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Face-saving time EDITORIAL 08/18/2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Face-saving time

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Palace propagandists were quick to state to media, after Noynoy Aquino claimed Monday that he had suspended the expanded value added tax (eVAT) on tollways as well as suspending the close to 300 percent increase in toll fares since last week, that his statement on the toll tax and the expressway fare increase was not a “face saving” gesture.

Yet up till Friday last week, and just before the Supreme Court (SC) issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the fare price hike along with the imposition of the eVAT on tollways, there was Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Chief Kim Henares, saying that there were no orders from Noynoy, stressing that all he had told her, when she was appointed by him, was for her to “just implement the law.” And to her, the law says that eVAT is to be imposed on tollways.

And up till Friday, Noynoy’s spokesman, who presumably speaks for him, insisted that which Noynoy did was right, as he blamed the Arroyo administration for not having implemented the law, whose bases, apparently, are the two memorandum circulars Gloria Arroyo had issued.

Given the conflicting statements of Noynoy and his BIR chief, along with what his presidential spokesman stated, it looks like there isn’t any presidential clearance at all whenever his subalterns issue statements.

But then again, this also shows that Noynoy’s style of “governance” is to leave his Cabinet secretaries and bureau chiefs to decide for themselves — to the point of their making policies — without any discussions with him, nor decisions made by him.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100818com1.html

Garbled communications FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 08/18/2010

Garbled communications

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Here is another case of garbled Palace messages from different Malacañang camps, underscoring once again the reality of an administration, close to two months in power and position, not being able to get its act together and solidly.

The problem, as can be shown, is that each official of Noynoy Aquino does his own thing, without any coordination with other officials, especially with the Malacañang tenant himself, although from too many indications, Aquino has allowed such blamket authority to his officials.

Monday, speaking at a foreign press organization conference, lawyer Marvic Leonen, Aquino’s government peace negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), claimed that Noynoy is open to amending the Constitution to attain peace with the Moro insurgents during his six-year term.

Leonen said Noynoy’s huge popularity would be a big help in winning support for a peace accord with the MILF.
It is doubted that his alleged popularity would serve Noynoy well in getting the Mindanao Christian settlers in good stead and supporting this move.

He didn’t win the vote in Mindanao. Erap Estrada did. Besides, Leonen, as well as Malacañang, must know that popularity is hardly a permanent state. That popularity can vanish so easily — as Barack Obama and his boys in Washington are now experiencing.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100818com2.html

Nepal grows wary of Indian ‘interference’ focus 08/18/2010

Nepal grows wary of Indian ‘interference’


KATHMANDU — As Nepal’s parliament prepares once again to try to elect a new prime minister after four failed attempts, concern is growing over the role of neighboring India in the protracted political crisis.

Nepal’s prime minister agreed in May to step down to pave the way for a new power-sharing government in a deal to secure the support of the opposition Maoist party for an extension of parliament’s term.

Since then, political leaders in the desperately poor country have failed to reach agreement on the shape of the new administration, prompting New Delhi to dispatch one of its most senior envoys to Nepal earlier this month.

India said it wanted to help its neighbor to set up a stable government, but many here believe its true aim was to prevent Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal — an outspoken critic of India — from becoming prime minister.
“The perception that Nepal’s sovereignty is being encroached upon has increased,” said Ashok Gurung, senior director at the India China Institute at The New School university in the United States.

“It is clear that micro-management by Indian authorities in Nepalese politics has intensified and produced anti-Indian sentiment in Nepal.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100818com3.html/

Not a win by any measure C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 08/18/2010

Not a win by any measure

Jonathan De la Cruz
Now, we have to take back our words. Not long after we echoed the administration’s hallelujahs for reportedly winning our two arbitration cases against Philippine International Air Terminals Corp. (Piatco) (the joint venture company majority owned by the Cheng family of PairCargo), and its partner, Fraport, before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Singapore and the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC, respectively, we are being confronted with information that far from winning, we actually lost big time. Wow!! How so? Well, per verified reports, while the government actually won the two cases involving $1.1 billion ($565-million Piatco claim and $465-million Fraport claim) it never won any of its 23 counter claims against the two companies. Worse, the ICC ruled that it deemed Piatco a “builder in good faith” thus paving the way for the recovery of expenses in the construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 in accordance with an earlier Supreme Court (SC) ruling that allowed for the filing of a case for “just compensation” after the government expropriated the property on grounds that the contract terms were “grossly disadvantageous” to the government..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100818com4.html

China military gaining on Taiwan, aiming beyond — US FEATURE 08/18/2010

China military gaining on Taiwan, aiming beyond — US


WASHINGTON — China is extending its military advantage over Taiwan and increasingly looking beyond, building up a force with power to strike in Asia as far afield as the US territory of Guam, the Pentagon said.

In an annual report to Congress, the US Defense Department said Monday that China was ramping up investment in an array of areas, including nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines, aircraft carriers and cyber warfare.

