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Been there; heard that EDITORIAL 10/29/2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Been there; heard that

EDITORIAL
Click to enlarge
10/29/2010
The last time a Palace occupant felt irritated by a “small” newspaper that she claimed she never read and swore for her administration not to subscribe to it, even when she and her Cabinet reacted vehemently to its reports, and read it anyway, top-level pressure started to be applied on this newspaper in an attempt to choke it of its primary source of income, advertisements.

Failing to do that, the pressure was gradually raised in intensity until in 2006, Malacañang tried to forcefully take over the operations of The Tribune, padlocked the printing press, confiscated several documents without any search warrant through an illegal raid by her police forces.

So here we go again. The other day, Noynoy Aquino ranted in Vietnam that a small newspaper with very “minimal readers” had upset him since it printed a warning from a prelate that he may not complete his six-year term as a result of his poor management skills and his reliance on a two-man team in the Palace in the crafting of major policies and decisions.

While not mentioning the name of the paper he was referring to, he described it as a “Manila-based newspaper of minor circulation, minor only because it only has few readers,” it was evident that he meant this paper since it was only The Tribune, that carried in its front page a story quoting Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez on his assessment of Aquino’s leadership skills on the day Noynoy went nuts in Vietnam..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com1.html

Bordering on paranoia FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 10/29/2010

Bordering on paranoia

FRONTLINE
Ninez Cacho-Olivares
10/29/2010
Whoever opposes him and criticizes him, Noynoy sees as his enemy.

Thus, the Daily Tribune, whom he called a “small newspaper” and small because it has few readers, that criticizes him constantly, and which he said before the Filipino community in Vietnam, benefited from the past administration and therefore out to destroy him, is his enemy.

That’s really very paranoid of him, apart from which, Noynoy should really be told a few home truths.

One: The Tribune certainly did not benefit anything at all from the past and previous administrations, as it has always been critical of the Malacañang tenant — whoever it is sitting as head of government--including Cory Aquino.

Proof of this is the fact that not only did the previous Palace occupants make life economically hard on the Tribune all these years, but also the fact that the Arroyo administration went to the extent of raiding the Tribune offices, and having her police force padlock the paper’s offices and printing press, with even the chief of the police force going on live TV to announce that it was taking over the newspaper..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com2.html

2010 rout may not augur ill for Obama in 2012 ANALYSIS 10/29/2010

2010 rout may not augur ill for Obama in 2012

ANALYSIS

10/29/2010
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s foes will rejoice if his Democrats get thumped in mid-term congressional elections, but even if his presidency needs a rethink, it may be premature to prepare his political obituary for 2012.

Obama is facing a rebuke from voters on Nov. 2, only two years after they swept him to power, with Republicans tipped to grab back the House of Representatives and thin Democratic margins in the Senate.
Pundits are asking why Obama has lost the magic of 2008, and whether he will suffer the ignominy of going down as a one-term president.

“The weeks and months following the election will be a time of testing for President Obama,” said William Galston, a former Clinton administration official now at the Brookings Institution.

“He will need to look into himself and at the situation.”

If Republicans do emerge triumphant next Tuesday, confrontation will be a certainty as the parties feud over taxes and the deficit in a divided Washington and as the already-stirring 2012 presidential race heats up..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com3.html

Am back NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 10/29/2010

Am back

NO HOLDS BARRED
Armida Siguion-Reyna
10/29/2010
We flew in Tuesday night. Wednesday morning saw me reporting for how-are-yous with the tulisanes of the 365 Club at the coffee shop of Hotel Intercon. A quick trip to the parlor, a catnap in between, and then this lola was off to a cocktail party at the Makati Shangri-La, upon the invitation of Vice President Jojo Binay, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, for National Housing Day.

The affair was for the diplomatic corps, for them to see where the government’s efforts to provide decent public housing stood. Among those mingling with the diplomats were Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ompong Plaza, JV Bautista, Rene Diaz, big names in real estate, the Binay family of children and grandchildren, including the Makati City mayor, the second district representarive and a talented boy who played his instrument with such musicality and grace, prodding his grandma Doc Ellen to proudly turn to me, with “Sige na nga, ibibili ko na siya ng marimba!”

It’s good to go home to a major event. You see familiar faces, hear so many solicitous inquiries, receive quite a number of warm hugs. Except that with all eyes and ears on the Vice President as he delivered his speech on the rostrum that evening, I could not give out a complete answer to, “Nagpa-check up ka raw sa Amerika? Ano’ng resulta?”

