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Syndicated plunder EDITORIAL 10/24/2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Syndicated plunder

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The PEACe Bonds, through which Filipinos will be forced to pay P35 billion for a P12-billion zero coupon bond issue in 2002 to give a private group called Caucus of Development NGO Networks (Code-NGO) a P1.4 billion windfall, was an elaborate political payback scheme of former President Gloria Arroyo to the civil socialites who backed her snatching the presidency from popularly-elected President Joseph Estrada. And it should not only be included in the agenda of the Truth Commission but should be a priority.

The government bond issue was unique since it was issued not for any government need but was tailor fit for Code NGO which was then headed by Ma. Socorro Camacho-Reyes, sister of then Finance Secretary Isidro Camacho.

The element of abuse of the seats of power was written all over the issue, which was underwritten by a bank which also figured prominently as benefiting from Edsa II, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) of the Yuchengco group.

The zero-coupon bond is a debt instrument where the buyers get the bonds at a deep discount of its maturity value but does not accrue interests. It was named Poverty Education and Alleviation Certificate (PEACe) Bonds that Code-NGO itself designed, betraying its true intent..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101024com1.html

Trapo politics FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 10/24/2010

Trapo politics

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Looks like the truth about Noynoy’s claimed daang matuwid is coming out, day by day. And it’s far from being the straight path.

It now shows that Noynoy and his administration are no different than the previous administration, especially in the practice of trapo politics.

A few days back, it was announced by Speaker Sonny Belmonte that the Palace had released the remaining P35 million pork barrel for each congressman and that all of the members of the House of Representatives got their share of the pork.

Additionally, each of the lawmakers in attendance during the last day of the budget hearing were rewarded with P500,000 in operational and travel allowances.

Earlier on, some disgruntled congressmen from the Visayas and Mindanao, along with the party-listers, complained about their districts getting a measly share of the budget from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and threatened to ensure the non-passage of Dinky Soliman’s humongous budget..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101024com2.html

Sex, lies and pomegranate juice focus of US legal battle FEATURE 10/24/2010

Sex, lies and pomegranate juice focus of US legal battle


WASHINGTON — If the claims are to be believed, pomegranate juice can change your life, preventing prostate and breast cancer, protecting against heart disease and even alleviating erectile dysfunction.

Could it be the elixir from the original fruit of the Garden of Eden? No, says the US Federal Trade Commission, which is suing the California group POM Wonderful for making “false and unsubstantiated claims” about its products.

POM has said it would challenge the FTC, setting up a high-profile battle between the maker of the popular juice and authorities over the so-called superfood which has also been purported to help fight Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis and improve sperm quality.

“Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection.

The company, a unit of the Roll International group that includes Teleflora and Fiji Water, is gearing up for battle. It has filed its own lawsuit against the FTC alleging interference with its free speech rights for POM, which does not publish financial results but is believed to have sales of some $100 million a year..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101024com3.html

A first for the House C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 10/24/2010

A first for the House

Jonathan De la Cruz
Our congratulations to Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. and the House of Representatives’ Secretariat headed by Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap for coming out with a book on the proposed legislative agenda for the 15th Congress. The book entitled Promoting Good Governance, Ensuing Sustainable Growth and Achieving Social Justice is the product of a workshop initiated by Barua-Yap with assistance from senior members of the secretariat and an array of resource persons which resulted in this compendium of reports on the concerns and challenges to sustainable development requiring, in the main, legislative action. Seen from the eyes and, of course, experience of the work horses of the legislature, i.e., the secretariat staff, it is essentially a road map outlining the issues-of-the-day, their history, as it were, and the proposed action measures to be taken to get these through the legislative mill. Thanks to Barua-Yap and her boss, Speaker Belmonte and members of the 15th Congress, this book can provide the benchmark, so to speak, on which they and, of course, the Aquino administration’s first three years in office will be judged by our people. This must be the first time in recent memory that the Lower House has put together such a compendium which can only augur well for our people at a time when government is expected to be more proactive and, yes, creative in providing the much needed impetus for change and recovery as the world grapples with a thousand and one issues standing in the way of sustainable growth and development with social justice..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101024com4.html

Additional P50-M pork barrel VIEWPOINTS Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz 10/24/2010

Additional P50-M pork barrel

Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz
There is not the least intention to undermine the importance and implications of the office of congressman in the country. While it is not a secret that there are some of them whose presence in the Congress of the Philippines constitutes a big living enigma — primarily on account of their questionable identity and competence — most of them can be rightfully considered not only upright but also well intentioned.

But all these notwithstanding, it is their individual so-called “Pork Barrel” that has long since haunted their integrity and conduct — rightly or wrongfully.

