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Big fish too big EDITORIAL 07/19/2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big fish too big

Click to enlarge
So where are the real big fish?
Nearly three weeks into the Aquino presidency and not a big fish is being caught, much less in his sight. The public instead was treated to a fat fish, which temporarily stops the craving but there still is nothing big to hang up the wall.

Presented before the public last week as a supposed showcase of the effort against tax cheats in a Lamborghini-riding pawnshop operator.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue last Thursday filed before the Department of Justice, a criminal complaint for tax evasion in the amount of P22.5 million against a pawnshop owner.

Pawnbrokers do get rich, but compared to the really rich tax evaders and smugglers, that pawnbroker held up as the Noynoy administration’s Exhibit A, is a small fry.

Noynoy’s promise was for a rich haul of the country’s biggest smugglers to fire off his drive against corruption and tax fraud. During the campaign period, Noynoy even bragged that he already holds a list of the country’s top smugglers and he promised they will start falling the moment he steps into Malacañang.

That moment was some three weeks back.

Many, thus, are expecting the first one to fall, based on a new promise, coming from Noynoy’s economic team, that one tax cheat that will be charged each week, will be a smuggler who had remained an untouchable until now — not a lowdown tax evader, who deserves to be tried and rot in jail if found guilty.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100719com1.html

More than just ‘good men’ FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 07/19/2010

More than just ‘good men’

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Evidently, Noynoy Aquino is having difficulty in getting people to fill up the positions in government — some 5,000 of them, all of which he had earlier warned Gloria Arroyo against filling up with her appointments, insisting that these posts were his to fill.

But it looks like he can’t even seem to even fill up the sub-Cabinet levels, much less the bureau levels.

The claim now from Noynoy is that he is finding it hard to find “good people” to take on public service.

That’s probably not accurate, given his inordinately long time to even fill up his Cabinet posts even when there were many of those holier than thou yellows were more than willing to join his yellow government.

In all probability, Noynoy did not have a ready-made list of even Cabinet officials even after he had won the presidency, which marks his unpreparedness for the job of the presidency.

It is usual for a presidential candidate — especially one who scores high even in those questionable surveys — to have tapped some supporters or even non-supporters for certain positions, high and low, during the campaign period. On the possibility, or even probability of winning the race, the presidential candidate would have at least talked to several people whom he believes should join his government.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100719com2.html

Global economic crisis threatens fight against AIDS focus 07/19/2010

Global economic crisis threatens fight against AIDS


WASHINGTON — The global fight against HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus-acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is threatened by stagnating economies around the world, which have caused governments to shrink their budgets and, with them, grants to fight the illness.

“We are facing a major challenge in terms of funding because the global economic downturn has got a lot of governments looking hard at their budgets, and some doing decreases in the kind of aid that goes for global health, and AIDS in particular,” said Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who now runs a philanthropic foundation that bears his and his wife’s names.

That very topic will be widely discussed at the 18th international conference on AIDS in Vienna next week, said Gates, who will deliver a speech at the meeting.

Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said the economic crisis couldn’t have come at a worse time for the fight against AIDS.

“There are not enough resources to meet the demands of people who need treatment and prevention,” he said, adding that the sharp dip in funding to fight AIDS has hit “just as we are reaping the fruit of success in getting therapy and prevention to the developing world.”

Some five million people in poor countries are being treated for or to prevent HIV/AIDS today, compared with just one tenth of that number six years ago.

The cost of antiretrovirals has fallen from $15,000 per person per year in 2001 to $120 a year today.

And the rate of infection with human immunodeficiency virus — or HIV — has dropped 17 percent compared to 2001, when it was at its acme.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100719com3.html

Zubiri’s dare; Neri’s nyet C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 07/19/2010

Zubiri’s dare; Neri’s nyet

Jonathan De la Cruz
Here’s what Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said about reports that his counter protest against lawyer Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel is unmeritorious and meant only to delay the decision on the latter’s protest and his inevitable proclamation as the 12th winning senator in the 2007 senatorial elections: “...I am not delaying this (Pimentel) protest. What I want to know is the truth... Why are we afraid to seek the truth... If the SET (Senate electoral Tribunal) does not find any more evidence of electoral fraud in Metro Manila then I will resign as senator...”