But, yes, to all who care enough to know, I saw my doctors in the US. Nothing wrong with me in a major, major way, save for the unavoidable body changes that come with years. True, I could have had the tests done here, pero ‘yun na nga, you get older, you also get more impatient faster. You have expectations, you make demands, and when few of these are met, local providers tend to dismiss you like it’s your fault, as if what is wrong with you is only.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com4.html

Ten minutes vs power plunder DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 10/29/2010

Ten minutes vs power plunder

DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel
10/29/2010
Our last column outlined the “power plunder” being inflicted on the people by the collusion between Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), as well as by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, with Therma Marine Inc. of the Aboitiz group.

All told, their profits increased between 60 and 100 percent in the span of just one year, and they were able to manipulate the rate-setting mechanisms to escalate the cost of our energy use by up to 300 percent!

A few days after the said column came out, yet another confirmation of this profiteering was headlined by BusinessWorld: “Meralco powers past Petron in BW’s Top 1,000.”

Meralco came up with a “red herring” to mitigate any adverse reaction to the No. 1 ranking by saying that this came despite “a 2.8-percent drop in gross revenues to P183.7 billion due to reduced generation and transmission charges last year.”

In truth, generation and transmission charges had nothing to do with Meralco’s net income jumping midway this year by 82.3 percent (from P3.15 billion from the same period last year to P5.8 billion so far), as well as with the company’s 2009 P7.7 billion net income surpassing its target of P11 billion for 2010. In fact, Meralco had been raking in this doubling of profits since 2008 when its net income jumped from P3.5 billion to P7.7 billion in 2009.

All through these periods, there was not any real increase in the size and volume of the market. Meralco has taken great pains to hide this with its so-called statistics of 11 to 17 percent growth in the volume of its sales.
What has actually happened was that the massive increases came as a result of the shift from the old Return-on-Rate Base (RoRB) to the new Performance-Based Rate (PBR) setting mechanism that increased allowable returns from the previous 12 percent to the current 15.8 percent!

On top of this, we are faced with the massive overcharging of electricity consumers. The Commission on Audit has already found that Meralco overcharged us by at least P7 billion in 2004 and 2007 alone, which indicates the strong likelihood that the same has happened for the intervening years and beyond.

In fact, an 81-year-old veteran of the Lawyers Against Monopolies (LAMP), Genaro Lualhati, who has fought against this overcharging and won for us 4 million Meralco consumers P28 billion in refunds, filed another petition in 2008 for the power firm to refund another P35 billion worth of overcharges in the past 10 years.

But even as the ERC is obliged by law to resolve the issue within 30 days, it took the regulatory body three long years to issue a decision, and only after Lualhati pressed further. It was revealed in our GNN program by Mang Naro, as Lualhati is called, that the ERC deliberately dilly-dallied and dwelt on irrelevant issues, only to declare his petition “moot and academic.”

Not be deterred, Mang Naro’s one demand is for the other crusaders in this fight to be active again. With Mang Naro on my show was Butch Junia, who came out of retirement for this fight, as well as Pete Ilagan of Nasecore, former QC Mayor Jun Simon, Jojo Borja of Mindanao and many others.

Volunteer lawyers have since been recruited to take all these issues to court so that someday we may finally see ERC pay for its betrayal of public trust.

Butch Junia updated us on the comparative electricity rates of different countries, such as Tokyo’s $0.20/kWh compared to Meralco’s $0.23/kWh, making the Philippines the highest in Asia in terms of power cost today.

Our rates are simply astronomical compared to Jakarta’s $0.06/kWh; Kuala Lumpur’s $0.06/kWh; Paris’ $0.11/kWh; Shanghai’s $0.07/kWh; and even Singapore’s $0.21/kWh.

Few places, in fact, can beat Meralco’s rate; with the only possible exception being New York’s $0.29/kWh — but then, how can you compare the two?

Worse, the situation of Meralco’s 4 million electricity consumers is further aggravated by the formula where regular consumers pay up to P3/kWh in distribution cost while the very large consumers, such as malls and big industries, pay only as low as P0.28/kWh.

As the public is made aware of these facts, the momentum for the consumer campaign is sure to grow.
Action plans have been drawn up, with a “soft launch” on Nov. 1 of the “lights out protest.” The plan calls on all Meralco consumers to turn off their lights from 7 to 7:10 p.m. every Monday.

As people are made aware, then the number of “lights out” days will be increased, helping consumers save money while at the same time synergizing neighborhoods toward the cause. This action has been done before but this new initiative shows the growing support for the struggle. All sectors should thus “volt-in” for a nuclear chain reaction.

Media workers can help in the information campaign; even the UP Law Department can help while businessmen can donate stickers, tarps, and posters to spread the word.

