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Generals’ game remains the same EDITORIAL 08/06/2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Generals’ game remains the same

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The military tempted by the influence of politics has always been behind major crossroads in the nation’s history.

How they are perceived in historical accounts can be found in the difference that lies mainly in victory or defeat.
When the 1986 People Power revolt took place, the turning point came when the military led by then Philippine Constabulary Gen. Fidel V. Ramos and then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile shifted their alliance to the forces opposing former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Ramos, Enrile and the soldiers then were hailed as heroes.
In 2004, when then Vice President Gloria Arroyo usurped the power and position of the democratically-elected former President Joseph Estrada, it was again the generals playing politics that made Arroyo and the civil society later to be known as the evil society which forces are mostly now supporting the Aquino administration, succeeded in the highly unconstitutional power grab that was moreover disgracefully legitimized by the then Chief Justice of the high court.
The Supreme Court justices were part of the conspiracy to overthrow Estrada and those who participated in the unconstitutional act were never prosecuted but were instead mostly rewarded with lives of comfort and wealth during Arroyo’s nine years of plunder.
In contrast, soldiers who took part in the many failed mutinies of the past were called traitors and suffered incarcerations.
The premise, thus, is that the military is so easily seduced by the glare of politics and politicians are all too willing to lure them into whatever political ends they may have.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100806com1.html

Questionable EO again? FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/06/2010

Questionable EO again?

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Constitutionally, it is right for the new Malacañang tenant to fire, through Executive Order 2 (EO2) the so-called midnight appointees, on the basis of the clear election ban.

The question, however, is if all those the Palace claims — some close to 1,000 appointments made by his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo — are truly midnight appointments, meaning to say, appointments made when the election ban period was in force and effect.

Apparently, even as the EO2 was released the other day — albeit dated June 30, 2010, which EO was clearly antedated, as the EO2, much less EO1, could not have been drafted and signed on that official half-day Noynoy Aquino had spent in Malacañang — neither Noynoy nor the Palace aides know for certain, just who are the so-called midnight appointees or even how many of them, leaving this matter to several of his officials to determine. This in turn will bring on a slew of court cases against Noynoy, through his Palace aides.

But here’s the thing: How effective are these EOs of Aquino, especially as he does not appear to have their replacements?

To this day, even as EO1 directed all those appointees that are co-terminus with Arroyo, such as, but not limited to, politically appointed ambassadors, Malacañang has yet to bare who their replacements are. True, while they were given a three-month extension, or until their replacements would have been appointed, there has been none so far made by Aquino, by way of appointing ambassadors, political or career..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100806com2.html

Philippines suffers brain drain as best workers go abroad focus 08/06/2010

Philippines suffers brain drain as best workers go abroad


MANILA — The Philippines is suffering a crippling brain drain with many of its most talented and qualified workers heading overseas for higher-paid jobs and better lifestyles, employers say.
The shock resignations last week of 25 Philippine Airlines (PAL) pilots, who left for bigger salaries abroad, highlighted a trend that is changing the stereotype of overseas Filipinos being simply maids, sailors and laborers.

Scientists, engineers, doctors, IT specialists, accountants and even teachers are among the English-speaking talent heading to foreign lands, leaving the government and private companies scrambling to find replacements.

“There is a skills hemorrhage. We are losing workers in the highly professional and skilled categories,” Vicente Leogardo, director-general of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines, told AFP.

The pilots who quit for jobs in the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia would have in some cases nearly tripled their salaries, Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines president Elmer Pena told AFP.

“The salary here is a lot smaller than in other countries. You can’t really compare it,” he said.

Civil engineer Paris Chuchana joined the exodus two years ago when he moved his family to Singapore so he could take a job earning about $1,600 a month, five times more than the maximum salary he could expect at home.

Like many expatriates, Chuchana enjoys the lifestyle outside his homeland, which suffers from pervasive corruption, poor infrastructure and frequent natural disasters.

“I was just on vacation, visiting my aunt here, but I found I liked it, so I resigned from my job in the Philippines and came over,” Chuchana told AFP by telephone from Singapore, adding he had no intention of returning home soon.
“My first kid is entering high school so I am already preparing for college.”... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100806com3.html

Two steps backward MR. EXPOSE Amb. Ernesto Maceda 08/06/2010

Two steps backward

Amb. Ernesto Maceda
It is good that Malacañang through Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo de Mesa has finally accepted the validity of Renato Corona’s appointment by GMA as Chief Justice.