Well, let’s see how this dare will play out given that the SET has taken all of three years (half of the contested term) to review the records and the ballots in 25 percent of the contested precincts identified by the parties as “...best exemplifying or demonstrating the electoral frauds pleaded by each of them; and the revision of the ballots and reception of the evidence shall begin with such pilot provinces or cities thus designated...” After such revision is conducted depending on whether the proclamation of the declared winner (in this case Zubiri) will be affected by the revised findings the tribunal may “...dismiss the protest, any counter protest or cross protest, as the case maybe, or all of them or require the parties to show cause why these should not be dismissed without further proceedings...”

Based on the record, Zubiri’s pilot, that is his best, precincts, consisting of 18,227 precincts, yielded only a recovery of 11,948 votes which is less than one recovered vote per precinct.

Since these are supposed to represent the best 25 precinct of his counter protested precincts the projected total recovery for the remaining 75 percent totaling 51,470 precincts of the 70,607 precincts he so designated for the purpose would yield a maximum of 33,794 more votes or a total recovery of 45,742 votes. Added to the 12,850-vote lead which he had over Pimentel in their hotly contested fight for the 12th slot in the 2007 elections that would translate to only a 58,592 lead.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100719com4.html

Insidious illogic in Pagcor privatization DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 07/19/2010

Insidious illogic in Pagcor privatization

Herman Tiu Laurel
Mainstream media have followed up PeNoy Aquino’s announce-ment of his Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) privatization plan with massive propaganda. Their argument is that since any game of chance is immoral and unproductive, and since Pagcor, the largest gambling operation run by government, is riddled with corruption, that state-owned enterprise needs to be privatized. However, if they truly believe gambling to be immoral and unproductive, shouldn’t they call for its abolition — whether it be in the form of lotteries such as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) sweepstakes or the Malaysian-led lotto draws — then later Pagcor’s own dissolution?

To only call for privatization contradicts their sworn moral scruples and belies their position as hypocritical, if not insidious. For them to say “Pagcor is corrupt; therefore it must be privatized” is to admit that Aquino and his Pagcor Chairman Bong Naguiat are incapable of instituting any anti-corruption reform as far as gambling is concerned.

As the privatization of Pagcor means its gambling operations will continue, the only change will be to where the revenues will go. For sure, it will no longer benefit government and, in principle, the state’s charities and the President’s Social Fund. It will merely go to private corporate coffers and from thence may likely not be shared with government for its social spending programs at all.

From initial information disclosed to media, the privatized Pagcor being envisioned by PeNoy will be tax-exempt. We can only roll our eyes in amazement at the unbelievable stroke of luck that the favored private party or parties will enjoy. Pagcor’s income amounts to an average of P30 billion or over $600 million every year; and that’s supposed to be a much-needed resource for government to help the poor with.

But the other so-called “logic” for Pagcor’s privatization that trumps the previous one is the massive corruption pervading Pagcor. A top corruption charge that Naguiat has made concerns the 300 Pagcor consultants appointed by his predecessor Efraim Genuino to the tune of P5 million a month or P60 million a year. If such were indeed the case at Pagcor under Arroyo and Genuino (as it most likely was), the direct solution is to file corruption charges against those responsible; prosecute them to the hilt; and make an example of them in the long promised anti-corruption drive of the Aquino government. Refusing to clean up Pagcor, in terms of weeding out those in the career service who collaborate in various corrupt activities and then, cutting out resources that are being frittered away, is akin to throwing the precious baby with the bathwater.

Even doing so at any price is simply not acceptable. If the Aquino government tries to argue that it needs to let go of Pagcor because it is corrupt, then it has no right at all to sit a single minute more!