“The balance of cross-Strait military forces continues to shift in the mainland’s favor,” the report said.

The Pentagon said China’s military build-up on the Taiwan Strait has “continued unabated” despite improving political and commercial relations since the island elected Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008.

The report — which US officials delayed for five months amid strains with China — covered 2009, before the United States approved a $6.4-billion arms package for the island in January.

China considers Taiwan, where the mainland’s defeated nationalists fled in 1949, to be a province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

The military report said China was “already looking at contingencies beyond Taiwan,” including through a longstanding project to build a far-reaching missile that could potentially strike US carriers deep in the Pacific.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100818com5.html

How free is free? HE SAYS Aldrin Cardon 08/18/2010

How free is free?

Aldrin Cardon
Education officials were on a road show last week feeling the public pulse on their proposal to add two more years in basic elementary and high school education.

While the effort seems laudable, its timing does not seem impeccable as there are still a lot of issues government must settle first before government could overhaul a system that is lacking of many things to be near perfect.

I agreed with Education Secretary Armin Luistro when he said Philippine education has fallen behind many of its neighbors, but adding two more years to the present basic 10 years (six years primary and four secondary) education does not make a simple solution to improving our quality of education.

Luistro is a product of the private school system. He even had the best college and post-college education from La Salle and Ateneo, so it is safe to say that his exposure is beyond those of public school students who had to compete for chairs or a tree shade to be able to complete 40 minutes of subjects often interrupted by many things, including rain or exposure to the sun.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100818com6.html

Addition not the solution SHE SAYS Dinah S. Ventura 08/18/2010

Addition not the solution

Dinah S. Ventura
Is the Department of Education (DepEd)’s plan to implement a 12-year basic education program the best answer to our country’s problem of declining quality of education?

It is true that we need to act — and act fast — in order to keep up with our neighbors, but adding more years to the youth’s schooling cannot only bring with it an additional financial burden on parents, but also may be a waste of time unless other issues are addressed first. 

Changing the current program to “seven years in the elementary level and five years in the secondary level,” as posed by Education Secretary Brother Armin Luistro, may not a be guarantee our public schools will roll out better educated students if the quality of teaching and the students’ learning environment remain as deplorable as they do today.

The DepEd says the new program will redesign the school curriculum so that it is “simplified and competency-driven.” The aim is to “produce professionally competent and skilled high school graduates,” the secretary said.
That’s all well and good, but what the department wants to do is increase the number of school years while also reviewing the entire curriculum to improve the learning experiences of students.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100818com7.html

Noynoy warned of rumblings in the AFP By Gerry Baldo and Mario J. Mallari 08/18/2010

Noynoy warned of rumblings in the AFP

By Gerry Baldo and Mario J. Mallari
A former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and former senator, who is now a member of the House of Representatives, yesterday warned President Aquino not to ignore the rumblings in the military establishment as an offshoot of the concerns raised relative to the promotions and assignment system.

At a press conference yesterday, Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Baizon said that Aquino should immediately address the complaint of outgoing Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) chief Rear Adm. Feliciano Angue, who had claimed that his new assignment was tantamount to being demoted while others who have played partisan politics during the presidential polls last May have been given choice posts as a political accommodation for those who helped during the recent presidential elections.

Angue yesterday remained defiant as he continued airing his gripes before the media despite several warnings from the AFP and even its chief that he could face court martial proceedings for violating the AFP’s Code of Ethics.
Angue was everywhere in the media yesterday, gracing television and radio programs and held another press briefing at his office in Camp Aguinaldo, despite a gag order from the AFP brass.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100818hed1.html

BSP execs spent P391M BSP execs spent P391M 08/18/2010

BSP execs spent P391M BSP execs spent P391M

Executives of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) seem to have acquired the habit of indulging themselves in the finer things in life after a legislator cited yesterday Commission on Audit (CoA) reports showing a handful of government corporations racking up in P682 million in entertainment bills in 2008 with more than half or P391 million, claimed by the BSP alone for that year.

Sen. Ralph Recto noted that the BSP’s audited “representation and entertainment expense” was thrice than the representation expenses of all of the country’s diplomats in more than 80 foreign posts in 2008.

Recto’s findings came amid the Senate investigation into extravagant compensations given to officials of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs).

The BSP’s nearly P400 million entertainment tab “ was also almost four times than what the many offices in the Office of the President spent for dinners, receptions cocktails, and meetings,” Recto added.

Recto citing a CoA report, said the Office of the President spent P108 million for “representation and entertainment” in 2008, while the Department of Foreign Affairs, P120 million.