De Mesa also recognized the validity of Merceditas Gutierrez’ appointment as Ombudsman for a full seven-year term ending 2012. Did she promise to be cooperative?
This is a full retreat from earlier President Noynoy’s positions when he took his oath before Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales. He also asked Ombudsman Gutierrez to resign.
He might also consider a retreat from three major presidential appointments now seriously under fire. Even President Barack Obama withdrew three Cabinet appointments when he started his term of office.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100806com4.html

RP: Asian power rate champ DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 08/06/2010

RP: Asian power rate champ

Herman Tiu Laurel
The following are the latest comparative power rates in Asia, culled by the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore) in US$/kWh terms, which we presented in our recent Global News Network (GNN) program on the subject, “Meralco Caught Overcharging Again:”
Jakarta 0.06
Shanghai 0.07
Singapore 0.21
Kuala Lumpur 0.06
Tokyo 0.20
Manila 0.23
One of our other guests, former Quezon City Mayor Jun Simon, also culled some additional figures (in US$) from his siblings in North America:
Vancouver 0.07
Los Angeles 0.11
If you are already incensed at the gross disparity, wait till you learn that power rates in the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) franchise area (at P11.98 per kWh) are much higher than those of rest of the country — from Iligan’s P6 per kWh; Cagayan de Oro’s P8; Misamis Oriental’s P7; Cebu’s P7; to Javier, Leyte’s P5. 

Dominant player Meralco seems to be of the view that it is exempt from the rule that the higher the sales volume, the lower the price.
Thus, the poverty-stricken Philippines under PeNoy Aquino now has the distinction of having “The Highest Power Rate in Asia,” up from the achievement of Gloria Arroyo over the past nine-and-a-half-years. While Arroyo’s last few months did usher in these highest power rates, these are due to what’s claimed to be simultaneous misfortunes of low water levels in the Luzon hydro-electric dams (resulting from the over-release of water during typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”) and, strangely, supposed breakdowns or maintenance operations of several power plants in Mindanao.
PeNoy, on the other hand, cannot escape responsibility for this “highest power rate” ignominy primarily because he failed to include in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) a denunciation of the nefarious methods used by Meralco and its rubber stamp public agencies such as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (Wesm) and Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) — with convoluted acronyms designed to confuse — to legalize this price-gouging.
Judging from the 2008 per capita income alone of the three Asian countries with the highest power rates shows how the Philippines’ sore thumb is sticking out. With our highest power rates, our country’s per capita income is only at $1,866; while the second and third placers, Singapore and Japan, are at $38,578 and $39,423, respectively.
Clearly, the Filipinos’ buying power is at least 20 times smaller than the Singaporeans and Japanese. But, even when compared to the industrialized economies of the West, the Philippines still beats them all in terms of power rates — from Brussels’ $0.10/kWh; Paris’ 0.11; Rome’s 0.12; Sydney’s 0.14; to London’s 0.19.
Indeed, RP’s Meralco rate matches Frankfurt’s $0.23/kWh; and only New York ’s $0.29/kWh beats it. But, not to worry, the pending Universal Charge covering “stranded costs” and “stranded debts” to be left on the shoulders of National Power Corp. (Napocor), the taxpayers, and consumers by the successive Yellow regimes’ privatization program can still bring our country’s Meralco rates to the top of the world!
If by any chance the Universal Charge doesn’t make RP’s rates the highest in the world, then the new, perverted rate-setting scheme called the Performance Based Rate (PBR) system, which sets rates based on projected improvements in service to be made by the power utility company, upon which Meralco has already submitted rate hike petitions for 2011 onwards, may just do the trick.
This is the only system we’ve seen where increases in public utility rates are based on “prospective” instead of actual performance. Now Meralco can easily charge its capital requirements for these “prospective” capital expenditures to its hapless consumers, upon approval by the ERC, of course (which is really never denied). Can anybody in the world be luckier than the major owners of Meralco who get their capital from their customers and then charge them the highest rates?
On top of all these, the Commission on Audit sample audit of Meralco found the power distribution company guilty of overcharging by P8 billion in 2004 and P4 billion in 2006. A complete audit from 2001 to the present should therefore be demanded. This is precisely why Nasecore, in coordination with Jun Simon, filed petitions for the overcharging already identified to be refunded to the public.
Simon started this advocacy after years of my trying to enlighten him on the issue, as well as further education from Mr. Pete Ilagan in the past few months. The joint effort of the two started when Nasecore suddenly lost its five NGO-funded lawyers when the petition against Meralco was about to be filed. Fortunately, Simon found more committed volunteer lawyers who are convinced of the righteousness and absolute victory of this cause.
Even though Simon campaigned for PeNoy and is widely believed to be one of those awaiting government appointments, he says he is just sticking to advocacy work from here on. During our GNN interview, I needled him about the failure of PeNoy’s Sona to raise these issues of the exploitation, profiteering and manipulation of the power oligarchs while clearly and unjustly making Napocor the scapegoat. Simon asked for time for the administration to address the issue.
Though I didn’t want to make Simon any more uncomfortable about it, the failure of PeNoy to call the oligarchs and their rampant and manipulated predatory rate hikes is really a fundamental anti-people and anti-consumer crime.
Giving more time is really just postponing the inevitable: Joining and championing the revolt against the oligarchs.
(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; watch Politics Today, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m. on Destiny Cable Channel 21; 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/20100806com5.html

Gaza girls turn to fishing as rising poverty erodes barriers FEATURE 08/06/2010

Gaza girls turn to fishing as rising poverty erodes barriers


GAZA CITY — Every morning the two girls wake up before dawn, row their wooden skiff out into Gaza’s heavily-patrolled waters, and try to catch enough fish to feed their family.

