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Where’s reform in budget? EDITORIAL 09/10/2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Where’s reform in budget?

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
09/10/2010
Noynoy Aquino has called the proposed government appropriations for 2011 as the Reform Budget, which in his budget message to Congress, he described this as being based on transparency and accountability. The entire package was P1.645 trillion, higher than the P1.514-trillion budget this year.

A major highlight of the Reform Budget was the shift in its computation to the zero-based scheme from the incremental budgeting used during the Gloria era, that according to Noynoy would assure that taxes paid will be spent for the people.

In essence, the zero budget involves the tight scrutiny of all government programs, even the most rudimentary functions that are automatically given budget increases yearly under Gloria’s administration..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100910com1.html

Adding more problems FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 09/10/2010

Adding more problems

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
09/10/2010
Aarly on, it was already evident that the so-called police group tasked to examine the bodies, along with the physical evidence left in the bus after the bloody end that had left eight Hong Kong tourists dead, plus the crazed hostage taker, sacked police officer Rolando Mendoza, was in attempting a cover-up, as twice, the police spokesman claimed, just a day or two after the botched rescue operation, that “with an amount of certainty,” the bulk of some 65 slugs found came from the gunman.

This, even before ballistic testing of the slugs were done — if they were done at all. And worse, even there was need for an autopsy of the bodies, only six underwent autopsy, while two others had not. And no one knows which bullet was the the one that killed each hostage.

Then, too, the blood splatters were nowhere to be found, despite all that shooting. Besides which, the bullet that had killed the hostage taker that was claimed to have come from a sniper, didn’t.

Now, it turns out that some of the hostages may have been killed by so-called “friendly fire” since apparently, some of the bullets found didn’t come from the hostage taker.

So what did the assault team, or maybe even the crime lab people do, clean up the blood splatters and tampered with the evidence?... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100910com2.html

Anti-Muslim backlash raises fears in US ANALYSIS 09/10/2010

Anti-Muslim backlash raises fears in US

ANALYSIS

09/10/2010
WASHINGTON — A spate of anti-Muslim attacks is arousing fears that a vitriolic debate over Islam in America is spinning out of control as the United States marks the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

While statistics confirming a trend toward violence are elusive, analysts, religious leaders, and Muslim community activists say anti-Muslim sentiment has reached a pitch not seen since al-Qaeda hijackers killed nearly 3,000 persons in the deadliest attack on US soil.

“What we’re seeing is a tremendous wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society, which has resulted in a number of hate incidents targeting mosques and Muslims around the country,” said Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

An angry debate over plans for a mosque near where the World Trade Center once stood appears to have fueled the resentment, which now shows no sign of abating.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100910com3.html

Amazing NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 09/10/2010

Amazing

NO HOLDS BARRED
Armida Siguion-Reyna
09/10/2010
Or perhaps just a little short of it, is what I’d call the response to the open letter I wrote President Benigno Aquino III, or P-Noy, as he prefers to be called, regarding the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board and the kind of person who should head it.
The piece has flown all over, as if it had wings of its own: Reprinted, retweeted, blogged, forwarded, e-mailed, reposted on Facebook, and all else that can be done on the Internet.
Carlos “Caloy” Conde, Manila-based writer for The New York Times since 2002, put it out on Asian Correspondent (http://asiancorrespondent.com/carlosconde/why-philippine-censorship-board-should-be disbanded) and on http://andtheysaidit.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/why-president-aquino-should-disband-mtrcb, with the additional commentary:

“The Philippine movie industry is experiencing another one of those ‘golden ages,’ this time propelled by the emergence of independent filmmakers who are making their mark not only locally but internationally. It seems to me that there’s no other way for Filipino filmmaking to go but up.