The Department of Education (DepEd), the bureaucracy’s biggest agency both in budget and manpower, in contrast, shelled out a “trifling P26 million” in representation expense for all its half-a-million workforce , Recto said.
In all, the national government coughed up P1.4 billion in representation allowance for its mid-level and top echelon officials, according to Recto.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100818hed2.html

Davide author of biggest lies in history—Jinggoy By Danessa O. Rivera 08/18/2010

Davide author of biggest lies in history—Jinggoy

By Danessa O. Rivera
Despite questions on the unconstitutionality of the formation of the Truth Commission, Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada yesterday questioned, in a privilege speech he delivered, not the formation of the commission but the appointment of former Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. as its head.
Estrada assailed the character and dubious reputation of Davide, as the senator pointed to several “glaring” violations of the law — a technical malversation of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), a clear case of nepotism and the illegal administering of former President Arroyo’s oath in 2001 without convening the Supreme Court (SC), all committed by Davide.
“He (Davide) is a former Chief Justice who has ignored the law not by neglect but by design. He is an opportunistic politician who has circumvented the law to further his personal interests, who has violated the law for personal convenience and greed, and who has gone as far as threatening members of the House of Representatives so that the truth can be suppressed.
“I challenge this man’s appointment as head of the Truth Commission because we must sooner realize that Davide’s intention to investigate the anomalies of the Arroyo Administration are more apparent than real. The fact is that Davide’s appointment poses more dangers than dignity and warrants more caution than confidence in the Truth Commission.”... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100818hed3.html

SC to hear oral arguments on HLI conflict By Benjamin B. Pulta 08/18/2010

SC to hear oral arguments on HLI conflict

By Benjamin B. Pulta
The Supreme Court will hear today oral arguments on the Hacienda Luisita dispute, including the compromise agreement between farm workers and the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) owned by Aquino-Cojuangco family of President Aquino that farmers groups had described as a pre-emptive move on a pending case with the high court to nullify the stock distribution option (SDO) scheme based on the argument it was a circumvention of land distribution required under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

In guidelines issued by the Court en banc yesterday the tribunal required the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) and the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform to comment within a period of 10 days on the motion of HLI seeking the Court’s approval of the August 6 compromise agreement that the management signed with several groups of farmers working in the sugar plantation. 

HLI was required by the Court to file its reply within 10 days on the Comment-Opposition filed by the respondent farmers’ group, Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Hacienda Luisita (Ambala) asking the SC to expunge from the records the compromise agreement.

HLI, meanwhile, issued a press statement saying more farm worker beneficiaries of HLI continue to sign the compromise settlement that provided them the choice to either choose the SDO or land distribution.

As of Aug. 16, the final result of the census which started Aug. 6, revealed that 80 percent of the 10,502 number of farmworker-shareholders signed the compromise agreement and out of the 80 percent, 93.95 percent voted for SDO, which is contained in the memorandum of agreement of 1989, while 6.05 percent voted for land distribution, according to HLI.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100818hed4.html

Mancao: Millions offered to clear Lacson, pin blame on another 08/18/2010

Mancao: Millions offered to clear Lacson, pin blame on another

Not only is pressure being applied on state witness in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, Cesar Mancao, by fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson and his “emissaries” to recant his testimony naming the fugitive Lacson as the brains behind the murders, but that he is also being offered millions to clear Lacson of involvement and for him to point to another political personality as the brains.

It is believed that Lacson wants former President Joseph Estrada pointed to by Mancao as the “brains” behind the double murder that occurred in November 2000. Estrada has denied this claim of Lacson.

Lacson last year delivered a privilege speech against Estrada, and pointed to him as being involved in the murders, without any evidence to back up his charges.

His speech was rebutted by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who bared even more evidence of Lacson’s alleged involvement in other cases.

Lacson no longer delivered another privilege speech against Estrada, as more evidence would have been presented by the younger Estrada against Lacson.

Mancao told reporters after his meeing with Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima which cleared up his government witness status as well as the National Bureau of Immigration (NBI)’s insistence on his being detained by the agency, and that of his still being an accused in the murder charges.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100818hed5.html

CenPEG slams Comelec for denial of poll data access 08/18/2010

CenPEG slams Comelec for denial of poll data access

The Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), in a statement issued yesterday, deplored the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) denial of a long-standing request by the UP-based policy institution for copies of 21 documents issued in connection with the May 10 automated elections.

The Comelec en banc decision dated July 6, contained in Minute Resolution No. 10-0650, gave no reason for denying CenPEG’s request, its executive director Evita Jimenez said

The en banc decision was received by CenPEG only last week with a letter dated July 26 from Comelec executive director Jose Tolentino Jr. of the controversial secrecy folder scam.

“The denial is a transgression of the people’s right to public information,” Jimenez said. “This belies the Comelec’s claim of transparency on the automated elections and violates voters’ right to know what really happened in the national and local polls”

The request, signed and sent to the Comelec by Jimenez and other CenPEG directors on June 3, was prompted by increasing reports of technical failures and other irregularities in the May 10 elections giving rise to questions on the accuracy and credibility of the political exercise..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100818hed6.html

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