liberty City Seven, the Fort Dix Six, the Detroit Ummah Conspiracy, the Newburgh Four — each has had their fear-filled day in the sun. None of these plots ever came close to happening. How could they? All were bogus from the get-go: money to buy missiles or cell phones or shoes and fancy duds — provided by the authorities; plans for how to use the missiles and bombs and cell phones — provided by authorities; cars for transport and demolition — issued by the authorities; facilities for carrying out the transactions — leased by those same authorities. Played out on landscapes manufactured by federal imagineers, the climax of each drama was foreordained. The failure of the plots would then be touted as the success of the investigations and prosecutions.... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/10/stage-managing-the-war-on-terror/

Araneta Family, Mascap Farmers Fight Over Land in Rodriguez, Rizal Published on July 10, 2010

Araneta Family, Mascap Farmers Fight Over Land in Rodriguez, Rizal

Published on July 10, 2010

MANILA – In 1972 peasants in Mascap, Rodriguez of Rizal province thought they had already won their right to the land they have been tilling. However, in 2006, a landed family once again started claiming it.
The 1,644-hectare land currently being tilled by the Mascap peasants was owned by the Araneta family, a wealthy and landed family in the Philippines, until Ferdinand Marcos enacted the Presidential Decree No. 27 in 1972. It provided for the “emancipation of all tenant farmers working in private agricultural lands” producing rice and corn. Under PD 27, more than 1,300 hectares were distributed to farmers.

Since then, said Zen Soriano an organizer of Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Mascap, Rodriguez, (Farmers’ Association in Mascap, Rodriguez), the Araneta family has been using every trick in the book to reclaim the land. They filed an appeal before the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in 1992 but lost.

During the late 1990s, the Aranetas brought the issue before the Court of Appeals (CA). This time, the peasants in Mascap were not informed about the petition filed to reverse the DAR decision. Thus, they were unable to attend the hearings. The Appeals Court ruled in favor of the Araneta family in 2003, but the farmers only learned of the appeal and decision in 2006. The next year, on February 2007, the peasants filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse the CA decision.... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/10/araneta-family-mascap-farmers-fight-over-land-in-rodriguez-rizal/

OFW Killed in Kish Island, Embassy Officials Urged to Investigate

OFW Killed in Kish Island, Embassy Officials Urged to Investigate

Published on July 10, 2010

 By Bulatlat.com

An overseas Filipino worker who was in Kish Island in the Persian Gulf on a tourist visa was killed on July 1, a chapter of Migrante International in Saudi Arabia reported recently. The victim was waiting for his re-entry visa for the United Arab Emirates when he was killed.

“We received this very sad information that one of our fellow OFWs has been killed on July 1 by a Sudani national who was challenging OFWs to a fist fight,” Migrante Middle East coordinator John Leonard Monterona said.

Marcus (not his real name), 24, from Bicutan, Taguig, was in the island because most OFWs working in UAE with tourist visas usually go to Kish Island as exit point when their visa is about to expire.

Reports said Marcus did not take on the Sudani national’s challenge to a fist fight until he was slapped several times. Marcus only fought back to defend himself. But the fist fight turned bloody when the Sudani national’s companion pulled out a knife and plunged it at Marcus’ chest.

Fellow OFWs and some Iranians rushed him to the hospital but he was declared dead on arrival at around 8:00 p.m..... MORE


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/07/10/ofw-killed-in-kish-island-embassy-officials-urged-to-investigate/

No plunder raps filed vs Lorenzo, Bolante By Charlie V. Manalo and Aytch S. de la Cruz 07/10/2010

Ex-Agri officials in P728-M fertilizer scam charged with graft, malversation

No plunder raps filed vs Lorenzo, Bolante

By Charlie V. Manalo and Aytch S. de la Cruz

Former Agriculture Secretary Luis “Cito” Lorenzo will probably get his wish and be granted immunity after the Ombudsman yesterday filed mere malversation and graft charges against him and others, including his former undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, who were allegedly involved in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

Several complaints of plunder against Lorenzo and Bolante were filed some four years ago by private parties, but the Ombudsman simply charged the two principals with malversation and graft, both bailable offenses.