“There are obstacles, of course. There’s the fact that not too many of these independently produced films are shown publicly, thanks to a cartel dominated by multiplexes such as SM Cinema and other mall-based theater chains. And there’s the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), the albatross around the neck of Filipino filmmakers.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100910com4.html

More ‘peace bonds’ as poverty rises DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 09/10/2010

More ‘peace bonds’ as poverty rises

DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel
09/10/2010
Ihe latest poverty survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) from June 25 to 28 tracks a new rise in self-rated poverty — from 43 percent (or 8.1 million families) to 50 percent (or 9.4 million families) — for the first two quarters of 2010. This was the same period that posted a 7.9-percent “growth,” according to the economic managers of Gloria Arroyo and PeNoy Aquino. Worse, food poverty went up, from 31 percent (affecting 5.9 million households) to 38 percent (or 7.2 million households).

Much of this increase in poverty in the rural areas, especially in Mindanao, makes food poverty or hunger particularly troublesome in light of the PeNoy government’s solution, which is to get identified poor families queuing for P1,400 monthly while denying the National Food Authority (NFA) any fund for price support to farmers who form a big part of the poor. All these as the business headlines trumpet PeNoy’s so-called Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme, with “Discount bonds to fund PPP” and “Taipans queuing for PPPs.”

The concept of “discount bonds” is the same as the “zero coupon” bonds at the heart of the Code-NGO PeaceBonds infamy, which SGV man Cesar Purisima, now at the Department of Finance, explained as being “… so-called because they do not pay interest but are sold at a deep discount and later redeemed at full face value...”

Actually, the interest is all paid, compounded at that, at the end of the maturity period. So it turns out to be a whopping amount, where government which got, as in the case of the PeaceBonds, say, P10 billion in 2001 (when the bonds were issued) will have to pay an amount such as P35 billion upon maturity (in 2011).

The discussion on the PPP zero coupon bond is not clear at this point because Purisima and Butch Abad are still throwing many figures around — from a low of P15 billion to a high of P200 billion (in projects), and even up to P400 billion by 2013. Then, as Purisima says that these bonds will be sold to “pension funds,” does this mean the Government Service Insurance System and the Social Security System? They have not explained as yet.

Speaking of these pension funds, we have been wondering why Franklin Drilon is raising a howl at this time when the high salaries and benefit packages of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) have long been known and when, at most, the guilt would only be “insider trading.” Is there a hidden agenda in the timing of these exposés? Some are wary that these may just be a prelude to a new drive to “privatize” the pension funds that started with the financial mafia’s appointment of Vitaliano Nañagas in 2001, who was ousted when the unions opposed it.

Then, in explaining the bonds to be used in the PPPs, Purisima referred to countries with similar programs, such as Indonesia and India; but it only goes to show that these schemes are being pushed by Finance. Reports also say that proceeds of the bonds will “become part of a fund the private sector can tap for PPP projects” (with none for farmers’ rice production, as usual). The suspicious part is that the bonds would provide “equity participation or financing guarantees for private infrastructure projects.” In addition, Purisima, Abad, and the business chambers agree that the PPP projects will be on infrastructure, power generation (and transmission, water supply, airport development, and the like. So it will still be the same set-up that has gotten taxpayers into so much financial burden, paying for subsidies to rich corporations.

The energy and electricity sector is where the issue of privatization and undue advantage, given to corporations over the welfare of the people, is most highlighted. As in the MRT fare increase issue, taxpayers and electricity consumers are being made to pay for the next 25 years P932 billion worth of debts, as well as stranded costs left behind by privatization, where the favored foreign and local oligarchs already got a profit windfall by acquiring state assets cleaned of debts, aside from a fuel supply subsidy and the onerous take-or-pay provisions in contracts.

And as there is now a Facebook page called “Protest against Meralco Electricity Price Hike” with 50,000 members, those who are members of that social networking site should therefore support this page by swelling its ranks to millions to show the nation’s outrage. This is but one of the many pro-Big Business policies PeNoy and the Yellows are adopting that’s hurting every Filipino. Let’s take action to demand that only actions to save the public and remedy this injustice are taken: Take back the public utility assets to pay off whatever debts through generated profits. The past decade alone, by Joey Salceda’s own admission, saw these Big Business conglomerates’ earnings at a staggering P3 trillion while the total national debt stood at P4.42 trillion by the end of 2009!

