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The Daily Tribune

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True color showing EDITORIAL 8/16/2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

True color showing

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Noynoy is evidently trying to show political will in his anti-government intervention stance in most issues that he is confronted with the latest of which are the Hacienda Luisita land distribution problem and the value added tax (VAT) on toll, along with his expressed statement in his State of the Nation Address about government subsidies on the National Power Corp. and the mass rail transit system.
The effort is something that the past administration was never entitled to, due to former President Arroyo’s abject unpopularity and the evident public’s distrust of her every moves.

With an 85 percent or thereabouts net approval rating based on the latest surveys, Noynoy, if the public sentiment, as gauged by the survey, is accurate, could then do no wrong in whatever policy thrust he takes for now.

Yet the outrage over the hacienda scam being perpetrated by Noynoy and his Cojuangco clan on the poverty-stricken workers, along with the insensate increase in tax toll fees, not to mention his doing nothing at all to get the toll fare increase lowered to reasonable levels instead of a 250 to 300 percent hike, all show that his so-called popularity is just an illusion drummed up by his image makers.

Increasingly, however, his bias against populist measures is starting to cost Noynoy’s cosmetic image of being a pro-masses leader which was the gist of his “Kayo ang boss ko” inauguration speech.

Where Malacañang stands on the land reform and the VAT on toll issues is giving the public a window on the true character of the new President who is not evidently the strong-willed and caring leader that his backers have tried to depict him..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100816com1.html

Pressure tactics FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/16/2010

Pressure tactics

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
From recent developments, it certainly looks like fugitive Sen. Ping Lacson’s men who are today in position and power, are attempting to get their former boss freed from murder charges, prior to his return home — but cleared and thus, with no arrest warrant waiting for him.

Over the weekend, Ferdinand Topacio, lawyer of state witness on the double murder case of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver, Emmanuel Corbito, former Philippine National Police Senior Supt. Cesar Mancao, accused the National Bureau of Investigation of harassment for detaining him at the NBI and take his client into custody.

The NBI is headed by a close aide and former subordinate of Lacson, NBI Chief Magtanggol Gatdula.

When he was appointed NBI chief by Noynoy Aquino, the issue of Gatdula’s closeness to his former boss, already a fugitive, surfaced, but Gatdula claimed that he was a professional, and that his ties with his former boss will not stop him from doing his job.

If that is so, why then would the NBI want to detain Mancao, a free man, and a state witness who is moreover under the witness protection program, and take him under NBI custody?

Besides, none of these NBI officers or agents would attempt to place Mancao under NBI custody without orders from Gatdula.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100816com2.html

Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb: Experts at desert survival FEATURE 08/16/2010

Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb: Experts at desert survival


NOUAKCHOTT — Small groups of Islamist militants weave through the desert in powerful 4x4’s. Armed to the teeth, they move under cover of darkness, hiding from spy-planes and satellites during the day.

A harsh, nearly unnavigable landscape, the desert has become their element.

A video shot in 2007 in northern Mali seen by AFP gives insight into what it takes for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to survive undetected in the vast desert of West Africa.

A 4.5-liter Toyota Landcruiser is loaded with spare wheels, 500-liter cans of fuel, jerry cans full of water, sleeping mats, tents and food. Perched on the back are four to six men holding Kalashnikovs or rocket launchers.

“They are better armed and equipped than the soldiers in the region,” says Mauritanian journalist Isselmou Ould Moustapha, a specialist on jihadism.

“Their drivers are experienced, often people of the desert. They have GPS and night vision goggles for night riding, off-track.

“During the day they hide in caves, under tarps and trees.”... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100816com3.html

Skewed ‘political capital’ idea DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 08/16/2010

Skewed ‘political capital’ idea

Herman Tiu Laurel
\"But I would rather be right than popular,’ said the president,” according to a 2007 BBC News report. Earlier in 2004, the San Francisco Gate had this other presidential quote: “I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” The first is from Gloria Arroyo justifying her new revenue measures in her State of the Nation Address while the latter is from George “Dubya” Bush pushing the Iraq War.

Last week, the newspaper mouthpiece of the Yellows had “Aquino ready to sacrifice political capital” as its headline on the tollways value-added tax (VAT) wherein it quoted PeNoy’s spokesman saying, “…we’d rather be unpopular because in the long term we know that the value-added tax will be used for the social service we have promised.”

Well, son-of-a-gun. They sought popular support to the hilt during the campaign; but now, after taking power, they sneer at it!