The charge sheet said Lorenzo is being charged for allegedly giving Bolante a free hand in the disposition of the funds, which would amount to a slap in the wrist, and could well pave the way for Lorenzo to be cited as “the least guilty” and granted immunity by the government in exchange for his testimony.

The Office of the Ombudsman is set to summon the indicted.

Lorenzo has been included in the Supplemental Complaint Affidavit which the Office of the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office (OMB-FIO) filed yesterday, Friday.

Named respondents in the case were Bolante and Lorenzo for Violation of Art 217 of the RPC (Malversation of Public Funds or Property) and Sec 3(e) of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); Belinda and Emma Gonzales for Violation of Art 220 of the RPC (Technical Malversation) and Sec 3 (e) and (g) of Ra 3019.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100710hed1.html

Noynoy mulls sacking, impeaching Ombudsman By Aytch S. de la Cruz 07/10/2010

Noynoy mulls sacking, impeaching Ombudsman

By Aytch S. de la Cruz

President Aquino is determined to force Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to resign, and failing that, will either be seeking her impeachment from the House of Representatives or question her continued stay in office, on a alleged technicality of her already having served the full seven years, as she is believed by the Palace to have merely taken over after the resignation of her predecessor, Simeon Marcelo, who stayed in his post for two years.

Malacañang yesterday publicly declared its intention to sack Gutierrez because she is distrusted by Aquino and his administration owing to her close association with former President Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda bared during a Palace press conference that they are looking at many options to get rid of Gutierrez, including pushing another impeachment case against her with the help of Aquino’s Liberal Party allies in the 15th Congress.

But Lacierda quickly backtracked, clarifying that he is not yet prepared to categorically state that the options being weighed in 
dealing with the Ombudsman are geared toward the removal of Gutierrez from office.

“I’m stating it clearly that we are studying all the options. We have not decided yet on what we will do with the Ombudsman,” he said further.

Lacierda also disclosed that the Palace is also looking at the possibility of bringing back the issue of Gutierrez’s questionable tenure, previously raised by Sen. Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, to motivate her to resign.

He also mentioned that they might consider speaking to Gutierrez personally and politely ask her to consider dropping her post and have an early retirement instead to spare the new Aquino administration more headaches.

Lacierda explained that Malacañang duly recognizes the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman and its mandate to go after erring and corrupt public officials but they doubt the integrity of its occupant based on her past decisions, part of which was Gutierrez’s decision to clear the First Couple from all the graft charges filed against them, especially on the anomalous $329-million national broadband network with the Chinese firm, ZTE... MORE

AFP: No favoritism in military selections By Mario J. Mallari 07/10/2010

AFP: No favoritism in military selections

By Mario J. Mallari
The military leadership yesterday dismissed alleged “favoritism” in the designations of key officials in the 120,000-strong organization recently approved by President Aquino.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. maintained that the recent top-level “re-assignments” in the AFP passed through the military procedures with only the best officers considered for the positions.

Earlier, a top-ranking military officer, who requested anonymity, had questioned the promotion of newly installed Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief Maj. Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan and Intelligence Service of the AFP

(Isafp) chief Brig. Gen. Romulo Bambao, both members of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1979.

Mabanta, however, justified the promotion of Pangilinan, erstwhile AFP deputy chief of staff for operations or J3.