Lastly, let me digress: DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno says he is willing to “take a bullet for the President,” so why didn’t he take the fall for his President when the latter was compelled to “take responsibility” for the recent hostage tragedy? Meantime, given this move, what penance is PeNoy offering? Jesse Robredo will no longer be submitted to the Commission on Appointments, so is PeNoy choosing his shooting buddy over a Ramon Magsaysay awardee? Puno, in defending his appointment, says that Arroyo even appointed her hairdresser and gardener. So Puno now admits that he’s on that level too.

Hans Palacios sent us this text to sum it all up: “It’s the pot calling the kettle black. Congress is having trouble impeaching the Ombudsman because congressmen are forced to go against one of their own kind.” Well, so is PeNoy the same as Arroyo.

(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 Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 21; visit our blogs, http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com and http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)


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

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100910com5.html

Gun-toting evangelicals say burning Koran is God’s work FEATURE 09/10/2010

Gun-toting evangelicals say burning Koran is God’s work

FEATURE

09/10/2010
GAINESVILLE — Wayne and Stephanie Sapp, pistols on their hips, are adamant this Saturday’s Koran-burning ceremony at their evangelical church in Florida will go ahead as planned.

“We believe strongly this is something God has called us to do,” said Wayne, associate pastor at the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, where a large police presence is powerless to stop the event.

The Sapps have heard warnings from, among others, the US military commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus, that their actions could have global repercussions and endanger US military personnel serving abroad.

But they say the ceremony, organized to mark the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks by Islamic extremists from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, is a necessary warning to radical Muslims.

“We feel lives are in danger whether we do it or we don’t do it,” Wayne told AFP. “If we do not stand up now to try to expose this for what this is, in 10 years, will we even have the opportunity?”

The protestant clergyman acknowledged he and the event organizer, church pastor Terry Jones, have received death threats.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100910com6.html

As Putin hits campaign trail, is Medvedev jealous? ANALYSIS 09/10/2010

As Putin hits campaign trail, is Medvedev jealous?

ANALYSIS

09/10/2010
MOSCOW — A dangerously close encounter with a 30-ton grey whale. Dousing fires in the country’s worst ever heatwave. A 2,000- kilometer road trip across remote eastern Siberia.

Even for Russia’s tough-guy Prime Minister Vladimir Putin it was a summer out of the ordinary.

The prime minister’s unprecedented, action-packed 10-day tour of Siberia heralded the start of an election marathon whose winner will likely rule Russia for over a decade, Russian observers and media say.

“A feeling that Vladimir Putin has started an election campaign is getting stronger not by the day — by the hour,” mass-circulation newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets said.

But while Putin was wielding a crossbow on the Pacific Ocean or meeting his match in the shape of a wild bear, President Dmitry Medvedev conspicuously got on with the much more dour business of the presidency with little spectacle.

Rather than pitting himself against the Russian wilderness, Medvedev was pictured in his shirtsleeves grappling with the problems of farming or industry. His most high-profile stunt was a meeting with U2 singer Bono..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100910com7.html

Noy: China wrote me ‘insulting’ letter By Aytch S. de la Cruz 09/10/2010

‘Dictated what I have to do’ after bloody hostage incident

Noy: China wrote me ‘insulting’ letter


By Aytch S. de la Cruz
09/10/2010
Even as President Aquino claimed he was trying his best to repair relations with China after the botched hostage rescue operations last Aug. 23, which ties have been seriously strained, he bared at a press conference yesterday with three handpicked TV anchors from the three major TV networks, a confidential letter written by the Chinese high official to him which he branded as “insulting.”

Aquino revealed that he had received a letter from the Hong Kong government which he found “insulting.”
This came at the time the high-level delegation he directed to be sent to Hong Kong led by Vice President Jejomar Binay was forced to cancel its scheduled trip two days after the incident happened.