Lately, this particular issue of long standing has again come to fore, not simply because of the “pork” but especially so on account of “more pork” given to them individual. The more signal and relevant questions about this phenomenon appear to be the following — in addition to concrete reasonable doubts both about the person of many congressmen and the money credited to them for their disposition through pertinent government agencies:

One: “Pork Barrel” by and large does not enhance the person nor promote the integrity of congressmen in general. While it is true that some of them have demonstrated their dignity and retained their probity, “pork barrel” notwithstanding, many of them however show themselves to be otherwise..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101024com5.html

For many, gamble lost in once-booming Las Vegas FEATURE 10/24/2010

For many, gamble lost in once-booming Las Vegas


LAS VEGAS — Earlene Howard is the only person left living in a house on her block in Sin City, and she’s not sure how much longer she’ll be there.

The rest of her neighbors have seen their homes repossessed by lenders, and she’s already behind two months on her mortgage after her husband lost his job with a local construction company.

“I think we may need to move back to Denver,” said Howard, 42, who uprooted to Las Vegas in 2005 because jobs were plentiful here then. “This city is not in good shape. Not at all.”

Howard lives in the epicenter of America’s prolonged economic downturn.

The once-booming Las Vegas region has for 44 straight months led the United States in home foreclosures, and 80 percent of houses here are figuratively underwater — worth less than the debt owed on them.

A staggering 23.6 percent of Nevada mortgages are in some form of delinquency or foreclosure, significantly higher than the national average of 14 percent, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101024com6.html

India’s high earners fuel demand for high-rise luxury focus 10/24/2010

India’s high earners fuel demand for high-rise luxury


MUMBAI — The heart of Mumbai city, once a cotton mill hub, is seeing a rapid change in its skyline as more than 30 skyscrapers are mushrooming out of slumland in the city’s most congested district.

The transformation reflects the breakneck pace of growth in Asia’s third largest economy, as India’s property and capital markets boom and developers build dream homes for a rapidly-growing list of Indian millionaires.
Most of these high-rises, all over 40-story, are under construction while some are ready for owners to move in.

Aashish, a successful Mumbai corporate director in his mid-40s, is eager to live in the lap of luxury with commanding views of the Arabian Sea.

But he won’t have to leave the chaos, noise and congestion of India’s financial capital to find his dream home and the peace and quiet he craves.

Instead of new builds in the far-flung suburbs, the construction of upscale homes is now rapidly taking place in the city, as tracts of now-defunct cotton mill land are being freed up for development by the state government.
.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101024com7.html

Palace denies coddling Ping By Aytch S. de la Cruz 10/24/2010


Palace denies coddling Ping

By Aytch S. de la Cruz 10/24/2010

President Aquino’s “not my priority” statement on the search for fugitive Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, prime suspect in the Dacer-Corbito murder mystery, and a subsequent statement of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima that the Department of Justice is abandoning a plan to form a task force to track him down should not be taken as a sign that Aquino is coddling Lacson, who is an ally and a campaign supporter of the President, according to the Palace.

De Lima, who is said out of the loop on the President’s inner circle, was suspected to have second-guessed Aquino in withdrawing a plan to put up the task force.

Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte explained that just because De Lima reportedly abandoned the idea of putting up a task force to intensify the government’s efforts in locating him does not mean that the Aquino administration is getting remiss in resolving this matter.

Valte also belied insinuations being circulated by a critic, Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who told media that he has
information that would somehow corroborate De Lima’s and the public’s suspicions that Lacson is just inside the country and Malacanang has a hand on it..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101024hed1.html

Palace defends postings: Noy’s ex-generals different 10/24/2010

Palace defends postings: Noy’s ex-generals different

Criticisms on the Aquino administration following the path of his predecessor in rewarding loyalty in the military with prime diplomatic posts got a lame response from the Palace yesterday justifying the assailed decision of President Aquino to appoint former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Nestor Ochoa as ambassador to Brunei as still within his quota for political appointees.

Disgruntled career diplomats at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had complained about Ochoa’s appointment and that of retired Gen. Noe Wong who was reappointed as ambassador to Cambodia. They said the practice of appointing generals to key diplomatic posts is reminiscent of a tradition started by former President Arroyo.

Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said it is too early for anyone to pass judgment on the appointments and conclude that Aquino is going by the way of his unpopular predecessor because, she said, the Aquino administration is different since it is committed to instituting reforms in government.

Ochoa held the reins at the AFP for barely a month as he opted to go for an early retirement.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101024hed2.html

Aquino, Arroyo camps’ paths criss-cross on Code-NGO scam By Charlie V. Manalo 10/24/2010

Aquino, Arroyo camps’ paths criss-cross on Code-NGO scam

By Charlie V. Manalo 10/24/2010

The exchange of charges and counter-charges on the Peace Bond scam which happened during the early years of President Arroyo’s term placed the scandal as a point of convergence between the past and present administrations with the son of the former President, Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, twitting Malacañang yesterday for employing double standard on cases that it believes should be taken up by the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) while presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda is having a hard time shielding two Cabinet members of President Aquino without applying the same defense on Arroyo, the principal target of the PTC.