This illogic of privatization has ruled the country since the time of PeNoy’s mother 25 years ago. Look at what has happened today: All the government assets chosen to be privatized were those that proved productive and earned billions for the nation. Thus, only huge revenue losses for the government and the public (and obscene profits for the corporate oligarchs) ensued. Whether it’s power, oil, water or toll ways, just name it and its profits are now for the oligarchs’ satisfaction.

The Department of Finance’s Cesar Purisima is expectedly supporting Pagcor’s privatization. His finance and Big Business bosses will be getting their hands on the company’s revenues once it is privatized, with the foreign gambling and financial mafia getting their share of the pie. If anyone doesn’t know it yet, the global finance industry has always been tied to gambling — from Monte Carlo to Las Vegas to Macao.

The privatization of Pagcor will lead to an even greater control of the Philippines by gambling and finance syndicates, with narco-politics close behind, as exemplified by NYSE’s Richard Grasso embracing Colombian FARC narco-rebel Raul Reyes in 1999, as well as his part in the compensation controversies that foreshadowed the 2008 Wall Street financial crash.

Truth to tell, the past 25 years of liberalization has seen the country progressively sink into the gambling and narcotic quagmire never seen before.

The privatization of Pagcor is one of the last frontiers in the battle for complete control of RP’s resources which the global and local oligarchs are waging against the people. As each privatization proceeds, the nation only sinks deeper into poverty. Our hope is that the increasing impoverishment imposed through the oligarchy’s newest puppet government may finally rouse the middle class and the masa to awaken and fight back. All oppressed sectors — professionals, small-and-medium scale entrepreneurs, labor, soldiers, plus the ideologically-inspired opposition — must heed this call. Those who continue to turn a blind eye — including those who pose as opposition but kowtow to the Yellow movement — are collaborators to the ongoing plunder and oppression. This is the message the truly concerned, nationalistic forces must continually raise so the people may know.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m.; Destiny Cable Channel 21, Politics Today, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m.; also visit our new blog, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com)

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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100719com5.html

Basyang’s wrath and mine HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 07/19/2010

Basyang’s wrath and mine

Aldrin Cardon
A floating body of a man, bloated as it is washed to shore, does not make a good Lola Basyang storyline. It is, in fact, a terrifying scene worthy only as an insert — meant to shock, in the next installment of Shake, Rattle and Roll. But in real life, it was a further reiteration of what had been Basyang’s impact on battered Luzon, which a couple of days before, was a ravaged picture similar to a war zone, with twisted metals, flooded streets, damaged homes and small barge ships and boats stacked like a deck of cards.

It happened again, a year after we have made our resolve never to let typhoons get in the way of our very simple lives, claiming lives and hard-earned properties; a year after typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” left big scars in our memories, in just a couple of days before we were to remember the 20th anniversary of the massive July 16 quake, when we saw more death and destruction, which needed years for us to forget and move on.
And then, Basyang.
Basyang was not as massive as Ondoy and Pepeng, its impact not comparable to the previous big quake, but it being the first typhoon of the year, and with a new president at that, only highlighted where we are lacking, and what abuses have been committed by the past administration that it deserves our middle fingers, if we could not whack their heads off with a baseball bat, as a seething actor Mel Gibson imagined doing to his Russian wife..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100719com6.html

Still stormy SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 07/19/2010

Still stormy

Dinah S. Ventura
The story of Basyang’s entry into the Philippine islands had a twist, unexpected yet called for, and we hope it does not have an unhappy ending.

The country’s weather authority Pagasa (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) gave its forecast as usual, but typhoons being typhoons, the country’s first for the year sailed in, all fierce winds and not so much rain, changed directions and took Metro Manila by surprise.

Debris and many shattered plans, as well as dismay over the metro-wide blackout, marked her exit, but the story did not end there.

Though no lives were claimed here, the death toll in other areas was significant. Damage to roads and bridges were reportedly “minimal,” but we were left with the impression that had the storm turned out to be more powerful, we would have been, like always, helpless in the face of it.