Without a doubt, the “political capital” being bandied about by PeNoy and his sycophants is nothing but a whip to coerce people into accepting new taxes — taxes that he promised would never happen if they gave him their votes. And as most didn’t believe this promise, more than half of Filipino voters didn’t vote for him. Still, the SWS and Pulse Asia whipped up the incredible surveys claiming that PeNoy suddenly got an 88 percent trust rating after his inauguration, which led PeNoy’s people and some other less astute quarters to assume as “political capital.”

Even if that illusion did actually translate to genuine political capital, then it already disappeared as quickly as PeNoy went back on his word of “no new taxes.” This is in keeping with the nose-dive of the once “most popular” Barack Obama’s political capital when Americans discovered that his promised “change” was a sham.

Political capital for any leader is the sum total of the mandate and public esteem he gets from the nation. In the first place, PeNoy was never a “majority president,” the reason his supporters went on to manufacture this “political capital” through their controlled media’s blitzes and popularity surveys before and after the polls. Strangely, many in the opposition, even among the Left, were led to believe such propaganda, which is why, at best there, there’s some modicum of virtual political capital achieved.

The Wikipedia discussion on “political capital” says, “Political capital must be spent to be useful… In addition, it can be wasted, typically by failed attempts to promote unpopular policies that are not central to a politician’s agenda.” Indeed, PeNoy is trying to use his virtual political capital, but for whose benefit? Obviously, not the people’s.

We know that since at least 70 percent of all VAT is prioritized to pay the national debt, it’s obvious that the first beneficiaries of this VAT on toll ways are the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the finance mafia. Although hidden from the political scene, these groups and institutions are very much present in the system as they are the ones that call the shots.

An example of this power is the appointment of the new Supreme Court associate justice whom PeNoy says he doesn’t know personally (of course, since someone else made the decision). Maria Lourdes Aranal-Sereno is from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), a known bastion of Big Business. The Inquirer billed Sereno’s appointment as the “Triumph of intellect over shabby politics.” For sure, since public interests and assets will be threatened by Sereno’s legal opinions, notwithstanding Miriam Santiago’s praises which are laughable, it will be more like the “triumph of vested interests.”

The tollways VAT is obviously not going to benefit the millions of Filipinos who depend on these arteries of travel to and from work, home, business, farm, rest and recreation, and countless other activities. Allocating a bit more to toll fees wouldn’t be much of a problem if the people’s incomes were improving. But with static, if not decreasing, incomes, allocating more for this means taking away a bigger chunk from people’s daily needs.

PeNoy doesn’t know this because he doesn’t have a family to care for, as one of my radio listeners, 17-year-old scholar Angeline, says. Moreover, PeNoy’s staff, Ochoa and company, are known to be high-flying lawyers cum political aides of such alleged public fund profligates as Sonny Belmonte, that they wouldn’t even know the meaning of having to budget one’s monthly income.

The Supreme Court came to PeNoy’s rescue by issuing a TRO on the tollways VAT; but the stupidity of PeNoy’s Malacañang still knows no bounds. Lacierda came out to own up to the pressure, this even after World Bank Revenue girl Kim Henares had already denied PeNoy’s involvement in the issue.

There is no doubt that the brawl over the tollways VAT has already expended much of the virtual political capital of PeNoy. Just listening to the morning radio shows reveals at least a 90 percent rage against PeNoy’s insistence on this new tax (on an existing tax). Now, even the Yellows I talk to fear that PeNoy will be lost in six months’ time.

Maybe PeNoy can crawl back to public acceptance by using this “political capital” to say “No” to the oligarchs, the IMF-WB, the US Embassy, and once and for all say “Yes” to the demands of the people for lower power and water rates, lower toll fees and a better life!

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; watch Politics (and Economics) Today, Tuesday, 8 p.m. 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/20100816com4.html

Chinese ‘gold’ brings Egyptians a little taste of luxury FEATURE 08/16/2010

Chinese ‘gold’ brings Egyptians a little taste of luxury


CAIRO — A Cartier ring for just $8? In Egypt, “Chinese gold”— an affordable imitation of the precious metal— has swamped the jewellery market, granting the poor a little taste of luxury.
As in many other countries, the Egyptian market has been flooded with Chinese goods — everything from electronics to plastic cigarette lighters have been shouldering locally made goods out of the way.
And in a country where 40 percent of the 80 million population lives on less than $2 a day, the so-called Chinese gold has been widely welcomed, particularly by young couples who struggle to afford the traditional marriage dowry.
The current price of one gram of 24 carat gold in Egypt stands at 218 Egyptian pounds ($38), while the Chinese version — a mixture of aluminium, iron and other metals — only costs around 20 to 30 Egyptian pounds ($4 to $5) per gram.
“Chinese accessories are cheap and elegant, the styles are varied and the best thing is that they look just like gold,” said 31-year-old Amira showing off her Chinese trinket.
Ancient Egyptians considered gold the skin of gods, lending it spiritual as well social value.
A walk down Old Cairo — lined with jewellery shops — is a testament that the pharaohs’ modern-day compatriots still hold high regard for the precious metal...... MORE

When everything clears HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 08/16/2010

When everything clears

Aldrin Cardon
I don’t smoke.
It’s not a confession, but a declaration, so that friends who do simply won’t (or at least fight the urge) to smoke whenever I, or other friends like myself who don’t puff poison, am around.