“We have made conscious efforts to repair relations (with the Chinese government). We understand that it was a bizarre event for the citizens of Hong Kong, that’s why even if we keep on receiving overwhelming criticisms, tirades, and insults from them, we opted not to respond,” Aquino related.

He said that even as the Hong Kong officials’ letter was scathing, he merely ignored these “insults.”
“There was a letter from the Hong Kong government which we found insulting so we have just ignored it..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100910hed1.html

No more apologizing to Chinese—Noynoy By Angie M. Rosales 09/10/2010

No more apologizing to Chinese—Noynoy
By Angie M. Rosales
09/10/2010

He said “enough of apologies” has been made to the Chinese people, and he will no longer offer apologies for the botched rescue operations, but President Aquino appeared to be apologizing for his officials’ incompetence as shown during the hostage incident. 

An evidently “rehearsed” Aquino holding a Palace press conference yesterday was clearly a damage-control move in the mishandling of the hostage crisis situation, but this appears to have wreaked more damage, as his addressing these issued before three broadcast anchors backfired.

Explanations from a President on what occurred during a crisis do not come about three weeks after the fact.
He would have been rehearsed fully by some of his aides on what to say, and address these criticisms while portraying himself as a “hands on president” who showed leadership during a crisis, even if he remained invisible and inaccessible and even as moment to moment on live broadcast, it was already clear that the police team was botching up the job, such as the many times the hostage taker could have easily been taken down..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100910hed2.html

SC appears softening on HLI case — solon By Charlie V. Manalo 09/10/2010

SC appears softening on HLI case — solon
By Charlie V. Manalo
09/10/2010

A legislator joined the calls of farmers and farmworkers on the Supreme Court (SC) to end its initiated mediation proceedings on the agrarian dispute involving the 6,500-hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of President Aquino.

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano yesterday said he is wondering why the SC appears to be retreating on the main issues of the case. “After the oral arguments, the case is ripe for decision,” Mariano said.

“It seems that the Cojuangco-Aquinos, after returning to political power, are now moving heaven and earth to maintain their immoral ownership and control over the hacienda,” Mariano said.

The farmers and farm workers group Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) last Wednesday filed a petition before the high court asking it to rule on the case questioning the validity of the stock distribution option (SDO) scheme that the Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) had adopted in place of redistributing the estate under the Comprehensive Land Reform Program (CARP)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100910hed3.html

Hostages slain by friendly Hostages slain by friendly 09/10/2010

Hostages slain by friendly Hostages slain by friendly
09/10/2010

The head of the fact-finding body into the bloody outcome of the Aug. 23 hostage taking of Hong Kong residents in a tourist bus admitted for the first time the possibility that police may have shot some of the tourists in a bungled operation that left eight hostages dead.

Justice Secertary Leila de Lima, chairman of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) raised yesterday the possibility that some of the injured survivors and casualties in the bloody incident were shot by police during the assault that also killed hostage taker dismissed policeman Rolando Mendoza after an 11-hour standoff.

De Lima said the investigation found dis-crepancies in testimonies and evidence gathered during their five-day clarificatory hearings in determining if the victims were shot at close range.

Armed with an assault rifle and a pistol, sacked policeman Rolando Men-doza took a busload of tourists hostages in a desperate bid to clear himself of extortion charges and get his old job back.

Eight of the tourists were killed and seven others were injured in the standoff. Police initially insisted the bullets that killed the tourists were all fired from Mendoza’s guns. Other bullets were fired into the bus by police snipers and an assault unit but they did not lead to fatalities, they had said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100910hed4.html

After canceled bookings, PAL now faces labor strike By Marie Surbano and Angie M. Rosales 09/10/2010

After canceled bookings, PAL now faces labor strike
By Marie Surbano and Angie M. Rosales
09/10/2010

Just as airline bookings are dropping like flies in the aftermath of the bloody hostage crisis, flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) faced a new predicament yesterday as its cabin crew filed a notice of strike aimed at paralyzing the operations of the airline.