In a statement, Arroyo said it was rather odd for Lacierda to clear Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and Peace Process adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles of any wrongdoings in the PEACe Bonds scandal which was brokered by the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (Code-NGO).

The scam had the government floating P12 billion in so-called zero-coupon bonds to allow Code-NGO to collect P1.4 billion in windfall from the debt float.

Soliman and Deles, who are among prime movers of Code-NGO, were alleged to have benefitted from P10-billion PEACe Bonds, reportedly netting a windfall profit of over P1 billion, tax-free. Both were also former Cabinet secretaries of Arroyo..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101024hed3.html

Noy’s inaction on teachers’ demand for increased pay for poll duties slammed 10/24/2010

Noy’s inaction on teachers’ demand for increased pay for poll duties slammed

A group of militant teachers has denounced President Aquino for his failure to act on the demand of the teachers for additional compensation for those who will serve as board of election tellers for tomorrow’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

“The President has not heeded our demands for increased and just compensation for the additional and dangerous work that we will render as board of election tellers (BETs),” Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Secretary General France Castro said in the group’s website.

She noted that every election, the lives of teachers serving as BETs is put at risk. “Teachers are prone to harassment and acts of violence from political rivals or losing candidates,” she stressed.

Castro cited two teachers who were killed in the line of election duty. “Nellie Banag of Batangas died after gunmen, wearing bonnets, set the schoolhouse ablaze during the 2007 election. Teacher Filomena Tatlonghari was killed in 1995 for refusing to give a ballot box to armed men while on election duty,” Castro said.

“Such dangers are faced by teachers to protect the sanctity in the ballots,” she added, “and the Aquino government is inconsiderate for not recognizing the noble service that teachers render every election.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101024hed4.html

Trust Noy to do right thing on ‘Morong 43’ — DoJ chief By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/24/2010

Trust Noy to do right thing on ‘Morong 43’ — DoJ chief

By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/24/2010

Have faith in Malacañang that it will do the right thing, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday told relatives and supporters calling for freedom for 43 health workers arrested by military intelligence officers for allegedly being members of communist groups.

According to De Lima, the possibility of amnesty for the so-called “Morong 43” is being considered by President Aquino.

De Lima, the former chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), met with the detainees’ supporters led by the human rights group Karapatan who reiterated their appeal for the immediate release of the 43 health workers.

“I told them to give the President more time to reflect and decide on those recommendations’ course of action,” she stressed.

She said they have to wait for the President’s go signal before she can implement any of her recommendations.

She said Aquino is particularly concerned with demands aired by international human groups and local groups sympathetic to the 43 health workers..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101024hed5.html

Be patient, Malacañang tells Maguindanao massacre victims’ kin 10/24/2010

Be patient, Malacañang tells Maguindanao massacre victims’ kin

As the infamous Maguindanao massacre is about to commemorate its first anniversary next month, Malacañang has continued with its appeal to the families of the victims who are reportedly getting hopeless given the slow justice proceedings in the case to remain patient.

Speaking from a lawyer’s point of view, deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte yesterday steered clear of giving false hopes to the victims’ relatives, explaining that delays should always be expected, especially in dealing with a case as complex as the Maguindanao murders.

Valte said resolutions to high-profile cases like this often depend on the judge who takes charge of the trial how he would manage the factors involved in the matter to be able to strike a balance between the demands of both the prosecution and defense panels.

“What we need to understand here is that we are considering many factors. We cannot just fast-track a case if it would violate the rights of one party because both the accused and the victims are entitled of their specific rights. So it’s really more of trying to balance vis-à-vis the progress of the case,” Valte explained..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101024hed6.html

Kagawad killed, another shot dead in two incidents By Gina Peralta-Elorde 10/24/2010

Kagawad killed, another shot dead in two incidents

By Gina Peralta-Elorde 10/24/2010

Amid the tightened security measures being implemented by the police and military to thwart the killings of local officials in connection with the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections tomorrow, a reelectionist barangay kagawad was gunned down in Agusan del Norte, while an ambush took place in Cagayan Valley killing one person and injuring two others, reports said.

The reelectionist Barangay Kagawad Rommel Magdayo Moldez, 31, was shot dead by still unidentified armed men and women inside his house in Barangay San Isidro, Santiago, Agusan del Norte around 9:40 p.m. last Thursday.

Moldez was seeking re-election as barangay kagawad in Barangay San Isidro, Santiago.

Reports said the unidentified armed men and women barged into the house of the victim. Moldez was not around but the suspects waited for him for some minutes.

When the victim arrived, he was with a friend identified as Romnick Tupos. They were ordered to drop to the ground. The suspects shot Moldez twice in the back.

The suspects then allegedly fled and looked for another barangay kagawad Angelito Garong..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/

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