The twist to this event, meanwhile, was the new president’s stormy mien when he spoke to Pagasa officials — “berating” them, as some have described. Some of these observers have taken the high horse and said President Noynoy Aquino should talk less and do more — meaning, he should provide the funds that Pagasa says it sorely needs. But even these critics must be told off for conveniently forgetting their own reactions whenever a Pagasa forecast ends up wrong or inaccurate, or too late.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100719com7.html

Noynoy fumbles anew on Trillanes, say solons By Angie M. Rosales 07/19/2010


Noynoy fumbles anew on Trillanes, say solons

By Angie M. Rosales
Another day, another blunder. This time President Aquino, who is less than a month into office, was being accused by two senators of having committed a major error by ordering the Department of Justice (DoJ) to review the case of detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV seen by many as tantamount to interference of the country’s judicial system. Aquino even indicated that Trillanes may have been a victim of injustice.

Senators Edgardo Angara and Joker Arroyo, in separate statements, practically said that Aquino appeared to have been ill-advised on the matter concerning Trillanes.

Coming from the Chief Executive no less, the call for a review of the case which should usually come from the accused party, will be subject to various interpretations “which we don’t want our President to be involved in, in so early in his term,” Angara said.

The senator, who is a lawyer, pointed out the possible implication of Aquino’s directive to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on fundamental issues such as the principles of separation of powers of the branches of government, independence of the judiciary, autonomy of the Senate and the respect for the military court of justice.

Angara noted the fact that Trillanes is also undergoing military judicial proceedings in relation to the mutiny charges filed against him.

It cannot be helped for some to criticize the President for his apparent ignorance of the military court justice system, the senator said during a radio interview.

“There’s a lot of fundamental areas affected because of that single statement,” he said.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100719hed1.html

GMA to lead House opposition By Gerry Baldo 07/19/2010

GMA to lead House opposition

By Gerry Baldo
Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo is expected to lead the political opposition in the House of Representatives albeit in the background.

According to Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Arroyo would be active in the plenary debates, committee hearings and other discussions in the House of Representatives.

“I think she will be an active member of the 15th Congress because that is her work ethics, she’s always been consistent,” he said.

Lagman, who has announced that he is going to be the Lakas-Kampi-CMD’s bet for the speakership race, also expressed belief that Arroyo will help in forming the legislative agenda and position of their party on various important issues.

“She is still the chairman of our party so she will be very active in the forumaltion of our legislative agenda and voting preferences in the House although she is at the background,” Lagman strssed.

Among those legislative agenda is the move to amend the Constitution which was filed by the former president herself.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100719hed2.html

DoJ upholds estafa raps vs former DFA chief 07/19/2010

DoJ upholds estafa raps vs former DFA chief

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has upheld the filing of estafa charges against six officials of information technology firm Systems Standard Inc. (SSI), including former Foreign Affairs Secretary Roberto Romulo, over a dispute on a capital infusion made by the firm’s director Nora Bitong who owns 40 percent of the firm.

The Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati City earlier had dismissed the estafa complaint against Augusto Lagman, Herman Gamboa, Cassius Ramirez, Romulo, Peter Valdes and Vimka Bernadette Pacis who were all SSI officers.

The DoJ, in a resolution last June 17, reversed the dismissal of the case and ordered the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office to pursue the estafa case against the SSI officials. It also required the prosecutors office to report the progress of the actions taken on the case.

According to the case filed by Bitong, the SSI officers in March 2005 unlawfully approved the sale of shares of stock of SSI to the Philippine Management Investment (Phinma) despite the knowledge that the sale constitutes all of the assets of SSI that required the ratification of the firm’s stockholders. 

At a meeting of the SSI board of directors of Systems Standard on March 10, 2005, Lagman, SSI chairman and chief executive officer, informed the directors that he had been making cash advances to an affiliate technology firm Vinta Systems to finance its operations and that since the company did not have the financial capacity to return to him such cash advances, he requested that they be cohverted into equity in Vinta Systems and that he be granted pre-emptive rights over the unpaid subscriptions in the corporation in proportion to his equity after such conversion, according to the DoJ report. 