Remember: Lights out every Monday 7 to 7:10 p.m. Let’s knock the lights out of those power plunderers!
(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; watch “Electrocuting Power Consumers: The ERC-Meralco Collusion, Part II” with former mayor Jun Simon, Pete Ilagan, et. al on Politics Today with HTL, Tuesday, 8 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 by Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com5.html

South Africa in race against toxic mine water threat focus 10/29/2010

South Africa in race against toxic mine water threat

focus

10/29/2010
WESTONARIA — For years Neels Van Wyk suspected something was wrong with the water on his farm, worries that grew as mining and government officials started frequenting the area to test nearby rivers.

Van Wyk, 48, lives in Westonaria on the southwestern outskirts of Johannesburg, surrounded by four major mines which over the last 120 years extracted gold and uranium.

Most of the mines closed down 11 years ago, when pumping of underground water reserves also stopped.
Now researchers worry that toxic mine water is rising toward the surface and seeping into nearby water supplies, contaminating rivers with a cocktail of acidic and sometimes radioactive waste.

“My concern is that I use borehole water which could be contaminated. I sell peaches and vegetables to the hawkers and they sell it to the community. What if the vegetables are contaminated and we don’t know that,” Van Wyk said.

Activists fear rising water levels in the mines have created an underground time bomb that could threaten the country’s nearby financial capital Johannesburg in 16 months.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com6.html

Hispanic vote important for Democrats, but harder to get FEATURE 10/29/2010

Hispanic vote important for Democrats, but harder to get

FEATURE

10/29/2010
WASHINGTON — Democrats are courting Hispanic voters to blunt a likely Republican advance in US legislative elections Tuesday, but they may prove hard to get after three years of hard economic times.

“The Latino community, like the rest of the country, has gone through a very difficult two years. And so it’s understandable that people feel frustrated,” President Barack Obama said last week in an interview with Hispanic news organizations.

“Now, if I’m the Latino community, the notion that somehow I would sit back and not participate and not have my voice heard (...) that makes no sense whatsoever,” Obama said.

Two years ago, Obama won the presidency thanks in part to a record turnout by 9.7 million Hispanics, casting 7.4 percent of the ballots nationwide. Obama got 67 percent of their votes.

And as this campaign goes into its last frenetic week, the Democratic Party spent a million dollars to air nationally a spot featuring Obama speaking Spanish in its latest attempt to get out the vote.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20101029com7.html

Dinky faces Gloria grilling in House bonds probe By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales 10/29/2010

Dinky faces Gloria grilling in House bonds probe

By Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales 10/29/2010

The woes of Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman are far from over, and she still hasn’t faced the bicameral Commission on Appointments for her confirmation, as some members of the House of Representatives are bent on probing her for her role in the P10-billion PEACe Bonds scam.

Soliman is also expected to get a beating again from former President Arroyo when the House starts its own probe on the Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate (PEACe) bonds which earned a windfall P1.4-billion for a non-government organization then headed by Soliman.

At the same time, a former Senate President, Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, yesterday pointed out that the Department of Social Welfare and Development, under the law, should have ceased from existing several years ago and its functions, already should have been turned over by this time to local government units.
And as the DSWD is an “illegal” entity, it should not therefore be tasked with a P21 billion fund for the government’s conditional cash transfer program..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed1.html

NBI files criminal raps vs Bar bomber suspect 10/29/2010

NBI files criminal raps vs Bar bomber suspect

10/29/2010
A day after the suspected Bar examinations bomber, Anthony Nepomuceno, voluntarily agreed to be interrogated by the National Bureau of Investigation agents, the NBI yesterday filed a criminal complaint for multiple frustrated and multiple attempted murders against him before the Department of Justice.

Nepomuceno, a member of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity and a call center agent Wednesday appeared before the NBI and denied allegations he was involved in the blast at De La Salle University, insisting that he was nowhere in that area on Taft Avenue when the bombing occurred.

He claimed he was nowhere near La Salle when the incident happened, although the NBI said the suspect was positively identified by witnesses as the person who lobbed the grenade.

The bombing incident injured 47 individuals, including law students and Bar examinees themselves.
NBI spokesman Cecilio Zamora said the NBI also charged some “John Does” who are now the subject of extensive investigation to establish their identities..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed2.html

Enrile takes rap for fat pays of Senate execs By Angie M. Rosales 10/29/2010

Enrile takes rap for fat pays of Senate execs

By Angie M. Rosales 10/29/2010

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile assumed responsibility for the grant of huge allowances to some upper chamber executives, ranging from P30,000 to as high as P200,000 a month, which was recently questioned as being excessive, saying that those who got these deserve what they’ve received.

“I take full responsibility,” Enrile said in addressing the Senate employees during a gathering in relation to the celebration of the upper chamber’s 94th anniversary.