I hate its smell that lingers, although I can live (and die later) with it, after some time. Call me passive, or simply tolerant, but yes, I can live with smokers. I tried smoking some eons back, but ‘twas not for me.
My decision was for practical reasons: I didn’t want to spend more on cigarettes, I simply can’t stretch my always limited daily budget.

Nobody has disproved findings about smoking being addictive, so I wonder if the Department of Health’s proposal to adopt the “Obama model” in increasing cigarette tax to P4.50 per stick, or P90 per pack, would not be staggering for smokers to continue on their habit, or addiction if you view it that way.

What works in the US, however, may not work in RP. But the DoH mission is not to simply raise funds for government, but to slice a big number off the estimated 17.3 million of the Philippines’ 90 million population, who may quit or be turned off by every stick’s prohibitive price, like I did when I was introduced to it back in high school.

Health and church activists are supportive of the idea, but none is heard yet from President Noynoy, who, based on accounts by those who know him, smokes in chain..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100816com6.html

Smoking issue SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 08/16/2010

Smoking issue

Dinah S. Ventura
The image of a two-year-old child taking a drag from a cigarette stick longer than his middle finger is disturbing enough to get health and anti-smoking advocates going. Heck, it’s enough to raise a ruckus among the most placid of persons everywhere, making them fired up enough to want to punch the adults around the child who think it’s fun to corrupt such innocence.

We all know smoking is a bad habit; that smoking kills and causes the most disgusting things to happen to one’s lungs, but this doesn’t stop the millions of Filipinos who smoke from picking up a stick and lighting it. With every smoky breath they blow, they lessen their lifespan by seconds, but I bet nothing could make them drop their cigarettes in shock more than the knowledge that for every 20-stick cigarette pack they buy, they may have to shell out P90 of their hard-earned money.

If the planned proposal by new Health Secretary Enrique Ona to increase the tax on cigarettes pushes through, their smoking days may soon be over. In a move designed to help fill the country’s depleted coffers, as well as discourage people from smoking, the Department of Health suggested this increase of sin tax with the support of certain health groups.

Secretary Ona wishes to follow the US government move to increase tax on tobacco products by $0.10 per pack. In peso equivalent, that would cost buyers P4.50 per stick for a whopping total of P90 a pack. On one hand, it would help raise funds for government; on the other, it could help curb the unhealthy practice among the youth especially. The scenario sounds ideal on both counts, but it would certainly cause the smoking population to choke on the smoke this issue raises..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100816com7.html

SC to issue ruling despite Luisita deal 08/16/2010


SC to issue ruling despite Luisita deal

The compromise deal between the farm workers and the Cojuangco-Aquino family of President Aquino who owns the disputed Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac does not automatically end the land dispute cases pending before the Supreme Court (SC) and the high court will still issue a decision on the long-standing case, SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said yesterday.

The recently brokered compromise deal does not automatically mean the land dispute cases pending at the high court has been resolved, Marquez, citing past similar cases, said.

He added it was very likely that the SC will issue a decision on the case between the management of Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) and its worker-farmers pending before it. 

“Once the Court assumes jurisdiction over a particular case, a petition filed would not be mooted just because a compromise has been reached among the parties. The case would still be subject to the final review of the Court,” he said. 

An official of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) had said the compromise deal that involved the distribution of money was an attempt to preempt the SC that had yet to rule on the validity of the stock distribution option scheme (SDO) that was ordered scrapped in 2005 purportedly for failing to improve the lives of HLI workers.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100816hed1.html

Senate to seek fair GOCC pays in inquiry By Angie M. Rosales 08/16/2010

Senate to seek fair GOCC pays in inquiry

By Angie M. Rosales
The Senate will try to recommend a competitive compensation
packages for executives of state firms without these being excessive as the chamber starts a probe nto reported excessive and unwarranted salaries of some officials in government controlled and owned corporations (GOCCs).

Sen. Edgardo Angara said salaries and allowances of GOCC executives should still be competitive enough to compete with those given in the private sector but not exceedingly high to the point of it being considered already an extravagance.
The Senate committee on finance under Sen. Franklin Drilon had set the Senate inquiry tomorrow on the excessive salaries and incentives of the GOCC executives. 