Washington Sycip, a director of Systems Standard, asked respondent Lagman about any developments concerning Vinta Systems that would support his request. 

Lagman replied that “there were no substantial developments” concerning Vinta Systems. Relying on the representation, the board of directors approved the requested conversion of his supposed cash advances into shares of stock. Bitong was absent from that meeting... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100719hed3.html

Agra denies knowledge, welcomes probe on massacre witness bribe try Benjamin B. Pulta 07/19/2010

Agra denies knowledge, welcomes probe on massacre witness bribe try

Benjamin B. Pulta
Former Justice Secretary Alberto Agra yesterday broke his silence in the alleged P10-million bribery attempt on a vital witness in the Maguindanao massacre case.

In a state-ment, Agra denied having personally met National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-Terror Unit head Ric Diaz nor he received any report from him or from the law enforcement agency concerning the alleged attempt to bribe witness Kenny Dalandag during his incumbency as acting secretary of the Department of Justice.

Had he been notified about “callous attempt to bribe a witness,” Agra said he would have “ordered an in-depth investigation” into the matter as this act would have frustrated his commitment at that time to prosecute the case “with earnestness and vigor.”

He also said he welcomes the agency’s plan to investigate the attempted bribery case in the hope that government prosecutors could get to the bottom of this matter and take prompt and appropriate action against the guilty parties.
“I am open to any probe in order to shed more light on this deplorable incident,” Agra said.

He claimed that this NBI report was submitted not to the DoJ’s Office of the Secretary (Osec) but only to the DoJ’s Witness Protection Security and Benefits Program (WPSBP) under Prosecutor Leo Dacera who acted on it at his level instead of elevating it to the office of then-DoJ chief Agra.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100719hed4.html

External pro-Pangilinan lobby shifts to full gear By Angie M. Rosales 07/19/2010

External pro-Pangilinan lobby shifts to full gear

By Angie M. Rosales
There is an intense lobby from “forces outside” of the Senate to favor, supposedly, the Palace’s bet as Senate president.

Sen. Edgardo Angara bared this yesterday, insinuating those peddling influence as supposedly coming from the Palace camp or that of colleague, Sen. Francis Pangi-linan, the declared candidate of the Liberal Party (LP) of President Aquino.

In a radio interview, Angara admitted that the lobby for the support of Pangilinan has intensified as Congress’ formal opening of sessions draws near.

“In the past week and I supposed, onwards, it will be very intense, the wooing. We also noticed that at least in our group, there are other forces also now working in favor of one or the other,” he said.

“So we’re being careful handling this because this involves an internal affair of the senators. Let’s not allow this to affect the credibility and effectiveness of the Senate by displaying our susceptibility to outside forces,” Angara said in calling on his colleagues.

Angara is leading a Senate group that includes Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Loren Legarda and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. as they position themselves in the anti-cipated reorganization in the upper chamber.

Angara said that in the case of the other perceived candidate, Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., he himself is the one dealing and courting their colleagues for support..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100719hed6.html

DoJ chief orders Abcede to stop ‘preemptive’ claim as PCGG chair 07/19/2010

DoJ chief orders Abcede to stop ‘preemptive’ claim as PCGG chair

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has voided the memorandum circular issued by Presidential Commission on Good Government Commis-sioner Ricardo Abcede declaring himself as the PCGG officer-in-charge (OIC).

According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, the next chairman of the PCGG isstill to be appointed and stressed that there will be no shortcuts in the selection process.

“The DoJ is now in the process of determining from the records, who exactly is the next-in-rank and most senior official of the PCGG. Once a determination has been made, an OIC will be designated,” she said.

Abcede issued the circular last July 14 following the courtesy resignation of then PCGG Chairman Camilo Sabio, an appointee of former President Gloria Arroyo, last June 30.
The memorandum circular addressed to all PCGG officers and employees declared that Abcede “shall serve as officer-in-charge, being the most senior commissioner in the organization, until a new PCGG chairman or any new commissioner is appointed.”

The PCGG is one of the attached agencies under the DOJ.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100719hed6.htm

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