But former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who was a guest in the weekly Kapihan sa Senado news forum, said the upper chamber should not spare even its own employees believed to be similarly situated with executives from government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) by subjecting them into an investigation as well.

“If we, as an institution, criticize other agencies of government for excessive allowances, I think we should also take a look at ourselves accordingly,” Pimentel told reporters.

Several executives of state firms and financial institutions were found to be receiving huge salaries and excessive allowances in a recent series on inquiries conducted by the Senate finance committee prompting President Aquino to order the suspension of their allowances at least until the end of the year..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed3.html

Truth body to hamper delivery of justice — Pimentel 10/29/2010

Truth body to hamper delivery of justice — Pimentel

10/29/2010
The matter of the Philippine Truth Commission (PTC) delivering justice and finally providing closure to the alleged irregularities committed under the Arroyo administration was put into question again yesterday.

“I think that the Truth Commission is an abnormality that should never have been created. Why? Because the tendency of the commission is merely to delay the administration of justice. There are existing agencies of government which have the jurisdiction already to look into accusations against anyone. There’s the DoJ (Department of Justice), (Office of the) Ombudsman. Now, what is the effect of the EO (creating the Truth Commission)? You remove that jurisdiction and give that to a toothless tiger,” former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said yesterday.

Pimentel’s comments came in the light of the series of petitions being filed before the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the issuances made by President Aquino.

The constitutionality of EO 1 has been questioned by the minority bloc in the House of Representatives.
The former senator, appearing as guest in the weekly Kapihan sa Senado, expressed serious doubts on the effectiveness of the commission in conducting investigations as the body does not even have the power to issue a subpoena to those individuals subject of an investigation..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed4.html

Webb seeks acquittal due to missing DNA sample By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/29/2010

Webb seeks acquittal due to missing DNA sample

By Benjamin B. Pulta 10/29/2010

Convicted rapist Hubert Webb’s lawyer has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order his acquittal citing government investigators’ failure to keep the semen specimen for DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) forensic analysis.

In a motion, the son of former Sen. Freddie Webb urged the SC to reverse his conviction in the Vizconde massacre case citing the failure of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to produce the semen specimen taken from the body of one of his victims for DNA analysis.

Defense lawyer Demetrio Custodio Jr. stressed that the semen specimen extracted from the remains of Carmela Vizconde during her autopsy on June 30, 1991 “plays a significant role” in his client’s defense.

“Even if the NBI’s failure to produce the semen specimen were not due to willful suppression but by negligence, the failure to deliver this evidence to appellant Webb for DNA testing denies him a complete defense and violates his right to due process,” Custodio said. “For this reason, he is entitled to an acquittal,” he added.

Custodio noted that a DNA analysis of the semen specimen excluding appellant Webb as the source of that specimen would disprove the prosecution’s evidence against him..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed5.html

DoJ to wait out ex-Lacson aide’s appeal in extradition case 10/29/2010

DoJ to wait out ex-Lacson aide’s appeal in extradition case

10/29/2010
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday confirmed that a United States court has granted the Philippine government’s request for the extradition of former police Senior Supt. Michael Ray Aquino, a key aide of fugitive Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

“Once the ruling becomes final, the DoJ (Department of Justice) shall work on his (Aquino) deportation to face the criminal charges against him here,” she said.

De Lima explained that she “was told that this latest ruling is still appealable to a higher court. So if Michael Ray Aquino avails of that remedy, we will have to wait for that ruling.”

The US court granted the request of the Philippine government to extradite Aquino to face the trial in the November 2000 killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

Aquino and another police official, former Senior Supt. Cezar Mancao, fled to the US reportedly upon the instructions of Lacson to escape prosecution. Lacson has been in hiding since January this year after being implicated in the murders..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20101029hed6.html

DFA drops RP acronym, now PHL in usage By Michaela P. del Callar 10/29/2010

DFA drops RP acronym, now PHL in usage

By Michaela P. del Callar 10/29/2010

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and its foreign diplomatic posts began using the initials PH or PHL when referring to the Philippines, and not anymore “RP,” an acronym for the Republic of the Philippines, in compliance with the country codes set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Moreover, the DFA said the use of the designated country codes would “avoid the ambiguity and confusion with the use of the initials RP.”

“The long standing usage of the initials RP is not in accordance with ISO codes, leading to ambiguous initials that can also refer to other countries,” the DFA noted.

In a Department Order dated Oct. 20, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo directed the DFA’s 67 embassies, 23 consulates general and four permanent missions to use the initials PH or PHL in their dispatches and reports to the Home Office.

The ISO developed the ISO3166-1 codes, assigning two letter (alpha-2) and three letter (alpha-3) code to member countries..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20101029nat5.html

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