They are perhaps the only women in the territory of 1.5 million people who make a living from fishing, and are a rare sight in Gaza’s conservative society where women rarely venture into the sea even to swim.

But Madeleine Kulab, 16, and her sister Reem, 13, have had few other options since their father was struck with palsy 10 years ago, and like many women in Gaza have had to work for wages once earned by men.

For the last four years Israel and Egypt have largely sealed the borders of the Palestinian enclave, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement since June 2007, pushing the local private sector to the brink of collapse.

Gaza’s unemployment rate hovers around 40 percent, with 80 percent of the population, including the Kulab family, relying on foreign aid.

“How are we supposed to survive without catching fish? My father has palsy in his feet and cannot work,” Madeleine said as she and Reem plucked tiny fish from their nets on Gaza’s sandy shore.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100806com6.html

Two years after Georgia war, Saakashvili defiantly hangs on focus 08/06/2010

Two years after Georgia war, Saakashvili defiantly hangs on


TBILISI — Two years after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin famously vowed to “make him hang by the balls” during the Georgia-Russia war, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili remains defiantly in power and is gradually rebuilding ties with the West.

The brief but brutal war, which broke out on the night of Aug. 7, 2008, left many wondering if the flamboyant Saakashvili could stay in power and keep his tiny ex-Soviet republic from political and economic collapse.

Experts said Saakashvili is a long way from repairing all the damage done to his reputation and continues to be seen by many in the West as an emotional and unpredictable leader.

But after weathering large-scale opposition protests at home and constant Russian antagonism, Saakashvili has begun to slowly rebuild his image and get his country’s pro-Western aspirations back on track, analysts said.

“After the war there was a general sense that he made a huge blunder that was very likely to cost him his job,” said Svante Cornell, the research director of the Stockholm-based Central Asia Caucasus Institute.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100806com7.html

AFP brass out to silence Angue By Mario J. Mallari and Aycth S. de la Cruz 08/06/2010

Demand explanation on military ‘politicking’ charges

AFP brass out to silence Angue

By Mario J. Mallari and Aycth S. de la Cruz
As long as the Armed Forces of the Philippines officers focus on the alleged poll cheating that occured in 2004, it appears that the AFP brass are willing to have this all out in the open.

But not when it comes to charges of politicking, poll fraud and partisan politics in the 2010 elections, now that the AFP is under the regime of their new commander in chief, President Aquino.

Omerta and cover up are again the rule, with a new commander in chief. And the top brass are out to silence and sanction the military whistleblower.

AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo David Jr. yesterday called on National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) chief Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue to explain his public issuance of statements regarding alleged “politicking” of some top-ranking military officers during the last May 10 presidential elections.

In a letter dated Aug. 5, David noted that Angue’s statements printed by the media on Aug. 4, urging the Truth Commission to investigate alleged electioneering of military officials during the recently concluded national elections, were not part of his “mission and mandate” as commanding general of the NCRCom.

“Considering the circumstance that subject statements are assessed to have been issued outside of the scope of your defined unit mission and mandate, you are hereby directed to satisfactorily explain in writing within a period of twenty-four hours from receipt why no administrative or disciplinary sanction may be imposed upon you for having issued the statements adverted to,” the letter stated.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100806hed1.html

Failure makes gov’t back out of PAL-pilots talks By Aytch S. de la Cruz 08/06/2010

Failure makes gov’t back out of PAL-pilots talks

By Aytch S. de la Cruz
Government forces yesterday decided to let go of the warring Philippine Airlines (PAL) management and the 25 pilots who suddenly quit their jobs last week given the commitment conveyed to them by PAL officials that they will do everything to resolve the lingering issues among themselves.

At a news conference at Malacañang yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said they have been assured by the PAL management that it will no longer transfer its A-320 pilots to its sister company, Air Philippines, which is among the reasons mentioned by the 25 pilots in their decision to leave the flag-carrier for foreign airline companies.

The Palace spokesman added PAL officials also committed to submit a revised flight schedule for all the routes that it currently flies and subsequently publish them in the broadsheets for the flying public’s perusal.

Lacierda said this would “normalize” PAL’s operations under reduced flight frequency so as not to prolong the
inconvenience of the flag-carrier’s customers.