“It is General Pangilinan who is the best for the position, considering his experience and his capability and skills he acquired as he went up the military ladder,” he said.
Mabanta said other officers were considered for the post.
“There were several candidates and it was the... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100710hed3.html/

Roxas files poll protest, seeks ‘null’ votes in manual count By Benjamin B. Pulta 07/10/2010

Roxas files poll protest, seeks ‘null’ votes in manual count

By Benjamin B. Pulta
Former Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas, defeated vice presidential candidate of President Aquino, yesterday made good his threat to lodge an electoral protest before the Supreme Court acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

In his petition, Roxas asked PET to set aside the proclamation of Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay and in his 102-page electoral protest, Roxas through lawyers Bienvenido Somera Jr. and Joe Nathan Tenefrancia, also appealed to the PET to conduct a manual revision of votes and order a count of 3 million votes that were not canvassed and considered stray or null votes.

Roxas asked the SC to conduct a “comprehensive, system-wide forensic analysis and comparison of the country’s Automated Election System (AES) in order to “ensure that the true will of the electorate is upheld.”

“Moving forward in the succeeding electoral exercises of this nation underscores the imperative to unmask and purge the infirmities that plague this fundamental democratic process,” Roxas said, implying the need for improvement of the country’s automated election processes.
The LP vice presidential bet lamented that the certificates

of canvass (CoCs) which were used to proclaim Binay, were not duly and properly authenticated as these failed to meet all legal requirements for the determination of authenticity and due execution of the CoCs for the vice president, in violation of the Constitution.

Roxas said the election returns (ERs) used as basis to proclaim Binay did not show the actual votes for the position of vice president because of the high incidence of null votes totaling to 2,612,207 votes; the lowering of canvassing threshold in at least 145 clustered precincts nationwide; fraud, anomalies, irregularities and statistical improbabilities in certain clustered precincts, particularly in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao; among others.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100710hed4.html

5 Pinoys die in Saudi road accident 07/10/2010

5 Pinoys die in Saudi road accident

A Saudi-based Filipino family, including a five-year-old boy, and their driver died in a car accident in Al-Hassa, Saudi Arabia Wednesday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday confirmed.
Philippine officials in Saudi identified the fatalities as Robert Demetrio, an employee in Al-Hassa; his wife Elizabeth, a teacher; their daughter Joyce Hassan, a nurse at the National Guard Hospital in Hofuf, and their five-year-old grandson Hope.
The victims are from Kidapawan, North Cotabato.
They were on their way to the airport for a scheduled flight to the Philippines for vacation when the accident happened..... MORE

Robredo named DILG chief; Palace defends appointments of Lacson’s ex-associates By Aytch S. de la Cruz 07/10/2010


Robredo named DILG chief; Palace defends appointments of Lacson’s ex-associates

By Aytch S. de la Cruz

President Aquino has finally dropped the Department of Interior and Local Government hat that he wore for a time as Malacañang yesterday announced the appoint-ment of former Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo as the new DILG secretary.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said Aquino signed Robredo’s appointment papers yesterday afternoon after days of deciding who he would give the crucial Cabinet post which was previously eyed by Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Ochoa also disclosed to reporters the appointment of retired Maj. Gen. Magtanggol Gatdula as the new director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) amid reports that Sen. Panfilo Lacson is set to return to the country soon.

Gatdula reportedly served as Lacson’s deputy in the defunct Philippine Anti-Organized Task Force but Ochoa and presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda were quick to dismiss speculations that such background has anything to do with Gatdula’s appointment at the NBI.

“The senator’s feelers were done prior to the appointment of Mr. Gatdula. So is there’s an indication, not so much because Mr. Gatdula was appointed as NBI head but because of the atmosphere or the belief that Senator Lacson will be able to obtain a fair trial under the Aquino administration. So I do not believe that there is any relevance or bearing to the appointment of Mr. Gatdula,” Lacierda told a press briefing.

Ochoa said Aquino loosely based his decision in choosing Gatdula to head the NBI on his excellent track record while he was still serving the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) as its chief.
He added his experience at the QCPD may have earned him endorsement from former Quezon City Mayor and now Rep. Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte for his candidacy to lead the NBI under the Aquino administration.

Same defense was made by Malacañang in line with the appointment of Angelito “Lito” Banayo as chief of the National Food Authority (NFA)... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100710hed6.html

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