PAL said the filing of the notice of strike by its cabin crew union is ill-timed saying that it would scare away tourists and would cause damage to the company’s fragile finances.

Senators urged the Executive to step into the impending strike to arrest a possible paralysis of its operations.
Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. both joined the call saying that government must now step in to find a workable solution to the PAL row.

Revilla, chairman of the public services committee, said government must be accorded enough opportunity to exhaust all possible remedies..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100910hed5.html

‘Euro generals’ ordered suspended 09/10/2010

‘Euro generals’ ordered suspended
09/10/2010
Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez ordered yesterday the preventive suspension of six officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for their alleged anomalous travel to the Russian Federation in 2008.

In a 16-page order, Gutierrez placed under preventive suspension for six months without pay Special Disbursing Officer Samuel Rodriguez, Finance Service Director Orlando Pestano, Budget Division Director Tomas Rentoy III, Police Supt. Elmer Pelobello, Directorate for Human Resources and Doctrine Development Director German Doria and Directorate for Operations Director Silverio Alarcio Jr.

The respondents were earlier charged administratively by the Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Ombdusman (OMB-FIO) together with now retired PNP officials Avelino Razon Jr., Romeo Ricardo, Emmanuel Carta, Ismael Rafanan, Jaime Caringal and Eliseo de la Paz with grave misconduct, dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The case arose from the respondents’ alleged anomalous travel on Oct. 7 to 11, 2008 as Philippine delegates to the 77th Interpol General Assembly at St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.

Pelobello allegedly prepared the computation of the travel allowances of the delegates without consideration on the limits provided in the required daily susbsistence allowance (DSA), rules on austerity measures (Administrative Order 13) and one-year travel ban for retiring PNP officials..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100910nat1.html

Noy leans on AFP for hostage rescue ops 09/10/2010

Noy leans on AFP for hostage rescue ops
09/10/2010
As if adding insult to injury suffered by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the botched police assault during the hostage-taking at the Quirino Grandstand, President Aquino has asked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to showcase its capability in addressing emergency and terrorist situations like hostage-taking.

AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo David Jr. yesterday said the AFP’s demonstration of capability to react on certain emergencies will be conducted today in compliance to Aquino’s order and apparently in relation to what happened last Aug. 23 when eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in a hostage-taking.

David said the commander in chief will personally witness the demonstration by members of two elite units under the AFP’s Joint

Special Operations Group (JSOG) during separate occasions in Sangley Point, Cavite and Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

“That’s the order of the President. We should, I think, tell the people that we have this type of capability because the AFP is capable of doing so of any emergency, terrorist activities – hostage-taking, seajacking, airport situations,” said David..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100910nat3.html

Cuts in DFA budget should not lead to cuts in OFW services — solon By Charlie V. Manalo 09/10/2010

Cuts in DFA budget should not lead to cuts in OFW services — solon
By Charlie V. Manalo
09/10/2010

Gabriela Women’s Party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan raised much concern over the increasing number of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and the obvious lack of efficient mechanism to address their needs amid cuts on the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) budget.

“How exactly is the Department of Foreign Affairs going to cope with the growing needs of distressed migrants abroad?” Ilagan asked.

According to Ilagan there is an estimated 5,000 OFWs languishing in jails, 108 of them in death row, all in need of legal assistance aside from the several thousands more in need of immediate repatriation after escaping abusive employers.

“That the number of distressed OFWs has grown to such magnitude is an indication that the DFA is acting rather sluggishly on these problems.”

The Gabriela solon noted that the DFA budget has consistently decreased from P14.4B in 2009 to P12.7B in 2010 and 10.9B in 2011.

“In effect this can and will result to cuts in the funds for legal assistance, repatriation and assistance for the families of migrant workers,” said Ilagan “President Noynoy Aquino must realize that protection and service for migrant workers must be a priority especially as his administration is obviously bent on continuing the policy of exporting human resources.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100910nat6.html

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