“PAL management shall undertake continuing dialog with the remaining pilots to resolve issues between them and as far as the government is concerned, it will now let PAL and the pilots settle their differences through promised dialog. For that reason, government will just monitor the dialog between the two (parties concerned),” he added.
But Lacierda clarified that the government’s decision to withdraw its presence from the actual dialogue is not an indication that it has failed on its efforts to address this particular issue..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100806hed2.html

DFA cleared to cancel ‘fugitive’ Ping’s passport — Justice chief 08/06/2010

DFA cleared to cancel ‘fugitive’ Ping’s passport — Justice chief

Now that Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson is already considered a “fugitive from justice,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is legally allowed to cancel the passport of the lawmaker, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.
She, however, stressed it is still up to the DFA whether to grant the request of the private and state prosecutors to have Lacson’s Philippine passport canceled.

Lacson is facing two counts of murder in connection with the murders of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000.

The senator left the country on Jan. 5 or three days before the DoJ recommended the filing of two murder cases against Lacson.
His last known location was in Rome, Italy.

De Lima stressed the court considers as “fugitive from justice” any person who has been formally charged in court, but that person opted to evade the law rather than face the charges against him in court.

She added there is no longer a necessity for a final conviction or a formal ruling from a court declaring a person fugitive.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100806hed3.html

SC: Hacienda case proceeds despite compromise By Benjamin B. Pulta and Charlie V. Manalo 08/06/2010

SC: Hacienda case proceeds despite compromise

By Benjamin B. Pulta and Charlie V. Manalo
A sealed compromise agreement between the parties to the contentious case over the Cojuangco-Aquino family-owned Hacienda Luisita will not stop the Supreme Court (SC) from proceeding with the hearing of the pending case before the high tribunal, SC spokesman and court administrator Midas Marquez said yesterday.
He pointed out that the proposed settlement between Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and its farmers would not be considered by the high court in resolving the case unless formally informed of it.

“Parties will have to file the appropriate manifestations, which the court will consider,” he explained.

Marquez noted that without a submission from either party, the oral arguments set on the case by the court on Aug. 18 will push through. In case the reported compromise agreement reaches the SC, Marquez said it still “will have to go over the pleading and decide.” 

He added that effects of the compromise deal to the case would be discussed by the high court in its ruling..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100806hed4.html

Senators bent on lifting GMA’s ‘gag’ rule By Angie M. Rosales 08/06/2010

Senators bent on lifting GMA’s ‘gag’ rule

By Angie M. Rosales
Malacañang aides won’t get away again with snubbing Senate hearings and invoking Executive Order 464, commonly known as the gag rule that was imposed by former President Gloria Arroyo.

This was the vow of Senate Majority Floor Leader and chairman of the committee on rules, Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto, as senators are out to lift the gag order, which has effectively crippled the upper chamber’s investigations on alleged anomalies during the incumbency of the previous administration.

“This time around, we won’t let this happen. We will approve our rules (at the soonest time possible) to prevent that from happening again,” Sotto stressed, referring to their move defeating the invocation of the controversial EO 464 of the Arroyo administration, should the current Aquino administration seek to implement the same under the 15th Congress.

Aquino’s Malacañang earlier said it was still undecided on whether to retain EO 464, but it is likely that the gag rule will be retained by the present Malacañang occupant.

It was also unclear how the senators can circumvent this gag rule, as the Supreme Court in the case of then Neda director general Romulo Neri’s refusal to answer the questions posed by the senators during a hearing on the ZTE-NBN scandal regarding a bribe try, upheld Neri’s right not to reply to the questions as he said he was covered by executive privilege.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100806hed5.html

Deluge of cases seen to query EO 2’s legality By Charlie V. Manalo 08/06/2010

Deluge of cases seen to query EO 2’s legality

By Charlie V. Manalo
The so-called midnight appointees of former President Arroyo will not take Executive Order no. 2 sitting down with many of the 977 ordered terminated indicating that they will challenge President Aquino’s order before the Supreme Court, a spokesman for former President and Rep. Gloria Arroyo said yesterday. 

EO 2, issued the other day, revoked appointments made by the previous administration near the national elections last May 10 saying these violated the “intent and spirit of the constitutional ban on midnight appointments.” 

Former Presidential Manage-ment Staff (PMS) head and now Arroyo’s chief of staff Elena Bautista–Horn said a number of the terminated Arroyo appointees might bring the issue to the high court on the ground that the constitutionality of EO No. 2 is questionable as it is only based on an interpretation of the 1987 Constitution.

Legislators, meanwhile, urged President Aquino to either recall or refine the executive order as Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara and Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong shared the view that EO 2 could trigger an avalanche of criminal and administrative cases filed by civil servants against Malacañang.

“They have a legal recourse, a strong legal basis to stay at their posts. Their appointments were legal, it was an act of the president prior to the prescriptive period,” Horn said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100806hed6.html

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