The first round of public hearing is an inquiry into the government officials from the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance and Executive Secretary office, according to Drilon. 

Angara said he is backing the move taken by Drilon to conduct an inquiry into the matter, to review the compensation package received by GOCC officials.

“It seems that some GOCC’s compensation package are even bigger than the private sector. We ought to look into it if it’s for the purpose of retaining the employees,” said Angara, former chairman of the Senate committee on finance..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100816hed2.html

House probe set on MWSS perks; truth body sought By Gerry Baldo 08/16/2010

House probe set on MWSS perks; truth body sought

By Gerry Baldo
The controversy involving the extravagant financial packages that officials of the state water service regulator Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) receive which was among the revelations made by President Aquino himself in his State of the Nation Address (Sona), a party-list lawmaker yesterday pursued the creation of a “Truth Task Force” at the MWSS itself to uncover irrgeularities in the agency.

Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera Dy said the proposed task force would look into allegations that ranking officials of the firm have been enjoying numerous perks and other benefits amid the country’s rising budget deficit.
Herrera-Dy said that investigation would be conducted with the cooperation of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson who will be forming a team that will determine the veracity of reports that the MWSS management and board of trustees have transformed the water agency into a virtual milking cow.

She said that Singson assured her that his agency would cooperate in the House investigation relative to the multi-million peso irregularities in the water agency.

In filing HR 137, Herrera-Dy said that a special body should be created to determine the veracity of reports that the MWSS board and management have abused their discretion in setting high salaries for the state water firm’s personnel and in granting “excessive remunerations, benefits and privileges without appropriate consultations, valid reasons and a sense of public decency.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100816hed3.html

AFP urges ‘demoted’ Angue to accept new post By Mario J. Mallari 08/16/2010

AFP urges ‘demoted’ Angue to accept new post

By Mario J. Mallari
The Armed Forces of the Philippines yesterday reminded outgoing National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) chief Rear Adm. Feliciano Angue that he has no reason to reject his new assignment and urged the two-star Navy officer to go to the AFP’s grievance committee if he has any complaint regarding his new post.

AFP spokesman Jose Mabanta Jr. said that refusing an assignment is “unmilitary-like” as he stressed AFP personnel “live” on orders.

Last Friday, the AFP announced the approval of President Aquino of the third wave of top-level reassignments in the 120,000-strong military organization which affected 23 star-rank officials, including Angue who was named as new commanding general of the Naval Forces in Western Mindanao.

“He can refuse it but that is being unmilitary-like because we thrive, we live, we breathe on orders…he cannot refuse because that is the oath we have taken, that we move on orders,” Mabanta explained.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100816hed4.html

3 members of PMA Class ’77 loom as top bets to succeed Verzosa 08/16/2010

3 members of PMA Class ’77 loom as top bets to succeed Verzosa

The race for the top post of the 130,000-strong Philippine National Police is largely expected to be a three-cornered fight among members of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1977 following their reassignments in the PNP.
Reliable sources in the PNP said the recent promotions of the three PMA Class 1977 members, namely, Deputy Director Generals Perfecto Palad and Raul Bacalzo and Director Benjamin Belarmino Jr. are clear indications that one of them could succeed incumbent PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa.

Verzosa has announced he will opt for an early retirement to give way to younger officers to go up the ladder of PNP leadership. He is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Dec. 25. 

There were talks that Verzosa will retire in September or October.

Of the three members of PMA Class of 1977, Palad is the most senior. 

He is currently the PNP’s number two man being the deputy chief for administration.

But Palad is also the eldest among the three as he is reaching the mandatory retirement on April 18 next year.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100816hed5.html

Palace legal team hit for ‘rush jobs’ on EOs By Angie M. Rosales 08/16/2010

Palace legal team hit for ‘rush jobs’ on EOs

By Angie M. Rosales
Sen. Joker Arroyo yesterday twitted Palace’s “brush” with the Supreme Court, when a recent directive by the Executive was practically struck down, saying President Aquino’s lawyers should learn to be cautious and not be eager beaver when it comes to policy matters.

The senator’s comments were in relation to the case raised before the high tribunal for intervention, the matter of imposing the 12-percent value-added tax (VAT) on toll rates, executive orders (EOs) revoking midnight appointments and on that automatically promoting lawyers in government service to the rank of career executive service officer III (Ceso III).
“That should not be happening. They should avoid it. Government, as much as possible should have not been involved in a case. Within a period of 46 days into office of the new administration, there’s already a case brought before the SC and it was one serious case. It’s unfair to the SC, for them to be given such a serious case,” he said, referring to the matter of the VAT on toll rates, the implementation of which was barred by the SC with a temporary restraining order (TRO)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100816hed6.html

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